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Acoustic Samples V Horns review

Ever wanted to add some of that horn-like spice to your tracks? A virtual horn section may transfer your dream into reality

  • €199
Acoustic Samples V Horns
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

A very clever suite, which employs some great tech to recreate that horn section sound, but it’ll take some practice to get the best from the package.

Pros

  • +

    Effective software brass.

  • +

    Full contingent of mute samples too.

  • +

    Virtual Space and mic settings.

  • +

    Can feel highly realistic.

Cons

  • -

    Auto Vibrato gets tiresome.

  • -

    Trombone less realistic in low registers.

Acoustic Samples V Horns: What is it?

When it comes to sampling, one of the hardest sections to replicate is the brass section. Layered with articulation and breath control, trumpets and trombones are notoriously difficult to reproduce. 

Enter Acoustic Samples, who arrives at the party with a wealth of experience in replicating acoustic instrumentation. This library has been in the works since 2012, when the company first started recording players with this title in mind – an indication of how long it’s taken to get right.

The section we have here is not to be confused with the set of French horns found at the back of many orchestras. This instrumentation relates to that found in jazz, pop and funk settings. Horn sections, more often than not, include saxes. This is not the case here, where Acoustic Samples has prepared two trumpet instruments, two flügel instruments and two trombones. 

The reason for having two of each relates to the timbre of the instrumentation. Small details such as the colour of the instrument ie brass or silver lacquer, can drastically affect the tone of the instrument, hence Acoustic Samples has decided to offer two of each, by way of choice, allowing the option to work in a sectionalised capacity.

Each instrument also comes equipped with a healthy selection of mute samples, including straight, cups, buckets and plungers. V Horns is hosted by UVI’s excellently reliable Workstation software, available in standalone and all the usual plugin formats.

Acoustic Samples V Horns: Performance and verdict

Beginning with the trumpet section, our opening salvo sounded pretty resplendent, but it becomes very apparent, very quickly, that you need to employ elements of real-time control, to get the best out of this package. 

Also consider...

EastWest Hollywood Pop Brass

(Image credit: EastWest)

EastWest - Hollywood Pop Brass (opens in new tab)
A completist, sample-based section, brimming with licks.

Sample Modeling Trumpet/Trombone 3 (opens in new tab)
Also employ some clever modelling software to provide scope for realistic performance of brass.

Brass players exploit breath control, to allow for immediate and ever changing flow of air. This translates as volume, and hence dynamic tone. All of this is achievable, but it will take practice in playing a keyboard alongside a set of MIDI cc faders. Getting things perfect will most likely require some editing.  

An Auto Time feature introduces a degree of vibrato immediately into the playing. We weren’t overly fond of this, as it sounded a little fake, but controlling it via MIDI certainly yielded a better effect. The articulation at the front of each note feels secure, but the backend of notes feels less believable, even in a legato setting. Don’t get us wrong, it isn’t bad, but not the real thing just yet.

The flügel and trombone samples are a similar deal. The trombone didn’t sound that believable in the lower pitch register, but it certainly looked effective on the screen, as the slide of the instrument moves around with each note played, even though some slide positions didn’t seem to be correct. 

Any package like this will sound weak when exposed, but if layered as a group section, and in context, it could sound highly believable. Each instrument is equipped with heavy-duty advanced editing features, and we found that using the additional microphone signals, set up at more of a distance, could benefit the sound in a more forgiving way. Impressive tech, but it will take practice to get the most out of it.

MusicRadar verdict: A very clever suite, which employs some great tech to recreate that horn section sound, but it’ll take some practice to get the best from the package.

Acoustic Samples V Horns: Hands-on demos

Acousticsamples

HIFIMIDI

Acoustic Samples V Horns: Specifications

  • Comes with its own sample player, the UVI Workstation 3 (requires v3.0.0 or later). It works on Mac (10.9 or later) and PC (Windows 8 or later), in standalone or as a plugin (VST / AU / AAX ) and in 64 bits only. 
  • CONTACT: Acoustic Samples (opens in new tab)

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