German based sample library developer Orchestral Tools (OT) provides comprehensive orchestral compositional tools for professional composers and arrangers. Like nearly all things German, OT delivers sample libraries in ergonomic formats, with processor efficient loads and pristine quality sample recording. One of Orchestral Tools’ most successful lines is the Berlin Series, a top quality collection of deeply sampled orchestral tools covering winds, brass, strings, and percussion. Their most recent release, a module designed to compliment the preceding Berlin Woodwind libraries, is the BWW EXP D: Sound Effects module. This module is available as a standalone product, and is also currently available as part of a larger SFX bundle on offer from Orchestral Tools. It uses the universal Capsule technology that OT incorporates into its libraries.
Fully playable tonal & atonal articulations for:
– Flute Ensemble
– Carver’s Low Bassoon Ensemble
– Decca Tree
Unique features of note:
- Flutter Tongue – special True Legato for piccolo, Flute and Clarinet (up to major 3rd)
- Glissando True Legato for Clarinet (up to major 3rd)
- Carver’s Low Bassoon Ensemble: 3 Contrabassoons & 3 Bassoons in octaves
- Round Robins on most samples for increased realism
This is NOT a Kontakt Player library, and requires the full version of Kontakt. It will not appear as a library in the library section on the left of the GUI. It will need to be searched for in the instrument navigation tab in Kontakt or added to the QuickLoad window for easy insertion.
The EXP D library module is a very straight forward and painless installation. Orchestral Tools uses the Continuata downloader to install and configure its libraries. The serial for the product is delivered via e-mail upon purchase, along with a link to the latest version of the downloader.
From here on, it is very simple. Once the serial provided is pasted into the downloader and the install location is picked, it will intelligently unpackage the files into your samples drive for easy access via Kontakt. NOTE: To choose the location of the install, hold Shift and click on the green download button. It will turn red and allow you to chose your install location.
The library is broken down into 3 folders: Multi, Single, and TM (Time Machine) patches.
Multi provides patches that present all the separate articulations for each instrument as 6 macro key-switchable .nki’s. It also makes this library very straightforward to use with the Kontakt QuickLoad function, giving the composer on a more powerful rig the entire library’s functionality in only 6 patches.
The Single folder provides individual articulation patches (now a standard offering on high-end orchestral libraries), and the key-switching articulation panel is replaced on the .nki’s with a dynamics wheel. This corresponds to the mod wheel’s dynamic movement, and is a very useful visual tool for those wishing to understand the articulation’s sonic connection to its written dynamic marking.
The TM Patches provides an additional set of patches identical to the Singles folder, except that these are enabled to work with Kontakt’s time stretching algorithm. This gives an entirely new layer of functionality, and combined with the fact that this library is entirely playable, as opposed to a catalog of one-shots, we now have the ability to play incredibly fast runs, or to slow them down significantly to create more temporally laid back runs and effects.
(Disclaimer: Stretch at your own risk! The algorithm is very good, but it has its limits.)
THE ‘CAPSULE’ INTERFACE
Orchestral Tools have compiled their patches in a clever configuration of vertical tabs they call The Capsule, which allows the user to access and tweak nearly every aspect of the sample from within the patch. The tabs are:
- Performance View
- Mixer View
- Instrument Setting
- Controller Table
The Performance view includes the mod wheel GUI and the articulation key switcher, depending on the patch you have loaded. The Mixer view allows us to access the mix of the samples, letting the composer chose from 4 extremely well recorded mic positions: Close, AB, Decca Tree, and Surround. The mixer also has 5 macro controls that allow us to load or purge samples en masse, or to solo and mute certain positions for referencing and CPU management.
The Instrument Setting tab lets the user access and tweak the way the patch communicates with the Mod Wheel, including attack and release behaviour, attack curves, and round robin sample and layer management. This gives a huge amount of control both sonically and in terms of sample load management. There is an interesting Niente option here too that allows us to set the samples to begin with absolute silence at the lowest mod wheel values, which can be useful in eliminating the natural noise that occurs at low volumes in compositions where it is not desired. This applies across all libraries by OT that use the Capsule system and that have natural noise recorded into their samples.
The Controller Table offers the finalinteresting tab that allows you to customise and organise all your the MIDI CC information that you use to connect your fingertips to the sounds and parameters in the patch. The DFT button on each patch also allows you to load and save custom scripts and preferences so that you can very quickly pull up your favourite settings and apply them to the patch. Almost anything is assignable.
The library was recorded at Teldex Studios, where the preceding Berlin Series libraries were also recorded, providing solid sonic integration between the EXP D module and the previous modular offerings. As those who work on high quality mock ups on a regular basis will know, this is an integral component of connecting libraries together in a coherent space, and OT thankfully takes this into consideration.
EXP D: SFX provides the composer with alleged never before recorded samples of unique legato types, including the Flutter Tongue special true legato for piccolo, Flute and Clarinet (up to major 3rd), and the Glissando True Legato for Clarinet (up to major 3rd). These are sampled to this range due to inherent limitations of the instrument, and the library reflects this reality in the way it has curated the sounds.
Additionally, the library provides a unique patch entitled Carver’s Low Bassoon Ensemble, which comprises 3 Contrabassoons & 3 Bassoons in octaves. This thick sound is commonplace in modern orchestral scores and can be utilised to enhance the low end of any arrangement for a dark brooding cinematic low end.
The quality of the samples are absolutely excellent, delivered at 24bit / 48khz with 30GB of samples in total. We can easily hear the level of care put into recording and curating this palette of articulations. No one could argue that this module, and indeed their other orchestral modules, sit right up at the top of the market alongside heavy hitters like Spitfire, Cinesamples, and 8Dio.
Yes. This library hosts a wide range of highly programmable material that sounds and responds excellently, and gives the composer quick, unobtrusive solutions to adding that extra spice to their composition. The capsule functionality is welcomed and helps streamline the module for maximum usability.
For professional composers, this library could be an interesting consideration for those who have committed significant finances to the likes of Spitfire Audio’s Brittish Modular Library range. Spitfire have already been slow to release the additional non-standard articulation modules for their winds in particular, something for which a lot of composers are left wanting, but this patch-based module could be worth considering as an excellent alternative. For the price, BWW Exp D gives you a considerable amount of articulations across several instrument ranges, allowing you to augment your existing core winds articulation library, and the flexibility of the mic positioning means that, while it may be recorded in a different hall to your other winds libraries, there is large scope for sonic blending among the various instruments.
Orchestral Tools have done an excellent job delivering a functional, resource friendly module with BWW Exp D that provides plenty of material a composer might want within the realm of aleatoric and atmospheric, less common compositional techniques. The provision of both tonal and atonal effects ensures that the module isn’t resigned to the realm of one-dimensionality.
The fidelity of the samples cannot be faulted, and the plethora of mix positions offer a surprisingly large level of flexibility, allowing you to either get to work out of the box, or really dig deep and make it your own.