Soundiron make a lot of cool interesting libraries that are slightly out of the ordinary compared to most, from Snow Drums to Death Metal vocals. Here we take a look at their Symphony Series Brass Collection and see if it goes beyond the norm.
Symphony Series Brass covers all the main components of an orchestral brass section and comes in both ensemble and solo versions.
The ensemble version features eight players per section. That’s eight Trumpets and eight Horns. The Trombone section is comprised of Bass and Tenor Trombones which gives you quite a wide range to play with. The Tuba section is made up of Contrabass and Bass Tubas plus four Euphoniums again providing a wide pitch range.
The solo version contains Horn 1, Horn 2, B♭ Trumpet, Tenor Trombone and Bass Tuba. You can, of course, mix and match combinations if you have both collections giving you a wide range of size and scope.
You can load all four sections in a number of ways. The first is based on articulation type for which there are five main headings.
Effects—A wide range of effects from clusters, sweeps, bends to valve clearing!
Expression—Cresendos, Sforzandos, Swells, Run ups, etc.
Legato—Basic legato patches
Sustain—Sustains, Trills, Flutters, etc.
There is also a master patch that can draw from most articulations in the sub categories to form a more flexible patch with a choice of legato and non-legato control.
There is also a main Ensemble patch which includes all sections. This comes with a set of basic key switches and has definable key ranges for the sections alongside a basic balance mixer for the sections. The Solo collection features a Quintet version of this patch.
The interface is overall pretty easy to navigate and packs a lot of features into three main areas. The first is the Performance view which has controls for Dynamics (CC#1) as well as Attack, Release, Tightness and Motion (Vibrato in the Solo instruments). Where applicable you’ll find the Legato feature allows for Duet mode (two legato lines at once) and Flip or Slur which affects the transition of the legato performance.
There is also a Repetition control for creating quick realistic repeated notes at various timings.
The Mixer page houses the Microphone Mixer (Stereo, Close, Near and Far) plus the various FX like EQ, Comp, Reverb and Filter. All this is easy to find and fairly standard stuff to use.
The third area is the Articulation page where you can select your sounds and assign them to key switches. This is very well thought out and really easy to use. It allows you to quickly set up custom combinations of switches depending on your needs. A choice of being able to unload any unused samples might be nice though to free up resources if need be.
There are varying setups depending on which patch your in. For instance, the Staccato and Effect patches have Playback controls for altering the speed of the samples in Performance view (along with a progress display) but the layout is consistent so you’ll never get lost. Overall very user friendly.
There’s plenty of performance control for each instrument. The main one is obviously the Dynamics which crossfades the velocity layers via the mod wheel. Most other parameters can be automated via MIDI learn from the Kontakt interface. This includes Attack, Release, etc., as well as the switches for Legato and Repetition (and sub parameters), etc. All this plus the key switching adds up to a very controllable instrument.
Mapping Aftertouch to the Motion/Vibrato control is a handy way of getting a good amount of expression from the instruments. Especially the solo horns.
Both the recording and range of performance articulations is simply brilliant. The legato patches are really a joy to play for both the solo and ensemble instruments. The more expression based recording like swells, etc., are easy to integrate with key switching and add up to a much more realistic result if you’re willing to put the time in. This is one library where you’re not constantly thinking, “I wish it did that”.
Anything from subtle textures to menacing low end power can be achieved easily and the ability to perform quick repetitions (especially on the Trumpets) is very effective.
The effects have some very useful stuff if you need some dissonant clusters and gliss effects and the ability to sync the expressive swells and Sforzandos to your host is very useful too. There are plenty of choices too for stepped runs going up and down which are most welcome as these are the things that most libraries lack and are hard to program convincingly.
Sonically the samples sit really well in a mix and have enough force in the higher dynamic layers to cut through nicely.
My only gripe is that the close mic mix isn’t quite close enough and has a fair amount of room on it. This can be rectified by closing the release time down although this affects the release on all the mic channels. I found in some cases using a shorter release time on the instruments close mics with an external reverb was the best way to go as sometimes the notes hang on too much.
You’ll also need to tweak the release on Effects and Expression patches if you don’t want them to play until the end of the sample.
In general I’d say this was one of the most impressive Brass libraries I’ve used. Plenty of grunt in the right places and some thoughtful performance articulations and phrases. If you’re finding your current orchestral brass lacking, then I’d definitely say check this out. You’ll find it covers everything from bombastic brass to the most exposed solo lead line.
Price: $ 499.00
Pros: Great sounding orchestral brass with many useful performance articulations and features. Easy to customize.
Cons: Close mic mix could be drier, but that’s about it.