Best Brass VST Plugins & Sample Libraries

Hello Composers, Mike here! :smiley:

What are you favorite orchestral brass VST plugins and sample libraries right now, and why? Do you use them in any specific way? Here are my favorites:

Forzo by Heavyocity

  • This is my go-to brass library at the moment, simply because it is so versatile and has that warm, bold sound that I love. The articulations are nice, and the interface is very cool imho. I also love the sound shaping capabilities. The only thing is that it lacks legato, which can be an issue for leading melodies in exposed parts. Like solo trumpet or horn. That is when I go to another library like Sample Modeling for example. However, overall the sound quality and warm tone is my favorite of all brass libraries I own currently.

Sample Modeling Brass Bundle

  • Acoustically modeled instruments most often sound synthy and lack emotion in the tone. But Sample Modeling Brass is actually pretty amazing. It is only solo instruments, so you can’t do chords unless you separate the tracks in your sequencer, but with a breath controller you can amazingly expressive and realistic performances. I most often use it for layering on top of the main brass mix.

Cinebrass by Cinesamples

  • This is a classic brass library that for some reason still holds up in quality and practical use. I especially like it for how easy it is to play and record performances without key switches, due to the mapping system that you can customize. It is excellent for rhythmic writing of brass parts as well. Also, the sound from the hall they recorded this library in is practically instant Hollywood sound! =)

So let me hear your thoughts my fellow composers. What are you favorite orchestral brass libraries and VST plugins right now, and why? =)

Sincerely,
Mikael “Mike” Baggström
Founder of professionalcomposers.com

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Mine are (note i do not have them all, but i have played with them all)

Adventure Brass by MusicalSampling
It very playable out of the box, saves lots of time dealing with keyswitching and such. It sounds like hollywood, it breathes hollywood sonically. A must have for adventure/action type of brass.
It lacks legato, but it’s often not required for the style it’s made for.

Cinematic Studio Brass by Cinematic Sampling.
Very good legatos, has a more early silent movie type of hollywood sound (20/40ies sound, darker in tone). But those legato’s… :slight_smile: Only con is it’s legato delay, it needs time (like in real life) to make transitions between notes. (you need to compensate this in your daw)

Brass bundle by Sample Modeling.
They did a very good job of imitating brass instruments, with recreating the instruments with virtual modeling (sample/acoustic modeling). This means, in contrast to sample libraries, it only has one tiny sample, and the accoustics, articulations, breath velocity/dynamic sound changes etc etc are all generated on the fly based on the recreation of the original model. Hard to explain, but it’s results are amazing. Everything a real instrument can do (with the right playing techniques), this instrument can recreate in realtime! It’s very good at exposed melodies, where the details are key.

Orchestral Brass by Chris Hein
Very detailed sampled instruments, lots of options to tweak around with. Sound very classical, meaning it’s more traditional in timbre (non epic/hollywood sound). I do like it, for those more traditional compositions, where the chamber orchestra feel needs to be there.

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Ah, I have been uncertain about the MusicalSampling stuff. I have heard they are quite taxing on your CPU, is that true?

Oh, I think I remember you were a fan of Chris Hein instruments, yes? I don’t own any, but after listening to demos I feel they get unfairly low mentions online.

Regarding Cinematic Studio Brass…I am certain I will get their full range eventually. I highly respect Alex and his team, and what they are doing for us composers. =)

Sincerely,
Mikael “Mike” Baggström
Founder of professionalcomposers.com

“Ah, I have been uncertain about the MusicalSampling stuff. I have heard they are quite taxing on your CPU, is that true?”

Well i know there was (or maybe is) a problem with logic / AB combo.
However, i’m not a Logic user, but a Cubase user. It’s very cpu efficient in my experience.

“Oh, I think I remember you were a fan of Chris Hein instruments, yes? I don’t own any, but after listening to demos I feel they get unfairly low mentions online.”

I wouldn’t call me a fan per se… but i do like the abilities of the libraries, and the sound is authentic. Like as mentioned above, a chamber orchestra or up close sound. (though it has convolution reverbs)
Many libaries are too processed, getting a lush sound. But the reality is often, a real life orchestra of small or mid size is not that lush at all… and chris hein nailed that sound pretty good.
Also i like to support smaller developers, because often they have unique ideas/visions about how to do things. :slight_smile:

“Regarding Cinematic Studio Brass…I am certain I will get their full range eventually. I highly respect Alex and his team, and what they are doing for us composers. =)”

Yes, i do also highly respect him and his team. Cinematic Studio series are very good (both technically as sonically). And they respond quick to support tickets.

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My favorites:

FORZO - Absolutely massive and beyond epic, but surprisingly versatile (can pull off John Williams style brass and really quick multi-tonguing maneuvers just as well as the bold, Zimmer-esque “walls of brass” sound.) Recorded in position at the legendary Skywalker Sound, it just sounds incredible, no tweaking needed. Only con - no legato :frowning: which is the only noticeable flaw that prevents this from being the ULTIMATE brass package.

Spitfire Symphonic Brass - Absolutely beautiful sound and playability, can do soft and beautiful passages with ease, as well as huge, bold, epic brass- if I had to pick just ONE brass library to use, this would be it. It includes multiple section sizes, solo instruments, tons of articulations, some lesser known instruments, pretty much anything you would possibly need for cinematic brass. The performance legato patches are especially amazing. Only con - might be too wet for some users, though I love it, and with the close mics you can eliminate a lot of the room noise and get a very detailed sound.

8dio Century Brass - This has the brightest tone out of any brass library I’ve tried to date, and has a truly impressive dynamic range (this goes from whisper soft to blaringly epic, and it’s easily just as loud as the uber-epic brass in Metropolis Ark 1, and it offers more control too, being totally dry). Special mention for the “arc” articulations, which are truly an indefensible tool in my arsenal since the day I bought it. They just offer so much realism and a human feel that simply cannot be duplicated by automating dynamics/expression. Only con - solo instruments and ensembles are sold separately, and the sound of this library is very different than any other I’ve tried. It’s very bright and not quite as thick as others, some could say it’s a bit thin/tinny.

Honorable Mentions -
-The brass in Jaeger is very good (especially the horn legato, one of the best I’ve heard), as is Talos Low Brass for that super thick, low end brass.
-Hollywood Brass still has an impeccable sound and I use it all the time for those unique effects, it just has so much content (rips, falls, mutes, jazzy articulations, goofy brass sound effects, etc.)

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I know, FORZO is…nothing even comes close. I changed all my templates to start with FORZO for ALL brass tracks hahaha. :stuck_out_tongue:

Jaeger again? Well for brass I rather go with their Talos range.

Spitfire…I guess if I am going to go the Spitfire path, the symphonic range might be all I need to start with.

8dio…I personally don’t like brass too bright. I find the overtones overtake the entire orchestra if too bright. That’s the reason I love FORZO because all instruments have a very warm sound. Granted, you need to push up the levels to make it cut through.

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Jaeger mostly for the horns and trumpet legato. I just listed every library that basically has a permanent spot in my template, even if it’s just for small things here and there :), plus the Jaeger shorts are impressively crisp and punchy, though I’ve switched over to Forzo for those.

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The Sforzando articulation in FORZO is so amazing as you can write rhythms with note length variation! :smiley:

I really enjoy playability like that in software instruments.

I have been saving up for Forzo!

Right now I use 8dio’s Majestica library for brass. It isn’t bad really. It definitely takes some tweaking for it to fit in the mix though. My favorite solo horn that I have right now is surprisingly from East West Quantum Leap. Composer Cloud definitely isn’t a bad thing to get if you’re in a pinch!

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I like very much to use brasses in my compositions, and mentioning my favorite libraries are found :
Berlin Brass:
I like this library for its articulations of marcato, sustain and above all legato; I use it especially when I want the sounds of the brasses to be softer.
Metropolis Ark:
It’s not really a brass library, but the Metropolis series, especially MA1 has powerful brass patches that I use in super epic moments. I almost always use trombone and trumpet patches.
Cinematic Studio Brass:
I’m barely using this library, but knowing how to use the keyswitch and the controls it has is spectacular, especially the Legato as rogievg mentions is beautiful.
Sample Modeling
Knowing how to configure the parameters of this library is wonderful, the use as a second layer of brass to give more dynamics to the parts of brasses. Generally I use as first layer the previous libraries and Cinebrass.
Cinebrass:
I can not miss the library that I have used for many years, I love the playability, especially when I make pieces with a lot of staccato articulation.

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I have tried EW CC, but I have to be honest, when it comes to software I am not happy about subscriptions. It locks me in, and I can’t go back and change things on an old project if I quit the subscription. =/

Great overview of your favorite libraries, and why you like them! This is so much more valuable than simply a list without any description. =)

I also love using Sample Modeling as an extra lighter layer on top, which adds human character I think. =)

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