[REVIEW] Spitfire BML - Horn Section 1

Discussion in 'Software Reviews and Tutorials' started by Andrew, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Spitfire Audio - BML Horn Section 1
    Foreword
    Before I call the horn players to join today's recording session, let me thank everyone in the AudioSEX an AudioZ staff for their hard work, new AudioZ and last but not least, Review section. :mates: :dancing:
    That means a lot to me, to be posting in the right category for once. :thumbsup:
    This is my 10th review so far, and this time with a little surprise.


    Prologue
    Today we'll get through Horn Section 1, As with Flute Consort 1, HS1 belongs to the Spitfire BML Range, which is to be focused on sonic detail, playability, etc.
    But Horn Section stands out.

    Introduction
    First of all, it's presented in solo horn and two horn patches. The most traditional seating is 4 or 6 horns, rarely three. I guess you can always duplicate solo horn patch, yet since the instruments were recorded in their places, you'd need to collapse stereo field in some mikes, etc..
    Optimal solution would be two separate solos and two separate duos, that way recreating 6-horn ensemble would be much easier.

    Layout & Specs

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    Fig. 1 - Two main Horn patches

    It's the same GUI from Sable, lacking some features like release trigger for shorts, but it's still the same straightforward UI for which Spitfire is famous (maybe)...
    The Two-horn patch clearly has more articulations. Spitfire is yet to release vol. 2 with more legato variations for solos, among other things, but vol. 2 hasn't been announced in their 2014 programme, hmm.. strange.
    However Horn Section came with new feature called "fp hall trigger", what it does is try to recreate the reverb tail that would follow after rapid decresendo. See the auxiliary video for examples.

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    Fig. 2 - fp hall trigger

    The Speed slider does something, but it's not like in string patches, though it's very close to how it would sound in real live, no portamento/glissandi, just legato, so you can turn it all the way down, it'll make the sound a bit more realistic
    Two-horn patch comes with two legato variations - slurred and tongued.
    What caught my interest is the BU, Bells Up or Schalltrichter Auf articulation. Never seen it in sample library before...
    It's a performace techique used extensively by Mahler. The players lift the bell from their knees and aim it upward. It is amazing to see it happen in live orchestra and it does change the sound as well.

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    Fig. 3 - Player performing bell-up, courtesy of James Boldin's Horn World, link

    Both horns are samples well, the duo sounds big or small however you want it to be, the solo sounds very subtle, lyrical and distant even in higher volumes.
    The amount of articulations is again nearly overwhelming, Cuivré, Stopped (Bouché), Multitongue, Rips, Falls and Trills, everything to cover your brassy needs.

    Problems & Recommendations
    There were very few problems with the UI, but a big one with the crossfading
    • Legato transition may overlap when advancing to another note while rasing volume with modwheel. In that case, you hear the louder transition while crossfading, which may disconnect a cressendo phrase. So watch it.
    • Do not use presets, they still don't work well.
    • Stereo Pan and Stereo Width can be adjusted only for Close mikes, too bad, in previous versions it could be set altogether.
    • It's nearly impossible to do faithful crescendo with how the velocity layers are programmed. The layers do not overlap each other, but on many occasions you'll notice sudden change of timbre, especially with the solo horn. This could be fixed, but otherwise limits the instrument only for basic non-dynamic situations.
    • Turn off CC1 mapped vel. for longs, otherwise the vel. attacks won't be triggered.

    Auxiliary Demonstrational Video
    And now that big surprise. Since demos would take ages to complete, I've came up with something much simplier. I just recorded the Kontakt window while casually playing with the instrument and then added some captions in the video editor. So not only you can hear how it sounds, but also it helps me to reflect some of its features and drawbacks. Plus it's easy and fast to do.
    So presenting my first Auxiliary demonstrational video:

    Please excuse the audio clipping in some places, it won't happen next time.

    Conclusion
    Spitfire yet again came up with something new, three horns inside Lyndhurst Hall performing various techniques, some of them exquisite and original, like the Bells Up technique.
    The sound is typical English, subtle and lyrical, but can be as well poignant, bold and loud.
    In Horn Section, Spitfire introduced "fp hall trigger", feature to recreate natural reverb tail.
    On the other hand, there is the crossfading bug, not found in other Spitfire libraries that somewhat diminish the excitement and limits the usage only for single dynamics.
    My recommendation is do not buy it just yet, Spitfire will likely fix this issue in near future. And if you do intend to buy it, as always try it first.

    Next review in will be ready in 3 days, I need to rest sometimes *yes*

    Reviewer's rating:
    7 out of 10 stars for now
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  3. Revenant

    Revenant Member

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    Thanks for the review. Do intend to get your hands on Cinesamples' stuff (Cinebrass, Cinewinds, Cineperc)?
     
  4. Tonk

    Tonk Noisemaker

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    Well-done Andrew. This is really a great extra gimmick to record a short video demonstration the sound.
    Hard work and a perfect result.
    Thank you very much.
     
  5. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Yes I do, in time, as those will be quite difficult, like reviewing LASS, that also needs preparations :grooves:
     
  6. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    Wow I am seriously floored. :wow:
    Not only does he take the time to write and prepare these reviews but now he has demo videos too? We're not worthy. :beg:

    A great heartfelt thanks on behalf of all of us at the forums. :bow:
     
  7. thisis theend

    thisis theend Noisemaker

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    Yup. I can only repeat what I've said many times before.
    Andrew - a really great guy :mates:
     
  8. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Thanks guys!
    The Audiosex feed on audioz might really not working properly. This review was completely omitted from the feed, much like the meme thread
     
  9. Catalyst

    Catalyst Audiosexual

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    It's on our LONG list of stuff to look into. Should be fixed soon, sorry Andrew.
     
  10. uber909

    uber909 Member

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    That's why this section of the forum is gonna be on my to-watch-every-morning list from now on.
    Thx for you reviews Andrew.
     
  11. Tonk

    Tonk Noisemaker

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    Hello Andrew,

    can you advise the Spitfire Horns more than the Cinebrass in workflow and getting a quick result?
     
  12. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Hmm, tough question,
    Spitfire Horns has only solo and duo horn,
    while CineBrass features complete brass ensemble, and horn is recorded solo, duo, 6 players and 12 players. The Duo and six player ensemble sound best.
    Both libraries have three short note lengths, but if these are too long or too short, you're trapped.
    So for quick result, Samplemodeling French Horn would be probably best. :bleh:

    For everyone,
    next review will be tomorrow, as I've spent some time cleaning my PC and my room :thumbsup:
     
  13. Revenant

    Revenant Member

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    Great, now I know when I'll be raping rape the F5 button :rofl:
     
  14. Tonk

    Tonk Noisemaker

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    Hello Andrew,
    thanks for your reply. Very interesting, your opinion about the different horns.
    Your knowledge about all these different libraries is unbelievable.

    I am exited about your next review.
     
  15. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Thanks again tonk for your words.

    Most of my time now goes to relocating all my three machines into SSDs, it's slow process, but once done, the system will gain performance like it never did before. I made the Low Brass review a priority today, so hope I'll get it done as promised.
    Then I'll focus on Cinesamples' as I believe, some of their products left questions unanswered :thumbsup:
     
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