Native Instruments Session Horns review

Hey what’s good fam, back with another one for ya.

Today I’m checking out the new horn library from Native Instruments called Session Horns.

This is a new library for Kontakt based around a Jazz style horn section

let’s check it out

So what is Session Horns?

The concept behind this is a 4 piece horn section that’s suitable for jazz, pop, soul, etc.

In addition to the playable section, you can drop various pieces of the section out for a different sound.

You also get a large collection of style based phrases and riffs organized into multiple “song” collections.

But, you know me…

all that means nothing unless it sounds good!

Quick Specs

  • content: 4.88GB
  • format: Kontakt, Kontakt Player
  • price: $119

How does it sound?

This has a really jazzy/soulful sound to it. It recorded clean so it has a tight feel to it.

There’s not a huge amount of space around the samples which is good, but the section itself is dynamic thanks to the detail of each instrument.

I like that you can also change the section up by dropping out various parts of it to get a different feel/tone.

One thing I would have liked to see…solo versions of each instrument.

I know I know…it’s a section library, but, every time I heard the tenor sax, I wanted to play it solo!

The phrases in the library really capture the feel and style they were going for which allows the user to instantly infuse their tracks with authentic rhythms and melody lines.

So what’s the bottom line?

There are tons of different brass and horn libraries out, many geared towards the orchestral side of things.

I like that this is more for the pop, soul, funk, and urban crowd, as it has a different tone that makes it instantly usable.

I give Session Horns 4.5 out of 5 subs, I like the tone and feel of the section, and even if I personally don’t use the phrases, that doesn’t change the fact that they are well done.

Overall I just feel like NI delivered a nice and usable horn section with good dynamics that respond to playing and velocity well.

Go on and checkout all their demos: http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/powered-by-kontakt/session-horns/

leave me a comment below and let me know what you think

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35 Responses to “Native Instruments Session Horns review”

  1. Michael Parson-McNamara says:

    Great review! I really like the way you go through it and also ..
    how it sounds and responds to pressure, etc. Very cool. Michael

  2. richard says:

    good review… next time i need horns, i will prob grab this…. realistic horns are really hard to find, and i tend use one shot samples a lot to keep it real sounding…this beats what im doing – hoping it will be in k9 and drops before i need it…

    • saintjoe says:

      I hear ya man, definitely some cool horn sounds, I like the sound of the section as a whole, but also I dig the tenor sax, it sounds really good, I want it as a solo lol

  3. good review. Those horns sound great! Is it time for a saint joe xmas track? Those horns would make it, and make it funky!

  4. Mean Gene says:

    Excellent!! People are sleeping on this. >:)

    • saintjoe says:

      Yeah, the section really sounds good imo, nice joint. I think people assume it’s mainly about the phrases, which are cool but I just dig the section instrument itself.

  5. hdom says:

    I love this, andit is very hard finding phrase-based libraries for brass and winds; as for orchestral phrases, there is Da Capo by Sonokinetics where you can just have horns playng the phrase independently. But this library offers greater flesibility than a wav based sample library. Power to NI !!!

    • saintjoe says:

      Yeah man, like I said, they got something for everyone, if you want authentic phrases, they got it, if you want a nice playable horn section, they got that too!

  6. angelinni says:

    Hi SJ. Is this one comparable with CHH compact?

    • saintjoe says:

      I think it has a little bit of a smoother/more natural sound than CHH Compact. But the way you can build your own sections in CCH is nice! I will be doing a review on CHH 2 Pro the updated version as well, which has some improved samples as well as some other features.

  7. Reg says:

    Hi Joe,

    I got this when it came out…

    The Voice Splitting is quite good…the phrases are okay..

    There was a string library which used the same technique and it actually required 2 computers…it was that good!

    Basically for the extra memory / CPU / minimum requirement was 2 or more computers…

    It had a powerful Divisi management system which was really nice.

    Very playable.

    Anyway – I just installed Cinematic Guitars 2 last night…which is very good.

    Some of the loops sounded really clever…lots of glitch style sequencing involved.

    I thought you would be able to control this but when I opened the patches on Kontakt…(I have the original version but I also got the “unlocked” version which lets you edit commercial libraries…)..you can see that the “clever” seqeunced stuff is nothing more than Rex Loops.

    This is quite disappointing because you should be able to sequence the pitch of each note yourself…It would be so much better!

    If this was possible – you could create sequences which fit your music and you could compose with it.

    However – as it stands – we are stuck with Rex loops which use fixed pitch offsets per note.

    So if you played the note C-4

    The sequence would be – “Bb3 -> C-4 -> C-4 -> Eb4 -> G-3 -> Bb -> C4″

    This irritates me.

    Rob Papen – Rhythm Guitar is also annoying.

    It only plays Major or Minor chords…which totally sucks for a guitar program.

    Think of Banarama -> Venus…..(She’s got it..yeah baby she’s got it)

    The main guitar riff is based on a sus-4 chord…

    Impossible with Rob Papen.

    Punch is another product that isn’t up to scratch.

    Some of the better sounds are just samples…the sequencer is okay though…but the synth generated sounds are crap when you compare them to MicroTonic…(the Holy Grail of PC drum synths).

    FXPansion Tremor is another one.

    The sounds are not as good as Microtonic.

    With Microtonic you can actually give each drum sound its own MIDI channel and play it pitched…

    There is the option to have note release cut off a sound..which is very useful for playing bass patches, etc…

    In fact…Kontakt has the option to play a sample when you let go of a key.

    The advantage of this?

    Well – you can set up a snare sound…..and you can reverse this snare….

    Now -> When you play C-4…it plays the reverse sample….and when you let go of C-4…it plays the Snare hit….

    So -> You can get some excellent effects with this!

    Play the note an 8th or a 16th note before the hit….then quantize the note off and you get a reversed snare with a great punch bang on the beat!

    You can do this with Reverse Reverbs and stuff…

    Steinberg has a reverb…I think it’s Reverence or Room….which has “HOLD”…

    When you press the HOLD button it will sustain the reverb infinitely!

    This is amazing for vocals….especially backwards reverbs…

  8. Reg says:

    Oh I forgot!

    The sound quality of Session Horns is excellent!

    The Legato mode…some of the pitch slides are a little unconvincing..but on the whole it is a great addition to anybody’s Kontakt Library!

    If you own Kontakt…You already have some great Brass sounds in the Band sections and there are the Vienna Symphonic Library patches in the VSL / Orchestral section.

    These are superb…especially with the Key Switching options!

    EWQL Symphonic Orchestra – Brass – Platinum XXL is also fantastic!

    So are the strings and woodwinds!

    Listen to the demos for arrangement ideas.

    On Avid’s Pro Tools website there’s a version that has been created for Structure which has some excellent demos.

    When you load these libraries up you will be overwhelmed by the amount of articulations available.

    It is damned near impossible to work out what to load up.

    With the Kontakt VSL stuff…the key switches make life a lot easier.

    However – when I listened to the EWQL demos on the Pro Tools website I could hear quite clearly the different articulations that were in use.

    This inspired me to create something new.

    It had some sustained string sounds playing chords..and then some Staccato / Spiccato sounds playing short runs over the top of the sustained chords.

    We just need some basic MIDI examples and tutorials for getting the best out of these libraries.

    On YouTube there is a guy who arranges real string parts for commercial records.

    Pete Whitfield – String Arranging Part 2…

    This guy is very generous with his information! I recommend you guys watch this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUwM9yztUso&list=PLE7FC43DD74F00B4E&index=3

    It shows you from his point of view!

    Basically – he has a song that he wants to add strings to.

    So he has the score on screen and the music playing…

    A piano and a female vocalist.

    He listens to it…and uses a pencil / paper / sequencer and shows you his working methods in full!

    • saintjoe says:

      Yeah it definitely sounds good. I wasn’t never too impressed with the Kontakt factory brass patches, they are decent, but nothing amazing imo. These, sound really good.

  9. BAKI says:

    I have this one and I really like it a lot. It is very fun to use and sound great. I do agree that it would have been nice to have a solo instrument section just for GP but none the less I love it so far.

  10. Baddboy2000 says:

    SJ: Thanks for reviewing this product. I think the interface & quality of the sounds presented here is worth the purchase for those who love horn instruments. The variations that are available seem to have all bases covered. “Another great review” from “S&G”.com.

  11. purecountry says:

    I think it sounds awesome, as you were playing I was thinking of a few sessions I wish I had this.

  12. Eddie says:

    Love these reviews as usual. I have a request from you though. Well two actually. One I see you have an iPad there I’m interested how you use that in your set up what apps you like on there and what you think about audiobus. Two I am also interested in how you have all your gear set up. You have quite a bit of stuff is it easy for you to just plug in something else and just get going or is it a little more difficult? Just curious.

    • saintjoe says:

      Thanks for the comment fam.

      1. I mainly use it as a synth but sometimes I use it as a chord/arp player.

      2. I have everything hooked up through my mixer which goes into my interface, I rarely ever use midi, I just play my gear in realtime as audio. So it’s easy for me to get sounds from anything whenever I want.

  13. Michael says:

    Hi Saintjoe,
    been looking for another brass library. Currently, I am using Yellow Tools / Magix Independence Pro.
    I see that both NI and Best service are having deals with both Session Horns (NI voucher) and Best service Chris Heins Horns Compact (buy one and get one fee offer).
    Which one do you think is best?

  14. Eric says:

    Are the phrases host-tempo synced?

  15. Jack says:

    Hi! Good review! Congrat!
    I can’t reach te keyswitches C-1 – G#-1. I don’t have those keys in my 88 notes controller. Any solution? Thanks!

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