I didn’t know 8Dio instruments until a couple of days ago, so, today that I’m playing with some of their newest Kontakt instruments, I’m quite amazed!
They make really fine instruments! I’ve been given the Century Brass and Century Strings for review, and you gotta believe me, these are world-class Kontakt instruments.
So, today, I’ll be reviewing the Century Brass Bundle Kontakt Instrument, which consists, of course, Brass Ensembles and solo instruments.
Although these libraries are huge, the download process didn’t take as long as other big libraries. One night downloading them was enough in my case.
The user interface is pretty classy: dark grey and some kind of gold and lighter grey, I mean, combines very nice with the Kontakt GUI.
It’s got a browser for the articulations, knobs for dynamics, expression, speed, release tails, vibrato and legato volume.
Not every single knob has a function in every single articulation, so, for example, in Staccatissimo, just the expression and speed knob will light up, all of the rest, will still be there, but in a darker grey, with no position indicators.
Next, there’s a mixer with Convolution reverb’s size and mix faders; faders and pan position for Close mics, Decca-tree mics, and Wide mics, all of which have on/off button and can be routed to any available output in Kontakt. Also, there’s a Mixed fader with a preset balance between all three mic sources.
Finally, there’s a simple, yet very handy EQ section, with faders for Low, Mid and High frequencies.
There’s a second page for Effects, that will show as an FX rack with a phaser, EQ, Degrader, Delay, Transform, and Reverb.
The ensemble consists of patches for Horns sections, with 2, 6 or 12 pieces, a 3 piece Trombone section, and Trumpet sections of 2 or 4 pieces.
As you would expect, there are multiple articulations for each patch. In fact, there are 10 available slots to select articulations, and as I’ve said before, 8Dio, came up with a very clever way to handle memory, so, you can in fact load just the samples for the articulations you’re gonna use and not all of them. Hughe and easy way to save memory.
Also, each articulation slot has its own volume control, so maybe you want quieter staccato parts, which is as easy as grabbing a volume fader.
Speaking of articulation, there are some basic ones that apply to all ensembles patches: Legato, Sustain, Staccato, Marcato, Soaring, and muted articulations, but also, there are specific articulations for each patch, like Fanfare shorts for trombones and trumpets.
On the control side of things, as you would expect, the dynamic knob is mapped by default to the Mod wheel (CC#1), and the expression is by default CC#11.
Speed, on the other hand, is mapped to CC#16.
The articulations can be changed on the fly using MIDI notes from C-1 to A-1.
The close and Decca mics are by default panned to the position of the ensemble in the orchestra. As you would expect, the close mic, sounds very dry, very “in-your-face” with lots of attack, whereas the Decca-tree sounds a little bit more as how would the conductor actually hear the instruments, there is some more space, and not that much attack.
Finally, the wide mics, are more like room mics, with lots of space and a bit darker tone.
I don’t actually know in what studio was this recording done, but, it definitely sounds like a big studio, and it is without any doubt very well recorded using world-class gear and players. I mean, you can definitely tell that just by hitting a single note in any patch!
The collection of Solo instruments is absolutely great!
Here you’ll find a Tuba, a Bass Trombone, a Cimbasso (something like the father of bass trombone), a Flugel Horn (somewhat darker than a trumpet), French Horn, Trombone, and Trumpet.
I really need to say that the Legato trumpet patch, is the coolest one I’ve ever played!
So, the Solo instruments, work in the exact same way as the Ensemble.
All the same controls, the same 10 slots for loading articulations, etc, etc. Of course, every instrument has its own set of articulations, some quite unique like the double and triple tongue which sound absolutely fantastic.
Again, the Solo instruments sound incredibly well recorded and the by-default-mixed microphone position, most of the times will work just fine without the need of adding any artificial reverb. The room mics, bring a lot of ambiance in a very natural way.
But, speaking of effects, I should mention that the convolution reverbs sound great, especially for church ambiances and you can go to the effects page and find it all the way down for further tweaking and control.
The transform effect unit is a very cool way to create weird effects based on modulation.
There’s also a delay, a degrader bitrcusher and distortion unit-, the rack unit for the main page EQ, which you can tweak more precisely from the rack unit, and a phaser/flanger unit.
Of course, you can craft really wild sounds using these fx units, but I guess I’ll be using more the dry sounds, just because they sound super-real!
This is a world-class orchestral library and it truly sounds that way! Also, the amount and quality of the articulations makes it a very versatile tool, and you are not gonna need a slave PC just to run this library from. I’m running it from a USB Hard Drive on my laptop and works great!
As you just load the articulations you need, it won’t eat tons of memory. Actually, I did a test loading articulations on all 10 slots, and I don’t think is that crazy the amount of memory it takes.
Anyway, this sounds great, and by that I mean world-class. So, if you work in composing for movies, tv, theatre plays or anything that will need great orchestral brass instruments and ensembles, well, my friend: this is definitely for you!
These libraries will only work with Kontakt 5.6 or above, so, if you’ve got a previous version of Kontakt, now is a good time to update.
More Details: Century Brass
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