Review: Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete EXtended Version
Possibly the most detailed and tweakable solo strings on the market.
Great sounds and highly playable.
Possible choice paralysis when looking at the vast and crowded interface.
Occasional scratchy/unpleasant recordings in a few notes and velocity layers.
With 14 instruments, 38 articulations, and an insane amount of control over the details, Chris Hein’s Solo Strings Complete bundle is a very comprehensive collection that will most likely cover the vast majority of any composer’s Violin, Viola, Cello, and Contrabass needs.
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Review: Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete EXtended Version
The Chris Hein Solo Strings “Complete” bundle is exactly what it sounds like – all of Chris Hein’s solo strings offerings in one package. There are 14 deep sampled instruments including various specific Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Contrabasses from different countries and backgrounds included in this collection. With such a huge amount of content, the choices can be a bit overwhelming at first – but rest assured, once you open up the first patch, you’re presented with a polished and playable instrument that can get you lost playing melodies for hours.
There’s a whole lot of interface to go through – so in the interest of time, we’re going to go over the big picture rather than each knob and fader.
Each patch starts with this small panel. There are 3 subsections here:
Play – Just some pretty pictures and barebones information.
Control – Basic parameters showing velocity, dynamic layers, and a few others top level stats.
Room – Control over the included reverb effects.
This is probably the most important panel. Here we can control various crossfades (tremolo, trill, dynamics) and setup how they are controlled by assigning them to CC channels. There are also some basic transient control, keyswitch settings, volume and panorama, and legato speed. By default, holding the pedal will activate the slow legato/portamento transitions, dynamics are assigned to velocity, and vibrato assigned to CC1. I personally prefer to switch CC1 to dynamics and vibrato to CC11, but the choice is up to you! You can choose your articulation at the top of this panel or via the assigned keyswitches.
Something fun that’s also here is the ability to create a faked ensemble of up to 5 players. The results from this can vary – some articulations were really convincing, and others just sounded weird. But that’s not really much of a knock considering this is a solo library.
For the less “musical” details, there’s another settings panel that allows you to adjust dynamic curves, envelopes, pitch bend, and micro-tuning. There’s also an adjustable “fake” sordino mute effect and round robins that can be enabled.
The setting panel also houses an effects rack including a Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Phase, Flanger, Compressor, and Filter. The parameters are basic and rudimentary, and the faders aren’t that pretty to look at. But they’ll get the job done.
This is definitely the first time I’ve ever seen a full sized Kontakt panel dedicated to Vibrato controls. Vibrato speed, wave shape, tuning, EQ, and volume are all tweakable here. You can also draw your own wave shapes for the auto-vibrato’s speed, volume, tuning, and EQ.
These instruments sound great and are a joy to play
These instruments sound great and are a joy to play with. With 14 different instruments sampled, you also get your choice of overall tone with the variances between, for example, the German cello and the “modern” cello. When you load up any of the primary instrument patches you’ll be on the “Dynamic Expression Long” articulation, which is a very expressive and musical articulation that’s great for solo melodies. This articulation is a nice showcase of what these instruments are capable of.
Something that I found refreshing (others may disagree though) is that these libraries only feature one mic position. It’s a fairly close and dry sound, but there is a convolution reverb on by default. I see this as a good way to keep the size of the library down while still maintaining good flexibility in the positioning and sound of the instruments. However others may see it as a lack of options.
Something that I found refreshing (others may disagree though) is that these libraries only feature one mic position.
The variety of articulations in this package is a bit overwhelming to think about. There are articulations I’ve never even heard of in here, and it’s good to have them as options. None of them feel like afterthoughts – everything is sampled with the same detailed love and care as the essentials. But I can’t say that it’s all perfect. For example, there were a few scratchy and ugly samples on certain notes and certain velocity layers. I wouldn’t expect a library of this scale to be 100% perfect, but this is definitely an issue someone might run into when programming a detailed melody or pattern. But, if you find yourself needing a certain note in a spiccato pattern that’s not sampled well, then you can just try one of the other 6 variations of spiccato that are included (yes, there are 6 different types of spiccato sampled on the main instruments).
I believe the positives of this collection far outweight the few and far-between negatives, and I would easily recommend this to anyone needing to thoroughly fill their solo strings arsenal.
Chris Hein Solo Strings Complete takes up a total of 28.7 GB installed and contains up to 38 articulations from 14 different solo violins, violas, cellos, and contrabasses. This bundle includes the core solo strings, as well as the “extended” editions, featuring instruments from different (ethnic) backgrounds with differing tones.
This package is compatible with the free version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher.