Review: 8DIO Intimate Studio Brass by 8DIO
Wide range of articulations
Mic choice keeps the library versatile in mixes
Single mic placement
High ram consumption for 4 solo instruments
8DIO Intimate Studio Brass would make a nice addition to any orchestral, jazz, pop, or swing writing template.
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Review: 8DIO Intimate Studio Brass by 8DIO
8DIO’s Intimate Studio Brass is part of their pro-grade studio orchestral instruments. 8DIO says this series is focused on the softer side of brass and less common effects. This library is aimed at pop, swing and jazz music, but is flexible enough for many styles. it covers a lot of ground for solo brass, duo, trio and quartet writing. It can also work well augmenting another brass library. It is very playable and sounds great.
Intimate Studio Brass is a brass quartet, consisting of 2 Solo Trumpets, 1 Trombone, and 1 Bass Trombone.
As 8DIO promotes the library, Studio Brass covers the softer side of brass, but that doesn’t necessarily limit its uses. While you won’t find epic trailer-styled blares and blasts, it covers a lot of ground for solo brass, duo, trio and quartet writing. It can also work well augmenting another brass library. It is very playable and sounds great.
The instrument options include Trumpet 1, Trumpet 2, Trombone and Bass Trombone. Each of these has individual patches in four categories: Traditional, Muted, Performance, and Effects.
The Traditional category includes legato, sustains, staccato, two staccatissimos, marcato, marcato sfz, trills (half, whole and single versions of each). The Muted category includes straight and harmonic mutes for sustain, marcato, and staccatissimo. It also includes wah long, wah short, wah sustains free and wah sustains synced. The Performance category contains short, medium and long arcs, three variations of “da daa” performances, measured tremolos, slow and fast runs (5ths and octaves, up and down), and a set of both free and synced triplets and tuplets.
All four of the Studio Brass instruments sound great. There is only a single mono mic position and the recording is dry, but each instrument has control over mic distance. This makes it easy to add your own reverb and mix Studio Brass to fit with other sample libraries. When adding reverb to a completely dry instrument, setting up early reflections properly will create a sense of space for each instrument, and adding late reflections (reverb tail) will create the sense of distance, size and reverberation of the space. In some dry recordings of brass, the instrument tends to lose too much of its power, making it difficult to create this sense of space, but I did not find that to be the case with this library. I was able to drop Studio Brass into my current scoring template with existing reverbs and it blended well with other libraries. On its own, Studio Brass sounded warm, full and appropriately beefy in quartet writing.
Studio Brass has its own very easy to use custom interface within Kontakt. When a preset is first loaded, all four instruments are enabled. Each can be loaded or unloaded by clicking on the round circle just below each instrument name. For each instrument we have a volume knob, pan, mic distance, solo, mute and output assignment if you have multiple outputs configured in Kontakt. During this review, my preference was to setup a separate instance of Kontakt for each instrument (i.e. only that instrument loaded on the Instrument page).
Below is a screenshot of the Instrument portion of the interface:
At the bottom of the Instrument page are the various controls, assigned to CC values. The default assignments have Dynamics on CC1, Expression on CC11, Speed on CC16, and Offset on CC12. Speed and Response only apply to some of the instruments, which is why they are inactive in the screenshot above (showing a Legato patch active).
Release controls the volume of release samples, and response provides an adjustable velocity curve.
The Noise switch turns recording room tone on/off. This is basically microphone noise floor and hiss from the recording chain. Some may find it useful to create the sense of a live recording, broadcast, or when emulating an older tape recording, but I tend to leave this off to preserve clarity.
The Articulations page is where you setup keyswitch mapping. With Studio Brass, the general preset, “8DIO Intimate Studio Brass” has all four instruments activated, but no articulations are loaded. You will have to setup your own, as I have in the screenshot above (“Trumpet 1 Art” is a custom preset). Given the range of different articulations in Studio Brass, most users will want to do this anyway. Each slot is activated by keyswitch, which can be changed if so desired. Articulations can also be recalled by CC control. Of course, you can always setup multiple instruments in one Kontakt instance to either cover different sets of keyswitches for each of the brass instruments, or even one per articulation.
The legatos are smooth and playable, especially while riding CC1 and CC11 (dynamics and expression). Legatos use fixed length samples with no looping, so they will not hold forever (which would likely result in the asphyxiation of your virtual brass musician anyway – i.e. brass and wind players cannot hold a note forever, so this is realistic). The sustains (vibrato and non-vibrato versions) are looped for those wishing to write impossibly long tied note passages. The sustains do tend to lose some realism for this reason (loops tend to sound synthetic due to the lack of change in tonal character and vibrato). 8DIO have included two different staccatissimo patches, which is a great idea. The second has a slightly stronger attack than the first, making it easier to create realistic staccatissimo phrases by alternating between the two at appropriate times. Using the same staccatissimo patch with brass can quickly sound unrealistic, even with round robin and multi-layered samples. But having two slightly different versions offers another level of realism.
The effect-oriented articulations set this library apart as much as anything. This is where the focus on softer jazz, pop, swing and soul brass writing is more apparent. Three different lengths of “Arcs” provide a fade in/out performance that is difficult to emulate realistically with CC controls and a legato patch. Falls, scoops, tuplets, triplets, da-da performances, a few runs and tremolos, and notable set of muted articulations make it easier to invoke a bit of Chuck Mangione or Tower of Power.
Intimate Studio Brass works well in other settings too. I had no problems integrating it with my usually orchestral brass library. While there is a lightly different tone and character with this library, it was close enough to blend well, with some setting up of the right reverbs.
8DIO Intimate Studio Brass would make a nice addition to any orchestral, jazz, pop, or swing writing template. The range of articulations is good. The only notable negative I can see is the ram usage. On its own, it isn’t a big deal, but if you want to add this to an already fully loaded template pushing your system’s ram limit, it may require some picking and choosing what to use.
Intimate Studio Brass is a very good sounding library. I appreciate the dry recording as that makes it far easier to integrate with other libraries and get the mix just the way I want it for each specific use. Not being locked into a specific ambient space makes this library flexible for a wider range of styles than most, despite the focus on softer jazzier styles.
Intimate Studio Brass runs in Kontakt 5.6 or higher – VST, AU and AAX with ProTools.
It requires 11.67 GB of hard disk space;
Minimum – Intel Core i5 or equivalent. 8GB of Ram or more recommended.
i7 recommended for TMPro patches.
Kontakt 5.6 Full is required.