Music Software Review: Tina Guo by Cinesamples

A Fanboy Library?

My first thought was: Is this a “fanboy” library? Since Cinesamples has a great reputation I was more curious than suspicious. But I can tell you: It’s definitely not a “fanboy” library (ok, who needs a switchable image of Tina Guo in the GUI?) but a very versatile and unique VSTi. Tina Guo is a very well known artist and her classical stuff is as great as her rock oriented riffing. But you are not only getting the best of both worlds: Classic- and E-Cello. Additional you find a third instrument: The Erhu. A traditional Chinese instrument with two strings and without a fretboard.

But let’s have a closer look at this new library.

The Library

The Tina Guo library is not a solo cello library in the common sense. It’s all about phrases, arpeggios and FX. The problem with such libraries is the fact that you will hear “your phrase” in other tracks as well. But this is the nature of libraries like this. This library is great to spice up your compositions. You get a great cello toolbox if you will. Another nice thing is that you don’t need the full version of KONTAKT. The KONTAKT Player is all you need to run it. You need 9 GB of hard disk to install the library and 6.9 GB of RAM if you want to load all the patches. The installation is easy and comfortable.

You are not only getting 3 instruments but also a collection of amps and FX.

The Patches

You get 16 (!) patches:

  • Electric Cello Phrases
  • Electric Cello Phrase Builder
  • Electric Cello Rhythmic Loops
  • Electric Cello FX
  • Electric Cello Drones
  • Electric Cello Articulations
  •  Acoustic Cello Phrases
  •  Acoustic Cello Phrase Builder
  •  Acoustic Cello Rhythmic Loops
  •  Acoustic Cello FX
  •  Acoustic Cello Drones
  •  Acoustic Cello Articulations
  •  Erhu Phrases
  •  Erhu Phrase Builder
  •  Erhu FX
  •  Erhu Articulations

The features

  • The Phrase Builder
  • Drone Designer
  • Built-in Granular Synth FX
  • Repeated Note Round Robin Staccatos
  • Chaos FX
  • Amp Modelling
  • Arpeggiator
  • Tempo-Synced Rhythm Loops

The Sound

The classic cello has a very raw, raspy and “living” sound. You can hear the bow and the movements very clearly. Some phrases are quiet noisy. You definitely don’t get a smooth and sweet Hollywood sound. In my opinion this is a great plus point for this library. It breathes.

The phrases are full of feeling and life. You can almost see Tina sitting right in front of you. You can change the key easily with the key knob. It’s always visible in what key the original phrase was recorded. You can also change the speed of the phrases.

The classic cello (phrase builder patch)

The E-Cello is aggressive. Almost too aggressive. It’s a very nice feature that you have the DI signal so you can use any amp simulation. The amps that come with this library are:

  • Tina’s Amp
  • Clean
  • Twang
  • V-30
  • UK-70’s

Every amp has different settings. Tina’s amp for example has only one control (Boom) while others have EQ or “Air” knobs. They sound fine. But I guess I will sometimes prefer to use the DI signal with Guitar Rig or other amp simulations.

If you own this library you have a little bit of “Apocalyptica in the box”.

The Erhu sounds – like the classic cello – really alive and it brings a special flavour to your soundscapes.

You have phrases, FX and longs. The longs come with two articulations “Sustain” and “Tremolo”.

All the phrases are tempo-synced and tweak-able.

Arpeggiator

I really like the simplicity of the arpeggiator. You can chose the step duration, the number of steps, the mode (up, down, random) and a sync mode. That’s it. You have the arpeggiator for classic and electric Cello.
You can chose between:

  • Sustain
  • Short
  • Pizzicato
  • Quarter
Tina Guo - Arp

Tina Guo – Arp

The Phrase Builder

You can have your own phrases. Just use the learn mode to put your favourite phrases together. With the Remove button you can simply remove phrases and replace them with others.

Cinesamples included in the back-end of KONTAKT a fade time knob to adjust the length of the crossfades between samples and a start offset knob. With these two parameters you can avoid gaps between the samples and give the whole phrase a more natural feeling.

Tweaking Phrases

The Drones (Sound designers may jump around now)

The drones of all three instruments invite you to tweak ’em, mix ’em and create soundscapes.  I like the classic cello drones the most. One drone can make almost the soundtrack for one scene.

The FX department

You have a wide variety of FX pedals for the electric cello. They tempt you to try out new combinations. With the chaos button you get random FX combinations. If you like the result you can save it as your own preset. Another nice feature in the FX-pedals section is the Preset Morpher which can be found at the bottom of the ElectricCello FX window interface. By blending two pedal board presets together you can create new sounds.

The FX pedals

The FX pedals

For the classic cello you have your own FX: Solid EQ, compressor, delay and reverb. You’ll find some presets and you can save your own as well. Then there is this nice “Chaos”-button. Press it and you’ll get a random setting. If you like it – save it!

FX for the classic cello

FX for the classic cello

The Granular Synth effect is a nice feature as well. This effect takes tiny slices of the audio, starting from the beginning of the sample and plays overlapping grains at a given speed. You can set the speed with the Grain Step knob. What you get is a layered sound.

Granular Synth

The onboard halls are very nice. You have 7 different impulses. You can tweak stereo width and the level of the close and the room mic.

The Price

299 $ is definitely not a bargain. Maybe Cinesamples shouldn’t invest too much money into photoshootings and videos but offer a cheaper price. Nevertheless, you’ll get a lot of sounds.

Overall

You have tons of great phrases, riffs, articulations, drones and FX  to play around. Tweaking features are really good and make sense. Some samples make a lot of noise at the end. I am not sure if this is what Cinesamples wanted or if it’s a mistake. Be aware that you won’t be the only one who uses these phrases.

The GUI is neat and clean and easy to use (even though I don’t think that the possibility to change the image of Tina is a great technical achievement). For sound designers this is a little piece of heaven. For classic oriented composers this is probably the wrong library. If you are looking for a playable cello you won’t be happy with this library. I am wondering why there are no legato patches. The price is in my opinion a bit too high but not in an absurd range.

Don’t expect a regular cello library. As I said before, it’s more of a sound design tool box. If you think out of the box, you can really get a lot of great sounds out of this library.

For more information, visit the product page at http://www.cinesamples.com/product/tina-guo

A Fanboy Library? My first thought was: Is this a “fanboy” library? Since Cinesamples has a great reputation I was more curious than suspicious. But I can tell you: It’s definitely not a “fanboy” library (ok, who needs a switchable image of Tina Guo in the GUI?) but a very versatile and unique VSTi. Tina Guo is a very well known artist and her classical stuff is as great as her rock oriented riffing. But you are not only getting the best of both worlds: Classic- and E-Cello. Additional you find a third instrument: The Erhu. A traditional Chinese instrument with two strings and without a fretboard. But let’s have a closer look at this new library. The Library The Tina Guo library is not a solo cello library in the common sense. It’s all about phrases, arpeggios and FX. The problem with such libraries is the fact that you will hear “your phrase” in other tracks as well. But this is the nature of libraries like this. This library is great to spice up your compositions. You get a great cello toolbox if you will. Another nice thing is that you don’t need the full version of KONTAKT. The KONTAKT Player is all you need to run it. You need 9 GB of hard disk to install the library and 6.9 GB of RAM if you want to load all the patches. The installation is easy and comfortable. You are not only getting 3 instruments but also a collection of amps and FX. The Patches You get 16 (!) patches: Electric Cello Phrases Electric Cello Phrase Builder Electric Cello Rhythmic Loops Electric Cello FX Electric Cello Drones Electric Cello Articulations  Acoustic Cello Phrases  Acoustic Cello Phrase Builder  Acoustic Cello Rhythmic Loops  Acoustic Cello FX  Acoustic Cello Drones  Acoustic Cello Articulations  Erhu Phrases  Erhu Phrase Builder  Erhu FX  Erhu Articulations The features The Phrase Builder Drone Designer Built-in Granular Synth FX Repeated Note Round Robin Staccatos Chaos FX Amp Modelling Arpeggiator Tempo-Synced Rhythm Loops The Sound The classic cello has a very raw, raspy and “living” sound. You can hear the bow and the movements very clearly. Some phrases are quiet noisy. You definitely don’t get a smooth and sweet Hollywood sound. In my opinion this is a great plus point for this library. It breathes. The phrases are full of feeling and life. You can almost see Tina sitting right in front of you. You can change the key easily with the key knob. It’s always visible in what key the original phrase was recorded. You can also change the speed of the phrases. The E-Cello is aggressive. Almost too aggressive. It’s a very nice feature that you have the DI signal so you can use any amp simulation. The amps that come with this library are: Tina’s Amp Clean Twang V-30 UK-70’s Every amp has different settings. Tina’s amp for example has only one control (Boom) while others have EQ or “Air” knobs. They sound fine. But I guess I will…

Tina Guo by Cinesamples


INSTALLATION – 100%


PATCHES – 90%


INTERFACE – 90%


SOUND – 85%


VALUE – 75%



88%

88/100

If you are looking for great phrases, riffs and FX you found an interesting library for composers and sound designers. The missing legato patches and the price of $299 could be a killjoy.

88

Written by: Oliver Amberg

Oliver Amberg played in various metal bands (Coroner, Celtic Frost, Lick'n A Promise). His current bands are "The Boris Karloff Syndrome", "Artificial Rain" and "Postmortem Party". A couple of years ago he started to compose and produce music for film and games.

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