Soniccouture releases Ondes for Kontakt Player

Soniccouture Ondes

Soniccouture has announced the release of Ondes, a virtual Ondes Martenot for Native Instruments Kontakt.

Recorded with world-famous Ondist Thomas Bloch, the instrument features extensive sampling of the Ondes oscillators, convolution emulation of each of the 3 loudspeakers, and the ability to setup real-time control for all types of MIDI controller.

Also included is the PolyOndes, a polyphonic synth based on the Ondes oscillators and speakers.

Ondes features

  • 1.5 GB core sample library – one oscillator sample per note, 505 samples total.
  • Oscillator samples – 24 Bit 48 Khz mono .
  • 19 Speaker Impulse Responses – 24bit 48 Khz Stereo, 3 mic positions for each speaker.
  • Ondes Martentot + PolyOndes instrument.
  • Over 100 presets.
  • Full custom control interface.
  • Soniccouture KSP performance setup matrix.
  • Demo MIDI files included.
  • Kontakt Player Compatible ( V 4.2 required).

Ondes for Kontakt Player is available to purchase on DVD and as a download, priced 89 EUR / $129 USD.

Until Midnight G.M.T., 5th April 2011 customers can get 15% off the full price of Ondes – just enter the following code at the checkout; 0RAP1CJ30E

More information: Soniccouture / Ondes


Soniccouture Ondes, sneak preview of sampled ondes Martenot for Kontakt

Soniccouture has announced the Ondes, its next sample library featuring the sounds of the ondes Martenot, recorded with multi-instrumentalist Thomas Bloch.

The original instrument can be played in a number of ways, including au ruban, a technique where a metal ring worn on the right-hand index finger slides in front of the keyboard. This allows for Theremin-like sweeping glissandi.

Ondes Martenot
The ondes Martenot used for Soniccouture’s sample library

James at Soniccouture explains:

ondes Martenot with the keyboard opened

“For the Ondes instrument We’ve come up with various real-time control options that can be setup according to taste, playing ability and available equipment.

But, yes – of course we have to assume that most users will only have a keyboard available. Any sampled recreation of an Ondes Martenot will be a compromise, even if you do happen to have a ring controller or even a doepfer ribbon controller.

We have also tested it using an inexpensive Korg Nanopad which has an X-Y control pad on it – this gives good results. We’d recommend any kind of MIDI ribbon or pad controller for adding expression, but it’s certainly not essential.

Thomas Bloch

In fact, we were surprised to see Thomas Bloch playing a lot of passages on the Ondes Martenot without using the Ring control at all, just using the keyboard in a conventional way. I think many people don’t realise that the ring control is just one part of what is an incredibly versatile instrument ( I certainly didn’t). Another important part is the way vibrato is controlled from the keyboard – the entire keyboard is mounted on rails in such a way that you can ‘wobble’ it left and right to create vibrato with your finger as you play.

Recording the ondes Martenot speaker units

Another big part of the authentic O.M. sound comes from the 3 speaker units that come with the instrument. We have extensively sampled Impulse responses from these, so that the user can use one or all of the speakers separately or at once, from different mic distances etc. Personally i love this function, it makes it possible to add so much character just by mixing the outputs of different speakers.

Because of the character of the speakers and of the individual oscillators, we decided to take the kontakt instrument further, and we have built a separate, complimentary instrument called the ‘Poly-Ondes’. This is great for pad sounds, blending the 7 different osc sounds through the 3 speakers sounds really unique.”

Soniccouture Ondes for Kontakt
Soniccouture Ondes for Kontakt

You can listen a few sound clips from the Soniccouture Ondes below.

According to Soniccouture the Ondes should be available soon, so keep your eyes out for this unique library.

More information: Soniccouture


Soniccouture Skiddaw Stones updated to v1.1 + new Ondes library coming soon

Soniccouture The Skiddaw Stones

Soniccouture has released version 1.1 of the Skiddaw Stones, a Kontakt sample library featuring a lithophone composed of 61 tuned and shaped rocks, made from the rare hornfels stone, found in Cumbria, England.

We’ve given Skiddaw Stones a cosmetic facelift, and more importantly, we’ve added 30 new sound design Presets that explore the sonic limits of what you can do with a ton and a half of rare rock.

Added to that is a new effects page, featuring the full Soniccouture IR Reverb collection, which really sets the stones off beautifully.

The Skiddaw Stones is now available at 30% off the regular price of 59 EUR (excl. VAT) by using coupon code Y7FIMHS8D2 at checkout. The update is free for registered users.

Soniccouture has also announced a new library: Soniccouture Ondes.

A sneak preview of our next release ; it hasn’t been easy, but we’ve had so many requests for this instrument over the years.
We recorded it with Thomas Bloch, the master of such things, in December last year. It’s sounding very good, with a completely unique character.

Soniccouture Ondes Martinot
Soniccouture Ondes Martinot

Here’s some audio to whet your appetites: Ondes Cello on Soundcloud

More information: Soniccouture


Review: Soniccouture Glass Works

Sample libraries have become quite a commonplace. Every other day you see new titles popping up in various genres and formats, many of which seem to be almost copies of one another. If you are looking for drum machine sounds or Fidget House loops there certainly is plenty out there to satisfy your every need.

But what if you want something else… a unique sound, a unique instrument?

Soniccouture Glass Works

Fortunately there are still some companies offering fresh sample and instrument libraries you are not likely to find anywhere else. Les Productions Zvon, Cinematique Instruments, Tonehammer, and Soniccouture are some that come to mind.

With their latest release Glass Works, Dan and James of Soniccouture have delivered yet another stunning example of the beautiful, rare and unusual instruments that are less commonly sampled.

The Glass Works library includes three glass instruments: Le Cristal, The Glass Armonica, and Cloud Chamber Bowls.

For the first two of these instruments Soniccouture went to Paris to meet with Thomas Bloch, a musician and performer of rare instruments whose notable collaborations include Radiohead, John Cage, Tom Waits, and Daft Punk. The Cloud Chamber Bowls, an instrument by maverick American composer Harry Partch, was so hard to find that Soniccouture had to recreate it.

Le Cristal – designed by Bernard and François Baschet in 1952

Soniccouture Glass Works - Le Cristal

Upon first sight Le Cristal (or Cristal Baschet) doesn’t really look very “glass”. It has a huge alien face shaped plate called the “flame”, and a large part of the construction is made of metal.

On closer inspection (click the image to the side) you’ll notice a number of glass rods, which produce sound when rubbed with a wet finger.

The vibration of the glass is passed to a heavy block of metal, which itself is tuned and in fact determines the final pitch. The entire mechanism is amplified by a large steel plate called the “flame”. There are also three small fiberglass cones that amplify the higher frequencies.

Just over 4 octaves of notes were sampled with various articulations:

  • Piano and Forte: soft and loud sustained playing.
  • Marcato: A sudden accent.
  • Percussion: 2 different mallet strokes and 1 special effect set.

The samples are mapped across 11 Kontakt instruments. All articulations – triggered by keyswitches – are available in the Complete instrument patches. Modwheel or velocity can be used for crossfading between soft and loud samples. The articulations are also available as separate instruments so you can save on memory usage and process each articulation differently if you like.

Soniccouture Glass Works - Le Cristal in Kontakt
Le Cristal instrument in Kontakt

The Kontakt interface features a number of controls to further shape the sound of the Cristal Baschet. You get lowpass and highpass filters, attack and release, delay send, and some controls for the flame. Soniccouture sampled some impulse responses from the flame on the Cristal for use in Kontakt’s convolution processor. Sweet!

A second page on the Kontakt interface lets you assign all of the knobs on the front panel to MIDI CC so you can modify parameters in real-time with a hardware controller.

Glass Armonica – invented by Benjamin Franklin

The armonica is an instrument that also generates sound by rubbing a wet finger on glass, this time a series of glass bowls in various sizes.

Soniccouture Glass Works - Glass Armonica
Glass Armonica (with limescale build-up caused by water)

The Glass Armonica recorded by Soniccouture is a recreation of the original Ben Franklin instrument built by master glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner. This particular model has 37 nested bowls that range from F3 to F6. Note: the Kontakt instrument is mapped an octave lower for convenience.

Each note of the Glass Armonica was sampled three times at two different dynamics, soft and loud. The Kontakt instrument panels feature the same controls as the Cristal Baschet, except there is no flame. Instead you get some other convolution reverbs and there’s a Keyoff control which lets you modify the level of the sound produced when releasing a note.

Besides two regular Glass Armonica instruments (with Modwheel and velocity crossfade control) there’s also a Doubled Synth instrument.

Soniccouture Glass Works - Glass Armonica Doubled Synth in Kontakt
Glass Armonica Doubled Synth

This instrument is more appropriate if you want to use the Glass Armonica as a synth pad or something less natural. We provide a lot more front panel control, as well as Filter Envelope (FEG) and Delay.
Also, in this version, instead of using a Round Robin sample alternation we layer two different Glass Armonica sample sets together, which can be detuned using the Detune knob in the middle (this also defaults to the Mod Wheel in this instrument).

Cloud Chamber Bowls – an instrument built in the 1960s by Harry Partch

Soniccouture Glass Works - Cloud Chamber Bowls

This instrument consists of 14 bowls — sections (tops and bottoms) of 12-gallon glass carboys — hanging in a wooden frame. Soniccouture created its very own Cloud Chamber Bowls instrument, having all the glass and wood parts made from scratch.

The name “Cloud Chamber Bowls” arose from the fact that Partch found the original tops and bottoms at a Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley in 1950. The bowls were originally used for cloud chambers used in tracing paths of subatomic particles. The original pitches of the bowls are basically random, as were Partch’s (“It has been impossible for me to tune the bowls – I must accept what I get.”). The varying thickness of the carboys and unpredictable overtone structure make it pretty much impossible to cut a carboy to an exact pitch.

Soniccouture’s Cloud Chamber Bowls features an instrument with original pitches (random like Partch’s instrument) and a chromatically tuned version. The instruments feature the sounds of all 14 bowls
played with soft mallets and 13 bowls hit with hard mallets (unfortunately one bowl broke).

Soniccouture Glass Works - Cloud Chamber Bowls
Cloud Chamber Bowls – 10 velocity levels and 3 round-robins for each bowl

The instruments have some of the same controls we’ve seen on the other Glass Works instruments. Additionally there is also a Jammer panel available (see image above).

This lovely KSP script is also available in a number of previously released products like the Pan Drum and the Skiddaw Stones so might already know what it does.

The Jammer is a kind of random arpeggiator that chooses from the notes you play into it at random. Hold a chord down on your keyboard, and Jammer will randomly play notes from that chord.

A third panel allows for setting MIDI CC for the various parameters so you can use your hardware controller to modify parameters in real-time.

So what do I think?

Product: Glass Works by Soniccouture
Format: Kontakt Player Instrument (PC/MAC) – VST/AU/RTAS/Standalone
Price: 99 EUR
(Bundle with The Skiddaw Stones for 139 EUR)

Glass Works won’t have the same wide appeal as the drum machine sounds or Fidget House loops I mentioned earlier, yet Glass Works is truly a stunning collection of instruments. The sampling is done to Soniccouture’s usual high quality standard and they have managed to really capture the beautiful sounds of these rare instruments.

The Kontakt instruments are very well done (plenty of velocity layers and round-robin) and include lots of useful controls to further shape the sounds. The Cristal Baschet is probably my favorite instrument, although I am also really liking the sounds of the Glass Armonica Doubled Synth.

Glass Works will no doubt find its place in many cinematic and experimental works.

The Soniccouture website has a video of Thomas Bloch doing an improvised perfomance on Le Cristal so head on over there to check it out.

More information: Soniccouture / Glass Works


Soniccouture releases Glass Works

Soniccouture Glass Works

Soniccouture has released Glass Works, a Kontakt player instrument which collects together 3 extremely unusual and rare musical instruments which use glass to generate sound: Le Cristal, The Glass Armonica, and a set of Cloud Chamber Bowls.

Just locating these instruments was a challenge in itself – the third in the collection, Cloud Chamber Bowls, proved so elusive that after a lot of research and enquiries, we realised that if we wanted to sample some, we would have to build a set ourselves. The first two instruments – both as strange and beautiful as each other – required us to make a trip to Paris.

When beginning to research the Glass / Works instruments, we found that one name was ubiquitous; that of Thomas Bloch. A classical musician specialising in rare instruments, Thomas is a virtuoso who has worked with many famous names – Radiohead, Gorrilaz, John Cage, Tom Waits, and Milos Foreman to name very few. He is best known for 3 instruments – Ondes Martenot, the Cristal Baschet and the Glass Armonica. We contacted Thomas, and to our delight, he agreed to work with us. We travelled to Paris, and down a quiet street in the freezing January weather, we found Thomas Bloch. Working in his garden studio, we spent the next few days exploring the amazing range of sounds stored within. Soniccouture would like to thank Thomas once again for his hospitality in Paris.

Glass Works features

Soniccouture Glass Works - The Cristal
  • Le Cristal — The Cristal Baschet or ‘Le Cristal’ was designed in 1952 by Bernard and François Baschet. It consists of about 4 octaves of chromatically tuned glass rods, which are rubbed with wet fingers. The vibration of the glass is passed to a heavy block of metal, which itself is tuned and in fact determines the final pitch. The entire mechanism is amplified by a large steel plate called the “flame”. There are also three small fiberglass cones that amplify the higher frequencies.
    • 2.5 GB library
    • 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo sampling
    • Convolution ‘Flame’ Processor : 4 IRs from the steel flame panel
    • 6 different articulations : sustain: soft & hard, Accent, percussion: hard & soft mallet, SFX
    • 3 Alternate round robin layers per articulation
    • 11 Kontakt Player Instruments
Soniccouture Glass Works - Glass Armonica
  • Glass Armonica — The glass armonica, also known as the glass harmonica, bowl organ, hydrocrystalophone, or simply the armonica (derived from “harmonia”, the Greek word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction – rubbing a wet finger along the edge of the glass, as one might with a wine glass. The instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin, who called his invention the “armonica” after the Italian word for harmony. On Franklin’s treadle operated version 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The modern version uses a silent electric motor. Over time limescale build-up gives the instrument a frosted appearance, like a rare crystal or stalactite.
    • 800 MB library
    • 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo Sampling
    • 3 Alternate Round Robin layers
    • Hard & Soft articulation crossfade
    • Natural + Synth Kontakt Player instruments
Soniccouture Glass Works - Cloud Chamber Bowls
  • Cloud Chamber Bowls — The Cloud Chamber Bowls are Soniccoutures recreation of an instrument built in the 1950s by maverick American composer Harry Partch. It consists of hanging “bowls” which are sections of 12-gallon glass carboys. Both tops and bottoms of the carboys are used. Partch had 14 (later 13) bowls hanging from a large wooden frame he called a “tori”. The name “Cloud Chamber Bowls” arose from the fact that Partch found the original tops and bottoms at a Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley in 1950. The bowls were originally used for cloud chambers used in tracing paths of subatomic particles.
    • 1.38 GB Library
    • 24 bit 44.1khz Stereo sampling
    • Hard and soft mallet articulations
    • 10 Velocity Layers
    • 3 Alternate round robin layers
    • Original & Chromatic pitch mapped instruments (chromatic mapping extends C1 to C5)
    • KSP Jammer – generative arpeggiator tool

Glass Works is available for purchase as a download or on disc for 99 EUR. A bundle with the Skiddaw Stones is available for 139 EUR.

More information: Soniccouture / Glass Works


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