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Review: Realstrings Volume 2 – Cinematic Loops, sample pack by Organic Loops

Pete Whitfield

Violinist, arranger and orchestrator Pete Whitfield has recently released his third strings sample library with Loopmasters, Realstrings Vol. 2: Cinematic Loops.

The library features authentic strings samples recorded in Pete’s studio, where he also records real strings for major labels, TV companies and radio/media companies.

Pete writes:

I’ve taken, for inspiration, the music of artists like Hybrid, Cinematic Orchestra and Bjork and the media scores that capture a similar feel.

There are 126 loops (mostly 4 bars) at tempos from 110 – 140; they each offer a distinctive character as individual loops, but they are also organised into 12 construction kits.

This is the 1st time I’ve tried this and the feedback from writers and producers is already very positive, so the next pack will do a similar thing but slower tempos and darker moods.

The 126 loops are available in 24 bit/44.1kHz wav format, as well as Rex2 loops (an Apple Loops version is available separately).

Divided up into 12 sequence kit folders the loops include chords, melodic lines, held notes, figures, etc. that work well together. Basically like construction kits.

The folders and files are well structured, indicating key, tempo, and type of sound.

Besides audio loops you will also find various scores for violin and cello as MIDI sequences, as well as in Sibelius format and printed scores in Acrobat PDF. Pete’s passion for his work shows.

Having these sequences is really useful as you can make modifications to the phrases and use your own sample library or virtual instrument. In the example below I used Tone2′s ElectraX synthesizer to play a phrase from sequence 3.

So what do I think?

Product: Organic Loops Realstrings Vol. 2 – Cinematic Loops
Format: 24bit/44kHz samples, Wav/Rex2 + MIDI (Apple Loops also available)
Price: £19.95 GBP
Like: high quality usable loops, scores included
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 9/10

Realstrings Vol. 2 continues in the same vein as the previous two string sample packs by Pete Whitfield on the Organic Loops label. This is a collection of outstanding orchestral strings loops. Dynamic, emotional, dramatic, and real. The themes are inspiring and useful in many music genres like hip hop, chill, house, film and game soundtracks, etc.

The construction kit approach works well and having a collection of MIDI sequences is a big bonus.

“I love my work!” it says on Pete’s website.
His sample libraries are a reflection of this statement. If you are in need for some high quality strings loops you can’t go wrong with the Realstrings sample packs.

More information: Loopmasters / Realstrings Vol. 2 Cinematic Loops

Native Instruments releases Session Strings

Native Instruments Session Strings

Native Instruments has announced the release Session Strings, a versatile virtual string ensemble for KONTAKT 4 and the free KONTAKT PLAYER.

Brought to life through the advanced functionality of the KONTAKT platform, SESSION STRINGS provides charismatic, highly expressive acoustic string sounds for pop, soul, R&B, disco, house and other contemporary music styles.

SESSION STRINGS recreates a string ensemble comprising four violins, three violas, two celli and two double basses, captured and produced in one of Germany’s most renowned recording studios by sampling expert Thomas Koritke’s new sound design house e-instruments. All recordings were taken from exclusive instruments from the 18th and 19th century, played by top musicians from some of the finest European orchestras, resulting in outstanding tone and articulations on the highest level of musical virtuosity.

By fully utilizing the advanced features of the KONTAKT platform, SESSION STRINGS puts the full expressive arsenal of a world-class string ensemble at the fingertips of the user. The individual instrument groups are mapped conveniently across the keyboard, with intelligent legato and glissando based on dedicated samples. Easily controllable falls, swoops and crescendo variations allow producers to create soulful and dynamic string licks with ease.

The authenticity and creative value of SESSION STRINGS is further enhanced through the unique and highly versatile “Animator”. This powerful function can be engaged seamlessly during play to transform incoming notes into virtuous staccato, spiccato and pizzicato chords and arpeggios, with the timing and groove easily adjustable by the user, and while maintaining natural legato articulation at the same time. An integrated studio-grade convolution reverb also provides a variety of completely realistic room ambiences.

SESSION STRINGS also provides a full set of optional “Motown versions” for all included sounds, utilizing a special sonic treatment that authentically recreates the distinctive and highly sought-after vintage string sound of the legendary soul recordings from the 60s and 70s.

Session Strings features

  • Includes 48 Instruments: 10 Standard Performance + 10 Motown Performance (combining articulations such as Sustain, Falls, Scoops, Staccato, etc); 14 Standard Individual + 14 Motown Individual (single articulations per patch).
  • 1,65 GB (equals 2,3 GB of uncompressed samples).
  • Powered by KONTAKT 4 PLAYER / KONTAKT 4 (4.0.5)

Session Strings is available to purchase as a download for $119 USD / 99 EUR.

More information: Native Instruments / Session Strings

Soniccouture releases Bowed Gamelan

Related: , , , Posted in news on Nov 05, 2009 - comment 3 comments
Soniccouture Bowed Gamelan

Soniccouture has announced the release of Bowed Gamelan, the third free instrument in Soniccouture’s Exclusive Content series.

Following a Soniccouture tradition of playing instruments the wrong way, we present this unique library of a Bowed Gamelan instrument. This library is actually made from just one instrument of the gamelan ensemble, the ugal. This is pitched in the middle of the gamelan range, and so is quite versatile and generally leads the gangsa section of a traditional Balinese group. This instrument has 14 keys which cover a range of almost 3 octaves.

The metal Ugal keys were bowed using a standard cello bow, vertically across the thin edge of the metal. Instead of a conventional microphone, a Trance Audio Trance Inducer contact mic was used. This gives the sound an incredibly detailed, surgical scraping quality.

Bowed Gamelan features

  • 24 bit 44.1khz Sampling.
  • Total of 140 samples. The samples are looped with a bow change included in the loop, for a natural sounding sustain.
  • 5 Alternate round robin samples per note.
  • Key-off samples.
  • Formats: Kontakt, EXS, Ableton Live.

Bowed Gamelan is available as a free download with every 3rd product purchased since the new Soniccouture site launched in August.

More information: Soniccouture / Bowed Gamelan

Short links for September 28th, 2009

Some interesting things I found recently:

# Experibass – violin, viola, cello and double bass combined together.


Diego Stocco writes:

Few weeks ago I visited a luthier looking for instruments parts, I had an idea in mind for an instrument I wanted to build. My curiosity was to hear the sound of violin, viola and cello strings amplified through the body of a double bass. I came up with a quadruple-neck experimental "something" that I thought to call Experibass.

To play it I used cello and double bass bows, a little device I built with fishing line and hose clamps, a paintbrush, a fork, spoons, a kick drum pedal and a drum stick. I hope you'll like it!

Thanks to luthier John Wu for providing me the parts, even though I warned him that I was probably going to create a "monster" : )

# A bunch of free samples:

  • Drum Samples – 1,000 drum samples, WAV 16-Bit 44.1 kHz.
  • Tron Audio – A selection of Andrew’s most recent musical releases, full quality 24bit, 48kHz sample packs, Ableton Live production tutorial videos, remix packs and more.
  • Wax Trax Bass – Tom Shear shares a sound he made on a Waldorf Microwave XTk. 24-bit, 44.1k mono WAV files.

Puremagnetik releases Microtron Tape 2

Puremagnetik Microtron Tape 2

Puremagnetik has announced the release of Microtron Tape 2, a collection of sampled instruments for Ableton Live, Kontakt and Logic.

This second edition to the Microtron series includes even more classic sounds! Microtron Tape 2 comes with the legendary Mark II Flute (think Beatles), melancholy Cello and the woody Octave Recorders.

Microtron Tape 2 features

  • MK II Flute — Undoubtedly the sound that defines Mellotron, the MKII flute instantly conjures images of 1967 Abbey Road. Not only the most famous Mellotron sound, but perhaps the eeriest, the MKII flute’s dubious pitching has been in question throughout the decades. The change in timbre (they say two flutes were used) and odd intonation only adds to the haunting and mesmerizing character of this timeless sound.
  • Octave Recorders — The Octave Recorder is a newer sound composed of soprano, alto and tenor recorders. Playing fast staccato chords on this one can make it sound a bit like a harmonium. It has a solid woody tone with breathy articulations and is definitely a contender to fill up the mix with some organic elements.
  • Cello — Renown for its melancholy timbre and described by some as “wheezing and groaning” the Cello sound was originally recorded in the 1960s. A double bassist was used for the lower registers. Apparently the original session cellist did not wish to detune his cello for fear of damaging the instrument. Nonetheless, the Mellotron Cello recording is undoubtedly a unique character in the tape library.

Microtron Tape 2 is available for subscribers in Ableton Live, NI Kontakt, and Logic EXS formats. Subscriptions start at $5.75 USD.

More information: Puremagnetik

Cosmo D releases Cello Soundbank Vol. 2 + free demo

Cosmo D Cello Soundbank Vol. 2

Cosmo D has released Cello Soundbank Vol. 2, a sample library for Kontakt, providing a musical solo cello library for composers, producers and beat-makers.

The various sonic nuances of solo cello are explored to their fullest in Vol. 2, providing 5 gigabytes worth of long tones, pizzicatos, experimental sounds and loops for anyone actively interested in bringing a singular and unique cello sound into their production arsenal, for a reasonable price.

No other library on the market has explored the solo instrument with this much depth and breadth. It’s been made and programmed entirely by Cosmo D, an artist currently active in the New York music scene who continuously unifies his skills on the cello with his electronic music experience.

Cello Soundbank Vol. 2 features

  • 5 gigabytes of cello audio, over 5000 total individual sound samples, (not including the plethora of samples from Volume 1, which is included).
  • 3,000 unique cello loops divided into eight separate tempos, pizzicato and arco, major and minor.
  • 2,000 long tones and pizzicato tones, velocity mapped and programmed with release triggers.
  • Continued support from the Soundbank’s developer (Cosmo D) ensuring updates and longevity.

The Cello Soundbank Vol. 2 is available in a Kontakt Patches only (1.92 GB direct download) and Loops only (1.26 GB direct download) version for $39.99 USD each. The complete package is available for $69.99 USD (save 13%).

A free demo collection is available for download.

Cosmo D writes:

It’s been many years, but I’ve finished my Cello Soundbank 2.0.

As a celebratory gift, I’m offering a small chunk of my library FREE for download. “Small” is a relative term, however. This free file is ~300 MB (330 MB unzipped), and contains two Kontakt 3 patches and 100 cello loops. The first Kontakt patch is for straight long-tone cello with release samples and multiple velocity layers. The other is for standard pizzicato.

Visit Cosmo D for more information and audio demos.

Vienna Symphonic Library releases Solo Strings II

VSL Solo Strings II

Vienna Symphonic Library has released Solo Strings II, a sample library which features the muted solo instruments violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

The Solo Strings II Collection contains articulations such as muted short and long notes, crescendo and diminuendo variations, as well as Interval Performances like legato, portamento, and trills. Furthermore, additional Performance Legatos with very long notes have been recorded for use in slower parts. Thus, every single pitch and velocity is available in 24 variations, and going the extra mile proved worthwhile!

Solo Strings II features

  • Solo Strings Full Library contains 46.5 GB of uncompressed sample data in 44.1kHz/24-bit.
  • Performances:
    • Interval Performances: Legato with medium, progressive, and without vibrato, portamento, marcato, spiccato
    • Fast Interval Performances: Legato
    • Performance Trills
    • Repetition Performances: Legato, portato, staccato, spiccato
    • Fast Repetitions: 16ths from 150 to 190 BPM
  • Single notes:
    • Short notes: Staccato, short détaché, long détaché, 4 variations each
    • Long notes: Sustains with medium, progressive, and without vibrato
    • Dynamics: Medium and strong crescendos & diminuendos with vibrato; fp, sfz, sffz, pfp with vibrato
    • Tremolo
    • Pizzicato
    • Artificial harmonics: Staccato, sustains

Solo Strings II is available in a Standard version for $380 USD and the Full version is $664 USD.

Note: If you have registered both the Standard and the Extended Library of the Vienna Instruments Collection Solo Strings I you will automatically receive a Full Library Activation Code upon registering the Standard Library of Solo Strings II before or on January 15, 2009. This means you will get the Extended Library of Solo Strings II for free.

Visit Vienna Symphonic Library for more information and audio demos.

Vienna Symphonic Library releases Chamber Strings II

Vienna Symphonic Library Chamber Strings II

Vienna Symphonic Library has released Chamber Strings II, the sequel to Chamber Strings I, offering all-new articulations and sonic subtleties for the small string ensembles.

Chamber Strings II contains many of the playing techniques that the first Collection includes, but played “con sordino” (with mutes). They lend themselves well to soft, intimate arrangements, and provide nuanced variations to your orchestral pallet. The muted chamber ensembles are a refined addition to your treasure chest of string varieties from Vienna!

Chamber Strings II features

  • All of the recorded samples were performed by an accomplished ensemble of string players who have been lending their talents and their international experience to the Vienna Symphonic Library for years:
    • Violin ensemble (6 players)
    • Viola ensemble (4 players)
    • Cello ensemble (3 players)
    • Double bass ensemble (2 players)
  • Offers various facets of short and sustained notes, crescendos and diminuendos, but also includes Vienna’s unique Interval Performances, including legato, portamento, and trill performances. Check here for a complete list.

Chamber Strings II is available on DVD in a standard version for €365 EUR (13,245 samples), and a full version for €510 EUR (30,405 samples).

Visit Vienna Symphonic Library for more information.