Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
Performance Samples’ description of Vista as a ‘larger‑than‑life’ chamber ensemble aptly describes this beautiful‑sounding string library. Individual NKI patches are provided for each section, comprising five Violins, four Violas, three Cellos and three Double Basses. Although there is no dedicated 2nd Violins patch, using a second instance of the Violins is a workable substitute.
As with many of Jasper Blunk’s libraries, Vista focuses primarily on a specific remit, and pulls it off with aplomb. The focus here is on slurred legato, as opposed to the re‑bowed variety. The legatos have just a hint of portamento, making Vista ideal for sweeping melodic lines that flow seamlessly with a lyrical vibrato that intensifies with increased dynamics, evoking wide open spaces with a passionate and romantic feel. Think John Williams’ string‑led themes for Star Wars and ET, and you’re in the right ballpark. I’m especially impressed by the clarity of individual lines when all sections are playing together, particularly Cello arpeggios that sometimes struggle to cut through clearly with sampled string sections.
The GUI is identical for all sections, with two mic positions — Close and Decca Tree, each with volume, pan, mute, solo and output routings. Dynamics are assigned to CC1 by default, but can be reassigned to any CC; Legato can be turned off for polyphonic playing if required. Same‑note bow‑change repetitions are triggered when playing with the sustain pedal down, which is a nice touch. Two types of Release samples are determined by note length — their volume is adjustable, and they can optionally be disabled, although this sounds distinctly unnatural — but it’s there if you’re so inclined. The key velocity of newly played (non‑legato) notes determines a softer or harder attack, with a user‑definable velocity threshold.
Whilst Jasper Blunk’s technique of extracting samples from a continuous performance lends them an undeniable sense of motion and fluidity, it results in the harder attacks having an audible ‘pre‑strike’ before the main body of sound. In practice, however, these artefacts are less discernible in the context of a full arrangement, and only present on newly played notes, not when playing legato.
One other gremlin to note is some nebulous tuning in the lowest reaches of the Double Basses — notably the fff dynamic of F0 and F#0, which oscillate cyclically downwards in pitch by a semitone. Hopefully this will be corrected in an update.
A ‘Bonus’ folder contains three additional NKIs: an all‑in‑one Ensemble patch (polyphonic only) is handy for quick sketching or pads. A single dynamic layer 3‑Violins fff patch is intended as an overlay for the main Violin patch — I found it also works as alternative ‘2nd Violins’ once I’d added a 1‑pole LPF to an Insert FX slot, assigned to CC1 to create ‘fake’ timbral changes. Finally, a pleasant‑sounding Harp is included, optimised for playing repetitions — but watch the latency here, it’s not inconsiderable.
This library may have some flaws, but once you hear it in full flight you may be prepared to forgive them.