Impact Soundworks - Bravura Scoring Brass [Review]

Discussion in 'Software Reviews and Tutorials' started by Gramofon, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Gramofon

    Gramofon Producer

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    Ok, guys, it's my first one. Don't be harsh. :unsure:

    Impact Soundworks – Bravura Scoring Brass [Review]


    About two months ago, in late July, Impact Soundworks came out with a new brass library called “Bravura”, a brass library geared towards media composers. Well, duh!

    What I found interesting is that it was about the same time that Native Instruments brought out its very own “Symphonic Series: Brass Collection”. These libraries came out at about the same time and still, seem to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum of ultra bold to intimate. It just felt like an interesting coincidence.


    Anyways, now onto Bravura. According to Impact Soundworks' description: “[Bravura is] a complete collection of orchestral brass ensembles, soloists, and aleatoric FX recorded with stunning depth in a large scoring studio. Featuring three mic positions, extensive articulations, and incredibly powerful scripting, BSB is an ideal tool for film, TV & game scoring.

    And proceeding to inform us that they “started by taking a good look at other brass libraries and asked ourselves "what's missing and how can we take this to a new level?”; following the description of the term used in the library's name. I'm not sure that “bold” is the right term to describe this library but it certainly has character and, indeed, has a different, worked-out approach and stands on its own.


    The library has a quite dry sound and three mic positions. Dry enough to let the sound develop and get a bit colored but making it rather easy to put the instruments in your desired space. The sound feels a bit narrow in the beginning but you'll soon realise that's the character of the library and the width controls can help remedy that.


    General Stuff

    The library weighs about 25 GB. The patches are separated to 16-bit and 24-bit ones, just as is the case with “Orchestral Percussion” (for smaller resource footprints). There are three players in each section.

    When opening up the library, I was quite astonished at the variety of patches. There's even a piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn included. The developers coherently put together elements of different libraries by adding separate sections, solo instruments and orchestrator and chord-maker patches (whose ranges can be customised) to help in quick composition and/or sketching.

    The timbre is similar to that of the old SONiVOX brass (which I also quite like), albeit a lot more detailed, enhanced and customisable.

    The patches can get pretty heavy, so make sure to purge if you're short on RAM.

    There is a variety of neat controls that let you shape the response and the sound. The GUI is easy to navigate and has rather good default settings in order to let you start playing without fiddling around but also be able to dig in when you want something more special or customised.


    The GUI/Engine


    [​IMG]

    The GUI is pretty well laid-out and straight-forward and includes some 'hidden' stuff for tweakers.

    The mic controls are on the left and are accompanied by volume, panning, width controls and a 3-band EQ. At the lower left, a convolution reverb section with customised IRs can be found and controlled. I found the IRs pretty good sounding and the “Tone” control, especially, is a joy to use.

    At the center you can view info, instrument sections with additional controls, the Dynamics and Vibrato sliders (where they are supported), articulation information and extra controls. You can also unload articulations you don't need to save RAM or avoid accidental keyswitching.

    On the right, you will find the velocity curve, coarse and fine tuning knobs (which you can use to give some more character and live feeling to the instruments), articulation switching and dynamics control buttons, a button to change the Round Robin repetitions to random or cycle, a button turn the Releases on or off (more natural tail and instrument release when they are on) and access the Stack feature button.

    I found the releases on some instruments/notes to be kinda phase-y or chorus-y. I'm not sure what's going on there but I guess it has to do with them following a different dynamics curve and becoming more prominent improperly at parts and the loose intonation. The “mouthpiece” sound can also be prominent at parts which I guess can be both good or bad (but it can be cut in advanced settings, mostly by adjusting the offset/attack of shorts or reduced by playing around with the dynamics/CC1).

    The Stack feature can artificially double or triple your section size (click the button and then the stacked squares on the right). I found this also to be kinda phase-y [in the default settings] but it can beef up your sections. Good for when you need that extra presence but if there's the time/patience I'd probably opt for adding a second solo or section patch. But, you CAN dig in the Kontakt script internals and access some of the Stack settings (along with others) to shape the sound and parameters more to your liking and also automate them.

    You can access more advanced settings on the articulations with the 'c' icon next to them by pressing Ctrl + Left clicking on the articulation's name. You can change to 'Smart' legato (which changes the intervals automatically based on velocity), Normal (customisable), add accents for bolder transitions, change the offset and decay of shorts and time-stretch the fx.

    All patches also include a 'Mute' option which simulates mutes via EQ. Certainly not as good as real mutes but it's an extra option and works decently.

    You can change the shorts to “Velocity split” which will give an option in advanced options to set the values where the articulation will change.



    Note: The sampled recordings have retained the natural “fading in” breathing push of brass instruments so you may have to play with MIDI delay, moving notes and similar stuff to get them to sound tighter. You can always offset attacks or play it in.



    The instruments

    Now, moving on to the instruments. There are all-in-all 40 patches. 20 for the 16-bit version and 20 for the 24-bit one. They are separated to full, sections, orchestrator and chord-maker patches (the two latter both for sections and solo).

    What always kinds of bumps me is the inconsistencies of articulations. Of course, some instruments can do some stuff more easily or are typically used in a specific manner. Now, all patches have the “main” styles (legato, sus, stacc/shorts, trills). But, the approach here has been more traditional and selective, by offering “most used” playing styles on specific sections. For example, you'll see some sections utilising vibrato or fluttertongue when others aren't. Not too big of a deal but options and detail is always good. It's understandable though. It's not very cohesive but helps with costs and development time.

    There are full section patches, one for each section, one for each solo instrument (with added piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn, which is a cool addition), the orchestrator/chord patches and a nice selection of FX.

    The flutter/multi-tongue patches are tight but it would be nice to have a “triggered” version if you don't want them to be that synced or more fx-like. That is, having something that does a hybrid in-between of multi and flutter-tongue.

    The forte doesn't really reach that soaring, bold wall-of-brass, blown-out sound but it's a decent all-rounder. (The sections are kinda small after all) That's up to your orchestration and voicings too, of course, as well as the production. This, on the other hand, helps for divisi voicings.


    And something else: This library has pianissimo (that sounds like it).



    Patch Overview


    I won't be analysing the controls again here but rather say a few words for each patch and possible issues I had. There seem to be some general issues with the stereo field jumping around a little. The Tenuto articulation gets a special mention as it's great for those “back and forth” shorts.


    01 – Full Brass Ensemble
    [​IMG]

    The full brass ensemble pretty much plays like the typical “fully spread out keyboard sketching” patch but it can also do the job if you're not planning on getting very detailed in your orchestration. There are some nifty controls for different sections volume and panning.

    In this particular patch, I had an issue with the releases changing a bit too abruptly and being kinda phase-y. It's not extremely bad but it's noticeable.

    Here's an audio example:


    02 – Trumpets Ensemble
    [​IMG]

    The trumpet section patch plays smoothly overall, but you'll likely have to change the legato settings for faster passages. Either use the 'Smart' mode to change to faster intervals based on velocity or change the settings by Ctrl + Left click on the articulation.


    03 – Horns Ensemble
    [​IMG]


    The horns have some intonation discrepancies at the two lower octaves. The tongue attacks can be too audible in the flutter. Ideally, I'd love a flutter legato.


    04 – Trombones Ensemble
    [​IMG]


    The staccato is pretty nimble and the tenuto is kinda loose. The flutter is a bit slow.


    05 – Low Brass Ensemble
    [​IMG]


    This consists of two tubas and one bass trombone. The attacks on the notes are close to the physicality of the instruments and build up naturally. There are some “note-on” issues in some notes where one player (probably the trombonist) will come in a bit more aggressively after the initial attack.



    06/07 - Ensemble Orchestrator & Chord Maker
    [​IMG]

    These are more specialised patches and I won't say much about them 'cause I don't really use them. Good tools to have though; you never know. They can be quick sketching and orchestration tools. Check the manual to see exactly how they work.

    In the Orchestrator patch you see again four different sections. You start with a chord or the lowest note of your chord and the script takes of the rest. The red squares split the voices (up to 5-voice chords) or layer them on specific notes depending on how you've placed your intervals. In the Solo Orchestrator you can also change the instruments. The 'OCT(ave)' control can transpose and spread the chords even further. 'Bass note' adds a Tuba at the lowest note. There are also some cool presets.

    Chord-maker has two colors. Cyan for major chords and purple for minor ones. The octaves change inversions. Also includes some cool presets.


    08 – Solo Piccolo Trumpet
    [​IMG]

    The piccolo trumpet plays well overall but there is noise build-up in the higher register on the Legato articulation.


    09 – Solo Trumpet
    [​IMG]

    The trumpet plays well. I could say it has one of the best timbres I've heard in a library.



    10 – Solo Flugelhorn
    [​IMG]

    Plays pretty well. Nice timbre.


    11 – Solo Horn
    [​IMG]

    Very nice sounding and playable.


    12 - Solo Trombone
    [​IMG]


    The solo trombone is OK but it suffers from a similar to the Picc Trumpet's noise build-up on the higher octaves of the Legato articulation.


    13 - Tuba
    [​IMG]

    Nice, full and gentle. Decent lower end stabs.


    14/15 – Solo Orchestrator & Chordmaker

    Similar to the ensemble ones, but you can also change instruments.


    16/17/18/19/20 – Full Brass, Trumpets, Trombones, Horns, Low Brass FX
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    A nice variety of brass FX.



    Additional Controls

    Here are some pictures of what the advanced controls look like (Reminder: They can be reached by Ctrl + Left clicking on the articulations with the 'c' icon that support them):

    Longs
    [​IMG]

    Shorts
    [​IMG]


    If 'Velocity Split' is on, you'll see the options under the articulations:
    [​IMG]


    Script additional settings (click the wrench icon):
    [​IMG]


    Maybe it would be better if these were on a second page on the GUI.


    Some quick audio examples:
    https://mega.nz/#!kAwSlRDI!HkBENf4AY5sCtBQs9Btu6pzhUEGe3oDiiwxT_LqnB0Q

    -





    What this includes:
    1 releases example, 1 quick sketch to showcase articulated passages, 1 tenuto example, Indiana Jones mock-up with minimal editing



    Conclusion

    Impact Soundworks' Bravura certainly brings something different to the table. It can reach more 'epic' stuff with some work but the rest is very natural and well articulated.


    There's a lot of natural flair and musicality in these samples which makes them a useful colour on the brass palette and great for more intimate, articulated stuff and it is very adjustable and customisable and can cater to different workflows and genres. From a beat background, to big orchestra, to band ensembles, from J. Williams to J. Barry, I'd say this library can pull it decently. Interesting choices overall.

    It's a good all-rounder and especially good for calmer stuff and lines that need character and not just boldness. What's even cooler is that the library is broken in sections so you can get exactly what you need or add/upgrade as you go. A joy of brassy grittiness.



    I'll give it a 8/10 because of some minor issues and because there is some room for improvement left. Eagerly waiting to see what the strings and woods will be like.


    Rating:
    [​IMG]



    For more tips, details, term definitions, patch descriptions and usage you can also read the manual and view the product page and videos:

    Bravura Manual

    Bravura Product Page
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  3. luizcifer

    luizcifer Ultrasonic

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    Nice review Gramofon
    Thank you !!!
     
  4. phloopy

    phloopy Audiosexual

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    Nice one Gramofon - long time since anyone has made a review of a symphonic release!

    Im pretty sure that has nothing to do with this libary itself but the way Kontakt v5.5 treads all libraries!!

    Cheers :wink::wink:
     
  5. Gramofon

    Gramofon Producer

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    Is that so? Haven't really noticed. I barely have/use any 5.5 libs... So, I don't really know. And I only got this recently. I hadn't updated Kontakt nor paid attention. I'll edit it out shortly.

    Edit: Lol, yeah, it does it to every patch. Maybe I only noticed in this lib because I spent so much time looking at details... :rofl::bow:
     
  6. Anakin

    Anakin Guest

    great thanks for this complex review
     
  7. Revirau

    Revirau Kapellmeister

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    Thank you, man. Really cool review.
     
  8. Xyenz Fyxion

    Xyenz Fyxion Producer

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    Bravo! Wonderful review, thanks for sharing!
     
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