Get rid of vibrato on saxes?

Hey all,

For some reason Dorico seems to have Vibrato on all of their saxes, and I’m very much not a fan. I’m working on multiple arrangements at a time usually of various groups, but I mostly write for bands/marching bands. If at all possible, I would like to get rid of this vibrato… I feel like it messes with the mixes I have most of the time. I can’t seem to get rid of it on any of the samples that I’ve tried from the HALion libraries and for some reason NONE of the sample libraries I own have saxes in them.


Acousticsamples VHorn saxes seem very good and they’re on sale right now…

Thanks for the heads up Marc - somehow totally missed your reply so I’m sure I missed the sale by now… oops.

I took a listen to the VHorn saxes though and I wish I could say I love them. Hoping for another response from someone out there in the community… does anybody know of a library that includes saxes (non-vib particularly) that were recorded in an orchestral or band type setting, in a concert hall?

I have tons of patches which I love from both EWQL and Spitfire which include fantastic brass/winds (sans saxes)/strings/percussion, so everything is covered… but all of those patches were recorded in an orchestral space, some beautiful locations like Abbey Road One. I fear that I wouldn’t be able to do enough “work” with these saxes to make them sound like they’re coming from the same space as the rest of the horns unfortunately.

I had this discussion the other day with a friend of mine who works in film/TV scoring in New York and primarily does his work in sample orchestration, and he hasn’t found a good one yet either… he actually said him and a few of his colleagues were considering just creating their own Kontakt patches just so that they could have their saxes sound the way they want, but there HAS to be something out there that fits the bill! Help us hive mind!

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Have you tried NotePerformer? I know it’s a bit of overkill just to get some saxes, but IMHO it’s enough of an overall upgrade to be worth getting anyway. I’m paying for it now myself.

I have - but I use multiple different sample libraries and not just one. I’m also primarily using Cubase, not Dorico, so the DAW doesn’t have much notation to go off in order to “perform”

I haven’t come across any sax libraries that I really like-and I was a pro sax player. One of the issues, unlike other instruments, is saxophones come in many ‘flavors’-i.e. Classical, Stan Getz/Paul Desmond, David Sandborn, Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderly, etc. There isn’t any one ideal sax ‘sound’ to sample. I use Chris Hein Horns; you can ‘dial in’ the amount of vibrato you want. The ‘realness’ (or semblance of it) of the samples varies considerably, though. I’ve found that the degree to which a sax sound ‘works’ (with currently available samples) is largely dependent on the overall texture that they’re in. The 1st company to provide genuinely acceptable sax libraries will, no doubt, do quite well. Here is a Big Band composition I wrote using Noteperformer saxes. In the overall context, they’re quite acceptable, I think. Stream Doo Be Dop! by garygoofry1 | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

I use VSL Saxophones. There’s a fair range of playing techniques and plenty of them without vibrato. My bag is musical theatre so definitely not on the edge as is free jazz. I’ve been very happy with the results, especially for section work.

Here’s the sample content and a tab to play some demos (I like the Vienna Big Band by Guy Bacos).

Thanks! Those aren’t bad. I use (and love) Synchron Prime. I especially like the Bari sax. It may be worth saving my money and acquiring. :slightly_smiling_face:

Haha, I’ve considered attempting that myself as well! I generally hate most saxophone VSTs, although I have a bunch of them, and usually end up using SWAM or VHorns. Here’s a quick seasonally-appropriate sax section (SATTB) demo straight out of Dorico with both SWAM and VHorns. No MIDI editing at all, just loaded my Playback Template and exported.



(I probably should try to EQ some of those nasal frequencies on the SWAM Soprano)

Use a lawnmower.


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For big wind band arrangements…
Concert & Marching Band 2 Virtual Instrument - Garritan

Here’s a quick no frills rendering from Dorico using a default mod-wheel dynamic expression map to mp3 (some quality loss due to lossy mp3).
It’s a simple 4 part Bach Chorale.
I’ve simply stacked the box so to speak, to feature the entire Saxaphone family to some degree.

Soprano - 3 Solo Soprano Saxes
Alto - 3 Alto Sax Groups
Tenor - 3 Tenor Sax Groups
Bass - 2 Bari Groups, 2 Bass Sax Soloists, 2 Sarrusophone Soloists.

For what it’s worth, one can do this same sort of thing across many families of instruments. Flutes, Double Reeds, Saxes, Brass (Marching or Concert sets), etc.
I.E. Clarinets (Eb, Bb, Eb Alto, Contra)

It’s an old library that doesn’t get much if any developer love/support anymore, but it’s compact, doesn’t call for much in the way of system resources to use, is predictable/playable, balanced for use with large scores (lots of note doubling across many virtual players), and complete (You’ll scour the world for years trying to find all these instruments period, let alone in once place).

It’s also inexpensive considering everything in the library.

There’s nothing else even remotely like it on the market these days. Most libraries out there are meant for symphony, jazz, and pop/rock. They aren’t meant to emulate having ensembles like A 20 piece complete flute choir, wind band style complements of double reed sections, complete 40 piece clarinet family, complete 20 piece sax family, etc.

COMB2 in contrast is MEANT to be used this way. Every instrument in the box gets from 2 to 4 soloists and tutti sections. The style is controlled and steady…meant to blend and do ‘large arrangements’.

It covers the Brass too. Everything…Trumpet Family, Cornet Family, Bone Family, Euphonium/Tuba, Baritone/Sousaphone, Horns and Mellophones, Holicrons, and more. Soloists and tutti sections. Principle sections typically give you ‘at least’ 3 unique soloists and 3 or more unique tutti (group) sections [one for each ‘part’ of a section] (A few of the less common instruments only get 2 soloists). So yeah…all your ‘parts’ can each be done on their own stave, and have a truly unique sound to go with it.

You get the opposite with most symphonic libraries these days. You’re lucky to get more than one soloist and tutti section for each family at all. So, you start trying to stack ‘duplicates’ of the same player/section, and stuff begins to drop out of the mix, or just get oddly ‘out of balance’ when trying double up parts/notes across sections. So, COMB2 is simply meant for large arrangements involving large sections and ensembles. Symphonic libraries typically are NOT designed to be used that way.

The percussion that comes in the box is rather nice too. Battery, overhead, and pit percussion for several different periods/eras. American and Euro, Marching and Concert. You get quite a lot of battery, clash, suspends, and toys to work with.

It takes a little practice to learn how to set up and stage COMB2, but it does have enough in the box to get nice mixes.

The main thing to realize is the instruments and sections set up to be on the thin side by default. It might be a bit disappointing at first, but it turns out to be a big PLUS when it comes to mixing larger arrangements/scores. The players and sections are meant to provide many unique waveforms that can STACK up as layers while avoiding waveforms canceling themselves out.

In libraries meant more for symphony: dynamics, fullness, and sonority tend to be interpreted into pieces with ‘volume’ and ‘extra expressiveness’ in individual playing. Modern symphonic sample libraries are built this way. Loud, powerful, expressive, and rather ‘dynamic’ in concept.

With traditional wind bands, it’s more about having CONTROL and UNIFOMRITY, then simply doubling the parts (adding more players) if you want ‘more’. COMB2 is more designed for the latter.

Again, it’s an old library and nothing’s been added or changed to it in decades. Still, you won’t find anything like it. It’s still very useful. It’s also inexpensive.

There will be times when you want to arrange for smaller ensembles and have more exposed and ‘expressive’ soloists than COMB2 can provide. It won’t be uncommon to supplement it with sounds from other libraries.

When doing power arrangements…symphonic, jazz, big band, etc…COMB2 won’t always cut through the mix and stand out. It’s far too tame and ‘controlled’.

I still like JABB3 for reasons of my own. It can sound very realistic. Here’s the same chorale rendered with a bunch of solo saxes from JABB3. Again, we only use a simple mod-wheel dynamics expression map. These saxes are in their default states aside from a little panning, a small amount of a scoring stage style reverb is added, and no extra expression data is being sent. Again, the mp3 mixdown costs a little in terms of sound quality.

Soprano - 2 Soparano Sax Soloists
Alto - 3 Alto Sax Soloists
Tenor - 4 Tenor Sax Soloists
Bass - 2 Bari Soloists and 2 Bass Soloists

The con to JABB3 in the long haul is that it does take WORK to make it sound expressive with lively jazz or luscious ballad-type licks. It’s bone dry out of the box, no vibrato, not even velocity senstivie…nothing…until you start working the expressive controls. Start riding the controls, and it really comes alive. Each instrument has MANY. Nice Collections of mutes, techniques, and articulations for jazz and big band.

The JABB3 soloists mixed in with COMB2 can take arrangements into a more 1980s DCI realm of sound (add power and volume on top of sonorous fundamentals).

In the realm of JABB3 it is much easier to find newer competing products with similar qualities/value, but it won’t be easy to find anything with the sheer number of nice instruments and variations without spending at least twice the price.

JABB3 is one of those libraries that ‘if you learn to play it’, you can get very musical mockups that are about as realistic as it gets from a sub $200 library! I think it holds its own compared to stuff that costs way more, and isn’t much if any ‘easier to use’.

Other options…
Sometimes simpler is better. In spite of the ever growing choices for plugin based sample libraries, I’m constantly finding it easier to go back to a 90s era rompler that has a set of very true and clean waveforms from which to shape up my own players. To this day I still find it very useful to fall back to my old Roland Fantom XR (Or these days, one could check out free trials to something like Roland Sound Cloud and have a look at Zenology [petty much every rompler and synth Roland ever did under one plugin]).

I use full HALion 7 a good deal as well, and I love it. I like the content that comes with it too for jazz, pop, edm, general song writing, etc. Hook it to Band in a Box and it sings like no other instrument or sound library to my ears for that GM style of song building. So, I do recommend trying the full HALion demo at some point to at least check out all that ‘Collections Library’ content if you haven’t already.

One of the issues with HALion content in this case is, wave forms that ship with HALion almost always have built in vibrato! They sound great and work for most things, but if you’re looking for vibrato free waveforms for everything…it doesn’t seem to ship that way. The content that ships with it is built more for live keyboard players than for ‘through composers’ who want to get fine control over every expressive detail through ‘scoring’. HALion content is easy to ‘play’ as a keyboardist (predictive style instruments with built in expressive characteristics), or to throw together quick sequences that hit a groove and sound warm and rich. Not so much meant for detailed user expressive control over every little detail from a tracking DAW (at least not out of the box).


You can always take something closemiced and add eq and reverb to taste. Can’t go from something hall miced and do the reverse.

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Thanks for this!! I’ll definitely take a look at these.
I’ll definitely look at that Halion stuff… but based on the samples you’ve sent I definitely like the sound of the JABB saxes compared to what I’ve heard from other libraries so far, at least for what I typically write. The COMB2 ones sound a little too “fake” to me, but I’d have to play around with it mixed in with the rest of my instruments to see how I like their overall sound.

Do keep in mind I stacked the box with 15 channels for that COMB2 rendering…all the altos on the alto part were ‘tutti groups’ (3 groups of 4, and the same for the Tenor Saxes on the tenor part…so we’re talking something like 12 alto saxes, and 12 tenor saxes being emulated there! That rendering is attempting to emulate something like a 30+ piece sax ensemble, and I do ‘no fancy tweaks’ or ‘mix polishing’ there! A raw render with the dumbest expression map possible. I also included those nearly medieval Sarrusophone things playing the bass part down an octave.

It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s the only product I know of with ‘enough’ voices to even consider simulating sax, clarinet, and double reed sections that big! Do it all over again for the Brass :slight_smile:

30 to 40 Saxes playing together in wind band can have a chainsaw effect indeed. When I’ve worked with real bands full of intermediate and beginner saxophonists, it wasn’t uncommon to cram nurf balls in the bells of some of them to try to tone down some of the harmonics! We were always in search of reed and mouthpiece combinations that could mellow it out a bit. We even tried table cloths hanging from the music stand with sound shells behind the saxes. Too many of them in the same band together could present interesting challenges…but yanno, it happens sometimes in middle and high school bands :wink:

Don’t forget you can use EQ to roll of harmonics of any library if they’re a bit on the harish side.

Totally, and big thanks for the information!

My main problem with all of the saxes I’ve used so far is vibrato, at the end of the day - both the COMB2 and the JABB3 saxes seem to be MUCH better on that front, so I’m sure at the end of the day they could solve my problem better than some of the other libraries I’ve seen.

A question for you - I often write for college/university wind ensemble style groups, which means I’m typically writing for one player per part rather than a group with such large sections as you’ve mentioned - have you any experience using these as “solo” patches, or rather do you think they might fit the bill in a situation where there is only one (or maybe two, doubled for girth only in the mockup) tracks per instrument?

As an Educator, I just got the whole Garritan Collection years ago. Seems like I also got an educator discount (just sent a copy of my State Teaching Certification). I don’t see obvious educator discounts showing on the Make Music website, but you can message them to ask! I do notice quite a few resellers state that they offer all sorts of educator discounts for this stuff tho’…so don’t miss out on those kind of ‘breaks’ if you qualify!

I don’t regret it a bit. It’s an old and rather dated library, but even today it’s still very useful. It just covers so much ground, yet you don’t need a massive hard drive and a super computer to install every bit of it and have it at hand.

The solo instruments in COMB2 exist, and they are simple/plain/controlled. Here’s another rendering of the Chorale, but I’ve simply replaced the Alto and Tenor Sax ‘groups’ with 3 Alto and 3 Tenor Soloists. I changed nothing else about the mix or score.

Again, I’m rendering to mp3 here, and lossy compression does muddy things to noticeable degrees. Sitting in my chair, without the mp3 compression, it’s a bit brighter and more clear sounding. More harmonics there, but they also sound a tad more ‘realistic’ (not rounded off).

If you don’t need to write for full band or massive section choirs, JABB3 might be a better fit. If you can get an educator deal, the best value is probably going to be…just ‘get it all’…the entire Anthology. Then you can mix and match the better parts of it all, and supplement the weaker things later ‘as needed’.

The solo instruments in JABB3 are more on the harish side (rich overtones and harmonics typical of jazz, and close miced situations), but very deep and ‘adjustable’ (Hi and Low pass filters). When you need more sonorous tonality you can use the Var2 control, the High Pass Filter, and EQ to roll off some the ‘jazzyness’.

Dorico comes with an OUTSTANDING EQ plugin that allows you to go in and set gates and delays on specific frequency ranges. Dorico also gives you a nice multi-band compressor. So…it’s possible to get nice warm sounds of dry/close miced ‘strident and harmonic rich’ instruments. If it’s a bit too brassy or reedy, just roll the offensive harmonic off a bit, maybe boost the ‘fundamentals’ a little, and all of the sudden it doesn’t even sound like the same library anymore.

JABB3 has some extras as well. You can fade in/out flutters and growls via CC. You get some breath sounds way up in the right hand end of the keyboard if you want to add that sort of noise into a mock-up. Key/valve clatter is on a CC. Seems like you can also use a CC to bring in ‘air seepage’ from the sampled musician’s embrasure if you want. Here’s a look at a JABB Alto sax, just to give some idea of expressive controls at hand.

JABB and COMB2 both have steady vibrato/tremolo free samples, so Vibrato in JABB3 is done artificially through ‘channel pressure’ (mash down harder on the key once it’s down), along with a CC to adjust the LFO rate. Still, when applied subtly, at the proper LFO rate for the passage, and mixed well, vibrato from these instruments is quite good to my ears.

JABB3 instruments have a little more advanced legato control than COMB2 as well. The more expressive monophonic versions offer an optional ‘auto legato’, that will crossfade notes a bit if the ending of note 1 overlaps the beginning of note 2. Portamento amount, from NONE to rather dramatic transitions can be introduced to these ‘legato transitions’ via CC. JABB2 can also use the manual style legato (CC68 or CC64).

JABB3 also gives ‘light’ versions of everything. They are essentially the same samples, but are polyphonic and in some cases don’t have quite as many extra controls for manipulating tone quality in real time. Also, since they are polyphonic, there is no auto legato mode.

COMB2 does offer a little optional crossfade and portamento for note changes while the legato pedal is engaged (CC68 or CC64 depending on the set you go for…Notation or Live Playing), but it’s not as dynamic and fully featured as JABB3.

Have a look at the manuals for Garritan stuff to get a better idea of what is in each library, and how it all works. JABB3 and COMB2 might not have ‘online manuals’ but if you scroll down a bit you can find them all in PDF format.
Garritan Virtual Instruments User Manuals

I’ve run scores with 50+ staves in noteperformer. No big deal. It’ll just spawn a new additional instance every 16th instrument.

Not an ensemble like that, but think giant orchestra, quad winds, 8 horns, tons of percussion, probably 2 or 3 harps, that sort of thing. The performance of Dorico becomes an issue long before the performance of Note Performer does.

NP is great and worth every penny. Only works in Dorico, Sibelius, and Finale…

Building larger sections for wind bands and reed or brass ‘family choirs’ is a big deal in that if you keep stacking the same waveforms again and again, and they do anything in unison they begin to cancel themselves out. Even if you aren’t doubling any parts or notes, it quickly starts sounding even more ‘machine like’ than it already does. For many that’s not a big deal…it’s just for collaboration and never meant to be much of a mock-up.

Note Performer 4 (included instruments) renderings of the chorale…default template settings but with the built in NP reverb dialed back to 20%
1 Soprano
1 Alto
1 Tenor
1 Bari

Again with staves duplicated in Dorico to emulate larger sections.
2 Soprano
3 Alto
3 Tenor
2 Bari

There’s a CC you can use with NP that will let you configure a single track with up to 8 players, including smart divisi. I think that’s the sound you’re going for? Basically reed choir?

Also, I personally don’t care for the NP reverb at all. It makes everything mushy and phasey. It goes right down to 0% on every project, and I drop an instance of reverence with an appropriate preset (and 50% blend) on the master output

That’s cool! I hadn’t noticed this feature yet. Gonna give a try :slight_smile: