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Vienna Symphonic Library Big Bang Orchestra Brass & Strings

VSL Synchron Player By Dave Stewart
Published October 2020

VSL Big Bang Orchestra Brass & Strings

Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars

VSL have added six new brass and strings libraries to their ambitious Big Bang Orchestra series. As befits a product 13.8 billion years in the making, the company have thrown NASA-scale resources at the project, recording a 70-piece orchestra, six percussionists and 48 singers from 10 mic positions in the Vienna Synchron Stage. While the theme is galactic, prices are not astronomical: the latest cost less than €100 each, with the Basics pack available as a free download.

Continuing the alphabetical theme, the Hercules and Izar libraries bring you four bass trombones, a bass tuba and a low-octave contrabass tuba playing together in a powerful low brass section. An optional fff layer blasts out the requisite explosive, end-of-days Hollywood brass sound, and ominous low-register glissando slides (a popular scoring effect) generate instant drama. For less histrionic occasions, the marcato style adds vital rhythmic definition, and the soft, horn-like swells are a warm and enveloping pad timbre. Hercules' evil twin Izar offers the same artics played as dissonant three-semitone clusters: this library's mad helicopter-like fast repetitions sound great in ostinato action passages, while its sinister descending cluster glissandi combine mournful with a hint of psychosis.

Beautifully rich, grand and sonorous, Jupiter's six horns sound immense when combined with BBO's choir and percussion. All essential styles are there: creamy legatos for triumphal heroic themes, brusque short notes for rhythmic ostinatos, in-your-face blaring sforzatissimos, excellent, luxurious soft swells and jeering flutter tongues. Also included is a terrific, well-synchronised set of octave rips. Putting extra shine on BBO's brass, Kopernikus features four Bb trumpets performing robust, unwavering marcato longs and imperious sforzandos. Their 'soft diminuendo' artic's strong attack also works well in melodies — all in all, a good, bright and resilient trumpet front line for all seasons.

With woodwinds in the pipeline, the BBO universe is expanding, so maybe now's the time to take a voyage of discovery...

BBO's new string collections give users a ready-to-go big sound. Optimised for soaring melody lines, Lyra features 26 unison violins with eight violas playing an octave down, while Musca presents six cellos and four basses playing in octaves, a timbre which works equally well for basslines and emotive midrange melodies. With a full complement of styles including Bollywood-style portamento slides, expressive and light-vibrato sustains, trills, tremolos and pizzicatos, these classic string combinations sound fabulous and are great value for money.

The libraries run on VSL's free Synchron Player (shown above), which incorporates an easy-to-use colour-coded keyswitch system and a range of transformative effects. All ensembles have wide playing ranges, five dynamic layers and note repetitions played at 120, 140 and 160 bpm, and all except Izar benefit from VSL's smooth-as-butter true legato mode.

With woodwinds in the pipeline, the BBO universe is expanding, so maybe now's the time to take a voyage of discovery...


€85/€95 each.

€85/€95 each.