Opacity by Audio Modern
audio Modern are a Bulgarian based library developer who are rapidly establishing themselves in the sample library market, with popular and affordable products such as the Sync series of percussive hybrid and ambient drum loops, hybrid construction instruments like Paths 1& 2, and also Atom which was recently updated to version 2 with NKS support added.
It’s great news for us of course that Audio Modern are choosing to adopt the NKS format, as it means that some of their supported products are now usable with parameter mapping inside Komplete Kontrol, and we are no longer just restricted to simplistic ‘preset only’ loading within Kontakt with no access to important library features.
The most recent brand new release, Opacity, is NKS ready right out of the box, and although some might have a strange aversion to phrase based libraries (which Opacity most definitely is), they do arguably have a legitimate creative potential, and can also save composers a heap of time when confronted with those sometimes inevitably unavoidable production deadlines.
Opacity in the Spotlight…
Opacity is a modern ambient and cinematic style guitar phrase library consisting of no less than 14 separate recording sessions (with three further variations), which offer a range of atmospheres in shades of light and dark. They can be used either blatantly as a whole to construct a track, or simply as an assistive tool in part as a backwash or underscore for your own composition, within a whole host of projects. They will work well in film documentary, media links, game music or modern ambient tracks to mention just a few.
The well crafted musical content found within Opacity was created and performed by the USA based duo Terre Grande, who have an excellent album that’s worth checking out called ‘Cinema’, which epitomises their sound and style.
On the topic of that guitar playing style, it is not unlike Heavyocity’s Scoring Guitars, which at risk of a comparison, do themselves borrow from a popular tv and cinematic strain, and this is very much intended as a compliment.
Opacity will occupy a modest 3.69Gb of hard disk space, this is in compressed NCW format down from an original 5.60Gb.
It runs in both the full Kontakt 5.7 or above, or free Kontakt player, which is good news for Komplete Start or Select owners who do not yet have a full version of Kontakt. Being a Kontakt player library and officially NKS ready of corse means it will also show up and run within Komplete Kontrol on the factory side of any model of KK keyboard.
There is one single master .NKI file, and a total of 17 .NKSN snapshots, which are the presets that will appear within Komplete Kontrol for you to select from.
Installation was a simple process of downloading the archive files from your Audio Modern account, unzipping the files to a single product folder, and then authorising it via Native Access using the serial number provided.
NKS Mapping for Browser and Plug-in Edit Sections
Opacity probably wins the award for the least populated browser section, in it’s nature all roads ultimately lead to choosing which of the 17 Session presets you wish to use, but in the interest of review consistency I will nevertheless list them here.
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor and Product name
Knob 3 & 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type, Guitar
Knob 6 – Sub Types, Electric
Knob 7 – Character, Clean, Distorted, Sequence/Looped, Tempo Synced
Knob 8 – Presets x 18
Plug-in Section Edit Parameter Mapping
Page One – Layer 1 to 4
Knob 1 – Volume Layer 1
Knob 2 – Hold Layer 1
Knob 3 to 8 – Repeated as above
Page Two – Pitch Layer 1
Knob 2 – Quantize Layer 1
Knobs 3 to 8 – Repeated as above
Page Three – Attack Layer 1
Knob 2 – Release Layer 1
Knobs 3 to 8 – Repeated as above
Page Four – space (Reverb)
Knob 1 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Impulse Response Selector
Knob 3 – Size
Knob 4 – Dry
Knob 5 – Reverb Wet
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
Page Five – Delay
Knob 1 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Time
Knob 3 – Delay Feedback
Knob 4 – Delay Pan
Knob 5 – Delay Wet
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
Page Six – Crush & Drive
Knob 1 – Crush On/Off
Knob 2 – Crush Glitch
Knob 3 – Crush Noise
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Drive On/Off
Knob 6 – Distortion
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Seven – Chorus
Knob 1 – Chorus On/Off
Knob 2 – Depth
Knob 3 – speed
Knob 4 – Phase
Knob 5 – Wet
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
Page Eight – Stutter, Filter & Stereo
Knob 1 – Stutter On/Off
Knob 2 – Gate
Knob 3- Rate
Knob 4 – Amount
Knob 5 – Filter Cut-off
Knob 6 – Filter Resonance
Knob 7 – Unallocated
Knob 8 – Stereo Pan
Page Nine – Cabinet & Rotater
Knob 1 – Cabinet On/Off
Knob 2 – Cabinet Types
Knob 3 – Size
Knob 4 – Air
Knob 5 – Rotater On/Off
Knob 6 – Balance
Knob 7 – Distance
Knob 8 – Wet
Page Ten – Compressor & Master
Knob 1 – Compressor On/Off
Knob 2 – Threshold
Knob 3 – Ratio
Knob 4 – Attack
Knob 5 – Release
Knob 6 – Output
Knob 7 – Volume
Knob 8 – Pan
I am pleased to say that there are little or no real restrictions to impair the use of Opacity for blind and visually impaired users. The loops from each session are laid out in four groups of 12 sounds spanning over the four octaves, making it very easy to pick, mix and match from the four available categories, these being chords, Phrases, sequences and Swells.
Opacity will of course as I mentioned earlier, work on any flavour of Komplete Kontrol keyboard, but to have constant access to all of the sounds a 49 key model is preferential, there will otherwise be some octave button bashing involved in order to gain access to the entire sound palette.
The one thing we are unable to do, due to Komplete Kontrol hardware limitations, is to pick loops and sounds from different sessions in order to construct our own custom set, however in practice this proved a minor obstacle, as loading another instance of Opacity with the alternate session you wish to use, was a sensible and easy workaround solution.
The only real omission I could find from the current NKS mapping, was a sample offset control, this is present in the visual GUI, however we do have attack and release options.
Opacity In Use…
Given that there are a total of 17 sessions, each containing 48 loops, this means we have over 800 Chords, Phrases, Sequences and Swells at our disposal to work with. Each session is labelled such that it includes it’s originally recorded BPM, together with it’s musical key for ease of use and selection.
The loops are tempo synced to the host DAW, but original recordings range from a chilled out 74bpm to a pacier 140bpm. It’s fair to say that most of the sessions work equally well at a more relaxed tempo, but perhaps less so if you are trying to wind up the beat, the overall vibe of the library is relaxed and moody, rather than rocky or aggressive, but you can certainly tip it that way using FX as an alternative to fast tempos.
The musical keys which Opacity has been recorded in has a reasonable range,
F sharp minor
G sharp minor,
are all represented and as you can see the leaning is more toward the minor keys. Additionally each section can be transposed up or down plus or minus 12 semitones, meaning that with care an alternative key could be possible, but perhaps less convincingly if you were over zealous with the tune control. This tuning is done via a dedicated control on the keyboard, but as it is on the plug-in edit side, NKS speech offers no audible feedback for the pitch change, fine if you have perfect pitch, but mere mortals might have to do some cross checking to ensure they have the correct key. Perhaps an alternative option would have been to assign 12 keyswitches to notes, which we have seen in some Heavyocity libraries, and this would certainly have been convenient for both blind and sighted users alike.
Looping the Loop…
I have thus far referred throughout to the Opacity sounds as being loops, which of course they can be, however the hold parameter when turned off, means the phrase will play only once without again pressing the key which is a handy feature to have in certain circumstances.
There is also a Quantize control, which will trigger the sample start point to play to the nearest quarter note when pressed, although I must confess this baffled me somewhat as using the quantization within your DAW I propose would offer the same result?
Using Opacity’s Built in FX…
Opacity has no less than seven pages dedicated to the FX included within it’s engine. It is possible to add and alter FX on a per group basis via four keyswitches for each of the four sound type sections, Chord, Phrase, Sequence and Swells, and these are located on keys C0, C0#, D0 and D0#. This allows for a useful additional level of sound manipulation by having a bespoke FX chain for each group if desired.
It’s worth keeping in mind however, that all of the sample content within Opacity has some degree of reverb and delay baked into the samples which was added at the recording and mastering stage. Whilst these pre-existing treatments are tastefully done and completely in keeping with the overall vibe of the library, overdoing the option of your own extra effect washes on top of this can make the tonality somewhat muddy without due care and diligence, but is nevertheless a welcome feature to have.
It would have been great to have completely dry versions of each session alongside the current presets, other than swelling the data footprint of the library it would not have cost anymore, and would have offered the greater flexibility of adding your own choice of reverb to tailor the mix more definitively to your project, and I can only speculate that dry masters were not available.
The Reverb (or space as it is labelled), Delay, Chorus and Compressor are all bread and butter FX, however the Bitcrusher, Drive, Stutter, Filter, Cabinet and Rotator are all great bonuses to have access to, and thoughtfully each complete section can also be panned within the stereo field to give some welcome breathing space to what otherwise could have easily become a beautifully melodic yet cacophonic wall of guitar sounds.
Thoughts & Conclusions…
I found that working with Opacity was an easy and pleasurable process, there were no glitches or pitfalls that restricted what I could do, I was able to put together a short demo track in no time at all, merely adding a couple of Battery kits to define the ambience. There was little to no real learning curve involved, in fact at the time of writing the pdf manual needed to be re-saved to a more screenreader friendly format which is now being done at my request, however the manual was not really needed other than to clarify a couple of points.
There is no doubt about the rich lushness and beauty of the guitar tones and washes found within Opacity.
As with any phrase library there is always a danger that you will eventually hit a creative wall in terms of what you are personally able to squeeze out of it’s content, However with over 800 individual sounds to mix, match and construct your tracks with, and given it’s fair price point, it has all the elements required to represent excellent creative value for many users.
Add to this the wealth of cross genre potential and rapid speed at which you can work with it to build tracks, ergo the time you can save, particularly in fee paying commercial situations, then it sounds like a winner to my ears!
Opacity can be purchased directly from Audio Modern for 99.00 euros, and is also available from other plug-in vendors.
Audio Modern Opacity Product Page:
Opacity Official Walkthrough:
Opacity Samplecast Livestream Review:
Opacity Preset Walkthrough:
terri grande interview:
(c) Chris Ankin
July 29th, 2019
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of 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 or 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.