Why use Vienna Ensemble Pro?
I’ll always remember hearing rumblings of some music software called ‘VEP’ on many forums a few years ago and wondering what it was they were talking about. Half the posts appeared to be raving about how good it was, the other half pulling their hair out with configuration issues.
A couple of years later and it’s now central to my music system.
Vienna Ensemble Pro (called VEP from now on to save my fingers) creates a server on your computer or on your ‘slave’ – a computer used specifically to host large sample libraries and take demand off your main machine.
This server allows you to host your music software plugins and effects plugins outside of your DAW.
So what are the main benefits of using VEP, is the extra expense and time taken setting up the software worth it?
Personally, I feel if you’re work with large sample libraries and need to work with large DAW templates then yes, without a doubt. Here are a few reasons.
Your DAW will thank you
Without having to cope with your sample libraries and heavy-load synths, your DAW can happily use its RAM and processing power to work away on your midi and audio.
In my experience you can run many more tracks at a much lower latency without the need to continually freeze and bounce audio files.
It’s cross platform
It works identically on a Mac and PC and allows both systems to work together in harmony.
You can use multiple slave computers
Many composers now use one or more ‘slaves’ to host large sample libraries. Using VEP you connect to your slave using an ethernet cable and the software will see your instruments as if they were on your main machine. I personally host all of my string libraries on a slave PC connected via Cubase on my Mac.
You can set up a mammoth template
If you compose a lot of orchestral music it’s likely you need to have the full complement of instruments and articulations at your disposal. You can set all of this up in VEP – always ready to connect to your DAW. Which leads to..
Switch projects without reloading samples
As all of your instruments and libraries are hosted outside of your DAW, you can switch between projects (and even DAW) without the need to save your samples and reload them all over again.
On a day to day basis this can speed up workflow significantly. If you’re working on a large project with multiple cues, it means you can set up your instrument palate at the beginning and switch between projects while keeping the same overall sound.
You can use 64 bit and 32 bit plugins
Thankfully most developers have now updated their plugins to 64 bit. For those that haven’t, or for those plugins you feel will never be updated, VEP comes to the rescue. It allows you to open up 32 bit and 64 bit instances at the same time, so you can load your 32 bit plugins into one and your 64 bit plugins into the other and use them side by side. Your DAW won’t even notice the difference.
There is a lot more that VEP can do, so it’s worth checking out the website to see if anything appeals to you.
So are there any negatives to using Vienna Ensemble Pro?
- Like any complex, powerful software, it can take time to get your head around how it all works. These are some potential issues to keep a look out for.
- Each DAW is different in the way it interacts with VEP, I moved over to Cubase because I found it the easiest and quickest to setup and use. Alternatives, such as Apple Logic require additional set up steps to get working.
- Your network might cause a few blips if you’re using a slave. My own setup was working perfectly, then I moved studio and VEP decided it wouldn’t work with my PC. It turned out I needed to set up a fixed IP on the PC, once that was done everything was fine again.
- The initial setup of your templates can be very time consuming depending on how complex you need it to be. This is far outweighed by being able to switch projects instantly though.
A few tips
Everyone has a different workflow, so what I do might not work for you, but here are a few things I’ve learnt over time.
- Plan your VEP/DAW template beforehand, it will save a lot of chopping and changing as you build it.
- Create an instance of VEP per section of the orchestra. One for Woodwinds, one for Brass etc. This makes it much easier to keep things organised.
- I tend to keep all orchestral instruments in VEP and host synths inside my DAW, as synths are likely to change on a project by project basis.
- Save a copy of your VEP metaframe (the file that holds all the VEP data) with your project, for safe keeping.