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NKS FTW: Embertone Joshua Bell Violin

Thank you for your interest in this second episode of NKS FTW! This text and video series is designed to raise awareness for NKS, via products that have NKS support, thus are accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

In this episode, we will be reviewing Embertone’s Joshua Bell Violin, a powerful and feature-packed solo virtuoso violin library.

This library has full NKS support, which allows it to work with the free Kontakt Player and to show up in the Komplete Kontrol browser. It also has a comprehensive set of mapped parameters, as well as a staggering amount of keyswitches, which makes almost every aspect of the library accessible.

About the Library

From the developer’s website:

• Virtual Violin made for Kontakt 5 Player

• Performed by the legendary violinist

• The tone of a priceless Stradivarius

• 12+ true legato styles

• Flexible performance modes

• Advanced copy protection

Installation

After purchasing Joshua Bell Violin, you will receive an E-Mail with a serial number. This is both the Native Access serial and the download code for Continuata. While the Continuata Connect utility is not accessible, it is possible to use their manual links utility, which will E-Mail you a set of direct links to the multipart RAR files.

While you download your files, head over to Native Access and add the serial number to your account. When you have extracted the content, you will need to press the locate button and select the path where you placed the library.

For some reason, I was unable to get Joshua Bell Violin to show up in the factory library side of my Komplete Kontrol browser. Placing it in my standard Native Access location did not seem to work. After moving it in user content, however, it started showing up under the Kontakt product in the relevant portion of the browser.

Using the Library

The first thing I noticed about this library was how incredibly easy to play it is. As a pianist, I really appreciate libraries that respond well to the keyboard. The library starts out in the so called “Simple Keyboard Control” preset, which, while not the best for projects in which you may need subtle control of the instrument, is truly a joy to play. I have spent much more time simply playing and enjoying the sound and the control than actually working with it.

The control preset editor is definitely the biggest issue with this library. It is completely impossible to edit any of the built-in presets. However, by making use of your screenreader’s OCR, it is possible to find the “control” page, click it, and then find the names (or parts of the names) of the presets, such as “simple” or “master”. This is by far not optimal. Thankfully, the amazing Jonathan Churchill of Embertone is compiling a Google spreadsheet with the full details of each and every built-in preset. (link coming soon)

The keyswitches in the various control presets allow access to all of the many articulations that this instrument offers, as well as ways to control the legato type. Some of these are latching keyswitches, which means they have to be held down to trigger their intended feature.

There are definitely a couple of other things I would like to have in the NKS mapping, such as the EQ presets and the portamento speed. The Embertone developers have been extremely receptive and understanding so far and I expect taht we will have an update in the somewhat near future.

Control Presets

As stated before, the control preset editor is not accessible to screenreading technology. Embertone’s developers are creating a Google spreadsheet with the parameter assignments for all of the built-in presets.

Note: This spreadsheet is currently a work in progress. If you have experience with this product, you can help by adding to it!

Link to the spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/149ZR1onRJLBPlMEmFGTlfmHHvr1MrPXe0WgunjoA8c8/edit?usp=sharing

NKS overview

The library includes only two NKI files, the regular instrument and the legacy patch. The latter is only useful for older Kontakt users, and so is not relevant to users of Komplete Kontrol accessibility.

Here are the parameter mappings:

Page 1: Performance

  • Dynamics

  • Vib amt (vibrato amount)

  • Vib Spd (vibrato speed)

  • Verb amt (reverb amount)

  • Verb type (reverb type)

  • Mon/Poli

  • Legato

  • unassigned

Page 2: Randomize/Humanize

  • Randomize

    • Slur/bow

    • Vib/non-vib

  • Humanize

    • Dyn mvt (dynamics movement)

    • Dyn mvt spd (dynamics movement speed)

    • Att pitch (attack pitch instability)

    • Spd pitch (speed pitch instability)

    • Int pitch (interval pitch instability)

  • Unassigned

Closing

Joshua Bell Violin is truly an exceptional instrument. While a bit confusing in naming, the mapped parameters offer most of the control one might need, and the different control presets are very well thought out.

Video Review