Virtuoso Violin Sampling

Great sample libraries are tricksters.  They fool the ears of highly trained musicians and listeners into believing that a live performer is playing. Embertone takes this concept to the utmost and achieves a kind of realism only dreamed of in years past. The Friedlander Violin surpasses other solo string instruments in its sheer realism and wide range of customizable articulations.

From its brilliant legato implementation to is impressive real-time vibrato controls – this library does not disappoint in any way. True legato gives you bow change, slurred, and portamento legato, but you can also turn that off to play double-stops and pads.  Though it is a solo instrument, there is a unique ensemble feature as well that creates a virtual ensemble, complete with humanization controls which allow you to randomize the timing and pitch of the ensemble. The name of the library comes from Dovid Friedlander, Associate Concertmaster at the North Carolina Symphony, a virtuoso violinist who was recorded with a close mike in a dry environment.  All of these features are available at an incredible price: $125!

The Interface

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 Eine glücklicher kleine Volkstanz – Demo piece by Lawson Madlener


This is piece means “A Happy Little Folk Dance” in English, as that’s what I tried to write!  I tried putting together bluegrass, folk, gypsy, and jazz elements combined with a full orchestra for this piece, featuring, of course, a solo violin.  I am extremely impressed by the fast legato in this instrument.  I can honestly say I’ve never played a virtual instrument with this level of realistic bow-change fast legato before.  Most of the violin was inputted manually by mouse, as I can’t actually play keyboard that well (even when slowed down).  I put the bowing in (by mouse) first, then dynamics (controller), and finally a vibrato (controller) pass.  It is really helpful to record the dynamics in in real-time instead of drawing it with a mouse, especially if you play an instrument.  You can really shape the phrasing and such with way more detail.  A majority of the other instruments are from Orchestral Tools, but I also have some Sample Modeling and EastWest in there as well.  It is all blended together with Valhalla Room Verb (and I think a bit of QL Spaces).  Total props to Embertone for creating a violin that can actually do almost everything a real violin can, and do it really well!  I should also note that I am a violinist, so I’m very critical of string libraries (especially violins), and this library totally blew me away.  I was slightly apprehensive at first with the super dry sound, but as soon as I added a bit of Valhalla Room – one of my go-to reverbs, by the way – it just opened the sound up completely.

The Swan by Saint-Saens – violin MIDI programmed by Lawson Madlener


I played the violin part in on the keyboard and used the included TouchOSC template to get the control I wanted.  After recording the first pass, I went through and tweaked all of the notes manually, and then recorded another MIDI data pass – it’s pretty hard for a non-keyboardist to even get the right notes, much less perform it with the left hand and try to control dynamics, vibrato speed and intensity, and bowing with the right!  I then went through and tweaked the MIDI to how I liked it (mostly just added some more bow control and changed the dynamics a little bit), and finally added slight swells to the tempo track.  The pianos used are Chocolate Audio’s Model 7 and Model D, as well as the Cinematic Studio Piano.  Finally, I used Valhalla Room + QL Spaces to glue it together.  The piano MIDI part was found here:  Overall, I am very impressed by the level of expressiveness in this instrument.  My only complaint is that it seems that automatic bow changes are not controllable, and so I had to end notes a little early to keep a bow change from sounding, and sometimes there are too many bow changes in a note that I couldn’t really do anything about.  (EDIT: I made a mistake; it appears to be possible to change bows manually by using the sustain pedal.)  Here is a screenshot of some of the MIDI programming used on the piece:

Friedlander Automation

Bundle Me!


Friedlander Violin is part of a larger Intimate String Solo collection by Embertone, which includes, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass. If you purchase the bundle it is $375

Pros: More control than just about any other solo string library over things like vibrato, bow change and slurred legato, and bow position which you can vary from Sul Ponticello to Sul Tasto.  Very good at handling different speeds, and comes with a bonus ensemble page that you can add humanness (randomness) into the mix!

Cons: Recorded dry (a plus for some people!), and the onboard reverb is fairly basic, so you will want to use your outboard or plugin reverb to help with smoothing the mix.  Non-Controllable bow changes in long sustained notes.

Price: $125

Tech Specs

  • True legato programming + True Portamento’s

  • Neighbor borrowing round robin option

  • Custom, genius Kontakt scripting by Andreas Lemke

  • 40 NKI files

  • 4000+ recorded samples

  • 3.5 GB installed

  • Download from our web-server, nothing fancy (we’re broke too, man!)

  • Sample resolution: 44.1 Khz / 24 bit stereo

  • Kontakt 5 Player Compatible, 32/64-bit, MAC/PC compatible

  • Kontakt 5 Player runs as a stand-alone application, VST® or Audio Units plug-in, under Pro Tools RTAS/AAX. Minimum: Mac OS X® 10.7 / 10.8, G5 1.8 GHz or Intel Core Duo 1.66 GHz, Windows 7 or Windows 8 (latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit), Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended) Mac OS X 10.7 or 10.8 (latest update), Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)

In Their Own Words

I asked Alex Davis, co-founder of Embertone a few questions, and his answers are all very illuminating about the impressive differences of this library.

Designing Music NOW:  What are the top 3 reasons Friedlander is the best solo violin, in your opinion?

Alex Davis:

  1. Friedlander Violin, as well as our other ISS instruments, have bow change + slur + portamento transitions, sampled CHROMATICALLY 🙂
  2. Friedlander Violin (and other ISS instruments) have fully controllable vibrato: speed, intensity and for those insane MIDI tweakers, color/eq and depth too!). It’s not just vibrato ON or OFF
  3. Seamless legato transitions — no of those yucky audible crossfades, just real-sounding string goodness!

DMN: What was the process of recording like for this instrument?

AD: We close mic’ed our musicians in a fairly neutral space, to make sure dynamics/vibrato and reverb can be controlled and tweaked to the max.

DMN: Friedlander has a very nice interface and lots of articulations – what special things did you and your team do to create the engine?

AD: Our speed control script is really nice… By default it will adapt to the speed of your playing and compress/expand the speed of the transitions, for a really nice elastic and responsive feel. It’s also really adjustable! You can turn it off, or TURN IT UP, so that fast playing is extra snappy.


In Depth Review

Example Song with Expressions


Chromatic slurs, bow changes, and portamento transition coupled with one of the best real-time vibrato in the biz.  On top of that, legatos are not crossfaded – something most other libraries tend to do. And if that were not enough, this is a very playable instrument thanks to the scripting which detects the play speed.  Not many negatives here, but as it was recorded dry (as many solo instruments are) there is need to add your own reverb as the on board reverb is a bit under-powered.







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