The Transpose Trick
When you don't have any round-robins to use the previous technique, there is an old trick to thicken the sound a little using the tuning and transpose options available within Kontakt.
If you're ever tried to make an orchestra section sound bigger by loading multiple instances of the same instrument and playing them simultaneously you'll no doubt have noticed that it doesn't really work. When there are no round-robins you get a horrible phasing effect because of the way that the instrument is playing back the same sample overlayed (with miniscule differences in timing).
To get around this phasing you can utilise an old trick whereby you transpose the instrument down or up so that you're triggering a different sample, while you tune the opposite way to restore the pitch to the original note. First lets look at a way to manually achieve this technique in Spitfire instruments to simulate 3x as many instruments playing:
- Load three instances of the same instruments into Kontakt and set them all on the same Midi channel using the dropdown in the instrument header ( ).
- In the second instance of the instrument you want to set the Kontakt Tune setting to -2 semitones and the Spitfire Tranpose setting to 2
- In the third instance of the instrument you want to set the Kontakt Tune setting to 2 semitones and the Spitfire Tranpose setting to -2
In more recent Spitfire BML instruments this can be automatically achieved in a much simpler way (this will be available as products are updated):
- Load three instances of the same instruments into Kontakt and set them all on the same Midi channel ( ).
- In the second instance of the instrument click and select from the drop-down menu.
- In the third instance of the instrument click and select from the drop-down menu.
You should now have three instruments on the same Midi channel, one of which has the keyboard transposed up
two semitones but the tuning shifted down (so playing a C will trigger the D sample, pitched down to be a C) and one of which has been transposed down
two semitones and tuned up (so playing a C will trigger the A# sample, pitched up to be a C). Because three different samples are now being triggered, and minimal pitch shifting has occured, you should hear no phasing while hearing what sounds like a slightly bigger section.
Note that if you simply wanted to double the size of the section, ignore the third step and simply load two instances of the same instrument, transposing/tuning only one of them. This technique is also supported in all other libraries utilising the standardised Spitfire UI (BML Flutes, Horns, Low Brass, Albion, etc.).
There are downsides to this technique. For one, you lose some of the range of the instrument where you're transposing up and down. The tuning does also affect the sound of the instrument, especially when it comes to the hall and preserving its ambience.