Results for reviews

Below are the posts that should have something to do with 'reviews'.

Note: Use the search form in the top right if you're looking for something specific.

  

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

u-he The Dark Zebra

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.

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 that 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

Review: June Miller Dark Complex Drum & Bass sample pack

I’ve been following Bart van Dijk and Mark McCann on SoundCloud for a while now. Collaborating under the alias “June Miller”, the two have been steadily gaining momentum in the drum and bass and dubstep scene ever since moving from their hardcore/punk roots to the electronic music scene.

June Miller Dark Complex Drum & Bass

In 2007, inspired by Black Sun Empire’s Blackout gigs in Utrecht and Breakage’s This Too Shall Pass album – an all-time favorite of myself – they decided to focus on producing drum and bass. And not without success.

With the Dark Complex Drum & Bass sample pack, the sounds of June Miller are now available to use in your own productions.

Dark and Complex Drum & Bass includes 803Mb of Crisp Cutting Beats, Deep Atmospheric Soundscapes, Dark Menacing Basses, Emotive Melodies, Huge Impacts and Dramatic SFX.

If you like Drum and Bass Hard and Dirty with dramatic emotional backdrops then June Miller is guaranteed to take your productions to the next level. Taking inspiration from Artists such as Breakage, Spirit, Photek, Ed Rush & Optical, Sabre, Burial and Shackleton the guys have produced one killer pack so check out the demo and sample June Miller TODAY!

Here’s a short breakdown of what’s included in the pack:

  • 30 athmos loops.
  • 30 bass loops.
  • 35 drum construction kit loops.
  • 9 top loops.
  • 15 atmos one-shots.
  • 22 bass one-shots.
  • 49 drum one-shots.
  • 27 risers and fx one-shots.
  • 25 sound design one-shots.
  • 34 sampler patches for Kontakt, EXS24, HALion, NN-XT, sfz + 4 Kong kits.

Starting off with the atmos loops, what I hear immediately gets me excited about this pack. Lots of reverb drained soundscape type atmospheric beauties. The material is highly musical, with quite a few loops including a variety of sounds and instruments, and well worked out movements/progressions (up to 1 minute long even). Listening to these individually, many of them sound not as dark as I had expected, but rather uplifting really.

In the bass section we find some great gnarly, filtered bass lines. More futuristic, aggressive, and quite nasty sounding actually. In a good way of course. The sounds and melodies are well programmed.

The drum loops include 10 construction kits with the full loops and individual elements, the majority being 16 or 32 bars long. Normally I’d say just give me the full loop and drum hits so I can construct my own variations and elements, but in this case these hard hitting loops actually sound so good I don’t mind the construction kit approach. It’s also a great way to learn how full sounding drums are done. I just wish there were more of them.

The last loops folder has a bunch of top loops, including some shakers, hihat loops and a drum kick roll. Nothing earthshaking, but useful nonetheless.

Everything is tagged with bpm (all are 172bpm) and key info where applicable, and REX versions are included as well.

In the single shot sample folders it’s more of the same high quality sounds. Interestingly enough, the atmos and drones do sound quite a bit darker and creepier than their looped counterpart. There’s a good variety of themes in these original sounds. The two soundscapes (1.11 and 1.51 minutes long) are just stunning.

The bass samples seem to be taken from the sequences that created the loops. So basically shorter versions of the loops, equally nasty, filtered, modulated bass hits.

To complement the drum loops, June Miller has also included the kicks and snares from said loops, alongside some additional one-shots. Hihats (incl. cymbals and rides) and percussion samples sound great.

Another highlight is the sound fx folder, full of well-designed samples. I don’t know all the technical terms for the types of effects included, but it’s all high quality material. Very useful to beef up your tunes with for sure.

A collection of 25 sound design samples round up this pack. These are somewhere between the atmos and the sound fx. Lovely cinematic sounds, including cavern type water drips, wailing synth, lots of glitchy hits and more, all drowned in reverb.

The included sampler patches map the samples of each category across the keys for ease of use, and the drum single-shots have 5 kits patches included as well.

Have a listen to the official demo track of Dark Complex Drum & Bass below to hear what all these loops and samples sound like.

So what do I think?

Product: June Miller Dark Complex Drum & Bass
Format: 24bit Wav, REX + sampler patches (other formats also available)
Price: £29.95 GBP
Like: Outstanding production, inspiring sounds
Don’t like: Leaves me wanting more…
Verdict: 9/10

With Dark Complex Drum & Bass, June Miller delivers a fantastic collection of loops and samples. It has the genuine feel of their style and sound, and it shows great technical skill and musicality throughout the whole library. The loops and samples have a consistent quality.

While there’s certainly a dark and complex feel to the pack as a whole, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive vibe of many samples when used individually.

The only bad thing about June Miller’s debut sample library is that it tastes like more, so I’m already looking forward to volume 2!

More information: Loopmasters / June Miller Dark Complex Drum & Bass

Review: Soundiron Rust 3 for Kontakt

Soundiron Rust 3

Soundiron’s Rust 3 is the latest in its series of found-sound percussion sample libraries for Native Instruments Kontakt.

With this grand 3rd volume, we set out to conquer powerful bass and rich musical tone, recording a massive variety of surfaces, objects, oddities, apparatuses and custom contraptions very up-close in wide stereo to capture even the most subtle of resonances and overtones.

We aimed for a collection that would offer uniquely alternative drum kit concepts, richly complex tuned percussion, dramatic effects and stingers and a huge wealth of sustaining lead, pad and ambient instruments. We reached for crystalline highs and mind-melting lows. We wanted a library that could stand on it’s own, capable of producing limitless musical potential all by itself.

Rust 3 features at a glance:

  • 49 open-format Kontakt instruments (36 K4 presets / 12 K5 presets).
  • 2,238 Samples.
  • 3.63 GB Installed.
  • 24bit / 48kHz stereo PCM wav samples (non-encrypted).
  • Powerful custom performance and FX control interface.
  • Bonus unique FX ambiences and atmospheres.
  • Bonus: 51 custom convolution reverb impulses.

Have a listen to the Rust 3 audio demos below to get an idea of what this is all about.

The patches of Rust 3 are grouped in 4 folders: Ensembles, Sustains, Master, and Effects.

The Ensembles section includes 7 instruments, with original (untuned) and tuned variations, so 14 patches in total. The sounds were recorded from a variety of objects, including large 50 gallon chemical drums, garbage can lids, garden tools, a cattle corral, various pipes and rods, and custom percussion instruments. A number of articulations is available – e.g. hands, sticks, mallets, etc – and the sounds are basically laid out like percussion kits mapped across the keyboard.
The tuned patches take a single tuned articulation from the full range of sounds included in each ensemble, and tunes and maps it across the keyboard. Articulations can be switched in realtime with MIDI CC, which can also be automated.

The three included Sustains patches have a focus on drones and ambient soundscape type sounds. The sounds in these patches can be morphed and polyphonic legato is available from the custom Kontakt interface panel.

The Master section includes a number of patches with combined instruments.

The master patch includes all percussive patches, and a lite version with less round robin samples is also included. The MegaMixer and Tuned Layer Builder patches allow you to construct your own ensembles by using 10 to 12 layers respectively.

The Effects section features 12 patches in both Kontakt 4 and Kontakt 5 format. The Kontakt 5 patches use the improved Time Machine Pro engine for a more realistic time stretching. The patches include sounds effects made by scraping metal objects, using violin bows, and other techniques.

Rust 3 includes a number of custom panels for quick access to parameters to modify the sounds, including the ever lovely “Uberpeggiator” custom arpeggiator, convolution reverbs and more.

For a more detailed overview of what’s included with Rust 3, check out the official walkthrough video below.

So what do I think?

Product: Rust 3 by Soundiron
Format: Kontakt, 24bit/48kHz Wav
Price: $89 USD
Like: Quality sounds, custom Kontakt interface
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

Rust 3 is a beautiful library, chock full of useful sounds.

By itself, the general vibe of the library tends to be a bit dark/creepy/haunting, which is great for cinematic film and game projects. Individual instruments will also blend in just fine with pretty much any other music genre, though the reason why this library (as well as other Rust libraries) is in Soundiron’s experimental category is obvious. I am not saying you shouldn’t use Rust 3 in your dubstep tunes, but I reckon you’ll get better mileage when you’re into junk percussion and original designed instruments with a metal vibe.

In short, I am well impressed with Rust 3. The sound recordings, instrument design, and Kontakt scripting all contribute to a deliver another top notch library.

More information: Soundiron / Rust 3

Review: Samplephonics Analogue Witchcraft by Paul Rez

Samplephonics Analogue Witchcraft

Tons of sample libraries are released week in week out, and I reckon it’s getting increasingly harder to get noticed. Still, every once in a while there’s a sample library that grabs my attention.

Since launching their website at the end of 2011, the guys at Samplephonics have been working hard to bring “fresh, unique sounds that inspire creativity and push the boundaries of music and sound”, and that’s certainly what they are doing with libraries like Analogue Witchcraft.

This is quite simply the most diverse and exciting sample pack we have released to date, packed full of leftfield and experimental loops and samples all with their own unique flavour and texture.

Leftfield and experimental, just my cup of tea!

The title Analogue Witchcraft might throw you off a bit so just to be sure you know what we have here. The library includes a fair amount of sounds coming from modular analog synthesizer sources, but this sample pack is not all about that.

For Analogue Witchcraft a combination of vintage and current equipment and software was used. Samplephonics mentions “experimental recording techniques”, I call the pack’s sound fresh. It includes recordings of acoustic guitars and foley percussion, and a Studer Tape Machine was used as well.

This library was made by Paul Rez aka Paul Ressel, an innovative sound designer, composer, and member of electronica band Lark from Cape Town, South Africa. As part of this band that is said to be “one of the key contributors to the rising experimental and idm crossover scene”, Paul is no stranger to blending organic and acoustic sources with digital and electronic sounds.

Have a listen to some demo tracks and example loops from the sample pack below.

The pack includes no less than 226 samples grouped in 7 folders.

The first folder – Acoustic Guitar Day Care – sets the tone right from the start. These are some lovely acoustic guitar samples with a distinct sound, 42 loops in total. The description reads “played in a variety of unorthodox ways and processed in Reaktor and Audiomulch for some subtle effects”. I really like Paul’s style on the guitar, lots of flageolet tones and fragile melodies, lovely!

Taking things to the more experimental side we find Flawed Foley Melodies, a collection of 23 more melodic and rhythmic themes with stringed instruments and cinematic percussion type sounds. Unique in sound and execution.

The Half Buried Drum Loops folder includes 26 heavily processed beats. Heavy compression, long reverbs, nasty distortion. All is allowed here. Again, lots of unique material here.

Up next is the Organic Mechanic folder, in which 37 loops blend organic and mechanical sound sources. This results in more melodic and rhythmic themes, which are more on the experimental side as well. It’s interesting to see the variety of styles, which go from dark cinematic to sonic youth type bass guitar.

The Retriggered to Tape section offers a selection of loops that were processed with tape. The 21 loops include lots of re-triggered piano and guitar sounds.

Just as you think you are getting a good sense of where this library is going we get another surprise. Synthi Hurtful Bass Loops is full of the type of sounds that will make some people question your sanity. You’ll have to reassure them your speakers aren’t broken, explain what idm is, that kind of thing. Samplephonics lists them as “gnarly twisted bass loops, recorded from a selection of analogue synth loops, bass guitars and upright basses”. Gnarly & twisted, check.

The last folder is titled Uncooperative Sequences and they kind of remain in the same area as the synthi bass loops. These sequences also sound quite raw and twisted. There’s a total of 48 melodic and percussive loops, which once again showcase a lovely sonic range and a wide variety of styles.

The sample pack also includes REX files for many of the loops (103 in total), and patches are available for easy auditioning in your favorite soft sampler.

In general the loops have quite a raw and honest vibe, played/composed with feeling and processed with care.

So what do I think?

Product: Analogue Witchcraft by Samplephonics
Format: 24bit, 44kHz/48kHz/96kHz Wav
Price: £34.70 GBP
Like: Unique sounds, inspiring
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

I would like to describe Analogue Witchcraft as musical, experimental, glitchy, raw & energetic, and most beautiful. These sounds conjure up a childlike enthusiasm in me. The library is like a playground with lots of fun toys scattered around for you to find, pick up, and make your own. My favorite sections are the guitar sounds and the drum loops.

The library is most suited to idm music producers and many sounds have a vibe that would work well for cinematic projects as well.

In short, Paul Rez created a truly remarkable collection of loops with a sound I haven’t really heard before. Recommended, check it out!

More information: Samplephonics / Analogue Witchcraft

Review: Tone2 Saurus virtual analog synthesizer plug-in

Related: , , , , , Posted in reviews on Aug 31, 2012 - comment 0 comments

In many ways there is a world of difference between hardware and software. Feel, size & weight, smell(?!), price… But as far as sound quality goes, virtual analog synthesizer plug-ins are increasingly becoming more like their hardware counterparts. I am not sure how developers got the sound of vintage synths in early emulations and “inspired by” synth plug-ins, but today it is all about modeling the originals down to the smallest parts.

Tone2

Hot on the heels of FXpansion and u-he comes Tone2 with its Saurus virtual analog circuit-modeled synthesizer.

We carefully measured and modeled the circuits of many classic performance synthesizers, even including single capacitors and resistors to provide an extremely accurate analog model, faithfully capturing the spirit and character of these old machines.

Saurus aims to deliver that analog flavor with its “True Analog Modeling Technology”, which according to Tone2 gives the oscillators the warm characteristic sound of analog hardware.

Tone2 Saurus
Saurus comes with a vintage look and a straightforward workflow.

The synth features two oscillators with 8 selectable waveforms each, including all the classic ones you would expect, plus some additional ones similar to Roland’s Alpha Juno (PWM Sawtooth & Comb) and an organ stack inspired by Farsivar analog organs. The PW control allows you to extend range of sounds even more by morphing osc waveforms into more shapes. Both oscillators are paired with sub oscillators, also with 8 selectable waveforms each.

Controls are available for mixing oscillators and subs, tone, frequency and amplitude modulation noise, ring modulation, sync of both oscs, tune & detune, a phase adjust, and of course drift to get some of that vintage unstable sound.

The filter section sports 6 filter types, including three Chamberlin modeled filters (12dB LP, HP, and BP), a 24dB LP Butterworth filter, a notch and a formant filter. The 12dB LP is said to have the character similar to Korg’s MS-20. I don’t know too much about filter topologies or how Chamberlin and Sallen-Key relate, but the filter sure does some nice screaming. Not quite as aggressive as its reference but it sounds great nonetheless, especially when dialing in some extra drive.

Saurus comes with 2 LFO’s, which only have 4 waveforms – I guess due to limited space on the interface – but you can select more waveforms from within the modulation matrix. The modulation system is kind of… vintage. No smart features here, just three pages of 5 modulation slots to assign sources and targets.

Saurus modulation matrix

Interestingly enough, there are some parameters in the mod matrix that you can’t access anywhere else, e.g. white and pink noise modulation sources. The mod matrix is also the only place where you can make use of the ADSR envelope of the AUX section.

To increase control over the modulation, Tone2 has also implemented some modifiers which basically sit in between the mod source and destination.

Switching the Mod Matrix screen to the first tab opens up the arpeggiator/gate, which also serves as a modulation source. The arpeggiator includes some interesting features like chord and release steps, step velocity and swing.

Unlike previous Tone2 synthesizers, the effect section is quite limited. The chorus, reverb, and delay units have just 3 knobs each, and a one-knob tube effect adds some analog tube warmth to your sound.

The general section has controls for note glide, voice mode, unison (2-4x) with spread, a “psycho-acoustic boost”, ADSR envelope and pan & volume.

Saurus presets categories

Saurus comes with no less than 563 presets by 20+ sound designers. The presets can be selected from the patch browser in the top left, where they are categorized by sound type.

Tone2 recently held a contest in which people were asked to create some tracks with a vintage character. Check out the winning entry below to get an idea of what Saurus can sound like.

Tone2 has posted a comprehensive introduction video for Saurus, so check it out below if you’d like some more details about this plugin.

So what do I think?

Product: Saurus by Tone2
Format: VST/AU plug-in
Price: 99 EUR / $119 USD
Like: Simple design, easy to program, versatile
Don’t like: Some features are mod matrix only
Verdict: 8/10

There has been a lot of talk about Saurus, especially on forums like KVR where everything gets compared to bits.

The obvious challenge for Tone2 was to take on u-he’s Diva, but to be honest, in terms of sound quality Diva is just miles ahead of the competition. And that’s alright, because both are actually quite different. Whereas Diva’s semi-modular design excels in sound quality, Saurus is more like a simple vintage synthesizer in a modern outfit. Easy to program, relatively easy on the CPU, and surprisingly versatile.

Tone2 – or its marketing copy – was perhaps focusing a little too much on trying to highlight Saurus’ “True Analog” features, while Saurus in fact is a great all-round synth. Sure it does some lovely Alpha Juno type detuned saw sounds, but I really enjoyed browsing its presets and finding way more variety than I would expect from the average virtual analog.

In short, Saurus is a capable synthesizer in the area of both analog and digital type sounds. It is easy and fun to work with, and it has a fair price tag. Check out the demo and see what you think.

More information: Tone2 / Saurus

Review: Wave Alchemy SFX Collection 02

Wave Alchemy SFX Collection 02

For SFX Collection 02, the guys of Wave Alchemy collaborated with producer Matt Lange of IsoRhythm, to deliver a library of sound effects for electronic music, cinematic scores, and game audio productions.

SFX Collection 02 delves deeply into new sonic territory by combining creative digital effects processing, granular re-synthesis and intricate automation with analogue synths, legendary effects devices and unique field recordings.

The library features a total of 826 samples (over 2GB in size), categorized in no less than eleven distinct types of fx sounds:

  • Cinematic Slams (68)
  • Cymbal FX (59)
  • Downshifters (55)
  • Impacts (55)
  • Noise Tools (83)
  • Risers & Falls (55)
  • Soundscape & Ambience (26)
  • Synth Impacts & Stabs (23)
  • Twisted Transition FX (91)
  • Uplifters (64)
  • Xtra – Analogue Synth FX (247)

The cinematic slams typically come with a bit of buildup in front of the slam, and a rather long reverberated tail behind it. Impressive, big sounding hits with a rather tense, disturbing undertone. Just what you would expect and hope to get.

The cymbal effects include both short (1 sec) and long (up to 35 sec) sounds. Includes your typical swoosh-type stuff as well as heavily processed samples. There is actually surprisingly much variety in sounds here.

Now, I have to admit I am not so well-versed in sound fx vocabulary, so I am not completely sure what exactly is the difference between downshifters and falls, and uplifters and risers. They all have this sense of something going up or coming down, with movement in pitch, lfo type effects, etc. Great for bridging different parts of your music/composition. Again, lots of unique, quality material here.

When it comes to the impact samples I can identify with some of the sounds and mentally place them in a familiar scene, while others are quite much out of this world. These are no simple run of the mill impact thuds.

For the noise tools section, Wave Alchemy used some vintage synths, analog effect units and experimental fx chains and re-synthesis to create noise-based effects, resulting in lots of sweep type sounds. These could also have gone in some of the other categories but I guess the sound sources and processing is what got them grouped in a bunch.

If I wasn’t already hugely impressed by the sound design on all these samples, the soundscape & ambient section shows a fantastic selection of inspiring, complex, yet usable sounds. Both cinematic and musical ndash; slightly creepy at times ndash; just amazing stuff really!

While reading, why don’t you have a listen to Wave Alchemy’s demos below for a quick impression.

The synth impacts & stabs section brings more impacts, but with a distinct synthesizer flavor this time. As such, these are generally more tonal than the previously mentioned cinematic impacts. They basically sound like a synth hit processed to bits.

This library just keeps blowing me away. The twisted transition fx are just stunning. These are heavily processed and truly creative transition sounds including morphing granular effects, transformed foley recordings, undulated Doppler FX, spectral trickery and all manner of other sonic destruction!. Yes, this is the icing on the cake. Crazy wild effects like you’ve never heard before.

The last folder in this library reads “xtra – analogue synth fx”. One might think these are just a few bonus sounds, but get this: no less than 247 extremely raw sounding audio effects which have been created using our extensive collection of high-end analogue studio equipment are included here!
These “dry” sounds include lots of similar sounds to the ones in other folders, but unprocessed. Very useful.

All of the samples in this library have descriptive titles, and 16 sampler patches are included for easy auditioning of the sounds.

So what do I think?

Product: SFX Collection 02 by Wave Alchemy
Format: 24bit Wav + Kontakt, EXS24, Halion & SFZ patches
Price: £44.95 GBP, individual sections are £7.95 GBP each
Like: Superb quality, fantastic sound design
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9.5/10

I don’t need to write a lot here. Simply said, SFX Collection 02 is a stunning sound effects library. It is impressive in every way, from sound design to sound quality. It has a huge sound, a perfect blend of cinematic & electronic, incredibly versatile and not limited to any kind of genre at all really. These sound effects are good to go.

I reckon is the one that has set the bar to a new level for this type of sound fx sample libraries.

Check it out at Wave Alchemy, and make sure to download the free demo pack with 60 sounds.

More information: Wave Alchemy / SFX Collection 02

Review: Bronto Scorpio Music Future Retro soundset for u-he Diva

Dennis Harms aka Bronto Scorpio has contributed many patches to various u-he plug-ins — including Zebra and Uhbik, and some of his sounds are also included in the third party patches that ship with Diva, the “Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analogue” synthesizer that takes virtual analog to a whole new level.

With Future Retro for Diva, Dennis releases his first commercial soundset.

Diva is famous for the ability to authentically recreate the great synthesizers of the past. However, I tried to go a different direction with this set. Many sounds are inspired by the past, and use Diva’s great sound design potential to go way beyond vintage sounds into the future!

Bronto Scorpio Future Retro
One of my favorite patches in the set, a wonderful lush pad called “Beautiful Colours”.

Future Retro includes 64 presets, categorized as follows:

  • 12 x Bass.
  • 9 x Drum.
  • 9 x FX.
  • 10 x Pad.
  • 6 x Sequence.
  • 18 x Synth.

Most sounds within the set are pretty unique with very little overlap. The patches are well designed and include controller mappings of modwheel, aftertouch, velocity etc. linked to things like filter and LFO parameters.

Some patches require quite a lot of horsepower, since they are designed to run on Diva’s “divine” quality mode. Alas, this is life with Diva at the moment. Quality comes at a price and I am more than happy to work in draft mode and render audio until I upgrade my computer in the next few years.

Check out the Future Retro demo clip by Dennis below to get an idea of the kind of sounds included in this set.

If you want to get hands on with these sounds, there’s a free demo bank with 10 presets available to download here.

So what do I think?

Product: Future Retro by Bronto Scropio
Format: .h2p patches for u-he Diva
Price: 10 EUR
Like: Quality sounds, musical, affordable
Don’t like: Perhaps a bit divergent for some
Verdict: 8/10

Diva already comes with a large number of impressive presets by seasoned sound designers. Nonetheless, Future Retro manages to bring a good collection of new sounds. Many of them don’t necessarily stand out all that much, but they do have a certain quality: musicality.

The soundset includes a wide variety of sounds, suitable for diverse electronic music styles — perhaps a result of Dennis’ personal taste in music. I can imagine some people might think the set as a whole is a bit confused, having modern sounding dubstep wobble basses and things like vintage pads and brass sounds in one and the same set, but to me everything seems to fit together quite nicely. The idea was to take vintage and bring that into the future and I think Dennis achieved his goal. Moreover, even if you only like half the sounds I reckon Future Retro is well worth the asking price. My favorite sounds are in the pads sections. The sound of “Beautiful Colours” just captivates me.

Check it out (and if nothing else get the free patches) at the Bronto Scorpio website. And if this is the first time you’ve heard of Diva make sure to visit u-he for some more detailed information about this amazing synth.

More information: Bronto Scorpio Music

Review: Rado Records Epic Battle – Cinematic percussion sample library

Rado Records Epic Battle

Nick Moritz of Rado Records has just released his first commercial sample library: Epic Battle.

Epic Battle is a compact cinematic percussion sound library which is intended to add an epic spirit to any composition. This library will save you from long searches of the right samples and boring processing them or from buying expensive libraries just for several samples.

Moreover the library shows that the creation of the massive epic sound like legendary Japanese Taiko can be achieved by simple tom drum or even sound of plastic bottle. And this idea is in the concept of Epic Battle library.

The sample pack comes with a total of 250 samples:

  • 100 tom loops.
  • 100 bottle loops.
  • 50 one-shot samples (25 toms, 25 bottle sounds).

The samples come in 24bit/48kHz Wav and REX2 formats, with tempos from 100bpm to 180bpm. The sounds of Epic Battle are processed to get that big cinematic sound. A demo project file is included for users of Cockos Reaper.

Check the audio demo below to hear Epic Battle in action (all percussion is Epic Battle).

So what do I think?

Product: Epic Battle by Rado Records
Format: 24-bit/48kHz .wav & REX2
Price: 12 EUR
Like: epic, authentic percussion, dirt cheap
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

I love the cover graphic for this sample pack. How clever! But, can you really get big cinematic percussion sounds from a bottle? Well yes, Nick shows that with the right type of processing you can indeed get some impressive results.

The loops in this pack sound stunning, especially considering the sound sources. The rhythms are great, authentic sounding, cinematic, and they have plenty of variety. You can also make your own rhythms by slicing and combining parts from different loops and single shot sounds. The REX format works very well across a wide tempo range.

Epic Battle is a relatively small library, yet it packs a lovely punch. At just 12 Euros it is also nicely priced, and unless you already have some more comprehensive quality cinematic percussion libraries you should probably pick this one up before Nick changes his mind and ups the price. Incredible value for money.

More information: Rado Records / Epic Battle