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Native Instruments releases Essential Bass

Native Instruments Essential Bass

Native Instruments has released Essential Bass, a new KORE-Powered instrument that provides a comprehensive arsenal of visceral, production-ready bass sounds.

Based on the KORE PLAYER and its integrated synthesis and sample engines, the instrument covers the full spectrum of the bottom end, from classic acoustic and electric bass to vintage analog sounds and innovative synthesizer tones.

Classic instruments in ESSENTIAL BASS include fingered, picked and slapped electric basses from renowned sample producers Scarbee and Pettinhouse, as well as an exclusive antique upright bass that was sampled and recreated with painstaking precision. These instruments are complemented with a large selection of inventive, ultra-modern bass tones that take advantage of the integrated ABSYNTH, FM8, MASSIVE and REAKTOR engines. A further section provides an inspiring range of classic subtractive synth bass sounds that have been carefully sampled from several iconic analog synthesizers.

ESSENTIAL BASS utilizes many advanced soundshaping features of the KORE platform, and can be used both within the free KORE PLAYER and with the full-featured KORE 2 system. Each of the 200 sounds includes eight morphable variations as well as concise musical metadata for the powerful KORE sound browser. Electric basses come to life with sophisticated articulations based on the integrated KONTAKT engine for completely authentic results, while synthesizer sounds benefit from specific bass features like legato, glide and an adjustable sub bass function for additional subsonic impact.

Essential Bass is available for purchase in the NI Online Shop for $79 USD / 69 EUR.

More information: Native Instruments

Native Instruments announces Partnership with Scarbee

Native Instruments has announced a close partnership with Scarbee, creator of highly renowned instrument libraries.

In the future, sampling mastermind Thomas Hansen Skarbye will work directly with the team behind the industry-leading KONTAKT sampler on further software instruments that will offer the typical outstanding authenticity and playability of the Scarbee brand. Existing Scarbee products will be successively relaunched as self-contained instruments that will be maintained and distributed by Native Instruments.

Scarbee - Thomas Hansen Skarbye

The press release continues:

The electric piano and electric bass libraries from Scarbee have set a recognized standard for the emulation of these instruments, and have become a mainstay of professional studio productions worldwide. Based on the combination of extremely sophisticated sampling and completely authentic instrument articulations that are intuitive to use for musicians and producers alike, Scarbee products rely strongly on the unparalleled sound shaping and scripting functions of KONTAKT.

By settling into a partnership with Native Instruments, Thomas Hansen Skarbye can now focus completely on the creation of further software instruments that will complement the existing Scarbee range, and eventually extend it into new sonic domains. Close collaboration with the NI product design and development team will allow him to utilize all existing and upcoming features of KONTAKT to the fullest extent.

Starting in September, existing Scarbee products will be successively relaunched in “KONTAKT-Powered” format, turning them from sample libraries into self-contained instruments that provide playback and sound shaping functionality without requiring the full-featured KONTAKT sampler. In the process, the products will transfer into the NI product portfolio, and will become available for download purchase on the Native Instruments website.

“This partnership is an ideal match in every way”, says Sascha Kubiak, Director of the Producer Division at Native Instruments. “The Scarbee libraries have contributed a lot to the attractiveness of the Kontakt platform, and we are looking forward to work with Thomas and raise the bar with further outstanding electric instrument emulations.”

“This collaboration is a big step forward both for me and for all Scarbee fans“, says Thomas Hansen Skarbye, founder of Scarbee. “Working directly with the NI team will allow me to capture and recreate more of these classic instruments, and to really get the maximum out of Kontakt for this purpose”.

More information: Scarbee / Native Instruments

Scarbee celebrates 9th anniversary with 30% discount

Scarbee has announced a 9 Years Anniversary Sale.

On June 23-24 we celebrate our 9′th year anniversay with a 30% discount sale.

We thanks all our dear users for the great support in all the years and promise to come up with a lot of new sounds for you in future.

Scarbee has also released Update 2 for Blue Bass, which features improvements for smoother and better sounding grace notes.

Visit Scarbee for more information on its sample libraries, virtual instruments and plug-ins.

Review: Scarbee Vintage Keyboard Collection

If you are a regular reader of this website, you may already know I really like electric pianos. Although I would love to get my hands on a real EP, in my current setup it just makes a whole lot more sense to use virtual instruments.

Scarbee has been offering sampled EP instruments for some years now, and they’re quite serious about it.

The products page reads:

Rather than offering a ‘grab bag’ of many instruments which have been sampled to an ‘acceptable’ level, SCARBEE focuses on a single instrument rendered to a level of detail previously unavailable to sample users. By deep studying and thorough restoration/setup we aim to capture the “soul” of the instrument and try to balance sound, playability and post-editing for a perfect match within the limits of current sampler technology.

Capturing the “soul” of the instrument, now that’s what I’m looking for!

Samples, samples and more samples

I frequently use physically modelled virtual electric pianos. The obvious advantage of these instruments is that they require little system resources and have great versatility in sound, with lots of parameters allowing you to tweak the sound to your liking.

Scarbee Vintage Keyboard Collection

But what if you’re looking for that authentic sound of those 60′s and 70′s EP models… doesn’t it make sense that an actual sampled instrument is going to match that particular sound the most? I would think so.

Scarbee’s Vintage Keyboard Collection features 4 different types of sampled electric pianos. Now you will not find any specific names of specific piano brands or models in Scarbee’s product descriptions, but I think you’ll be able to figure out what type of EP’s were talking about here*.

Vintage Keyboard Collection includes

  • C.E.P. – Classic Electric Piano, the sound of a hot-rodded wonderful electric piano from the 70s! C.E.P. has expression and dynamics ranging from warm and mellow, to bright and ‘barking’, but can also produce a dulcet bell-like tone very suited to jazz, funk and R&B.
  • E.E.P. – Edgy Electric Piano, has a dynamic and versatile sound and tends more towards an ‘edgier’ sound. Certainly, it can deliver a ‘soft and sweet’ tone, but its light action allows players to easily deliver a performance with more ‘bite’.
  • F.E.P. – Funky Electric Piano, has a big round ‘twanging’ bottom end and a top end which was wiry and tight. For many, this is as close as they will ever get to a sound which could compete with the cut of an electric guitar. The sharp tone and percussive playing style made it a first choice for many funk recordings where it complemented funk guitar rhythms like no other instrument.
  • S.E.P. – Sticky Electric Piano, lies somewhere between the reedy bite of the E.E.P. and the purer bell tone of the C.E.P. The result is a vibraphone type tone with a very percussive envelope and almost no dynamic response due to it’s “sticky hammers”.

The whole collection of electric pianos includes some 18,000 samples! Each of the libraries comes in various formats (Kontakt, HALion, EXS24) and “lite” versions are included to accommodate systems with little memory.

Scarbee Vintage Keyboard Collection
Scarbee Vintage Keyboard Collection – C.E.P. (click image for other instruments)

I’ve tried the Kontakt instruments, which all have a custom GUI (like the one pictured above) for easy access to instrument parameters, i.e. instrument noise, tremolo, click, etc.

Nice little detail: The A-1 key plays original noise from the instrument looped.

With the Noise knob you can adjust the level of the noise – take it completely away if you like a clean sound with zero hum and hiss!

I would post some sound clips, but hey, Scarbee already has some excellent demo tracks available for audition on its website. Check them out here.

Expand the sound!

Scarbee’s electric pianos sound really nice, but they’re sampled instruments so you may find the sound lacking in versatility. No worries, Vintage Keyboard FX to the rescue.

Vintage Keyboard FX is a virtual rack of various vintage analogue effect processors.

Scarbee Vintage Keyboard FX

Vintage Keyboard FX features

  • Effect modules: Preamp (with stereo tremolo), compressor, wah (envelope filter), phase shifter, chorus, overdrive, (tape) delay, and a valve amp (modelled on a popular model, includes the four spring reverb).
  • Multiple mode switching allows module architecture to alternate at the touch of a button.
  • Control the effects chain with module drag and drop.
  • A-B presets morphing makes experimentation and creation of new sounds addictively effortless.
  • Sync rates and times to VST host, internal clock or left independent for a more ‘analog’ approach.
  • Parameter automation, flexible presets management, and more.

Also included with the VKFX is the D6-C filter, an emulation of the 4 filter/equalizers of the original instrument sampled for FEP.

The VKFX plug-in comes with a lovely bundle of presets, showcasing the wide range of effects it can do. It supports VST, AU and RTAS formats so you can use it with Windows and Mac.

So what do I think?

These pianos sound hot! Seriously HOT if you ask me. I thought these sampled instruments would perhaps lack some of the expressiveness that physical models provide, but I was pleasantly surprised how wonderful Scarbee’s instruments perform in this area. Playability is excellent and sound wise, well… this is the real deal, isn’t it.

Now whether you actually like the sound of the particular models Scarbee has sampled or not is a matter of taste (identical EP models don’t necessarily sound the same), but I think they sound fantastic.

The VKFX plug-in is an excellent effect rack, providing modules that allow you to create classic signature sounds, or build completely new and non-traditional effects. You may already have a number of effects that you could use instead, but VKFX has been developed specifically as a partner for Scarbee’s EP’s and it shows. And since it is a plug-in, you can also use those vintage keyboard effects with other instruments, vocals, etc.

The Vintage Keyboard Collection is available for Kontakt, HALion and EXS24, for 219 EUR (ex. VAT), and the Vintage Keyboard FX plug-in is included in the Keyboard Gold Bundle for 289 EUR (ex. VAT). The plug-in is sold separately for 149 EUR, so the Gold Bundle makes for a great deal.

Visit Scarbee for more information and audio demos.

* A few years ago Scarbee decided to no longer use specific brand names, due to some legal issues with trademark owners. Rest assured these sampled electric pianos are the “real thing”.

Spring 2008 – what great deals are out there?

Spring Sales!

For some April marks a new season when trees and flowers begin to open (from the Latin aperire), while for others it’s a great month to open their wallets and expand their software and sample libraries.

Spring Sales I’ve seen so far:

  • Scarbee50% discount on all products (until April 7th 2008).
  • Time+Space20% discount on various products (Rob Papen, Outer Limits, Phaedra, Vocaloid 2 Prima, Vir2 instruments etc.) and a free EZ Xpander pack with any purchase of Toontrack Music’s EZ Drummer (until April 30th 2008).
  • Bitword25% discount on all products. At checkout, enter the coupon code: SPRING2008 (until April 30th 2008).
  • Native Instruments – every purchase of Kore 2 includes the Massive synthesizer and the new Massive Expansion Vol. 1 sound collection at no extra cost, representing an additional $288 USD / 248 EUR value (until to May 31st 2008).

Also, DifiFreq is running a contest where you just need to sign up for their newsletter (contest? you mean marketing!) for a chance to win 1 of 2 free copies of Toontrack’s EZdrummer.

Please post any other deals you find in the comments below!

Scarbee announces Blue Bass

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Scarbee has announced Blue Bass, a sample library made for Kontakt 2 & 3.

Blue Bass is really fun to play in real life – it has expression like no other bass I own, going from mellow, deep groove to agressive growling and barking. The bass sound recorded is probably the most used on albums world wide, suitable for any musical style from country, rock, pop, latin, jazz, reggea to funk, says bass player and producer Thomas Hansen Skarbye.

Scarbee Blue Bass
Scarbee Blue Bass

Blue Bass was designed to be very easy to play live. Almost all articulations can be triggered without any keyswitches. Eg. legato playing triggers hammer-on and pull-off, legato playing with sustain pedal pressed triggers slides, fast legato playing triggers grace notes.

Blue Bass features

  • All four strings sampled, more than 4 000 samples and up to 9 velocity layers to capture the full timbre of the bass.
  • Real-time playable – with the exception of cross hammering and trills all of the articulations in the list given further below can be triggered without the need for any keyswitches.
  • A powerful user interface pushing the Kontakt user interface to its limits: a fretboard display gives an overview of the playing position and for each string what fret and articulation (displayed as a unique symbol) that are used – dynamically updated as you play.
  • Each string is monophonic so new notes abort earlier notes, giving a perfectly realistic bass.
  • Automatic string selection – play and the script selects the most suitable string for you.
  • Automatic alternation of right hand index and middle finger samples (can also be controlled using keyswitches).
  • Convenient keyswitch mode – a keyswitch affects the following note or remains active as long as it’s pressed – making it easy to quickly return to the default mode of operation.
  • Slide mode – play a note legato while holding the sustain pedal pressed to trigger a slide.
  • Chord mode – makes it possible for notes to be automatically assigned to the right strings even if the notes of a chord don’t arrive exactly at the same time.
  • Control over release samples – random alternation between more or less tight (how quickly they are dampened) release samples where the proportion of each can be controlled by the user.
  • The sound of Mr. Scarbee’s own fingers.
  • Bass recorded DI to give you maximum flexibility in the sound production.
  • EQ and Effect Presets – direct in the instrument user interface.
  • Integrated documentation for all settings – direct in the instrument user interface.

Scarbee Blue Bass will be shipping spring of 2008, and will cost $99 USD. An expansion set, Blue Bass – Slap EXP (thumb and plucked style) is scheduled for release in 2008.

Visit Scarbee for more information.

Scarbee releases Vintage Keyboard FX v2.0

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Scarbee Vintage Keyboard FX

Scarbee has released version 2.0 of Vintage Keyboard FX, a virtual rack packed with outstanding models of a range of different vintage analogue effects processors.

The user interface engine has been totally redesigned by Scarbee’s Alfonso De Prisco and Thomas Serafini from Overloud who has used same GUI engine for their reverb Breverb.

Changes in VKFX v2.0

  • Universal Binary format (Mac Intel compatible), VST format (Mac Intel compatible) added, RTAS format PC/Mac (Mac Intel compatible) added.
  • Preset loading on MIDI program change.
  • Working Audio Unit automations.
  • Display showing preset names.
  • Undo/Redo buttons are now lit when the corresponding actions is available.
  • Changes in speed knob labels that act as offset controls in sync mode.
  • User interface engine redesigned.
  • D6-C filter/EQ plugin included in installers (Mac Intel compatible), with redesigned UI engine.

Vintage Keyboards FX is available for Windows PC and Mac OSX (VST/AU/RTAS) for $199 USD (free update to registered users of VKFX).

Visit Scarbee for more information and a link to download a demo of VKFX v2.0.

Scarbee updates Black Bass and Red Bass to v1.1.3

Related: , , Posted in news on Dec 11, 2007 - comment 0 comments
Scarbee Red Bass

Scarbee has released version 1.1.3 of Black Bass and Red Bass, two sample libraries for Kontakt.

Changes in v1.1.3

  • A brand new velocity layer (66 samples/100 MB) with harder attacks for D- and G- strings. The samples are mapped from velocity 125-127 and are played a bit closer to neck to give it extra bark/growl – suitable for explosive fingered attacks! (Only BB and BB Amped 1-4!)
  • The A-1 key can be used to sustain notes in Black Bass/Red Bass. Pressing it is equivalent to pressing the sustain pedal for other instruments.
  • Minor fixes of the script.

Visit Scarbee for more information and audio demos.