Review: Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete

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With Solo Strings Complete, the latest offering from Chris Hein, the developer employs his mastery of sampling and scripting to deliver solo instruments that just may set the bar on realism for solo strings instruments moving forward!

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Review: Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete

Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete is a collection of 4 Kontakt Player instruments including Solo Violin, Solo Viola, a Solo Cello (containing 2 separate sampled instruments) and Solo ContraBass. Each of the libraries contains over 10,000 samples with 38-freakin articulations!

The instrument’s playback really shines with 4 different legato transitions and a unique phase alignment which seamlessly blends between the 8 dynamic layers.

For a limited time Best Service is offering discounts on upgrades for registered users of Chris Hein Solo Violin and/or Chris Hein Solo Viola.

Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete sells for €599.00 from Best Service

 

Thoughts

I had some experience with Chris Hein Woodwinds and Brass libraries so I thought I had a pretty good idea going into the review what to expect, but once I started digging into the Solo Strings Complete library I realized it was so much more than I expected.

I was really impressed with the playability when first loading up some of the long articulations and found the legato to be incredibly responsive. That was just cracking the surface! As I began to dig into the extensive functionality of the engine I realized the possibilities with the instrument may just set the bar on solo string instruments moving forward.

Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete Main Interface

The “Basics” panel of Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete’s main interface offers easy accessibility to the main controls of the library. You can get away with just sticking to this panel to control timbre (as Room controls) or track your sample playback parameters in the “Control” section.

One of the highlights of the engine is the “ROOM” controls.

This panel allows you to change 2 separate IRs for Body and Room and allows you to adjust instrument body size with several presets as well as dial in reverb with the Room effect which also comes with several different spaces to virtually play the instrument in.

While other premium solo string libraries rely on one-great-tone, Chris Hein has instead opted for maximum flexibility. If you don’t like the sound of playback with Body 1 and the Big Hall, load up another preset and you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference Body 10 and a different Chamber verb will make. The reason I call this out as a highlight is because the vast array of timbre changes you can achieve with these two controls alone offer users a vast variety of tones for playback. This makes the instruments very flexible and lend themselves to uses across a number of different music styles as well as uses as solo instrument, quartet performances and first chair instruments to stack onto your string sections for added realism.

The interface is very straight forward and easy to get around. All the functionality is intuitively accessible with just a couple clicks of the mouse and the graphics and colors of the GUI are very pleasing to the eye. The only real critique I had about the interface was that going from the Main GUI to the other panels (Articulations, Settings, Vibrato) the interface jumps to a larger size. Maybe not that big of a deal for some, but as someone who has some experience in the design world, I found it off that the developer broke one of the rules of great interface design (i.e. keep your navigation in the same real estate.)

 

Chris Hein Solo Strings Articulations Panel

 

Digging into the next panel, the Articulations, I started to get a sense of just how much can be achieved with 38 different articulations! Articulations are assignable to 2 octaves of keyswitches. The engine has a collection of “HOT KEYS” for momentary articulation triggering while the Hot Keys are pressed.

Another highlight are the 38 Articulations that show just how expressive the playback can be.

The differences in the several Legato articulations are noticeable and will allow users to select the right Legato for their given phrase. The 6 different shorts or 6 different Spiccato articulations opened my eyes (and ears) as to the expressive possibilities that were lacking in my other solo string libraries.

I can’t begin to cover all the functionality available in the Articulations Panel so refer to the official videos (below) or the website to download the manual for all the details. What I can say is that highlights of the functionality on the Articulations page include:

  • Selectable Dynamic programming which let users select the way they wish to interact with the instrument.
  • The “Note Head Designer” offering 102 attack shapes with note-ends that perfectly matches the note length.
  • Ensemble mode, which transforms the solo instrument into a section with up to 5 voices including Detune and stereo Spread controls.

Chris Hein Solo Strings Modern & Romantic Cello presets included

Taking the collection even further is the fact that Chris Hein has included 2 separately sampled cellos in the Solo Strings Complete Cello instrument, a Modern Cello and a Romantic Cello.  The Modern Cello presets have more of a contemporary sound with “extreme dynamics and a precise and clear tone”, while the Romantic Cello presets lean more toward a lush, “warm and rich sound.”

I love the cello and these two instruments are a highlight of the library, covering their respected areas of focal beautifully!

Setting and Effect Panel

The Settings panel has a plethora of controls for Dynamics, Release FX, Pitch Bend parameters as well as a very welcome simulated “Sordino” effect. The simulation sounds top-notch and has controls for frequency dampening allowing the user to turn any articulation or performance into Con Sordino (with mute) playback

The DSP/FX controls contain all the usual suspects and can take the sample set out to an entirely new level with Filters, Phasers, Flangers, Delay and an additional Reverb.

Chris Hein Solo Strings Vibrato Controls Panel

A huge highlight of the engine for the libraries is the Vibrato control panel. All too often, I am turned off by a virtual instrument because of it’s baked-in vibrato! This is not the case here, as Chris Hein has 2 separate kinds of vibrato available for the instrument: a LFO Vibrato (default) and an Auto Vibrato. Each of the these come with 4 presets and the controls to let you sculpt and adjust your vibrato as needed for the desired playback.

Over all, Chris Hein Solo Strings has a lot of very deep functionality and loads of parameters to program, but don’t let those scare you. I found that I could pretty easily use 2-3 keyswitches or add a “Note Head” to get a decent performance. That said, you will get maximum potential for stunningly life-like playback by digging into the capabilities and adding lots of midi cc’s for all aspects of your performance.

Now, as much as I am thrilled with this collection I can not recommend it for everyone. If you’re the kind of music maker who wants to play a single line with just the modwheel and move on you will be missing out on the real value you get from this collection. Although I do feel the collection is offered at a fair price for what you get, if you’re not digging in and adding all the Midi CCs, you really won’t be getting your moneys worth.

 

Facts

The instruments in Chris Hein Solo Strings contain over 10,000 samples each including 38 articulations with 8 dynamic layers and 4 legato transitions. The library downloads as 28 GB and is compatible with Native Instruments NKS capable keyboards.

Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete sells for €599.00 from Best Service

Demos of Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete

Videos of Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete