Although Symphonic Brass Collection($995) works just fine as a standalone library, it was clearly intended to complement Sonic Implants' popular Symphonic String Collection. Producer Jennifer Hruska used the same ace recording team and used the same stereo mic setup in the same front-of-hall position at Sonic Temple Studio. The nicely packaged library installs from three DVDs and requires more than 11 GB of hard-disk space.Top BrassThe collection consists of five sections: Trumpets, Trombones, French Horns, Tuba, and Ensembles. As the name suggests, this library is designed primarily for standard orchestral composing and film scoring rather than for big-band jazz, pop, or marching band, although it might serve well in those styles depending on the arrangement. For example, the trumpet has presets with a Straight mute but none with a Cup or Harmon mute. The Ensembles section combines patches from the other sections into ready-made keyboard layouts, which is handy for working on quick sketches.All of the instruments include legato, marcato, staccato, and sforzando presets as well as muted (Straight mute) variants. Most of the presets have multiple Velocity layers (typically from two to four), and some of the short articulations have alternate takes for greater variety. Separate release samples appear throughout the library. Presets without release samples are also included if you want to add your own reverb, or if you just need to conserve on polyphony.The instruments are presented with varying numbers of players, allowing you to combine them into larger groups as needed. The trumpets and trombones have solo patches along with two- and three-player unison patches. The C- and E-flat tubas are provided only in solo patches, but the French Horns offer solo patches and two-, four-, and six-instrument options. Other articulations have Flutter Tongue (except Tuba), Falls (Trumpet and Trombone), Glissandos (Horns and Trombones), and Rips (Trombone and Tuba). Several patches in each section let you crossfade between Velocity layers or switch between multisamples with the Mod wheel. Only a few patches use keyswitching.Polished BrassSymphonic Brass Collection has a rich orchestral sound with a nicely controlled natural reverb that is spacious without being cavernous. Careful editing has added to the overall quality, and the performances are all top-notch.The solo trumpet is clear and powerful with a fine presence. As with the other instruments in this library (especially the horns), it has a surprisingly wide dynamic range; you can easily jump from a peaceful pianissimo to a wall-crumbling stentorian blast. In its middle range, the trumpet offers an evocative orchestral sound perfect for Aaron Copland-style solos. For a more sentimental sound, a separate Solo Melodic Trumpet patch with vibrato is offered. Unlike with the trombones, trumpet flutter-tongue and fall articulations are offered only for three-player unisons and only with mutes; a solo muted trumpet is not included.Along with the French Horn sections and the trombones, the solo and unison trumpets have a number of natural-sounding double-tongue patches. Unfortunately, the library has no easy way to put them to good use. Without an auxiliary applet that automatically alternates between samples, Giga Studio 160 users are left to their own devices. Surprisingly, the library lacks a simple keyswitching patch that would let you manually switch between attacks. (According to Sonic Implants, new keyswitching and auto-alternate programs are planned for a future update, which should be available by the time you read this review.)The French horns are first rate with a lofty, robust orchestral sound. Separate two- and four-horn unisons were recorded and layered to create the majestic six-horn patches. A Mod-wheel-programmed Sforzando patch lets you crescendo smoothly from the sforzando tail.Several Bells Up patches deliver an exciting open-brass sound that Sonic Implants also uses as the top layer in its splendid five-layer unison patches; they're among the high points in the library. Also noteworthy are the expressive Solo Horn patches. I was pleased to discover that the library has several fine stopped-horn patches for the two- and four-player unisons, but was disappointed that there are no solo stopped-horn patches. The solo horn also lacks flutter-tongue, double-tongue, and glissando options.The well-rounded trombone section has two tenor trombones and a bass trombone (mislabeled as baritone). The one-, two-, and three-player patches have open and muted falls, rips, and sforzandos along with the legato and staccato presets. The bass trombone has lots of bite, especially in the bottom octave, and the section patches offer a good range of expressiveness.Brass TacksIn spite of a few shortcomings, Symphonic Brass Collection offers a wealth of excellent presets. Its playability and great sound quality make it one of the best of the Giga Studio brass libraries and a valuable tool for desktop orchestrators.Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4Sonic Implants
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Following in the footsteps of its Symphonic String Collection, Sonic Implants has released Symphonic Brass Collection, offering high-quality trumpet, trombone, French Horn, and tuba samples.