Caspian by Performance Samples Review
There are orchestral brass libraries on the market that cater to fine detail and articulation choices, and then there are the libraries that serve as no-fuss drafting tools with simplicity in mind. Today we’ll be looking at a no-fuss brass library that has a unique traditional sound – Caspian by Performance Samples.
Performance Samples is a somewhat under-the-radar sample provider that offers highly conceptualized (yet no frills) orchestral libraries for composers who need playability above all but still with a genuine concert hall orchestra sound. Caspian brass is offered with a horn section, a trombone section and a trumpet section – the bare necessities for effective brass scoring.
The library is easily downloaded via Connect and auto-installed to your folder of choice, and being a full Kontakt library, there’s no registration needed.
Caspian brass sounds authentic, to put it simply. There are three mic positions – close, decca and wide – so you can dial in how much of the hall you want. The recordings sound very “classical”, sporting a clear silky tone without the bloat that is often heard with brass recorded in smaller scoring venues. There’s plenty of time for the instruments to breathe, so you get a wonderfully natural sound that feels alive and full of movement. The horns have a great dynamic range and strong staccatos, the trombones have plenty of bite with control, and the trumpets are perfect for fanfare style melodies. It’s all exactly what you’d expect to hear from brass recorded in a concert hall, which is all anyone could ask for. But the simplicity and beauty of its sound isn’t just skin deep.
The real investment this library offers in its totally fiddle-free design. When I said no frills earlier I meant it – the patches are as basic as it gets. In fact, there are only three patches – one for the horns, trombones and trumpets – and all a composer needs to do is load and play while the clever scripting and sculpting does the rest.
So far Performance Samples is in the lead when it comes to absolute minimal user input for an orchestral library due to this basic functionality-first approach. If you’re looking for smart GUIs and attractive controls, you’ve come to the wrong place. These patches were designed to be played without any key-switching, tweaking or deliberation.
Long notes are held and swelled using the mod wheel as usual – and when you need a staccato, just tap the key and the short samples will be activated (these samples were edited from actually performed repetitions) which gives you an attack and release allowing you to convincingly and easily perform staccatos and marcatos naturally rather than having to think about it. If you like playing your samples more than you like step by step composing, this library will take its place immediately in your collection and stay there as your “go-to” for most applications.
User interface & Usability
Of course, there’s no legato or expressive phrases here, but that’s not what this is about. Every option supplied with a library takes up time and deliberation on the composer’s part, and the eventual dream of many sample collectors is to have a library that thinks and feels and plays with the composer, without any roadblocks. That dream may be a long way in the distance, but this library is a taste of what that future could be.
Rating: Four out of five stars
It’s not possible for me to give a full five stars to a library that doesn’t pull out all the bells and whistles in spectacular fashion (it is a tool more than a toy after all) – but if I could award stars for functionality, expert editing and forward thinking, Caspian would earn all five easily.
Potential buyers might argue with themselves about the kind-of-high price – but rest assured Caspian will pay for itself if you decide to get your copy. This is a library you simply have to own because it represents where sampling is headed, it sounds magnificent, and your tracks will only benefit from such a useful scoring utility.