Native Instruments Session Horns for KONTAKT

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If you need to virtually recreate large-scale orchestral and cinematic brass, you can pretty much pick and choose from a variety of sample libraries. Less well catered for, however, are small-scale brass ensembles suitable for pop and rock applications, where tight, finger-snapping cool and funkiness are more in keeping than Wagnerian bombast. Session Horns (SH), the third of Native Instruments’ Kontakt library collaborations with Hamburg company e-instruments (their first two being Session Strings and its larger Pro sibling) aims to fit that niche. It’s a 4.88GB library based around a four-piece brass section comprising a trombone, a tenor saxophone and two trumpets, the sort of line-up typically used in soul, funk, reggae, Latin and many other modern pop styles.

Sound-wise, if you’re after a tight, bright, controlled brass section, SH’s core samples provide the ideal raw material. Although recorded very dry, the sound is not entirely anechoic; there’s just enough subtle room reflection to give a sense of the recording space. The overall tone is bright and zippy, suggesting close miking with an AKG 414 or something similar, although the mics used are not listed. Most of the high-frequency ‘zip’ comes from the trumpets and trombone, while the tenor sax provides an element of warmth. As you’d expect from NI, the 44.1kHz, 24-bit samples are very clean and well recorded.

Session Horns brings a bright, lively four-piece brass ensemble to a keyboard near you. With care and consideration, it’s capable of producing very believable results, using just one instance of the Performance patch, and the surprisingly flexible Animator certainly helps to add a touch of realism when you don’t have the time or inclination to flesh out authentic arrangements yourself. Although an instrument in this price range won’t cover every conceivable articulation and playing technique, it offers enough expressivity to do the job convincingly well, and represents very fair value for money.

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