Like its predecessor Analog Strings, Analog Brass & Winds is a software instrument hosted by NI’s Kontakt or Kontakt Player offering an unusual twist on the instruments that were used to create the samples. If your aim is to replicate the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band, this probably isn’t the package for you. OK, you can coax some more or less ‘normal’ sounds out of this instrument but that isn’t what it is designed to do. Here you’ll find that while the sound sources still emboss an organic fingerprint on the end result, what’s really on offer is a wide range of more abstract ‘wind-flavoured’ sounds ranging from ‘blarty’ Close Encounters type blasts to fat bass sounds, etherial pads, pulsing drones, synth lead sounds — in fact, just about anything other than traditional brass and wind.
The instrument comes with a huge range of presets and almost all of them inspire you to start writing something, which is always a good sign. Each sound is based on two voices, the samples of which may be shifted in pitch, looped or reversed, and four preset-specific macro sliders, which can be controlled by MIDI or automation, regulate four key aspects of the sound. In the deeper edit modes you can set up your own macro assignments for the sliders.
The Edit and FX tabs let you delve a little deeper into the sounds, so tweaking or creating new sounds is fairly straightforward. Rhythm and Arpeggio sections allow for more rhythmic results, and a Flux feature, first seen in Analog Strings, allows further adjustment of the rate and repetitions per sequence step. You can dip your toe in the water by selecting from 20 preset rhythm options if you don’t want to start creating your own right away. The envelopes of the two sound sources are fully adjustable and there are some further tweaking options, such as the ability to adjust the timbre of each sound source and to apply effects both to the individual parts and globally.
Many of the 90 multi-sampled sound sources started life as high-quality recordings of 18-piece orchestra sections or individual instruments. There are also synth brass sound sources and a Creative section of heavily processed sounds. Further tabs let you view one-shot, pad or tape-loop style sources. All the sound sources are categorised so that you can locate and swap out sources easily.
Words don’t really do this instrument justice as it is capable, on the one hand, of creating beautiful, organic sounds, but on the other, it can do scary brass blasts, throbbing bass parts and driving rhythms. You can interact with it on many levels, too, using just the macro sliders, maybe swapping some sound sources, or diving right in to edit sounds in detail. There’s a lot to love here and a visit to the Output web site to hear some of the examples is well worth it.