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East West Ultimate String Collection

Sample CD Buyer's Guide By Dave Stewart
Published January 2000

Rating: ****** 6/6 Stars

US (22) Vns: sus (f, mf <2> & p), marc <2>, piz (f & mf).

Euro (34) Vns: sus (f, mf & p), marc <2>, trem (mf & p).

US Vas: sus (f & p), fast leg (ie. fairly short unlooped notes for fast legato passages).

Euro Vas: sus (f, mf & p), fast leg, trem.

US Vcs: sus (f, mf & p), fast leg <2>, marc, trem (mf & p), piz.

Euro Vcs: sus, fast leg, stc.

US Dbs: sus (f & mf), marc (f & mf), piz.

Comments: Classy, expensive‑sounding string ensembles which must have cost a packet to record, even though the players only had to get one note right at a time. Especially strong in the low register. Violin, viola and cello sections were recorded in both the USA and Europe, the latter with more 'hall' in the sound and broader tuning (though the booklet's claim that this makes them more suitable for 'atonal or minor keys' makes no musical sense to me). Double basses were captured in the USA.

Standouts: Major 7th chords on the European legato cello section brought a tear to my eye, while the US mezzo forte basses convincingly threatened impending cinematic doom.

Quibbles: I have to say that these sounds are great, but there are two caveats. Firstly, the publicity claims that most of the sections were recorded with separate up and down strokes for 'unparalleled realism' — in fact, only one violin section offers this option, and its up and down strokes are layered rather than velocity‑switched or otherwise split. To hear the intended effect, you'd need to create your own keyboard split operating on two MIDI channels, or reprogram. Secondly, for my taste, there are too many programs (notably those using quiet notes) which use slow attack envelopes to create phoney‑sounding swells. If we want swells, we'll put them in ourselves, thank you!

Contact: Time & Space.

£ Akai/Roland CD‑ROMs £199.95; Gigasampler CD‑ROM £149.