After their successful release of Soaring Strings, Musical Sampling has recently debuted their first brass library Adventure Brass, which aims to be one of the most playable brass sample libraries on the market. This is what the developers say about their first brass virtual instrument: “While not the biggest, baddest, wettest brass library out there, Adventure Brass accomplishes what we initially set out to do; to create an instrument that is first and foremost, fun to play.”
Last week Musical Sampling (MS from here on forward) have just released the 1.1 update for the sample library. Let’s take a look what Adventure Brass 1.1 (AB from here on forward) has to offer to the already “oversaturated” orchestral sample library market
Like with Soaring strings, MS have built Adventure Brass in a way, that would make the composer easily play realistic lines without massaging the recorded material too much for it to sound realistic.
As they state on their website, the composer truly needs only the keys and mod wheel of his midi controller in order to get a realistic and great sounding performance. I think every DAW composer has been in a state where he is desperately tweaking numerous parameters of his sample libraries in order to get the performance and sound he hears in his head.
This has happened to me loads of times and the frustration of loosing time with shifting the recorded midi notes milliseconds left and right, adjusting the expression, attack and release of the samples and altering between different keyswitches sometimes drives me insane. In a professional environment one has to work on close deadlines and every minute you are not actually writing music is somehow lost time. So, I have to say I am very pleased, that a sample developer is aiming at making their libraries first and foremost playable!
MS have recorded medium-sized sections (horns, trumpets, trombones) for this sample library, which aim to work great in unison and in harmonic passages. We also have a tuba, that is, for obvious reasons, the only instrument recorded in solo.
The library was recorded in 2 microphone positions (close and room) with excellent LA musicians in the city itself.
Content and sound
As mentioned earlier, Adventure Brass includes horns, trumpets, trombones and a tuba. All the instruments come with velocity and crossfade patches, which x-fade between dynamics via CC1. All patches come with lite versions as well, which drastically reduces the CPU usage! The exact list of patches is available here.
The overall sound of the library is quite dry (even with the room mics on), but this is to my liking since you can easily add your own reverb. Dry libraries in general mix better with other sample libraries. I have tried to layer Adventure Brass with other brass libraries and have gotten great results. I must also point out that the horns, trumpets and trombones can produce very large brassy sounding timbres so you will easily be able to write large fortissimo sections with theme, while the p/mp samples are not the best I have heard. The tuba fortissimo samples lack the brassy sound the other instruments have.
The horn in AB are in my opinion the crown of the library. Just load up the one of the Adventure Horns patches and you are all set to make some truly wondrous horn lines instantly. Think of this patch as a marcato and legato patch layered together. You get a very nice accent on every note. Many composers out there tend to use too much legato patches with their brass writing. Look at any brass heavy John Williams score and you will soon find out, that the brass rarely play legato. They usually play melodic lines with marcato and staccato notes. The Majestic Horns patch is quite as playable as the Adventure horns patch. Some lines sound better on the Adventure Brass patch and some better on the Majestic Horns patch. Learning what patch works better for what just comes down to using the library and learning while you go along. A great patch is also the Staccato/Staccatissimo patch. This one is super useful for creating stunningly realistic chordal repetitions.
The trumpets are my second favorite instrument in this library. My favorite patch in the trumpets is the Playable Repetitions patch, which is unique to this instrument. If the Staccato/Staccatissimo patch has the ability to create realistic repetitions, the Playable Repetitions patch is one step above. I have not found a better brass library, that would be able to create such lively and dead-on repetitions as this patch. As in the horns the Adventure Trumpets patch is extremely playable and very easy to use as well.
The trombones can be used great as a chordal accompaniment instrument, but the Adventure Trombones and Majestic Trombones patches lack the overall realizem the horns and trumpets have. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get pretty decent melodic lines with these patches, but I will mostly go after the Staccato/Staccatissimo and Sustain patches in trombones. In orchestral music the trombones are mostly used as accompaniment instruments and rarely play melodic lines. If they do, they usually double the horns anyway. What I also think is a bit off in the trombones is the panning of the instrument. I do not know how they positioned the trombones in the recording room or what the structure of the room is, but the trombones sound like they are coming from both left and right. I believe, that is mostly due to the recording room acoustics. The workaround for this of course is to use only the close mics and then position the instrument as you wish (I used Virtual Sound Stage 2 for this reason).
The tuba will probably be the least seeked instrument in this library. Nevertheless it has very nice staccato samples and it of course blends great with the other AB instruments. What I miss in the tuba is a bit more brassy sound on the fortissimo samples. I also feel like the tone could be more round and warm on the lover velocities.
Users of Soaring Strings will already be familiar with the GUI and will be able to dive straight into it. The GUI is as straightforward as it can get. You can easily see which patch you have selected and which key switch triggers which patch. You can also dial in your desired microphone settings. The “Humanization” feature is a really cool feature that will randomly adjust the attack and release of the samples which help with the realistic playability of the library. Humanisation can be set to tight, normal or loose or off. The “To Silence” feature makes the samples fade out to silence when CC1 is set to 0. This feature is great if you do not like using CC11 for fading out your instruments. All in all I really like the slick and not overly cluttered setup Musical Sampling have going in their GUIs.
Price performance and conclusion
Adventure Brass retails at 299$. I think this is a very reasonable price for the amount of content you are getting. Even if you own other brass libraries, that you are quite happy with, I think Adventure Brass will equip you with some patches, you won’t find anywhere else. Even if the trombones and tuba are not the best, the horns and trumpets surely make up for it by tenfold. For composers, that work on very tight deadlines I think this library is a must have, since the playability is so good. The library also blends very nicely with other brass sample libraries on the market. The only big downside to AB is, that it is very CPU heavy. Having too many patches loaded up and playing too much polyphony can create pops and clicks. The 1.1 update on the other hand really lowered the CPU usage in comparison to the original version.
In conclusion I think Adventure Brass will not solve all your brass sample library needs, but I think It will fit perfectly in your orchestral template and you will be using it on numerous projects.
- Excellent playability
- Great sounding horns and trumpets
- Stunning staccato/staccatissimo and repetitions patches
- CPU heavy
- Trombone and tubas might not be the best out there