Electronic Musician Magazine: Geary Yelton
Vir2 Instruments Acoustic Legends HD Soundware developer Big Fish Audio has spun off a virtual instrument brand called Vir2 Instruments. The first Vir2 product to ship is Acoustic Legends HD, a 19 GB collection of mostly fretted-instrument samples recorded in 24-bit stereo at 96 kHz and paired with Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2. In addition to seven steel-string guitars made by Gibson, Martin, Taylor, and others, Acoustic Legends HD supplies samples of two 12-string guitars, two nylon-string guitars, acoustic bass, mandolin, ukulele, and banjo. Three DVDs furnish a variety of articulations and playing styles such as single notes played with picks and fingers, chords, mutes, and harmonics. Samples include fret noise and release layers for each guitar. For creating realistic rhythm-guitar strumming patterns, 6- and 12-string chord instruments provide a dozen chord types in various positions with up and down strokes, keyswitched and Velocity layers, and multiple takes per layer.
Electronic Musician Magazine: Marty Cutler
Not everyone owns a collection of high-end acoustic guitars. For that reason, Vir2 Instruments offers Acoustic Legends HD, which provides a diverse collection of acoustic guitars with distinct tonal characteristics, so you can choose an appropriate instrument for your music. As a bonus, other fretted instruments are included, such as mandolin, acoustic bass guitar, and banjo. All told, the library amounts to 19 GB of 24-bit, 96 kHz stereo samples distributed over three DVDs.
Acoustic Legends HD comes in AU, VST, and RTAS versions. Installation is simple and relies on Native Instruments' new NI Service Center.
EQ Magazine: Craig Anderton
Based on the cross-platform Kontakt 2 player, Acoutic Legends HD provides 19GB of guitar samples, recorded at 24 bit/96kHz. The new player is a step up, as it's multi-timbral (64 channels standalone, 16 channels as plug-in), ad all presets include EQ, reverb, and stereo width controls. Ther's also a total of 32 mono outs (VST/DXi) or 16 with AU/RTAS; surround is supported in most hosts too. Each out and aux has four insert slots for various effects, including 19 filter types.
In additon to aples of acoustic guitars and some bonus material (acoustic bass, bajo, and ukelele), ther are "chord banks" for 6- and 12-string guitars that provide expressive playing options. Up and down-strokes, singles notes, mute strums, and body knocks are mapped across their own octabes, while the lowest octave provides keyswitches for playing different chord types. (Other presets use this keyswitching feature as well.) Creating a convincing part takes some practice - but it's easier than learning how to play guitar.
The samples are all top shelf, and several presets include "reality enhancers" like adding fret noise and slides. Furthermore, you can do things guitars can't do, like play harmonics chromatically with ease. Fun stuff? Yes indeed.
Recording Magazine: Darwin Grosse
One of the most difficult instruments to "virtualize" is guitar, keyboard players and in-the-box producers have been searching for guitar solutions since the invention of synthesizers. Sampling provides some relief, but creating a sample set that can simulate a real guitarist has proven to be difficult if not impossible.
Vir2, a division of Big Fish Audio, has created Acoustic Legends HD, a sample set for the Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2 (included) that offers intriguing possibilities for the computer-savy producer. In addition to a high-quality sample set, Vir2 has taken advantage of Kontakt's real-time playing options to create a playable acoustic guitar simulation that pushes the envelope of acoustic guitar emulation.
Stuff to know before you start
Acoustic Legends HD is a set of 3 DVDs that includes Kontakt Player 2 along with a 19 GB collection of samples. The samples are recordings of what Vir2 claims is "$40,000 of the finest acoustic guitars," and are recorded at 24-bit, 96 Khz stereo.
The instruments include perennial favorites such as the Gibson J45 and J200, Martin D35 and Taylor 955 12-string, but also lesser-known instruments like a Hofner nylon-string, Vantage 12-string and McPherson MF4.5. Two "Xtra" sections include accessory sample sets: "Xtra Bonus Content" includes an acoustic bass, banjo, mandolin and ukulele, while "Xtra Special Effects" features warped effects using the raw guitar samples as source material. A full list is available on the Vir2 website.
The Kontakt Player 2 application works on both Windows and Mac computers, as a standalone application as well as a plug-in in the following formats: DXi (Windows), AU (Mac), VST and RTAS (both).
The license agreement for Acoustic Legends HD appears on page 23 of the User Manual. Summing up, it has no surprises: the user licenses rather than owns the samples, and the license cannot be transferred in any way. there are no royalties or limitations on musical works made with the samples - you just cant present then in raw form as part of another library.
As you might expect with its Big Fish ancestry, there are some fantastic samples in this collection. The majority of the sample set i focused on rich single-string samples. A favorite is the Gibson J200 acoustic, which speaks wonderfully and cuts through a mix without sounding harsh. The langejean nylon string was a surprise - I generally think of nylon-string samples as a "gimme," with a bright sound that seldom offers the intimacy of a real instrument. The Acoustic Legends HD sample set transcends the genre, delivering a crisp sound that easily eclipses the generic "classical" sound we've grown accustom to.
The Acoustic Legends HD sample sets include many performance-oriented functions, with separate sets for harmonics, muted notes, finger- and plectrum-picked, as well as nail vs. finger articulation for nylon string guitars. Combined with real-time performance control of fret slides and other articulations (as well as some playback randomization) the results have realism not typically found in sampled acoustic guitar sounds. There are also controls that provide per-set eq, reverb, stereo width, capo emulation and fret-noise volume that cam be used to tune the performance to the production.
Vir2 veers(!) far off the typical sample playback path with a its chordal sample sets, which use the Kontakt 2 palyer's advanced swithcing capabilities to create a chord playback system that is almost as flexible as the real instrument. When using the Chord Banks, six octabes of the keyboard are used to control chord switches, single (bass) notes, down strokes, up strokes, muted strums, and body knocks. Luckily, I have an 88-key MIDI controller that I was able to press into duty; having access to all six available octaves is very important to achieving a convincing performance.
Once properly set up, playing complex chordal parts was quite easy: using my left hand to choose the chord type, my right hand could jump between up- and down-strums and mutes, with the occasional body knock to add realism. The chord type selection is more than adequate, with two alternatives for major and minor chords, and one voicing for major/dominant/minor 7th chords, sus2 and 4 chords, half- and full diminished chords and augmented (+5) chords. It took some effort to get used to the necessary playing style, but with a little practice I was making great chordal tracks in real-time.
Excellent recording quality and multi-DVD installs are becoming common in the sampled instrument market. Less common is playability and cut-to-the-chase programming and instrument selection. Vir2 has gathered a fantastic set of instruments and spent the time to create a playable and beautiful-sounding instrument. The Acoustic Legend HD collection is worth its price for the chordal banks alone, but when you include the single string and Xtra instrument banks, it is an exceptional bargain.
Presenting $40,000 of the finest acoustic guitars in the world, sampled in glorious high definition 24-bit 96kHz stereo, now available in this premium three-DVD, 19 gigabyte collection. This broad collection of acoustic guitars is sampled in the finest detail in a variety of playing styles, including picked notes, finger picked notes, natural and artificial harmonics, harmonic chords, mutes, chords, release layers, and even fret noise sampled for each guitar.
Included in the library are several different steel string guitars, nylon strings, twelve strings, acoustic bass, as well as a bonus folder featuring mandolin, ukulele, and banjo. Acoustic Legends HD features the world's best guitars from McPherson, Taylor, Gibson, Martin, and other manufacturers.
Also featured are numerous bonus patches of special effects, doubled guitars, and more. Acoustic Legends HD also features chord banks containing twelve different chord types in varying positions, with multiple velocity layers and multiple takes per layer, and with both up-strokes and down-strokes, making it simple to create fully authentic rhythm guitar parts. Experience legendary acoustic guitars, sampled in gorgeous detail and now available in one exquisite virtual instrument.
Kontakt Player 2
- 19 gigabytes of acoustic guitars
- 24-bit, 96kHz samples, utilizing the finest in high-end microphones and preamps, sampled in thorough detail including release layers, fret noise, finger noise, and more
- Numerous articulations and styles of playing, including finger picked, plastic picked, harmonics, harmonic chords, mutes, single notes, and chord banks
- Massive chord instruments, both 6-string and 12-string guitars, featuring 12 different chord types, optional capo control, down- and up-strokes, mute strums, and body knocks, making it possible to create authentic rhythm guitar strumming patterns
- Multiple and contrasting guitars sampled within each folder, including 2 different nylon-stringed guitars, 7 different steel-stringed guitars, 2 different twelve-stringed guitars, etc.
- Variation patches for each guitar, including delays, phasers, choruses, flangers, compressors, and unusual effects
- Bonus content including acoustic bass, banjo, mandolin (single notes, chords, and tremolo), ukulele (single notes and chords), and guitar effects (body knocks, fret noise)
- Bonus special effects content featuring dozens of unusual sound design patches, based upon the sample sets of the acoustic guitars but warped in unique and musically distinct ways
- Optimized onscreen EQ controls
- Easy-to-use built-in reverb module and stereo width control
- Remote control of various sonic parameters available via MIDI CC
- Multitimbral operation, supporting up to 64 simultaneous instruments (subject to RAM availability), receiving up to 64 MIDI channels (16 in plug-in mode)
- Kontakt Player 2 engine, supporting standalone operation as well as plug-in operation in all major hosts that support AudioUnits, VST, RTAS, or DXi plug-ins
- Special upgrade pricing to the full version of Kontakt 2, which allows for fuller editing of the instruments