Spitfire releases HZ03 – London Solos for Kontakt

Spitfire Audio has launched HZ03 – London Solos, a new volume in the series of Hans Zimmer percussion libraries for Native Instruments Kontakt and Kontakt Player.

Spitfire HZ03 London Solos

Percussion legend Frank Ricotti and long term collaborator with Hans plays the definitive anthology of percussion instruments and styles developed over ten years of blockbuster score making. Volume 3 completes the Hans Zimmer project with a beautiful selection of solo instruments that offer added bite, detail, focus, clarity and nuance to this epic series. Hans loves the quiet layers more than any other so whilst, as Frank would put it, the “twat it” layers give you the bitey thunder you’d expect, the lower layers offer up the potential for engaging delicate drum programming to help tick your cues along.

Instruments played in a variety of ways include: Bucket, Snare, Crusher, Paper Djun, Tombek, Dohl, Darbuca, Surdu, Darbucket. All recorded super deep at Air-Studios, one of the finest scoring stages on the planet. With a number of mixes, mics and positions produced by Hans himself and Grammy winners Alan Meyerson & Geoff Foster.

The Kontakt Player powered library is available for the introductory price of £149 GBP until November 14th, 2014 (RRP £199 GBP).

More information: Spitfire / HZ03 – London Solos

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Spitfire Audio releases HZ02 – Los Angeles for Kontakt

Spitfire Audio HZ02 - Los Angeles

Spitfire Audio has announced the release of HZ02 – Los Angeles, a new Hans Zimmer Percussion series sample library featuring the drum sounds of Jason Bonham.

Spitfire Audio are delighted and honoured to present a series of products produced by a legend and his diamond class team of Grammy winning engineers, musicians and technicians. Where Hans Zimmer’s style and approach to sonic creation is often copied or emulated, we’re proud to present to the world at large HZ’s definitive take on his trailblazing approach to cinematic percussion production.

HZ02 – Los Angeles, features Jason Bonham playing his exclusive DW Vistalite kit recorded at the legendary “Newman” Stage at 20th Century Fox, The Sony Scoring Stage and an enormous space on Hans’ own lot dubbed “The Cathedral”. Recorded and mixed both in stereo and 5.1 (surround) by multi Grammy winning engineers; Alan Meyerson, Steve Lipson and Geoff Foster. The library also features some exclusive extra content created by Hans himself.

This is the ultimate follow up to our multi award winning London percussion anthology. Recorded deep as per Hans’ direction with multiple round robins, dynamic layers, beater types and playing styles. With GUIs and scripting designed back in London by the finest sample developers in the world.

The Kontakt Player powered library is available for purchase for the introductory price of £149 until July 11th, 2014 (regular £199 GBP).

More information: Spitfire Audio / HZ02 – Los Angeles

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Spitfire releases Enigma for Kontakt + Hans Zimmer Percussion Vol 1 announced

Spitfire Enigma

Spitfire Audio has announced the release of Enigma, a collection of inspirational DNA for your tracks created exclusively for Spitfire by Leo Abrahams.

Leo Abrahams is a trailblazing musician, composer, and producer who has recorded and toured with such successful artists as; Imogen Heap, Ed Harcourt, Roxy Music, Grace Jones, and Pulp. Leo began to write and produce for a catalogue of aspiring singers and bands, which led him to creating his own records including The Unrest Cure, featuring the vocal stylings of; Brian Eno, KT Tunstall, Ed Harcourt, Foy Vance, and Bingo Gazingo. Leo has produced for a number of artists including Paolo Nutini, Wild Beasts, Frightened Rabbit and Carl Barat of the Libertines; he has composed such incredible soundtracks as that of The Lovely Bones (with Eno) and Hunger (with David Holmes); and he is also credited as the guitarist in such fantastic film scores as that of Oceans 12, Twilight and Green Zone. Leo’s talent has extended across multiple genres of music, and it is his devotion along with his raw talent that has brought him the success he has today.

We’re delighted to announce today’s release of “ENIGMA” a collection of awe inspiring sounds and tools created exclusively by Leo in conjunction with Spitfire Audio. As composers ourselves we have been itching to get our hands on what we know will become essential DNA for future compositions and productions.

Created largely on a rusty Trussart guitar plugged into Leo’s infamous pedal array, with over 300 presets including weird and wonderful sounding guitars, synths, pads, atmos, phrases and over 200 loops. This library is 5GB (compressed from 10GB) of pure inspiration.

The sample library is available to purchase for the introductory price of £75 GBP until December 2nd, 2013 (RRP £99 GBP).

Spitfire HZ01

Spitfire has also announced that HZ01, the first volume of Hans Zimmer Percussion, will be shipping on November 26th, 2013.

HZ01 ships in November as over 160GB of compressed content (from over 600GB of mixed and edited WAV data) and the initial release has material from Hans Zimmer, Alan Meyerson, and Geoff Foster. Two free updates are following with Steve Lipson and Junkie XL’s material. The final library will be north of 200GB of compressed content (from over 700GB of mixed and edited WAV data)

The library consists of microphone positions, ‘perspective elements’ and full mixes (as detailed below) mixed in stereo and 5.1 by Grammy and Oscar winning engineers and producers: Alan Meyerson, Steve Lipson, Junkie XL, Geoff Foster and Hans Zimmer himself.

The library will be available to purchase for the introductory price of £299 GBP for the first two weeks (RRP £399 GBP). It will include an additional 25% off voucher for future purchases.

More information: Spitfire Audio

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Review: u-he The Dark Zebra soundset by Hans Zimmer & Howard Scarr

Users of Zebra have no shortage in sounds for this virtual modular synthesizer. Thousands of patches are available in both free and commercial soundsets. U-he’s latest offering – The Dark Zebra, is a little more than just a collection of patches.

u-he The Dark Zebra

A bank of over 400 presets, a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr. Practically all Zebra sounds in the The Dark Knight as well as The Dark Knight Rises soundtracks are included, plus several more that didn’t quite fit into the scores.

The pack also includes Hans’ custom built update from a licensed Zebra2.x to the version you can see in this video, ZebraHZ. Many of the more recent patches make use of the extra features available in ZebraHZ.


Demonstration of The Dark Zebra with its custom ZebraHZ synthesizer plugin.

So not only does this soundset for Zebra 2.5 include hundreds of sounds straight from the brilliant minds of Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr, it also comes with a custom Zebra version that was made specifically for Hans’ scoring of the Dark Knight movies.

Additional features of ZebraHZ include:

  • analog filter models such as the ones found in Diva,
  • polyphonic compressors,
  • 2 additional modulation mappers,
  • and a Polymoog-like resonator effect module.
ZebraHZ Diva filters

The new filters are available from the DIVA VCF tab in the bottom bar of the GUI.

You get 4 highpass filters and 4 lowpass/multimode filters. The HP filters include two models – Pre and Bite, and the 2 pairs of lowpass filters have Ladder, Cascade, Multimode and Bite models. Controls for cutoff, resonance and key follow are available, and three unlabelled knobs can be used to set modulation depths for assigned sources (two for cutoff, one for resonance) for each filter.

Since these filters can consume quite a bit of CPU, it’s good to have some quality parameters so you can work in draft mode and render with high audio quality. You can also get some random cutoff values on the filters with an additional “CutoffSlop” control.

ZebraHZ polyphonic compressor modules

ZebraHZ comes with an individual polyphonic compressor for each one of the 4 lanes. Polyphonic means that these will apply compression for each single note! You can imagine this takes some processing power so you can deactivate them to save some CPU.

The lane compressor modules are particularly useful for doing percussion/drum type sounds where transients matter.

With two additional modmappers in ZebraHZ (also included in the latest regular Zebra plugin) you now have a total of 4 flexible modulation map modules to add even more modulation to your sound.

The new Resonator module (Res1) is available from the effects grid on the Global/FX tab. This emulates the 3-band peaking filter found on Moog Music’s Polymoog analog synthesizer.

One of the very first polyphonic synthesizers ever included a 3-band peaking filter that could be used to dramatically shape the overall sound.

ZebraHZ Resonator module
The resonator module in ZebraHZ.

ZebraHZ takes this concept and extends it with an extra full range band (60Hz-7.5kHz). The Resonator has various filter color modes, and the filter mode includes lowpass, bandpass, a bandpass variation with inverted second pole, and highpass.

Interestingly enough, many of the patches in The Dark Zebra don’t use any of these new features. Regardless, the additions are great to have.

As for the sounds, The Dark Zebra has a total of 400 patches which are categorized as follows:

  • Basses and Drones (33)
  • Bells and Metallurgy (26)
  • Drums and Clocks (64)
  • Effects and Chaos (38)
  • HighArps and Chords (72)
  • Lead and Horns (47)
  • LowArps and Stomps (50)
  • Pads and Keys (46)
  • Xtras (24)

As you would expect with sounds that were used in the soundtracks for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, many of them have a dark and cinematic feel to them.

Howard programmed most of the sounds to be performed with mod wheel, pitchbend, pressure and breath control, making them very dynamic. The patches come with information on the sound, how to use it and which controls are assigned to which parameters so you get an idea of how they were intended to be played.

Check Jarkko Hietanen’s amazing demo below to hear some of the sounds of The Dark Zebra in action. Only Zebra was used for this track!

So what do I think?

Product: The Dark Zebra by u-he
Format: .h2p patches + ZebraHZ VST/AU plug-in
Price: $99 USD incl. VAT (EU)
Like: Brilliant sounds, excellent for studying Zebra sound design
Don’t like: Costly for new Zebra users (since Zebra 2.x is required)
Verdict: 9/10

It is a real testimony to u-he’s Zebra, that a famed composer like Hans Zimmer chooses to use this particular synthesizer for his soundtrack scoring. Browsing the sounds of The Dark Zebra it is clear to see why this flexible, high quality instrument was used. But a good synth only gets you so far.

I reckon a decent sound designer can make a bad synth look pretty good. How much more can a brilliant sound designer do with a fantastic synth? Howard Scarr is a true master of synthesizer programming, and in this collaboration with Hans Zimmer his skill, knowledge and dedication bears much fruit.

The sonic range of The Dark Zebra offers small and beautifully intricate to gripping, fast-paced and chaotic. Highly cinematic, but not limited to film scoring, this soundset is both an archive of hundreds of beautifully designed sounds ready for use in your own productions, as well as a peek into top notch sound design with Zebra. It is well worth studying the patches to learn how particular sounds were achieved.

Though the soundset didn’t actually end up using the new features in a whole lot of its patches, it’s still great to have the Diva filters, resonator, and lane compressors in ZebraHZ for your own sound design.

The only downside is perhaps the price tag. Even though ZebraHZ comes as its own plugin, you do need a license of Zebra 2.x to use ZebraHZ and the soundset. I personally think that The Dark Zebra is well worth the price, but new users will have to pay a considerable sum to get the whole package. That said, Zebra *is* a most excellent synthesizer, so it’s not a bad thing to pick it up anyway.

More information: u-he / The Dark Zebra

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rsmus7 releases Darkend Bank for ZebraHZ

rsmus7 Darkend Bank

Stephan Müsch aka rsmus7 has released Darkend Bank, a free collection of 32 patches for ZebraHZ, the software synthesizer that is part of u-he’s Dark Zebra soundset featuring sounds by Howard Scarr and Hans Zimmer.

I made these patches as a „thank you“ contribution the ZebraHZ release. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

All Patches have the modwheel and the XY controls assigned, some also aftertouch.

Just copy the patches to your presets folder.

Stephan has posted some audio clips of single sounds and a demo tune featuring multiple sounds.

Download the Darkend Bank:

Darkend Bank for u-he ZebraHZSize: 733kb

More information: rsmus7 / Dark Zebra

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