Pros: Finally, a digital choir with more than simple 'oohs' and 'ahhs'! Great sound!
Cons: Requires 32Gb on your hard disc. Very RAM-intensive. EXTREMELY complex.
I'm a heavy metal musician, but I'm an educated one. I know how deeply connected heavy metal and classical/opera are, and I know that, if Beethoven was alive today, he'd be drinking buddies with Lemmy Kilmeister and Fast Eddy Clarke.
Digital Orchestras have never been terribly hard to find; you can find good ones starting at USD $400 for Miroslav Philharmonik, all the way up to the 500Gb USD $9000 Vienna Instruments Cube. They're out there, practically for the taking.
But as easy as it is to find Digital Orchestras, Digital Choirs are a different animal altogether; almost passenger-pigeon-esque in their rarity, not to mention the difficulty in culling the GOOD ones from the bad of that rare breed!
I can't sing. Oh, I can scream like the best, but when it comes to clean vocals, I sound more like a balloon with a slow leak. And where would I get an orchestral choir? I'm not particularly wealthy...in fact, I'm somewhat poor. So how do I get a fix when I'm jonesing for some amazing choral work?
I whip out East West/Quantum Leap's Symphonic Choirs, that's what I do!
Most 'choir' sounds available are nothing more than an 'ahh' or an 'ooh'. And if you're very, very lucky, you might actually find one with a few standard phrases. But SC is very different. It comes with a neat little programme called Wordbuilder, wherein you can type in words and have the choirs sing them back however you wish!
Do you want to make an orchestral version of "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida"? SC can do it. Maybe you want to sing some dark, diabolical lyrics in Latin, like "In Nomen Nostri Atrum Abbas" or such...SC can do that too.
Symphonic Choirs is an amazing programme with no end to the possibilities available. You can even make it sing non-english words...or even a made-up language!
You can even choose whether you want it to pronounce words using Standard English or a Latin pronunciation. Anything you can pronounce, you can make it sing. But it won't be easy.
The depth of the programme is both astounding and gratifying. But the flipside of that particular coin is somewhat nasty.
SC is hard to learn. VERY hard. The basics come easily; that much is a relief. But you'll spend a lot of time tweaking each word so that it comes out naturally and easily. You CAN just type in the words in English and go, but it'll sound very strange, and you won't be happy with the results.
To get natural sounding vocals, you'll need to edit how long each particular sound of a word is held, and the velocity of each sound, AND you may need to change how the word is pronounced; is it slurred? Staccato? Legato? This takes a lot of time.
There are three methods of inputting words into the Wordbuilder software (which MUST be connected to Symphonic Choirs via a third-party Digial MIDI cable; the manual recommends Maple Audio Digital MIDI, and I agree): English, Phonetics and Votox. English mode is simple enough, and will requirea small amount of tweaking, but it is limited to words that are found in the English language. Heaven help you if you mis-spell something!
Phonetics are a bit more versatile - you have a menu available of the different sounds possible, and you choose the ones you want. But with more versatility comes complexity.
Finally, Votox...this is the best, and also hardest, way to get your choirs sounding RIGHT. SC uses a complex system of letters and punctuation to fine-tune and zero in on the EXACT pronunciation you want. This method takes a lot of time to input correctly; however, it also has the benefit of needing the least amount (by a wide margin) of post-input tweaking and modification.
Is EWQL's Symphonic Choirs easy? No. Is it cheap? No. Is it worth it? YES.
It's a huge programme, and one that will take an awful lot of your time to master. It will be frustrating. It will be agonizingly slow at times. But as great as the trials may be, you need to keep in mind that the rewards are even greater.
So, even despite the incredible hair-pulling complexity, East West/Quantum Leap's Symphonic Choirs gets 5 stars out of 5.