Soniccouture – Electro Acoustic
The title of this Kontakt library is slightly misleading as you could easily believe it to be guitar based, it is however a highly detailed sample library containing 15 classic drum machines.
There are certainly no shortages of drum libraries and in particular kits featuring classic 80’s groove boxes such as the Roland TR808 and TR909, so what makes this one any different?
Well for starters being an NKS library means it has parameters that we can finally get to, other offerings may well have similar features but until now they have been tantalisingly out of reach, so to finally have access to a product that gives us unprecedented knob tweaking is very welcome!
You can check out the full list of kits included on the Soniccouture website, however suffice to say that the important ones are there like the aforementioned 808, 909 as well as CR78 TR606, the Linn Drum and one or two more obscure offerings.
So how do we interact with this library?
The browser section is all standard fare product name, bank, type, sub type and preset, but of course the fun starts when you hit that edit button and the dial twiddling starts!
the first couple of pages deal with levels and mute knobs per drum instrument within a kit, all fine but I think rather than mute I would have liked to see a pan knob, in fact depending how you intend to use Electro Acoustic the mute knobs may well be redundent before you even start.
This is because Electro Acoustic has built in rhythm sections that can be triggered to play in sync with the tempo of your DAW, but on first glance there only seems to be one pattern per kit, this is because patterns are further expanded by key mapped knobs on subsequent pages which allow the user to time shift, repeat, drift and generally mess around with the basic pattern until quite complex poly rhythms are achieved, this may or may not be your kind of thing, and for my particular use I felt that too many edit pages are dedicated to rrhythm tweaking than sound design. That said I guess we always have to bear in mind that these edit functions are designed princibly with sighted users in mind and any accessability is more by happenstance than design.
Passing these rhythm editing pages, we get to the interesting stuff, Electro Acoustic has been sampled in great detail, not only were the dry kits recorded, they were also pushed through a variety of interesting outboard gear so we end up with several layers of interesting sounds with which tocustomise our basic kits.
There are varieous P.A. recordings, rooms with more or less reverb, kit rattles where a bunch of real toms were stacked and the resulting rattle from their shells and skins were recorded when blasted with the individual drums output from a P.A. at high volume – this sounds great when applied to the kick drum of a TR808!
The pitch, attack, hold (a kind of mix of sustain and release) and decay are all adjustable per kit instrument, or for the whole kit overall. There is also low and high frequency cut-off which again works individually or globally.
I’ve been looking for a sample library to replace my original hardware TR909 for a while now, I’ve been unable to do this largely due to inaccessability so this has probably fulfilled 90% of that desire, the level of detail in the sampling is excellent they apparently sampled every knotch of each parameter on the original hardware and this together with the post production would have taken a huge amount of time and editing to compile into the library we have here.
I’m very grateful for the additional page of parameters that address the pitch and ADSR functions, without these it would have been a non-starter for me, and we have a certain Tim Burgess to thank for his initial correspondence with the Soniccouture developers for this. They are in fact very amiable and seem happy where possible to go that extra mile to help us out, even it would seem on a personal basis.
I will be suggesting that they add instrument panning to a future update, I’m sure this is all there on the GUI but of course we can’t get to that.
The rhythm functionality whilst a clever idea, in practice at this stage is of little interest to me but others may consider it a bonus.
The kit instrument placing on the keyboard seems a little odd to me, rather than following GM convention they seem to have adopted their own variation, for example I would have hoped to find handclap on D sharp instead it’s up at F sharp on the next octave, which of course means if you intend to drop a midi drum pattern in your DAW you might get some interesting results!, these mappings are editable but of course it’s done via the GUI.
With that said, I’m very happy with the sound design elements and overall quality of the sounds, so I give it a thumbs up!
(c) Chris Ankin
The author accepts no responsability for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article.Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soly on information perceived whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review writer with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.