SonoKinetic – Bells Collection
From the tinkle of a sleigh bell to the clang of a clock tower, this collection is very a’peeling, and also plays host to some unique dedicated accessibility features!
SonoKinetic are continuing to release some fantastic sounding libraries, and if you have followed the KK-Access.com reviews over the past year both Noir and Largo have received praise from me not only for their high sample and sound quality, but also for their innovations in accessibility, which SonoKinetic endeavour to support where possible.
Bells without the Whistles…
The subject of this review is the Bells Collection, which employs their own bespoke AMS recording technique, and also once again takes the possibilities of NKS accessibility a stage further.
The Bells Collection runs in Kontakt 5.8 and above as well as Kontakt Player and consists of four separate libraries, Bowls, Carillon, Chime and Sleighbells II, which when installed occupy 2.07, 7.19, 2.26 and 1.16 Gigabytes respectively, or 13.9Gb as a collective.
Each product has been sampled at 44.1 kHz, 24 Bit NCW format, and has only one single Kontakt NKI file, but the various articulations and modes can be accessed via extensive keyswitches and NKS parameter mapping.
Download is via SonoKinetic’s own reasonably accessible management software, which shows all the libraries you own and have in your account,and also allows you to keep them updated.
The AMS Recording Technique…
SonoKinetic have created their own recording technique they call their ‘Aligned Microphone Set-up’ or AMS in short. The recording space has low ground, wall and ceiling reflections and makes use of cardioid, condenser and ribbon microphones as well as a centrally placed binaural head, the latter aimed at assisting those mixing in surround sound or simulated immersive audio for film or game design.
The microphone mix section of the user interface has then been designed to recreate the Close, Decca, Wide, Balcony and Mixed positions found in the live orchestral recordings of previous SonoKinetic libraries to facilitate more accurate integration, by including impulse responses captured from the Zlin Concert Hall.
The browse section for each instrument in the Bells Collection is sparse, simply because it need not be anything other than, from selecting Vendor and Product, other choices are Type which is invariably ‘percussive’ and mode which offers ‘sample based’ and ‘tempo synced’, but as all roads lead to the option of the single preset any choice is really irrelevant.
NKS Plug-in Editing…
Page One – Microphone Settings & Reverb
Knob 1 – Mic Position: Stereo Ribbon, Stereo Dynamic, Stereo Small, Stereo Large, Large Cardioid, Omniphonic Mono, Binaural Head
Knob 2 – Volume
Knob 3 – Pan
Knob 4 – Width
Knob 5 – Reverb Amount
Knob 6 – Type: Close, Decca, Wide, Balcony, Tutti Mix,
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Two – Sequence Page One
Knob 1 to 8 – Step 1 to 8
Page Three – Sequence Page Two
Knob 1 to 8 – Step 9 to 16
The observant among you might have noticed that Knob 1 (Mic Position) and Knob 6 (Reverb Type) each have several defined settings assigned to just one control, not that unusual you might think, however with no audible labelling other than a single knob descriptor possible on the edit side of the NKS browser, how would we know we are selecting a particular type of microphone or reverb?
The answer is simple, although I suspect not in scripting terms, but SonoKinetic have extended the audio phrase selection found in both their Noir and Largo libraries to now feature speech tagging in a very conscious effort to address the requirements of blind and visually impaired customers.
Each of the settings has an associated voice sample tagged to each option, allowing us to know precisely which option we are choosing, this now means we are able to mix, match and create our own blend of each available microphone type, volume, pan, width and reverb all from a single Komplete Kontrol page, the potential of which should not be underestimated.
Some of the Bells Collection articulations across all four libraries include tempo synced loop sequences. Pages two and three of the NKS mapping are dedicated to offering us the ability to select the notes present in the loop. Whilst these are not audibly note tagged, most of us will possess enough ability to tune each of the 16 steps to our liking, and again this is a much appreciated nod toward accessibility as most built in library sequencers are completely visual and mouse click driven and hence out of our reach.
Keyswitching & Articulations…
Some quite extensive use of keyswitching has been employed in the scripting of the Bells Collection, indeed without this the great effort put into the audio driven accessibility would have somewhat gone to waste, so this additional level of functionality means we are able to get to the many play and feature variations the instruments include.
Through keyswitching we are able to access sequenced, clusters, singles, tail length, play mode / sound quality and mallet types.
Without wishing to replicate the manual here, the keyswitching structure has groups assigned to designated white keys, whilst selected black keys act as a means of choosing sub categories and articulations.
There are a couple of operational differances in for example the Sleigh Bells II library, which offer minor variations, but this logical functionality extends across all four of the included libraries, so our brains will not have to cope with too much of a learning curve, which is important as the Bells Collection is intended to be a fun and enjoyable product to use.
Once again I have to take my hat off in appreciation to SonoKinetic as they are clearly doing their level best to make their products as inclusive as possible.
The addition of audible speech tagging for parameters on the edit side of their libraries is wholly unique, and in terms of ongoing Komplete Kontrol development has great potential in addressing some of the accessibility criticisms some users have of the NKS system due to lack of speech on the plug-in edit side.
Having played with the library over the holiday period, I can say that the sample quality of each of the four libraries is superb. SonoKinetic’s AMS microphone array technique has managed to capture beautifully the many harmonics and nuances found in each bell type, from the purist tones of the bowls, the delicate sparkles of the antique chimes to the literal half ton weight of the Carillon bells, and festive tinkle of the Sleigh Bells, if you are looking for chimes & bells then look no further particularly with the enhanced microphone and play features.
Please be sure to checkout the links below to hear how the library sounds for yourself, but suffice to say, at risk of concluding on a final cheesy comment, I’ll chime in to say that SonoKinetic are certainly ringing in the changes with the features of this library!
The Bells Collection is available as a download product from SonoKinetic at the time of publication (01/04/19) for the price of 90.63 euros including VAT.
SonoKinetic Bells Collection Product Page:
Bells Collection – Bowls Walkthrough
Bells Collection – Carillon
Bells Collection – Chime
Bells Collection – Sleigh Bells II
AMS – Aligned Microphone Set-up Tutorial
Product Manual PDF Link:
(c) Chris Ankin
January 4, 2019
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of reading this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soly on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product in combination with information gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.