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Musical Sampling Hoard Mandolin Sample Library: the Synth and Software Review



Can you have your mandolin without having to tune, play, and record it live?

The mandolin is one of the most overlooked strummed instruments. While I’ve used it extensively on several film scores, it can be a finicky instrument to tune, play, and record properly. So I don’t reach for it nearly as often as I’d like.

But now Musical Sampling has released a mandolin sample library, with an emphasis on playability and realism. Is it a reasonable substitute?

The Hoard Mandolin is a collection performed by acclaimed musician Jason Hoard. This 2.4GB library (downloadable through the free Pulse Downloader app) provides a baker’s dozen presets that span several articulations to create authentic-sounding mandolin tracks.

In keeping with Musical Sampling’s aesthetic, the interface is minimal and clean, with just a single large central knob to adjust the reverb amount for the instrument. 

Chicken peck. The presets include monophonic legatos in full tone, muted, and chicken peck. What’s that, you ask? Chicken peck “incorporates repetition sustains optimized for rapid and successive picking without compromising the inherent legato capabilities.”

Other presets: polyphonic sustains for chordal type of playing, playable reps for simulated strumming, and full chords mapped in both major and minor tonalities across the keyboard. Tremolos, fret noises, as well as a handful of pre-recorded simple strummed grooves that adjust to the DAW’s tempo round up the selection.

Master legato. At the heart of the library is the Master Legato Main instrument, which is a monophonic legato patch capable of very natural results. All the samples are pristinely recorded to maintain consistency and detail.

The magic of the Master Legato Main preset comes in the way the velocities are programmed. Velocities 41-90 provide a natural plucked legato articulation, velocities 91-127 activate the hammer-on/pull-off articulation (up to a major 2nd), and velocities 1-40 allow for a natural slide into the pluck articulation. In addition, the speed of the slide can be controlled via the mod-wheel.

Fret and string noises are provided in a separate preset, but I did find myself wishing that they had been included in the Master Legato patch as an option with a level control.

Driving rhythms. One of the things I love about the mandolin is its ability to create a driving rhythmic presence that cuts through a busy mix effortlessly without muddying things up.

The Hoard Mandolin includes Long and Tight strummed chords in both major and minor strummed varieties. However, I found that using the Split Keys Playable Reps preset also worked wonders for creating a realistic up/down strumming effect. It let me play the individual notes with my desired voicing, split over two sets of octaves that I could then alternate with my left and right hands.

Once I played the rhythms in, I found it useful to offset the recorded MIDI notes by about -20 ticks in order to tighten up the feel and push the groove a tad ahead of the beat.

In sum. Hoard Mandolin provides a great way to add this underrated and versatile instrument in any musical arrangement. The intuitive simplicity of its presets, coupled with the high-quality recording of the samples, brings an undeniable level of realism that will leave even keen listeners quite fooled.

Requires the full retail version of Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher, the Free Kontakt Player is not supported. 2.4Gb Compressed NCW format, recorded in 48khz / 24bit

Price: $139

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