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French Horn & Tuba 3

Created by Giorgio Tommasini & Peter Siedlaczek

French Horn & Tuba, v. 1 was first released in 2012. Even though it already included some advanced features of the most recent instruments, like early reflections and microtuning, we were asked to bring it to the same level of the currently available Trombone 3 & Trumpet 3.

That's why The French Horn & Tuba v.3 is here!

Instrument technology

French Horn & Tuba 3 further expands Samplemodeling™ technologies. Multi-microphone anechoic recording allows to capture the original timbre of the instrument, along with its radiation pattern. Our proprietary "Harmonic Alignment" yields continuous transitions across virtually infinite dynamics. Specially devised "early reflections" impulse responses add a virtual space to the anechoic sound, greatly contributing to realism (see below). The programming moves further away from conventional libraries, by exploiting physically-oriented modulation of the recorded sound. This yields the characteristic crescendo pattern of French Horns, typical brass flutter on transitions, or even the "watery" sound, knocks, breath noise, and metallic resonances from the bell and the body of the instrument, greatly contributing to realism. The result is a series of playable, very expressive virtual instruments retaining the rich, full sound of the real ones.

The package includes four different French Horns and a Tuba. The base material of the instruments consists of 270 MB of samples, chromatically performed by professional players over a very wide dynamic range. All samples are unlooped, and have a duration of 9 sec. As in the "The Trumpet" and "The Trombone" the musical engine is structured according to an adaptive model, based on the performance "fingerprints" of the real instrument. The purpose of the model is to minimize the differences between the real phrases and those played by the virtual instrument.

Proprietary modal resonance IRs, innovative techniques for sample modulation, and advanced artificial intelligence MIDI processing are used for real time construction of all articulations and morphing across dynamics, vibrato, legato, portamento, trills, vibrato-like endings, shakes and so forth.

Pseudo-random detuning, based on real performance-derived pitch trends, is another outstanding new feature of French Horn & Tuba 3, adding further realism.

Why anechoic?

The purpose of anechoic recording was threefold:

  1. avoid “contamination” of the pure French Horn & Tuba sounds with the uncontrolled resonances of a particular ambience,
  2. allow artifact-free “harmonic alignment” processing
  3. provide clean articulations and phrases as a database to build the “adaptive model”.

What's new in The French Horn & Tuba 3?

In addition to improved fortissimo in the upper range, French Horn & Tuba 3 includes several exciting features:

  1. New Early Reflections algorithm. The early reflections (ER) are those components of the emitted sound reaching the listener shortly after being reflected from the closest rear and lateral walls, floor and ceiling. They convey information about the spatial localizaton of the instrument, and greatly contribute to realism. In French Horn & Tuba 3, a sophisticated algorithm extracts the directional information of multi-microphone anechoic recordings to recover the overall timbre of the instrument along with its radiation pattern, assembling this information into a suitable ER impulse response, which adds a virtual space to the anechoic sound.
  2. Virtual Soundstage. This new feature allows precise positioning of the instruments in a virtual space located before the listener, using early reflections, pre-delay, convoluted panning and perceived distance algorithms. You can move your instrument back and forth, from side to side, or with a combination of the two, even in realtime, mimicking the natural movements of the player. You can modify the ratio direct/reflected sound, and even "displace" the back wall, for a variable depth effect.
    This virtual soundstage will set you free of adding a further suitable acoustic environment, without incurring multiple-ambience issues. This can be carried out within the same Kontakt Player, which provides a high quality convolution reverb.
  3. Real time Timbral Shaping. This revolutionary new feature adds a virtually infinite timbral variety to sample-based instruments, by acting on the amplitude of individual harmonics, or groups of harmonics, even in real time. This is not a graphic equalizer; the controlling bars are not assigned to fixed frequencies, but to the first 10 harmonics of the played note. As a consequence, the affected frequencies vary with the pitch of the note. So, rising, for example, bar #1 will boost the fundamental frequency (first harmonic) of each note played, yielding a rounder sound. Rising bars #3, #4, #5 will increase the intensity of the corresponding harmonics for a more "nasal" sound, etc.
  4. Expression Mapping. User-drawn rescaling of the expression CC may give better control of the dynamics, particularly when tailored to suit your own input devices like breath or wind controllers.
  5. "For Unison Ensemble" IR. A specially devised Impulse Response, markedly reducing the phasing which may occur when several instruments are driven from the same MIDI track (i.e. in unison).
  6. Unison Ensemble Multi. Special consideration has been given to creation of realistic ensembles from solo instruments, whether driven from separate MIDI tracks, or when playing unison. An advanced "Ensemble Maker" has been developed, affecting timing, static and dynamic pitch evolution, phase, response to dynamics, pitchbend, velocity, portamento time, in such a way that even if driven from a single MIDI source, each instrument will sound slightly different, as if played by a different musician.
    A ready-to-use Multi, including four specially devised French Horns, the Ensemble Maker, and an appropriate convolution reverb, suitable for unison playing straight out of the box, is included in the package.

Virtual Instruments? No additional software needed?

the graphical interface

Kontakt 5 Player

French Horn & Tuba 3 is supplied with the NI Kontakt Player 5.5, the read-only version of Native Instruments sampler. It involves many new features and bugfixes, including 64 bit, extended memory and multicore support, DFD optimization, better compliance with some OS and hosts, etc. The Player is included as a separate installer, and no additional software is required to play the instrument. Stand-alone mode, as well as plugin formats VST, AU and AAX, 32 or 64 bit, are supported.

Operating Systems

PC: Windows 7, 8 or 10 (latest Service Pack), 32 or 64 bit - Mac: Intel only, OS X 10.9 – 10.11.1

NOTE: Compatibility with OS and Hosts is only dependent on the Kontakt version in use. This means that if a future version of Kontakt works properly on your system, and Native Instruments confirms its backward compatibility, our instruments will work as well. All the above OS are fully compatible with the Kontakt 5 Player supplied with French Horn & Tuba v. 3.0. Please note, however, that the instruments have been developed on Kontakt 5.5.1 and will not work with previous versions of Kontakt.

Kontakt 5 Sampler vs. Full Kontakt.

The instruments can be loaded and played in the full versions of Kontakt. Please note that they cannot be opened or modified, and no access to the samples, impulse responses or instrument programming is provided.

Features

Velocity and Expression mapping

It is well known that midi keyboards have different and uneven velocity response, and this may heavily influence the performance of a virtual instrument. To obviate this problem, the instrument includes automatic detection of any velocity inhomogeneities or non-linearity of the keyboard, and provides automatic mapping to any desired curve. NEW: Similarly, user-drawn rescaling of the expression controller allows better control of the dynamics, particularly with such input devices like breath and windcontrollers.

GUI knobs/ Controllers remapping

All the controllers needed for proper functioning of the instrument are mapped to virtual knobs in five GUI panels, which can be activated by a drop down menu. The function of each controller is indicated by the associated label. The virtual knobs permit to monitor the incoming midi data, but can also be used to directly control the instrument. This allows users of keyboards without physical MIDI controllers or knobs, to explore the expressive capabilities of French Horn & Tuba. Additionally, all the controllers, plus the aftertouch, can be remapped to any existing MIDI CC.

Performance Keyswitches

An outstanding feature, allowing to create real time articulations which are too difficult to perform with the usual interplay of expression pedal, pitchbend and modwheel. Sforzato, crescendo, vibrato-like endings and different types of release, can be obtained by hitting one or more keyswitches. The intensity of the effect, and its duration, are under player’s control. Please note that these are not just sampled articulations, but they are sample-modeled, indeed. This means that each time each of them will sound slightly different. No machine-gun nor mechanical repetitions here.

Split Portamento, Falls & Doits

A real french horn may play different types of legato/portamento, using either lips, valves, or a combination of the two. The sound is different, since a different harmonic resonance is excited. This is nicely reproduced by our adaptive model. One may choose to perform a continuous portamento over two octaves by simply overlapping two notes, to split it manually playing intermediate legato notes, or to split it automatically, exploiting the natural harmonic resonances of the instrument, by a keyswitch. One can also choose to perform chromatically-split portamento or realistic falls and doits.

Mutes

French Horns and Tuba, like other brass instruments, use a wide range of mutes. The most common are Brass Stop and Wooden Straight for the French Horn, and Straight mute for the Tuba. All these mutes, along with special effects like metallic resonances from the bell and the body of the French Horn, are available for use with these instruments. We used sophisticated technologies to capture the “fingerprints” of each mute, which were ultimately coded into a suitable impulse response. The latter can be instantly loaded from a drop down menu of the graphical interface, or via MIDI.

Breath & Windcontroller mode

Playing French Horn & Tuba 3 with either a keyboard plus breath controller (e.g.TEControl), or directly with a windcontroller (e.g. Yamaha or Akai) is very easy. Breath & Windcontroller modes automatically set proper CC settings, enable triggering of note-on and off by the expression data flow, optimize the bite–to-pitch response for the individual WC, etc.


NEW: Virtual Soundstage

This new feature allows precise positioning of the instruments in a virtual space, using early reflections, pre-delay, convoluted panning and perceived distance algorithms, working even in real time. The Virtual Soundstage will set you free of adding a further suitable acoustic environment, without incurring multiple-ambience issues. This can be carried out within the same Kontakt Player, which provides a high quality convolution reverb.

Transpose

All samples in French Horn & Tuba 3 are mapped according to standard MIDI note numbers. This is very convenient when using a sequencer or a large keyboard. Conversely, users of small keyboards might take advantage of transposition to conveniently exploit the full range of the instruments. The Transpose knob greatly facilitates this task, by transposing keys and keyswitches at the same time, without the need to bother with keyboard programming.

Microtuning

This is an advanced function, coping with the requirements of musicians using non-tempered scales, so essential in, for example, Middle Eastern and Asian music. Our approach to microtuning yields maximal flexibility, allowing user-defined scales, where the extent of detuning (range +60/-60 cents) can be precisely set for each note by means of a series of bars. The scale can be saved and recalled as a preset. In addition, selective detuning can be applied to individual notes in realtime, by using third-level keyswitches, similar to those used for split portamenti, falls and doits. In this case, all notes are detuned by a predetermined amount (up to +/-60 cents), which may be set and modified by the user. The currently detuned notes are displayed in a dedicated GUI.

NEW: Timbral Shaping

This revolutionary new feature adds a virtually infinite timbral variety to sample-based instruments, by acting on the amplitude of individual harmonics, or groups of harmonics, even in real time. This is not a graphic equalizer; the controlling bars are not assigned to fixed frequencies, but to the first 10 harmonics of the played note. As a consequence, the affected frequencies vary with the pitch of the note. So, rising, for example, bar #1 will boost the fundamental frequency (first harmonic) of each note played, yielding a rounder sound. Rising bars #3, #4, #5 will increase the intensity of the corresponding harmonics for a more "nasal" sound, etc.



NEW: Unison Ensemble Multi

Special consideration has been given to creation of realistic ensembles from solo instruments, whether driven from separate MIDI tracks, or when playing unison. An advanced "ensemble maker" has been developed, affecting timing, static and dynamic pitch evolution, phase, response to dynamics, pitchbend, velocity, portamento time, in such a way that even if driven from a single MIDI source, each instrument will sound as if played by a different musician. A ready-to-use Multi, including four specially devised french horns, the ensemble maker, and an appropriate convolution reverb, suitable for unison playing straight out of the box, is included in the package.

System requirements

French Horn & Tuba 3 provides unprecedented realism and expressiveness. However, it’s a demanding software in terms of CPU load. A modern PC or Mac with at least 1.6 GHz Core2Duo CPU is required. Less powerful systems may also prove satisfactory, but may require larger buffer sizes, involving higher latencies, and may reduce the number of simultaneously playable instruments.

A good quality audio hardware with suitable low latency drivers (ASIO for the PC) is required. Recommended buffer sizes may range from 128 (low-latency, hight CPU load) to 512 samples (higher latency, but less CPU load).

A master keyboard with some configurable MIDI controllers, pitchwheel, modwheel, and an expression pedal (or breath controller) is required for real time playing. Virtually any type of windcontroller can also be used to play this instrument. If real time playing is not contemplated (you will miss some great fun though), using a sequencer may obviate the need for several physical midi controllers, by manually drawing controller data to the MIDI tracks while maintaining full control of the instrument's expressiveness. French Horn & Tuba 3 have been thoroughly tested on most common sequencers, like Cubase, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Logic, Sonar, Studio One and Protools. Some excellent MIDI demos are downloadable from the French Horn & Tuba 3 demo page.

What does the French Horn & Tuba 3 package include?

The French Horn & Tuba 3 package includes:

  • Four French Horns, characterized by slightly different timbre, attack, vibrato & portamento behaviour, suitable for solo and ensemble playing. The playing range corresponds to that of a top professional player, i.e. A0 - G4. (C3 = middle C).
  • Four additional French Horns, specially devised for ensemble unison playing.
  • A ready to use Multi for ensemble unison playing, including four French Horns and a suitable ambience / convolution reverb.
  • A Tuba, covering the range of the whole tuba family from Contrabass Tuba to F Tuba, i.e. from C0 to F3.

How much will I pay? Any Discount? Any Bundle?

  1. The retail price for the French Horn & Tuba 3 for new customers is Eur 159 (+VAT if applicable).
  2. All owners of the earlier French Horn & Tuba versions (purchased before April 12th, 2016) are entitled to purchase the French Horn & Tuba 3 for EUR 30 (+ VAT if applicable).

To obtain the discount coupon, please follow the instructions published here.

Online Activation?

Yes. Immediately after installation of the software, you need to activate it via Internet, using the Service Center utility supplied with the Kontakt software. Without activation the instrument(s) will appear on a black background and will not work. The activation process is very easy, though, and is carried out in a few seconds.

Are any demos of French Horn & Tuba available?

Credits and acknowledgements

The French Horn & Tuba 3 is the result of a many-year research carried out by Giorgio Tommasini and Peter Siedlaczek, who also performed all the recordings. The scripts were written by Nils Liberg and Giorgio Tommasini.

Special thanks to:

Tomasz Binkowski, Henryk Kowalewicz and Arkadiusz Wiedlak (recording session players) for their skill, patience and professionalism. Special thanks also to our beta testers and wonderful demo makers, and to many Samplemodeling's friends for their valuable help and cooperation.