Review: Grosso by Sonokinetic

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There is nothing like the sound of a real orchestra for an action or chase cue, and that is exactly what Grosso delivers. With Grosso V2.0, Sonokinetic continues their advancements of software-as-orchestrator adding all the developer’s latest advancements to a wonderfully exciting orchestral phrase sample set.

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Review: Grosso by Sonokinetic

Grosso originally came out about three years ago and really shook up the orchestral library scene. Prior to Grosso, the developer had released celebrated orchestral libraries such as Tutii, Minimal and Vivace but Grosso was a real pivot point in shifting the paradigm and redefining what an orchestral phrase library was capable of. Since the release of Grosso, the developer has continued to expand functionality and playability with other orchestral phrase libraries including Sotto, Maximo, Cappriccio, and Expressivo. At the same time they have been adding new functionality and features to the scripts which power Sonokinetic‘s phrase based libraries.

Earlier this year Sonokinetic upgraded Grosso to version 2.0. With the update the developer added advanced functionalities inculding Sample offset controls, new phrase picker previews the ability to control release sample volume, MIDI drag and drop from the score window as well as add NKS support.

Grosso sells for €299.99 from Sonokinetic

 

Thoughts

Right out of the gate the thing to know about Grosso V2.0 is the playback. The library serves up a nice selection of phrases for each orchestral section and lends itself to the epic, action and chase feel. All the phrases were performed in 12/8 time and can easily play back in sync whether you are in 4/4 or 12/8 time in your DAW.

Grosso comes with 5 main instruments. one for Strings, Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion as well as a Choir section. The library also contains a dedicated Transition Builders instrument which gives users the ability to create exciting Brass and Woodwind crescendos and risers.

In additional all 5 of the instrument, types come with both 16 and 24 bit instruments version as well as light versions.

I am a big fan of having the instrument NKIs dedicated to sections as it is easy for me to integrate the libraries into my work flow. This allows me to have my folder stack of each orchestral section have it’s own instance or 2 of Grosso’s String NKIs.

Navigating around the interface is very straight forward. Clicking on the graphical representations of each phrase pulls up the phrase menu for the corresponding sections. The Sting NKI comes with 3 phrase modules (Hi, Mid & Low) while the Woodwinds and Brass have 2 phrase modules (Hi & Low)

Users trigger playback of the phrases by playing a triad in the right hand and the engine intelligently detects major, and minor chords always keeping the playback in sync and transitioning smoothly from one chord to the next.

There are lots of controls and options for how you can adjust playback of the library. At the bottom left is a “gear” icon which opens up a set of controls for the instrument. Here you have the ability to adjust Volume, Pan, X-Fade, Sample Offset, Mics, Tuning and Harmonic Shift. Many of which can be Midi-learned to a Midi cc for even more control.

The exception I will talk about is the harmonic shift. Grosso’s Harmonic Shift function gives you the ability to change the playback of the phrases pitch on the fly. The Harmonic Shift uses green assigned keyswitches in the upper part of the keyboard to change chord playback. The Harmonic Shift controls your access to adjust all 12 notes of the scale that will be translated to the Harmonic Shift keyswitches.

Now, there are a lot more controls for crossfading between samples, the ability randomize, tuning and offest settings that I won’t cover in this review as I don’t intend to paraphrase the entire user manual (which is available for you to check out here).

I am a few Sonokinetic orchestral libraries deep into using their interface and moving around the interface is almost second nature. Those who haven’t used the orchestral phrase libraries in the past may need to take a little time to get used to the interface, but as with all Sonokinetic libraries there are plenty of helpful tutorials and walk-throughs that can get you up to speed on how to get the most out of the library. I will also try to include all the official videos from the developer below, as they do a really good job of walking you through the instruments main functionality.

As far as improvements from Grosso to Grosso 2.0 go, the addition of the Score view and Drag MIDI to DAW are a huge plus in my book. The Score view gives users the ability to see the original notation that was performed by the orchestra. The Drag MIDI to DAW functionality has so many great uses that allow you to re-arrange the parts for playback on other multi-sampled instruments, experiment for variations of the phrases or as a way to quickly grab notation if you are using Grosso in a MIDI mock-up and will be requiring notation for live players.

It is also important to note that the Score view allows you to select the key you would like to have the MIDI transposed to. The “circle” above the “MAJ” allows for quick and easy drag-amd-drop right into your DAW.

In additional to the score page features, the developer also offers the complete conductors score in PDF format used from the recording sessions available for purchase on the Grosso product page.

As far as the sample set goes, while playing back the String patches you immediately hear that 12/8 epic-adventure sound that the library is known for. The String samples are clean and exciting and have that bit of room air sound that always seems to be missing in multi-sampled string libraries.

Playback of the Brass is bold with plenty of bite. The sample set for the brass has a nice range with various crescendos and stabs as well as common climactic phrases in the high end.

A nice collection of the phrases in the library come with alternative versions. These alternative versions use the same graphical representation for each which are easy

The Woodwind instruments offer a balance of exciting dynamic and lyrical phrases as well as some crescendos and patterns. In my opinion the Woodwind instrument here in Grosso is one of the shining gems of the library. Utilizing Grosso for a score can deliver some very beautiful woodwind life-like playback that tends to be difficult to emulate properly with multi-sampled woodwind libraries.

Grosso contains a Choir instrument as well. The selection of different phrases, held consonants and a few effects are a nice addition to the library. Digging into the Choir instrument phrases at playback and adjusting the harmonic shift in real time starts to show the power of what the Choir instrument is capable of. All great sounding recordings, though limited in comparison of the number of phrases the library has to offer.

The real icing on the cake in the library is Grosso’s Transition Builder instrument. These presets gives you both Brass and Woodwind transitions as well as some percussion. There are a few alternatives takes of the brass and winds phrases though they do stick to a very specific kind of build.

Overall Grosso contains a nice selection of great sounding orchestral phrase recordings ranging from really beautiful to brash and aggressive.

The big thing stands-out is just how exciting it is to hear a real orchestra playing these phrases.

I am sure it helps that they are all playing back 12/8 which lends itself to the excitement but the recording quailty and sample editing is pri.stine in my opinion. Now that isn’t to say that the live orchestra doesn’t have some small inconsistencies, with a little push or pull here or there, but that is the nature of using real players. With Grosso’s functionality and controls, you can sculpt a whole lot out of the provided samples set and really take this into compositions of your own.

I have not been shy about my excitement of Sonickinetic’s orchestral phrase libraries. I am a fan of how they put the power of an entire Orchestra just under the fingertips of those with a computer, Kontakt. Grosso 2.0 continues the advancement of software-as-orchestrator and has already been used by many composers scoring for film, games, and television. I can only say that I for one, can’t wait till the next time I have a project that requires an orchestral action or chase cue to get a chance to use Grosso on a project. I also will be eagerly waiting to see where the developer takes us next with their future orchestral phrase library releases.

As with all of our reviews be sure to check out the official demos and videos below to make sure the instrument is right for your needs.

If you want to learn more about the developer’s other libraries, you can check out a list of all SLR Reviews and News for Sonokinetic Libraries here.

 

Facts

Grosso downloads as 33GB+. The sample set is from recording session of epic/action orchestral phrases for each section with a focus on 12/8 Feel. There are separate instruments for all 5 Section Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion Choir as well as a Transition Builder (Brass and Woodwind transitions).

Grosso is Kontakt Player library and compatible with both the full and free version of Native Instruments Kontakt.

Grosso sells for €299.99 from Sonokinetic

Demos of Grosso

Videos of Grosso