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Mini-review: Les Productions Zvon Baby Piano

There aren’t many companies that would take the time and effort to sample a busted up toy piano like the one Les Productions Zvon used for the Baby Piano sample library.

Les Productions Zvon Baby Piano
This poor toy piano has clearly seen better days…

Daniel writes:

I found it at a flea market and it obviously has seen better days. There are 2 keys missing, its casing is worn out and there are loose parts in it. The sound is not even from one key to another partly because the mechanism of some keys is damaged and it’s also not in tune.

It’s nonetheless lovely and its sound begged to be sampled. I did not stop there and I also created 15 unique resynthesized sounds from the original samples. These can be used as electric pianos, keys and/ or bells.

Baby Piano includes a total of 18 programs and 12 sounds (349 samples). A free Baby Piano set is available to download from the Les Productions Zvon website. This freebie includes 6 programs and 5 sounds from the complete set.

So what do I think?

Product: Baby Piano by Les Productions Zvon
Format: 16bit Wav + Kontakt, Wusik, sfz, SoundFont
Price: Donationware ($2 or more)

Baby Piano sounds exactly like you would expect: a broken, fragile sounding toy piano. It’s a perfect example of how something one might consider to be trash can still be used to create some lovely instruments.

The synthesized instruments are nice — perhaps even more useful — but I enjoyed the acoustic sounds the most. The typical toy piano sound may not have that many applications, but I find it inspiring.

Baby Piano can be had for as cheap as $2 USD, which I think is a steal. With donations of $10 USD or more you get an additional set called Baby Bells, good for another 4 resynthesized sounds in 9 programs (101 samples).

Make sure to download the free Baby Piano set and see how you like it.

More information: Les Productions Zvon / Baby Piano

Les Productions Zvon releases Baby Piano

Les Productions Zvon Baby Piano

Les Productions Zvon has released the Baby Piano, a sample library featuring a Chinese Toy Piano.

I found it at a flea market and it obviously has seen better days. There are 2 keys missing, its casing is worn out and there are loose parts in it. The sound is not even from one key to another partly because the mechanism of some keys is damaged and it’s also not in tune.

It’s nonetheless lovely and its sound begged to be sampled. I did not stop there and I also created 15 unique resynthesized sounds from the original samples.

The Baby Piano free set contains all the acoustic samples (2 programs) and 4 of the resynthesized sounds for a total of 6 programs and 5 sounds (38 MB). It is available to download as donationware in Soundfont and Kontakt 3 formats.

A Baby Piano standard version with 3 more programs for the acoustic samples and 7 more resynthesized sounds for a total of 17 programs and 12 sounds (86.3 MB) is available when donating $2 USD or more, and those who donate at least $10 USD will receive also receive Baby Bells, an extra set with 4 more sounds resynthesized from the Baby Piano and 9 programs (123 MB). These “bell” sounds are characterized by long decays of up to 15 seconds.

More information: Les Productions Zvon / Baby Piano

Review: Les Productions Zvon Prepared Rhodes

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.

Prepared Rhodes demo clip
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.

More information: Les Productions Zvon / Prepared Rhodes

Les Productions Zvon announces Anniversary Sale

Prepared Rhodes

Les Productions Zvon has announced the 2009 Anniversary Sale, offering two price reduced sample bundles.

Anniversary Sale 2009

  • Unusual Percussions Bundle, includes Chromatic Hits, Prepared Rhodes, Sidekick Electronic Percussion and Out There, for $35 USD (regular over $65 USD).
  • Julie’s Vocal Collections, reduced prices for the three sample libraries featuring professional jazz singer Julie Hamelin.
    The bundle, featuring 1235 one-shot samples, is now available for $19.99 USD (previously $34.99 USD).

More information: Les Productions Zvon

Les Productions Zvon releases LoFi Kalimba

Les Productions Zvon has released LoFi Kalimba, a freeware SoundFont.

Zvon writes:

To create this set I sampled one note from an small Indonesian kalimba with a Casio Sk2 hardware sampling keyboard. This is very LoFi as I had to use the Casio’s small built-in microphone to record the sample and as the SK2 does not have a line-out, the resulting sound had to be recorded through its internal speakers. And I won’t mention the quality of the sampling engine itself as I don’t know the details but it’s certainly not pristine.

None the less, it’s a quite fun little keyboard but a very noisy one! So I applied a rather heavy dose of noise reduction, so much in fact that part of the sound’s attack and tone were lost too, and the samples are still noisy. Which makes it even more LoFi but it’s fun! Don’t hesitate to dress it up with FXs.

Download the LoFi Kalimba here (125 KB)

Les Productions Zvon releases Prepared Rhodes for Battery 3 and Kontakt 3

Prepared Rhodes

Les Productions Zvon has released Battery 3 and Kontakt 3 versions of Prepared Rhodes, a sample library featuring the sounds of a prepared electric piano.

It’s a real Rhodes that is prepared as John Cage and others prepared an 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.

Prepared Rhodes for Battery 3/Kontakt 3

  • Over 115 kits/patches (wav files included).
  • 67 semituned instruments.
  • 47 (55 for K3) extra patches where the samples are twisted and warped with their granular synthesis engine.

Prepared Rhodes for Battery 3 and Kontakt 3 includes both formats for $19.99 USD. A free demo version can be found here.

Zvon notes:

The soundfont version has also been updated and now has 43 programs instead of 21, including 38 semituned instruments (double of the previous version). The sf2 version costs $13.99 and also includes the wav files. So people who only want the wav files should buy this package.

Visit Les Productions Zvon for more information and audio demos.

Review: Les Productions Zvon – Out There

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Les Productions Zvon isn’t your ordinary sample provider. It’s not the type of place where you will find the latest tech house or glitchy hip hop titles.

Zvon’s latest product Out There is another title that shows Zvon does his own thing: unique and unusual sample libraries.

From the product page:

Even though this set is small, it’s quite diverse both in the origin (acoustic and electronic) and the types of sounds included. It is a mix of percussions and SFX in the form of one-shot samples and hits, some with velocity layers. It’s not meant to be the definitive anything but these samples can be useful in a wide range of musical settings to add different, varied and unique sonic colors. A good complement to any SFX library.

Les Productions Zvon - Out There (Kontakt)
Les Productions Zvon – Out There (Kontakt)

The samples are grouped in various folders:

  • Acoustic, 67 samples – 52 samples of a Snoopy Jaw Harp, 7 samples of 2 different handbells and a few others.
  • FX, 147 samples – collection of various electronic sound effects: Machines and Electricity, Spacy and Others. (+ subfolder with 20 of the samples looped).
  • Perc, 25 samples – some electronic percussions.
  • Vel layers, 159 samples – mix of electronic percussions/FX with velocity layers.
  • Vocoder, 72 samples – short vocal FX made with the MicroKorg.

You can check the full list of samples here. The soundset also includes nearly 30 Kontakt 3 instruments, and some 25 SoundFonts. These instruments group similar sounds.

The Out There soundset, including all three formats, is available for purchase for $4.99 USD.

So what do I think?

A Jaw Harp, lots of sound fx, electronic drum sounds… The Out There sample library is what I’d call a mixed bag!

Once again Zvon has produced a lovely sample collection that is both unique and unusual, and useable at the same time. Sure, you may not find use for each and every of the 470 samples included in this soundset, but at about 1 cent per sample this library isn’t going to break the bank either.

A very generous demo sample pack (including a bunch of Kontakt and SoundFont instruments) is available for download here (7.8 MB). This will give you a good idea of what Out There has to offer. A few demo mp3s are available on the product page as well.

Visit Les Productions Zvon for more information.

Les Productions Zvon releases Cosmology

AlgoMusic M42 Nebula

Les Productions Zvon has released Cosmology, a SoundFont for the M42 Nebula by AlgoMusic.

The cosmology soundfont contains more “mainstream” samples that my previous soundfonts for the M42 Nebula but still has its fair share of “experimental” samples.
Programs are arranged in 4 banks of 5 to suit the M42 bank selector.

Cosmology includes 20 programs, 41 presets and is 75 MB in size.

The SoundFont can be purchased for $9.99 USD, or as part of the Zvon M42 soundfonts bundle for $24.99 USD.

Visit Les Productions Zvon for more information and audio demos.