Review: Les Productions Zvon Prepared Rhodes
Les Productions Zvon is back with another 3U instrument (unique, unusual and usable), the Prepared Rhodes.
This is actually not a new sample library but Zvon has recently released Kontakt and Battery formats, adding some new sounds to Prepared Rhodes.
So what is a Prepared Rhodes anyway? Zvon explains:
It’s a real Rhodes that is prepared as John Cage and others prepared a acoustic piano, that means you insert springs, plastic tubes, pins,etc., all kinds of objects inside the piano. These objects when touching the strings or the tines change the sound of each key played. All the notes can be radically different from each other and often you don’t even recognize the original sound. You get an instrument that is much more percussive in nature. This has been done quite often with acoustic piano but rarely with a Rhodes.
The Rhodes used in this sample library was prepared by Maxime de La Rochefoucauld, a composer and builder of mechanical musical automatons. Zvon recorded every note with multiple velocity layers (2 to 6) for a total of some 360 samples in 16 bits, 44.1 kHz. The samples are in mono format, just like the real Rhodes instrument.
The Kontakt/Battery version of Prepared Rhodes includes over 115 kits/patches with 67 semi-tuned instruments and about 50 extra patches that make use of the granular synthesis engine.
Prepared Rhodes for Kontakt & Battery is available for purchase for $19.99 USD. Other formats are also available.
So what do I think?
There are some interesting things about this library. First, the sample quality. If you are expecting pristine quality recordings you are going to be disappointed. When you check the samples with your audio editor you will notice there seems to be some clipping and audible background noise in quite a large number of samples. Since the sounds were recorded directly into a Tascam DA-88 I guess the background noise may be part of the preparation of the Rhodes.
Now although I would like the sounds to be a bit cleaner and brighter this does not mean I dislike Prepared Rhodes. On the contrary, I think it’s a lovely sample library. It is unique and unusual as I would expect from a Zvon product. You are not going to find these sounds anywhere else. I auditioned the samples one by one and I got incredibly itchy to start messing with them right away — they are so inspirational and musical (did I mention I like quirky sounds?)
The third “U” in “3U” is usability, and Zvon takes some extra care of this aspect with the chromatic semi-tuned and stretched (granular) instruments. Organs, music boxes, bells, all kinds of plucked sounds — lots of lovely instruments with great playability.
While playing with the sounds I made a little loop that I will share here to demonstrate the kind of thing you can do with this library.
1.15min / 1.73MB
All sounds in the clip above are from Prepared Rhodes. I was done with a Kontakt multi of 6 instruments, and about halfway I put some standard Kontakt delay and filter effects on one of the sounds.
Make sure to check the audio demos on Zvon’s mp3 page for examples of some more “traditional” pieces.