Getting Brassy - ProSoundNetwork.com

Getting Brassy

On his Continuing Adventures In Software, Rich finds that when East and West do meet, it’s a very good thing.
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On his Continuing Adventures In Software, Rich finds that when East and West do meet, it’s a very good thing.

Part of any judgment within a software review is the level of its interaction with the user. That includes the installation and registration process, as well as how long it takes to get up and running in a useful fashion. This especially applies to orchestral libraries, which, by their very nature, are massive in size and timeconsuming to load up. However, when the 150 GB library comes pre-installed on a hard drive and takes less than five minutes to authorize, you begin the review process with a good feeling.

East West Hollywood Brass Diamond Edition is just such a product. As a follow-up to its popular Hollywood Strings, it once again brings together the production team of Doug Rogers, Nick Phoenix, Thomas Bergesen and award-winning engineer extraordinaire, Shawn Murphy. According to the company’s website, the sampling session at East West’s Studio 1 lasted for 21 straight days and then took a year to process and program.

After popping the hard drive into an internal bay on my computer (it can, of course, be transferred to any drive you choose), I ran the Authorization Wizard (iLok needed) and registered my code on the website. Bam! I was up and running without a drop of sweat or stress. That’s worth a few extra bucks right there.

Enough on the install; the bottom line is this thing sounds fantastic. Just call up a patch, turn on the internal impulse response reverb (with various room/hall options) and get playing. You’ve got 24-bit/44.1 kHz samples and five mixable mic positions of a world-class Brass section at your fingertips. But there’s much more to it than just static samples—the quality of sound is also directly related to the interaction with the user.

It’s all about how you can actually perform parts with this software. For example, the Mod Wheel controls dynamics, and it’s worth time invested to understand the small nuances. I literally spent 20 minutes playing just two notes back and forth experimenting with the touch of the wheel and its effect on the sound. Velocity also comes into play here, as that controls the intensity and dynamics of each note. Obviously with brass, the harder notes sound much more intense than soft notes, with a completely different sonic timbre

On certain patches, the Mod wheel can also instantly switch between settings, so you could go from Staccatissimo (playing each note very distinctly), to Marcato short to Marcato Long to Marcato Long with sustain, depending on how far up you push the wheel. It’s very cool to play these patches and actually perform the parts in real time. It makes such a difference in the quality and believability of the performance.

There are also some amazing patches for film work in the Effects section, such as Rip Trill, Rip Flutter, Flutter Tongue, Cres Mod Speed. I mean, few things speak, “I’m a film score,” more than a ripped French horn! Another small detail is that even things like the crescendos are tempo synced, making it easy to compose to a click. Also, the reverb is extremely high quality, adding a critical realism to the overall sound.

Hollywood Brass includes samples for 2 French Horns, 2 Trombones and 1 Bass Trombone, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trumpets, 6 French Horns, Low Brass, Solo Cimbasso (an instrument in the trombone family), Solo French Horn, Solo Trombone, Solo Trumpet and Solo Tuba.

Since I’ve already discussed the Play engine in a previous review, I’ll simply mention that next to each primary instrument category sit the various types of samples for each instrument. For example, 2 French Horns offers Long, Short, Effects, Legato and Mutes. Once you’ve chosen the type of sample, the third box on the right offers up the specific type of articulations within the chosen category. So 2 French Horns > Long will offer up LegRep RRX4, Portato, Sus Accent, Sus Lite, Sus Marc L and Sus. Choosing, loading and operating Play is simple and effortless.

But how’s the drain on the computer? On my Intel Mac 2 X 2.26 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon, a 736 MB Brass patch with both Main and Vintage mics running peaked at no more than 5 percent of my CPU on the realtime Play meter. No problemo.

With just a touch of effort, you can create super-realistic brass parts that could fool even a golden ear. Seriously, these kinds of results speak wonders about the sampling quality and overall programming that went into making this product. At $795, it’s not cheap. But how far would that money get you on a real brass session? Case closed! Not to sound like a broken record, but East West did it again with Hollywood Brass. Bravo.

Note that Hollywood Brass also comes in a lighter Gold Edition (on DVD), which offers up one mic position and 16-bit resolution. You can however, upgrade to the Diamond Edition from there.