SWAM Solo Brass, and modeled instruments in general

(I started writing this post the other week, got distracted, and forgot about it…)

I noticed SWAM Solo Brass is on the way, which naturally caught my attention, especially since I’m (hopefully) getting an Osmose next summer…

However, much like my impression with modeled instruments so far, it’s all… very inconsistent. The SWAM Star Wars teaser is honestly terrible. The horns and tubas demo sounds ok, the tone of the trombones is not very nice at all (needs big hall reverb?), but the trumpet demo is pretty nice. SWAM strings sound terrible to me; the body resonances sound like cheap student instruments, and the vibrato is awful.

However, the main issue is that while these instruments rely very heavily on expressive playing, most of the demos are just someone jamming on a traditional keyboard + wheel setup, and by the sound of it, most orchestral demos and the like are recorded like that as well. That’s never going to sound anything like the real thing, or even a decent sample library based mockup.

Another issue is that modeled instruments put extreme demands on mix and effects, even more so than dry/studio sample libraries, which still usually have some “room color” in them.

So… I guess my conclusion is that while this is very interesting stuff, there are some issues preventing it from taking off:

  1. Demos need to be properly arranged, with carefully recorded and edited automation of all available parameters.
  2. Demos need to be properly mixed, to match the sound of instruments recorded in great sounding halls and the like.
  3. More seriously, for these instruments to ever become more than an odd exception that only a few random composers/musicians can use effectively, we need to actually figure out how to play them properly. Controllers, technique, methods, theory - just like for the original instruments. Either that, and/or AI based players that “know” how to play expressively, shifting the composer/arranger’s job from playing towards directing.
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Sample Modeling Brass is honestly still the best expressive modeled brass imho, will see if SWAM can beat it. SWAM Strings is meh, Sample Modeling Strings is better but still does not cut it.

The best “middle road” I’ve seen so far is Infinite Series by @AaronVenture. A mix of the authenticity of samples, with the clever scripting/programming of “physical modeling”. I am hopefully doing a review on them later on, I’ve reached out to Aaron about it and he was interested but working hard on an update atm.

I find that using only MOD-wheel to control an orchestral instrument is not enough by a long shot. Dynamics is just one aspect. We have timbral control, double-tounging, glides (from short legato to long glissando) etc.

The Osmose does look more and more impressive as a controller though! By next summer do you mean 2020? I would love it if you write a review on it! :smiley:


The Infinite Series is indeed interesting, and high on my wishlist (would probably have grabbed them already, but got distracted by “life” etc) - even more so after getting the Touché, and I hope the Osmose can make them even more accessible. To my ears, they’re on par with great samples in terms of basic tone, and I suspect they could deliver amazing results with expressive playing, and a good mix.

Yep, mine will be from the first batch, and summer 2020 is what they’ve been saying. :slight_smile:

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Yes, I understand what you mean. The invention of the synthesizer put a lot of good musicians out of work! Why should we learn to play the tuba trombone or saxophone? Now Composers just download an application and like magic they have the brass section. Of course it will never sound like the real thing. But we get our revenge! I live in an apartment complex and we are not allowed to practice here. So I bought an electronic wind instrument and I found that I can play keyboard parts fairly well and I can practice anytime of day or night without disturbing anyone. I also found The saxophone sounds are not too bad. You can get used to anything! A friend of mine plays the guitar, he was run over by a train and lost his right hand and three fingers from his left hand. He never complained about it he just adapted. Now he’s a very good slide guitar player. However that was not the end of the story. He had an accident while in Paris And lost the usage of his remaining two fingers. So now he plays with A slide attached with the rubber band on his left arm and pics with his foot. He’s still is a brilliant guitarist, and a great inspiration to me! So when I found out that I could no longer practice at home on my instrument Instead of hating the sound of the electric instrument I embraced it. I am by no means a great player but I find satisfaction in what I do. I’m leaving you a sample of me playing Swarm alto saxophone. I would be happy to hear what you think.



That’s quite a story Derrick, and an optimistic sentiment to it as well. We will always have struggles and set backs in various ways. It’s how we deal with them that matters.

I took a quick listen to your track, very mellow and lofi sound. Interesting with stereo panning on saxophone, very original. SWAM is really cool indeed.

Hi Mikael, thank you for your kind words! It’s nice to correspond with you.

After many of your videos I have a great respect for your knowledge of music and Logic Pro.

I’m just a beginner with Logic, and your videos have helped me Immensely! However I’m overwhelmed with so many possibilities in Logic.

About the story and how It pertains to Swam Saxophones.

Sample modeling will never replace the real saxophone. However It is Its own Instrument.

Just like my friend who was run over by the train and started playing slide guitar.
Most people would think of the slide as a limited form of guitar, but that kind of thinking is wrong!

He proved that to me. He was able to play things I never thought possible I’m slide guitar.

Just like for me with the Swam Saxophones. There are some things that I cannot do with Swam saxophones, but there are some things that I cannot do on a regular saxophone that I can do with the Swam sax. It’s actually just another instrument.

Anyway you get the point. Thank you so much for Your very Informative Videos! And for your quick reply!


I agree Derrick. Sample libraries and plugins, even synthesizers, are all instruments by themselves. In fact, anything that makes sound and that you can perform and add your own touch to, is an instrument, is it not? At least that is how I see it. Just like you said, not an exact digital version of the acoustic instrument, but more like another unique flavor if it.