Chris Hein Orchestral Brass Complete (& Compact) from Bestservice
Chris Hein has done it again. Orchestral Brass Complete instruments sounds so authentic and detailed that you can easily use as solo instruments or all together in a crowded orchestral arrangement.
by A. Arsov, March 2016
What It Is
Orchetral Brass Complete is probably the most detailed orchestral brass library that you can find at the moment. All articulations are her: all those captured sharp edges in a higher register and all those changes during the note durations. It would be hard to find these things anywhere else. Chris Hein has done the job once again. This library’s strongest point is that it shines in all those solo brass parts where an instrument should sound as real as it can, being at the same time a perfect tool for big orchestral arrangements where the whole brass section should blend nicely with other material at the same quality level as modern string libraries that offer the highest level of authentic orchestral experience.
At first I thought it would be a bit of a problem to mimic a main brass orchestra section in a big orchestral chorus, as all instruments are recorded only with close microphone positions (orchestra instruments are usually recorded with three different microphone positions: close, mid and far), but after decreasing the reverb level (actually applying more reverb) I got great results even with one french horn having the main melody doubled in octave along with an additional solo trombone playing a similar line in octaves. Of course everything became just perfect when I added a few different articulations through key-switches that are placed at the lower part of the keyboard. Actually, the whole line could even work without adding those different articulations, as the default one, the Dynamic Expression Long articulation, has quite a fast and sharp attack and therefore can swallow a few staccato notes without any problems, along with long legato ones. So, why then have switching articulations? Because in short, staccato articulation, a short note sounds very expressive and authentic, while playing staccato notes in long articulations can make for a robotic effect.
The library brings three different horns along with one Horn Ensemble with some additional options aimed just at that ensemble purpose, like Spread that controls the width between instruments inside an ensemble. Then we get three different trombones, again with Trombone Ensemble and three different trumpets with Trumpet Ensemble. As all instruments are recorded in identical rooms you can freely combine horns with trombones and trumpets in any combination to build your own ensemble. Every instrument takes around 300 MB of RAM, while some ensembles take much more, like Horn Ensemble that takes almost 1 GB, while trombone and trumpet take around 600 MB. So, it is almost the same if you build your ensemble from scratch, giving you even more freedom or using Ensemble patch.
The whole graphical interface is divided into a few main parts, reachable through a menu at the bottom. The first one is Basic, followed by the Articulation Preset section, Settings section and Vibrato section.
The Basic section contains four additional sub-windows. The first one is Play, actually the default one, showing which note is played, then the Control window where we see some basic settings along with the option to set the amount of Vibrato and Xfade settings. The last one (as what looks like a new window on the right side is just info about the current articulation) is called Room, where we can choose between 40 different convolution spaces, setting the amount of applied reverb and predelay, plus 23 different short impulse responses for taming the body of reverb.
The next big part is the Articulation presets page. There we can find plenty of different controllers that can be independently set for any of the 26 different key-switches. All key-switches are divided into three general groups: Long, Short and Special. In the Long group we can find the Sustain articulation, Crescendo and Flutter Tongue, along with two Dynamic Expressions – one long and one short. In the Short group we have bunch of short articulations with different characters and different release times – actually, not with different release times but maybe we should say different lengths of body of a short note. Of course all those short articulations, as with others, can be further tamed with Note Head and Stack functions that allow you to apply further settings for attack and release, making your brass take as realistic as it could be. Actually, in some normal arrangements you will probably never touch those functions, as with basic key-switches you can produce fantastic results, but as soon as you program a solo part (this library is absolutely perfect for such tasks) then maybe these additional options can come in handy. The last group is Special, where we can find Run Up, Run Down, Fall and two Rips. The latter was actually a three-note fast run.
Of course, there is a wealth of additional settings for every articulation. Dynamics can be controlled simply through keyboard velocity or even through various other functions, one of them being Auto X Fade with its graphical editor where you can draw your own volume curve relatively to velocity. There are also settings for Legato and Glide functions. The last one, Glide, is especially interesting as you can make smooth glide notes from note to note or even bunches of notes. There is also plenty of additional settings for Legato offsets. Then we have controllers for speed, volume panorama and transpose along with attack and sustain settings for setting the transients of the tones in the Transient section. In all these windows you can also find an editor where you can rearrange key-switches, adding different articulations on different keys, not to mention setting hot-keys for those articulations to be applied only when the hot-key is pressed.
After the Articulation page comes a Settings page that is accessible through a small menu at the bottom of the graphical interface. There we can apply micro-tuning changes for every note in the scale. In this page we also find additional controllers to set pitch band range for every articulation or to tame ADSR envelopes or to set a dynamic curve to adapt the velocity sensitivity to your playing habits. And there is even an option to set release effects that are applied when you release the note.
The last window is reserved for vibrato where you can set many options for vibrato behaviour. The basic ones are those where vibrato is controlled through the mod-wheel. There you can chose between different wave shapes that can drive LFO and a few other settings. In this Vibrato window is also an additional window where you can draw a curve for Volume, Tune and Speed that will be automatically applied to longer notes over time without using the mod-wheel.
We could go further listing some additional settings and controllers, but I son’t think this is necessary because we went through most of the important ones.
The whole library is very detailed, with a great set of carefully chosen, fine sounding articulations. All instruments sound very detailed with a well defined, clear and sharp attack and a strong and stable tone. Snappy attack and sharp tones cause those Brass section parts to easily cut through the mix without loosing their original character. The best thing about this library is that all sounds are programmed and sampled at such a high quality level that all instruments can stand their own, allowing you to use them as solo instruments that will sound authentic even without any additional background music or noise. On the other hand the sound great in any crowded orchestral arrangement, nicely blending with all other orchestral instruments (of course, with a touch of a common reverb used on the whole orchestra helps).
The orchestral brass parts produced with this library sound great even by simple use of different articulations for different note lengths, without any need of additional programming. On the other hand, if you are a control freak, there are still plenty of controllers that can occupy your attention for a long, long time, fixing and taming the tiniest detail. I’m not that sort of person. If something sounds right, then it sounds right, and Orchestral Brass Complete sounds just perfect.
If money, or even available RAM, is a bit tight then Bestservice can offer you the Compact edition of the same library: same instruments with fewer articulations and a slightly lower quality of samples for a less money. All instruments use less than 100 MB of RAM, offering five basic articulations: Legato, Dynamic Expression and Short 1, 2 and 3. Also we get only one main editing window with most of the essential controllers: Dynamic, Note Head, Vibrato, complete Room section, Transient with attack and release along with Ensemble section bringing voice, spread and detune functions. While the Complete version sports 50,000 samples weighing in at 12 GB, Compact comes with 27,000 samples using just 7 GB of disk space.
The end result may not be as extra-smooth, sharp, bright or as totally well-defined as in the Complete version, but still quite close and still very useful – better than most other libraries in that price range.
The Complete version will cost you €299 EUR, and Compact €169 EUR.
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