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[All] Listening and comparing various sound sources for jazz (JABB3, Note Performer)

In the previously published article “Listening and comparing various sound sources (GIFF, GPO5, NotePerformer, BBCSO Discover)”, I compared and listened to various sound sources using J.S. Bach's “Air”, a demo file included with Finale, as an example. This time I researched external sound sources for jazz, and would like to summarize the results in this article. 

The sound sources used are Garritan Instruments for Finale (GIFF), which is included with Finale, and the following two sources. For the example piece, I once again picked up from the demo file included with Finale, this case “Jingle Bells”.

・Garritan Jazz & Big Band 3/ARIA (JABB3) (Released in July 2010, ¥25,531, DL size approximately 1.2GB) *

・NotePerformer 4 (Released in June 2018, ¥21,967, DL size approximately 700MB) *

*Prices are as of April 2024.

Please watch this video first. Three types of sound sources are switched every few bars while playing.

1. Problems with each sound source during initial settings

To be honest, when I listened to each sound source with the initial settings, I got the impression that all of them were somehow not good.

(1) GIFF

The Garritan Instruments for Finale (GIFF) that comes with Finale has a good balance, but the overall sound lacks texture, and I feel like the sound quality of individual instruments is not good enough. 

However, GIFF is like a “bonus” that comes with purchasing Finale, so I think it's okay as long as it has this level of sound quality.

(2) Note Performer 4

Regarding Note Performer 4, when playing a jazz piece like the example one, the reverb was too strong, making me feel uncomfortable, as if I had come to the wrong venue.

This video also includes a track with the reverb amount reduced from the initial setting of 50% to 25%, but even at 25% the reverb still feels strong.

Also, this is just my personal opinion but I feel Note Performer’s instruments don't match well with jazz, while they match very well with classical orchestral pieces. 


(3) JABB3

I had expected good result with the Garritan Jazz & Big Band 3/ARIA (JABB3) because it is a sound source exclusively for jazz. As the name suggests, the tones of each instrument are quite close to what I think of as “jazz”, but in its initial state, you will notice that the drums volume is extremely low.

Come to think of it, the volume of the drums in GIFF has been considered a problem for some time, and this was finally improved in Finale v25 released in 2016, but in JABB3 released in 2010, the drum volume problem may not have been improved and may still remain as it is.

In the case of Finale, the best you can do to increase the volume is to open the mixer and change the drum volume to 127, then set bank 3 for drums and change its volume to 200, but unfortunately even after doing so, I was still unable to reach a satisfactory balance. 

2. Improvement measures

Regarding Note Performer, when I lowered the reverb level from the initial setting of 50% to 15%, I felt that although the instrument sound lost some depth, it did give it a somewhat jazz-like sound. The tone of the instrument cannot be changed, so it remains at the default setting.

For JABB3, I gave up on using the included drum sound source and decided to use the GIFF sound source improved in Finale v25 for the drums. I set the drum volume to 110 on the mixer, but if this is not enough, you can increase it further using the method described above.

3. conclusion

If you only think about the sound quality, I think JABB3 would be the winner, but Note Performer 4 could be better option because; 

  • The capacity occupied in the HDD is “2GB or more”, which is less than half of JABB3's “4.5GB or more”.

  • Easy to handle (no need to worry about drum volume)

  • Okay to use for jazz and also good at classical music.

  • The price is about 3,500 yen cheaper than JABB3 (you can go for a drink with this)

Considering that it has various advantages, I think that Note Performer 4 is recommended for the average notation software users.

On the other hand, JABB3 is recommended for those who create mostly jazz scores. I feel that the tone of the instrument is the most jazz-like compared to the Garritan series and Note Performer. The drawback of extremely low drum volume can be compensated for by using another sound source, such as GIFF, although it is somewhat troublesome as mentioned above.

In addition, in this experiment, I also tried Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 (GPO5) and Garritan Concert and Marching Band 2 (COMB2), which are also Garritan products, but in this test case, I felt that the playback quality was inferior to GIFF in terms of the volume balance between each instrument and the vocalization of individual instruments, so I did not discuss it in the article. I guess these sound sources are basically specialized for classical and wind ensembles, they don't seem to be good at jazz.



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