Best brass plugin

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Hi, friends. I just subscribed, so this is my very first post.
I am looking for a cool Brass VSTi to play live. I don’t need necessarily any extremely realistic sound. My purpose is to play a typical jazz-funk brass section, like for example in Don’t you worry 'bout a thing - Incognito.
At now i am using the free DSK Brass VST, but it doesn’t really have the hot and disruptive sound impact I am looking for. Of course I can spend some money for it (not too much, please!!!).
I installed the trial version of SONiVOX Orchestral Companion Brass, but i don’t really like it so much. I believe it’s amazing for the realistic individual and ensemble sounds, but still not what I am looking for.
I don’t have Kontact or other expensive stuff like that - i just use individual VSTi which i plug in into Cantabile songs.
Any suggestion?



Welcome to the forum Dario. The search engine on this site will answer many questions you may have. Brass VSTs were discussed just a week ago. Hope this helps.




My current workhorse brass patches come from Korg M1 (a somewhat modified “Tight Brass”) and from Xpand! 2 (“Hard Brass Layer”, somewhat customized). Not super-hi-fi, but in a live context, they do the job nicely.

I’ll take a look what’s inside the JV-1080 VST when I have the time; I suspect I can replace most of my M1 and Xpand patches with the Roland stuff (I’m an old JV-2080 user) and simplify my setup somewhat.




Hey Torsten,

Thanks for the tip on Xpand! 2 Hard Brass Layer. I always like to find good brass patches!



I really investigate this subject for a long time.

There is no much info on the web about this subject, and unfortunately most of the VSTs don’t have a demo version, nor I have where to test them.

And the problem is that there are many VSTs that sound great for studio productions, but doesn’t interpretate well to keyboard playing. This problem is mainly with orchesrtal VSTs, jazz brass\horns VSTs, and other sampled\modeled acoustic insruments which are not keyboard instruments.
IMO, if you can’t controll dynamics mainly by velocity, and you must control dynamics by mod wheel or breath controller, then the VST is unacceptable for keyboard players.

Now for you request, for jazz\funk horns, fortunately, I succeed to put my hands on a demo version of Chris Hein Horns Compact, and I can say that not only it sounds geat, it is also perfectly playable on keyboard.
You have hot-keys instead of keyswitches in order to trigger articulations live, so even trigger articulations live is very smooth on this VST.
Really perfect library for live performance, and I doubt any
keyboard workstation\stage piano has horns sounds that come close to the quality of this VST, sonically speaking.
Really, this VST is an example why I decided to go toward a laptop-VST based keyboard rig instead of Korg Kronos or something similar.

I asume that Chris Hein Horns Pro Complete is just as good, but with more instruments and articulations.


Thanks, everybody!
@hag01: yes, that’s something i’d like to take in careful consideration: in order to play live, i don’t need extreme realism, but a good feel in playing it, which means that it should respond good to dynamics, aftertouch, wheels, pedals and other stuff one finds on a keyboard. Fortunately Cantabile allows me to assign those stuffs to parameters, but yes, of course the VSTi should have the right parameters to assign.
I went to listen to the demo video at Chris Hein website, and i was really impressed. I didn’t find any demo version, therefore i didn’t have the chance to try it. It’s way over the budget (199€/225$). I was hoping to spend the half of it. Moreover i don’t have Kontakt. As far as i understood CHH needs Kontakt player 5 as a prerequisite. I believe the player is for free… Am i wrong?

I also downloaded Alpine brass which is for free, but it also needs Kontakt, the full version, which is way too expensive to me.

@Torsten, dave_dore: i have seen there is a demo version for Xpand!2. This product is more in the budget (99.99$). I will try it, it could be THE solution.
I listened to some Korg M1 sounds, but they don’t make me crazy (I used to own an old M3R rack 30+ years ago, and frankly i was hoping to find something better). Though it is only 49.99$, so, affordable. They declare compatibility to some popular DAWs. Does it work good for Cantabile too?
Roland stuff, as far as i understood, are for rent, downloadable from the cloud, and they give you free license if you rent atleast one year. The fee for one year is 207€. Too much.

Thank you, Corky for re-addressing me to the other discussion.

I also downloaded the free Edirol Orchestra. The sounds are good. Much better than the DSK Brass i am using now. But this VST has two problems:

  1. it eats too much CPU, in fact if i use it with a piano, my poor pc doesn’t make it, unless i give a huge latency time
  2. I didn’t find the way to save a preset. Or, better, there is a way to save it in a file, and then to load it from the file saved previously. The problem is that after selecting a song with that VST in Cantabile, you have to explicitly load the saved file (it doesn’t do it by itself). And of course you cannot do that in a live show.

Another one i like is Session Horns by NI. It requires Kontakt 5 Player, which is free, right? And it is close to the limit of my budget. Too bad there is no trial version, because this looks the best option, till now. Of course I want to make sure that it doesn’t have problems like the ones i found for Edirol Orchestra.

Anyway, thanks all you guys. If you have other suggestions, they will be welcome.


The Air people that make Xpand! 2 sell them for 1 dollar a few times a year, that’s what I paid anyway. Plugindiscounts is worth checking for sales.


Watch out for sales of the AIR plugins, I got my Xpand!2 for 1 $, currently, it is sold for $63 at pluginboutique.




Eh? The cost depends on WHERE you buy it?
Over here (i thought it was the producer, but now i am not sure):

if you click on “buy now” it says “hey, you gotta stack up 99.99 dollahs, dude!”


Yup, it does depend! PluginBoutique frequently run sales on some plugins; is also a good source of promo sales, plus there is where you can get a different big-name plugin at massive discounts every two weeks.




Kidding me? At PluginBoutique the Xpand!2 is sold for 64.82$
Wow!!! That’s a deal!

I want a discount on NI’s Session Horns. Gimme it! Gimme it! :slight_smile:


Hey, @Torsten! Last nite i installed Xpand!2 and made some experiments. That’s wonderful! I mean, the brasses i was looking for are not THAT realistic, but they make their dirty job exactly the way I wanted them to do. Easy to program, enough lite to load into my Cantabile and into my limited laptop. I think i will try something else before deciding, but for now that’s at the top of my favorites list. Thank you!


Yup, that’s why I use them - no need to be super-realistic in a live setting. I actually don’t like “Fake Brass” so much - I prefer that people recognize that this is a keyboardist playing a “brassish” sound rather than a sampled brass phrase from the studio. So, I’ve gotten used to using the more dated sounds of M1, JV-2080 et al that you can still identify as synth / rompler sounds to make it clear to an audience that I’m not “cheating” them.

If I want a truly realistic funk brass section, I’d rather hire a bunch of trumpet, sax and trombone players. But for getting a similar “vibe” to those funk stabs and acknowledging that there’s still a keyboardist at work, those Xpand!2 sounds are just the ticket!




Makes a lot of sense- if you try too hard to get realistic you wind up in an “uncanny valley” situation where the whole thing becomes worse without the ability to control the myriad parameters you would need to in real time.


@Torsten. I totally agree with you: in a live show playing with a realistic brass section without brasses looks stupid. Nevertheless the sound i want to use to replace brass sections needs to have the same disruptive strength. That’s the reason in most cases i am not satisfied by “DSK brass” VST i used till now, and i like much better Xpand!2 (which, actually, by the way, has also a ton of other interesting sounds i still have to investigate!)



I agree that extreme realism is not good for live playing.

However, I don’t think that Chris Hein Horns are extremely realistic sounding.
I think that Sample Modeling\Audio Modeling, are extremely realistic, and not good for live use.

I think that Chris Hein is the sound of nowadays while Xpand, M1 and JV-2080 sounds are dated.


@hag01, i kind of agree also with you, especially when you say that Xpand, M1 and JV are dated. Think that I bouught second-hand my old M3R (rack expander), which is the evolution of M1, something like 30 years ago!

Nevertheless, unfortunately, CHHcompact, although as far as I can judge from the sample videos is really wonderful, is not an option because 219$ is way over my budget (also without taking in consideration that i have to buy Kontakt too - or not?)


I understand your situation and I’m not urging you to exceed your budget, I just wanted to say some remarks about this discussion.

I checked now for you, and you don’t need the full version of Kontakt in order to use Chris Hein Horns Compact.


So, it can be installed on Kontakt player, which is for free, right?
Also I like Session Horns, which matches better my budget (and also needs Kontakt player). What do you think about it?

Is there any trial version of these products? Damn, i could also push my budget over the limits… but atleast i’d like to try the product for few days!


If I understand correctly, then yes, you can use Chris Hein Horns Compact with the free Kontakt player.

About Session Horns, I don’t have any experience with it, but I heard that it is good for live usage.

Note that in Session Horns many instruments are missing: Sopran sax, Calrinet, Flute, but if that is not important to you, then Session Horns might do the job.

Native instrument usually have once a year a sale with 50% price discount, usually on november or december.