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Your experience with sax VI's?

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I'm nervous about posting parts from stuff I haven't released yet (even though some of this stuff has been near-complete for a decade or more -- copyright laws are funny though). I have one solo in particular that has a lot of ghost notes, and practically every possible Yamaha WX5 controller going on as is possible, and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do a better job of it on a real sax. That's more testimony to my limited abilities on sax vs. clarinet, than anything else, I suppose. But it made a huge difference when I switched the part from tenor sax to alto sax.

To my ears, the alto sax is the gem of the SWAM collection, and especially in terms of consistency and timbre across the registers. The tenor sax doesn't sound like a sax to me in the higher register, and I struggle with the bari as well. The soprano seems to fare a bit better, but I've pretty much abandoned that one in favour of Chris Hein's and CMusic's, due specifically to the timbre more than anything else.

I still maintain that saxes are the hardest thing to recreate. I feel that the Sample Modeling trumpet, trombone, horn and tuba, in particular, are magical and quite realistic. And I think it's less about the approach the two teams took than it is about the relative difficulty of the task.
 

Will Blackburn

Active Member
Very frustrating their isn't a perfect solution for Jazz. Absolutely love the sound of Vintage Horns 1 & 2 but there are next to no RR's and can't control expression. That would be my perfect library if it did. Not a fan of SWAM at least in a Jazz context, it sounds really stale compared to VH and has none of the character. Blue Street is cool you have to be going for that vintage sound from the get go.

The VH Film Noir Alto Sax gives this instant kinda vibe

 
Casually window shopping and wondering. I think a good basic one, also free, but it's just solo and little in the way of articulations etc is the DVS sax. Not amazing, but if all you're doing is basic stuff, accompaniment etc it can be enough.

I have tried Saxlab and did not care for at all.

Others? I imagine Chris Hein's is highly regarded.
+1 for DVS Sax.

Used this to “improve” a Latin Music client’s demo, which had a horrible GM midi sax, and he was impressed!

When he feels like finishing the demo, maybe we’ll look at a better alternative. :scout:
 

KarlHeinz

Senior Member
If you have a breath/wind controller, mpe or something like that you should definitely have a look over here:


Especially the new demo vids for 1.2 are really impressive I must say.

Great guys with decades of experience in physical modelling, great support, I am really sad I dont have a controller and that it just dont work in my workflow.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I just realized, I haven't a clue what DVS is, or Vintage Horns either for that matter. Couldn't find a product with the latter name, and DVS doesn't show up in the abbreviations list.

Ah, Vintage Horns is from Big Fish Audio, which is why I didn't know about it, as I thought that vendor EXCLUSIVELY did phrase libraries.


The content of that site is being whited over for security reasons, so I am having trouble reading the description in order to see if it contains single hit samples or not. I'll find another site that sells it, that isn't whitelisted.

Here's a review of Volume 2:


And a demo:


Sounds very mechanical and fake to my ears, but we all listen for different stuff. :)
 
I just realized, I haven't a clue what DVS is, or Vintage Horns either for that matter. Couldn't find a product with the latter name, and DVS doesn't show up in the abbreviations list.

Ah, Vintage Horns is from Big Fish Audio, which is why I didn't know about it, as I thought that vendor EXCLUSIVELY did phrase libraries.


The content of that site is being whited over for security reasons, so I am having trouble reading the description in order to see if it contains single hit samples or not. I'll find another site that sells it, that isn't whitelisted.

Here's a review of Volume 2:


And a demo:


Sounds very mechanical and fake to my ears, but we all listen for different stuff. :)
DVS can be found here: http://www.dreamvortex.co.uk/instruments/
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Interesting; so it's a synthesizer then? I didn't see any detailed descriptions; just a download button (maybe it's a freebie), and all the other stuff they have is more or less modeled synths. Maybe I'll download it and try it out after the work day ends. Martin Best has a good reputation.

EDIT: Nevermind; it's Windows-only.
 

Wally Garten

Active Member
Absolutely love the sound of Vintage Horns 1 & 2 but there are next to no RR's and can't control expression.
Yeah. And sudden jumps between dynamic layers. It's a shame -- the concept and the sample recordings are great.

I'll also row against the tide and say that I've never liked the SWAM stuff, at least in the demos I've heard. It's cool that it's so responsive to breath control, which I assume is what people like about it. But I find the tone very synthetic.

Since no one has mentioned it -- I just picked up MOJO 2 and have found its saxes to be quite good. (Again, more jazz/pop/latin-oriented than classical.) Less control than SWAM, probably, but verrrry nice tones.

Also, this is my very favorite one-trick pony:

 

David Cuny

Summer, we hardly knew ye.
Very frustrating there isn't a perfect solution for Jazz. Absolutely love the sound of Vintage Horns 1 & 2 but there are next to no RR's and can't control expression. That would be my perfect library if it did.
Are you basing your opinion on the SWAM saxes on experience? I'm asking because there are a lot of parameters you can adjust to alter the basic sound.

Fable Sounds just had Broadway Lites on sale for $150. It feels a lot like Vintage Horns 1, but is deeper. Personally, I found VH1 a bit of a disappointment, but to each their own! :)

Unfortunately, I don't think Fable Sounds will be having another sale soon, and at full price, I think the library feels overpriced.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Saxes are tricky instruments, as I said. You will NEVER get a realistic sax sound with 100% static intonation (even if using VSL's saxes to do classical work, the instrument typically is played with non-constant vibrato in such contexts and is occasionally allowed some inflections that might be frowned upon in the clarinet section).

I use the Yamaha WX5, which sends simultaneous controls that are based on intuitive reed pressure, wind, attack, and other factors. Almost impossible to recreate these on a keyboard (except maybe a ROLI or equivalent). AT least with any dexterity and fluidity, considering how many simultaneous controls you'd have to be managing with hands and feet.

I am varying pitch, growl, vibrato, and expression, at all times. If I start with notation and/or a keyboard, out of laziness of a short schedule, I will draw in the equivalent, as anything is better than nothing, and then will fine-tune, but the only time I may leave a so-called "pure" sax sound is in section work that has to be super-tight and coordinated. Even there, I'm going to play a bit with vibrato.

There are so many choices for the saxes in SWAM, that I never feel that basic timbre is at issue -- this is where the biggest improvements were made from the Kontakt version. Also, there are a LOT of parameters on that front page (and beyond!). I do some tricks with a few of them and it makes a big difference. Luckily, I find these custom settings to work pretty well from piece to piece, so I might tweak differently for big band than for solo chamber jazz. Yet I do use CMusic and Chris Hein for big band as well in some cases. Mostly because I do still feel that the timbral range is wider with their choices.
 

Will Blackburn

Active Member
Are you basing your opinion on the SWAM saxes on experience? I'm asking because there are a lot of parameters you can adjust to alter the basic sound.

Fable Sounds just had Broadway Lites on sale for $150. It feels a lot like Vintage Horns 1, but is deeper. Personally, I found VH1 a bit of a disappointment, but to each their own! :)

Unfortunately, I don't think Fable Sounds will be having another sale soon, and at full price, I think the library feels overpriced.

Thanks David i will have a look at Fable. I have Swam and a TEC breath controller. The playability is great but it just sounds thin and lifeless to me, no character, no growl. That is playing it pretty much out of the box though so definitely up for hearing about tweaking parameters.

I keep coming back to VH though, i love the air and vibrato in the samples, albeit they are baked in.

Another example at 4.45, VH can pull this off way more effortlessly and (imo) realistically than anything else i've tried. The main problem being the lack of RR's and Expression control.

 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Yeah, and this is where people's priorities differ so much. For me, there is NOTHING that matters more than expression and round robins. Every instrument and player sounds different anyway, so I'd rather have something less exact if that's the trade-off. It's why I used Pianoteq for so many years, until the sample libraries finally caught up (mostly) with the playability, expression, and realism of phrasing that the modeling approach made possible.

Obviously, in a perfect world, none of this would matter, but as we always make trade-offs (so far), our different priorities inform our criteria for yes/no on each library/product.
 
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David Cuny

Summer, we hardly knew ye.
The playability is great but it just sounds thin and lifeless to me, no character, no growl.
On the main screen, there's a SubHarm and Growl parameter. You can move these sliders to change the basic sound of the instrument.

A more flexible option would be to map the MIDI CC controllers to drive the various parameters.

If you click the Options button on the bottom, you'll get to the Options page. Click the MIDI Mapping button there to get to the MIDI Mapping page. There, you can trigger various parameters using MIDI CC Controllers, including:
  • Vibrato Rate
  • Vibrato Depth
  • SubHarmonics
  • Growl
  • Flutter Tongue
  • Formant
  • Breath Noise
For example, you can have the Growl increase with breath pressure by mapping it to CC2 (Expression), and setting the Min and Max to determine how much effect the expression parameter will drive it.
 

Rob

Senior Member
I have received free instruments from my friends at AM, so I'm biased... but as far as control over the behavior of the instrument is concerned there's nothing I know of better than Swam saxes. Which other virtual sax could do something like this for example?
 

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