Pre-dating polyphonic synths by some years, string synthesisers used electronic organ 'divide-down' technology to provide a totally polyphonic sawtooth waveform. This was then typically fed through a simple, two stage envelope shaper offering just attack and release and then onto an analogue 'bucket brigade' chorus unit to produce the 'ensemble' effect. They effectively replaced the noble Mellotron as a portable string section as they were FAR more reliable and, errmmm, more portable!
There were several manufacturers producing string synths that utilised the same basic technique in the mid to late '70s - Elka, Crumar and others and later on, Yamaha, Roland and Korg - but it was the ARP String Ensemble that was perhaps the best known. But that in itself was derived from the Eminent 310, an organ from a little known Dutch manufacturer that featured a great string synth sound (Jean-Michel Jarre used an Eminent 310 on his early albums often through an Electro-harmonix Small Stone phaser pedal for his signature sound on the early albums).
Eminent faced tough competition in a competitive market and were battling it out with the likes of Hammond, Farfisa, Vox not to mention Japanese manufacturers and they went through many troubled times. In an attempt to overcome these financial difficulties, they released a dedicated string machine under the 'Solina' brand name.
The Solina String Ensemble was to become a legend amongst certain keyboard players (mostly European) as one of the first string synths available. It retained many of the characteristics of the original 310 sound but in a compact, portable format. However, this small Dutch company didn't have the marketing clout to make the global impact this instrument so richly deserved. American synth giant ARP bought in or licenced the technology and it formed the basis of their own String Ensemble (and later Omni, Omni II and Quadra synths).
Through high quality sampling and customized control panels Hollow Sun makes you forget that you are playing a sample - Sometimes it feels like playing the real thing via MIDI.
Hollowsun are the kings of string synths. This is such a great collection of the best string synths ever made. I can't believe I have all these classics for $25. WAY too cheap but I am not complaining LOL
Great job on all of these and the VP330 and Crumar which I also bought after hearing these.
Randy - via email
Great samples of String Synthesizers!
The Eminent sounds lovely, also the Roland 202 samples.
Your string ensemble sample set is a lot more useful than the XXXX!!! Your samples are a lot better, too! Great job!!
Robert - Germany (via email)
The best vintage strings I ever heard!
Ronald - Germany (via email)
Loving the new version.
What a great idea having these panels to play with. Its so easy to make BIG sounds.
Dom - UK (via email)
wow, been firing it up just now and this is really really good.
So easy and so effective and sounding so right.
Planet Ugh, KVR
Why did string synths stop being popular? The sound is so massive when you layer the different octaves. And these sound great.
Klaus - Germany (via email)
You warned me about this before Christmas when I bought the Crumar and VP330 packs. I now realise what you meant.
As a package, it's an absolute delight. I've only been playing with it for a very short while (less than an hour) and already I know I will be uninstalling a number of other soft string synths that I now no longer need. Also, I've been using a large string synth package from another software house and I have no problem in telling you that your package knocks spots off of it in terms of quality, speed and ease of use, and it will be coming off of my system as well.
Facing competition from new polysynths such as the Yamaha CS80 and Prophet 5, different string synth manufacturers began building in extra features, typically adding filters and more synth functions.
Although they couldn't compete directly with polysynths (because although they had total polyphony, string synths only had one filter, envelope, whatever to service all voices), they did allow the creation of big, stacked and layered sounds. Roland exploited this very well in their 'Paraphonic' synths.
Furthermore, it also made them relatively affordable and an ARP Omni or Roland RS505 'Paraphonic' synth were a lot less expensive than a Prophet 5 or Oberheim OB8.
Moog came rather late to the market with their Opus 3. They had been eclipsed by Sequential, Oberheim and Roland with their polysynths and their MemoryMoog was some way off so they released the Opus which offered a lush string sound together with an organ and a brass sound which could all be layered.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late and the Opus made little impact on the market and to compound Moog's misfortunes at the time, their MemoryMoog - as fabulous as it was - was temperamental and unreliable but worse still, was released around the same time as the DX7 when anything analogue became yesterday's news and FM dominated! The brass and organ sounds were weak but the Opus had a truly fab string sound.
Today, even though the string synth technology seems dated, they still produce a sound that is unrivalled and have a character all their own that can't easily be replicated on modern gear. The samples on offer here are, as always, long and detailed, seamlessly looped but optimised for minimum disk/memory requirements.
THE HOLLOW SUN STRING SYNTHS PACKAGE
Instead of having various presets in various combinations, each instrument now features a complete control panel so that you can create your own unique combinations pretty much like using 'the real thing'.
\Each instruments' functionality is spread across three panels - MASTER, CONTROL PANEL and EFFECTS.
In MASTER, you can set 'global' functions such as velocity sensitivity and curve, note range, pitch bend range and master tuning and transpose.
In CONTROL PANEL, you can mix and layer the sounds, combining 16', 8' and 4' octaves (depending on the instruments) to create massive sounds. In some instruments, you can layer different sounds. There's also a simple tone control that allows to coax all the commonly heard string synth sounds and some new ones and there's also simple envelope control of attack and release. This control panel really does make these instruments behave just like the originals - if not better ... most old string synths only allowed you to switch the different octaves on or off whereas these allow you to mix them in variable amounts.
In EFFECTS, you can add a phase shifter effect with variable amount and speed and you can add (or remove) delay and reverb.
Any settings you make can, of course, be saved for future recall and it is possible for a knobby hardware controller to 'learn' these controls for an even more hands-on experience.
You can download the Kontakt Vintage String Synths User Guide HERE
As an added bonus, the PolyMoog Keyboard 'Strings I', 'Strings II' and the legendary 'Vox Humana' sounds are also included. Layering those three sounds together creates a truly colossal sound!!
The ARP/Solina has also been updated (thanks to HS cohort, Dan McCullough) with the 'Horns' and 'Trumpet' sounds. Nothing like horns or trumpet, of course, but when layered with the three string ARP/Soilina sounds, you can make a huge sound!