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  • EastWest Hollywood Pop Brass

    By Russ Loeffler |

    This brass will kick your ....


    What You Need to Know


    If you are downloading Hollywood Pop Brass as your first  EastWest instrument library, you will also need to install Play 6 on your DAW (digital audio workstation).  Play 6 is an advanced sample engine that powers EastWest’s virtual instrument collection. PLAY 6.1.2 is the latest upgrade for Mac users running OS X 10.7 or higher, and for Windows users running 7 and above.  PLAY 6.1.2 is available for free to all EastWest customers. 

    System Requirements for Play 6:

    Minimum Spec: 

    Intel dual-core i5 (or equivalent) processor, running at 2.7 GHz (or above)

    8 GB of RAM or more

    Mac OSX 10.7 (or later); Windows 7 (or later) with ASIO sound drivers

    7200 RPM or faster (non energy saving) hard drive for sample streaming 

    Recommended Spec:

    Intel Xeon E5 (or equivalent) running at a minimum of 2.7 GHz (or above)

    16 GB of RAM or more

    Mac OSX 10.7 (or later); Windows 7 (or later) with ASIO sound drivers

    •  64-bit operating system; and a 64-bit host when running Play as a plug-in. • SSD (Solid State Drive) for sample streaming

    EastWest uses the Pace iLok system for license management. Licenses for EastWest products can be activated directly on your computer (called a machine-based license), or activated to an optional iLok key


    Test Drive Through the HP Brass Sound Library


    I will cover the features of the HP Brass sound library later.  First, I want to cover my reactions to a test drive through this unique library of brass section sounds. This quote comes directly from EastWest’s website.  “HOLLYWOOD POP BRASS was created for one simple reason - there's just nothing else out there on the market that instantaneously gives you that fiery, punchy pop brass sound that made songs like Uptown Funk such mega hits.”  This caught my attention because I have used different horn ensemble plug-ins (both synth based and sampled horn sections).  These horn sounds, whether they were individual horns or horn ensembles, are usually focused on symphonic type sounds.  The better, sampled horn sections sound good, but they don’t necessarily fit pop music with funk, soul, blue, or rock music styles.  Sometimes, I felt like I was layering the horn section to a Roman army movie soundtrack over a James Brown record. There are some horn plug-ins on the market that focus on the funk and soul type sounds, but they tend to have synth engines and they sound like synthesizers.  They don’t deliver the realistic horn ensemble sounds provided by HP Brass.


    I decided to set up a challenge for HP Brass before I began my test run of the sound library.  I recorded a scratch track of live funk guitar rhythm on top of some drum loops as test base for a pop song.  After I opened HP Brass in my DAW, I started with some horn section sounds (articulations) by adding some chords as backgrounds.  Then, I added some horn “stabs” and licks via my keyboard midi for accents. I was immediately impressed with the attack and feel of the horns and how much they fit the funk vibe of the rhythm guitar.  I scrolled through the various articulations and found that they provide a ton of options to deliver the feel of a real, live horn section. I found myself wanting to push the horn section further in front of the mix to bring up the dynamics and accents.  


    I prefer playing plug-ins via midi through a keyboard, drum pads, or a guitar synth trigger rather than drop phrases and licks (OK - except for drum loops) .  Having said that, the licks and phrases in the HP Brass library sound just as good or even better than the instrument samples. I added some breaks where I actually dropped out all of the instruments except the horn section to provide some dynamic emphasis between sections.  HP Brass is truly a game changer with the punch and power of these horn section breaks. It didn’t take long to see where songs can be enhanced with the use of HP Brass for dynamic intro’s and song endings as well.




    Hollywood Pop Brass Features

    Hollywood Pop Brass Horn Ensemble:

    • A 4-piece brass ensemble for all multi-sampled articulations that includes 2 trumpets, a trombone, and a saxophone

    • A 5-piece ensemble for all phrases and licks that includes 2 trumpets, a trombone and 2 saxophones.

    • Multi-sampled ensemble sections recorded in the famous Studio 1 at EastWest Studios and stylized phrases and licks in multiple keys recorded in Studio 2


    Hollywood Pop Brass includes these articulations: 

    • Sustain: Contains different types of sustained articulations: fast, medium and long crescendos, sustain accent, crescendo and diminuendo

    • Short: Contains a variety of articulations that have a short duration, including marcato, stabs, staccato, and staccato repetitions

    • Effects: Contains instruments that feature special articulation techniques like falls and rips in various durations, as well as growls and trills

    • Legato: Contains an instrument that will playback true legato intervals when two notes are played in a connected fashion (legato), for every interval up to and including an octave in either direction

    • MOD Combo: Contains instruments that combine multiple articulations and uses the Mod Wheel (CC 1) to select between them

    • Phrases: Contains instruments that feature phrases and sub-phrases in various tempos. Each was recorded with multiple transpositions, and are mapped across the virtual keyboard on their respective root note positions for use in a variety of key signatures.

    • Licks: Contains instruments that feature short licks (or "motifs") performed at 120 bpm that fall into 1 of 6 chord types

    • Keyswitch: Keyswitch contains instruments that combine multiple articulations into a single instrument and uses keyswitches to activate the desired articulation.

    Hollywood Pop Brass Mixer:




    The default settings for most of the sounds include trumpets, trombones, and saxophones at nearly equal volume levels with the “room” and “Surround” settings up full.  These are great default settings straight out of the box. However, I liked the ability to control the balance between instruments and adjusting the “Room Setting” and “Surround” settings.  I found that layering the horn section with a different instrument mixes and room/surround settings produced the feel of a much larger horn section. I also tried filtering out individual instruments and then stacking them back with multiple tracks in my DAW.  This allows for even more control of the mix and placement of the horns on “stage”.


    Hollywood Pop Brass Player:


    The Player view is another option to use some of the DAW stacking and editing functions within HP Brass without having to use multiple tracks in your DAW.  The Player view also provides more control with the waveform Sensitivity, Envelope, and Reverb controls.  



    Some of the Phrases, Licks, and Keyswitch sounds can take a while to load.  So, you may want to take advantage of loading different sounds in your DAW or using the Player view to move between instrument sounds 



    If you’re looking for a horn section that can deliver pop brass sounds without the expense and logistics of a real horn section, you can’t do better than Hollywood Pop Brass.  This sound library will change the way you use horns as part of your compositions and music productions. You won’t hesitate to move this horn section to the front of the mix.





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