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Musical Sampling Orb Trumpets – the Synth and Software Review



Neither thin nor synthy

Of all of the orchestral instruments, the trumpet is one of the most challenging instruments to sample properly. Many sample libraries sound either too thin or too squelchy and synth-like.

With Orb Trumpets, Musical Sampling developer Aaron Sapp has managed to create an orchestral trumpet library with just the right balance of smooth playability and bite that makes the trumpet section the rhythmic and melodic backbone of the modern orchestra.

The samples in Orb Trumpets were edited from complete phrases rather than individual notes. This lends Orb Trumpets a natural playability that’s been elusive using more traditional sampling methods.

Orb Trumpets requires the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt sampler 5.8.1 or higher (the free Kontakt Player isn’t supported). It uses 240MB of storage.

Launching the instrument for the first time, I was struck by the simplicity of the user interface. It consists of a single large knob controlling the amount of reverb, as well as a small Continuous Controller window where you can select any available MIDI CC to control the sample switching or dynamics.

Orb Trumpets doesn’t employ any key switching to select the various articulations, but instead does so automatically based on the incoming notes and velocity. This approach is simple and efficient, and most importantly it works.

Four patches. There are four instrument patches focusing on basic sustain and staccato articulations.

The Adventure Workhorse instrument features a dynamic range from mp to F. A second Adventure (FFF Sus Layer) preset adds just that: an FFF sustain layer at the top of the dynamic range for some extra muscle.

The Stac & Stacmo instrument releases the notes quickly to activate the release samples. Two options are offered: VEL Switching, with the mod wheel controlling dynamics while the note velocity ranges switch between thestaccatissimo and staccato articulations; and the MW Switching option simply uses the modwheel to switch between Staccatissimo and Staccato articulations while velocity controls the dynamics.

Orb Trumpets also has No Filter versions of the instruments. These are because the Native Instruments Kontakt filters can spike the CPUs in some less powerful DAW setups. Also, some musicians simply prefer to avoid using them.

Testing. For my first test, I wanted to use Orb Trumpets in a busy action-driven cue to see just how well they could handle a crowded mix. For this I used the Adventure Workhorse FFF for the lead melody and the Stac & Stacmo patch for the short rhythmic stabs.

The Orb Trumpets carved through the active orchestral sections nicely, providing a soaring tone with plenty of character. Riding the mod wheel and volume automation helped impart additional dynamic power to the crescendos. 

Next I wanted to see how Orb Trumpets would do in a more moody pastoral setting. For this I relied solely on the Adventure Workhorse preset, which has both sustained articulations and shorter staccatos in one instrument without having to resort to key switching or multiple Kontakt instances. 

Orb Trumpets was recorded relatively dry, so additional reverb (either using the large knob to bring in the Kontakt one or using an external channel strip plug-in) benefits the sound greatly and helps to smooth out the tone. 

Developer Aaron Sapp notes that “Tuning was lightly done to taste […] We retained the natural biases in intonation up the range/dynamics while pulling in the more squirrely notes, resulting in a more natural temperament.” While this translates to an instrument with a natural and musical feel, perfect tuning sticklers might be a bit put off by this characteristic.

Bottom line. Orb Trumpets is as simple and straightforward as an orchestral trumpet library can be, and what it lacks in articulations variety and effects it more than makes up with its musicality and playability.

Coupled with a very attractive price and an extremely user-friendly interface, Orb Trumpets is a no-brainer purchase for anyone wanting to add a realistic orchestral trumpet section to their compositional toolbox.

Price: $79

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