SoundIron – HOPKIN INSTRUMENTARIUM : RATTLETINES
SoundIron continue their ongoing Hopkin Instrumentarium collection of unique yet affordable sample libraries, the subjects of which have all been invented and built by musician and instrument designer Bart Hopkin. The second in this collection is Rattletines a curious tuned percussion instrument that’s very capable of taking your ears on a journey to some exotic destinations!
The HOPKIN INSTRUMENTARIUM Series…
Bart Hopkin is a renowned musical instrument designer and author with a large and eclectic collection of musical inventions to his credit. His knowledge and ear for creating never before heard instruments spans several decades, and covers many varieties of instrument types and categories.
soundIron have set about the mammoth task of sampling his extensive instrument collection in exquisite detail to create and release these sample libraries over what looks to be a committed amount of time.
The first releases are concentrating on Lamellaphones, a group of instruments whose initial vibrating body is a tine or prong.
The collection launched recently with the first library ‘Tines & Echoes’, which is a pentagonal sound box that features 25 chromatically tuned tines, the resultant sound being somewhat reminiscent of the high upper octaves of a piano. In the true SoundIron tradition of course, the library does not simply stop there, and includes a further selection of sound designed presets based and blended from the original samples, which stretches the individuality of the instrument far beyond it’s original sound palette.
This latest second release Rattletines, again exploits the use of tines, which in this case come courtesy of actual metal protruding hacksaw blades,which rattle and buzz against the instrument body when struck in a variety of ways, the resulting sound being produced is very mallet like being similar to a Kalimba, but with greater percussive and tonal variation due in no small part to Bart’s rather Frankenstein approach to instrument design, and of course I intend no disrespect, and mean this wholeheartedly as a compliment!
The library is compatible with both the full version of Kontakt 6, as well as the free Kontakt 6 player, and has NKS ready support for Komplete Kontrol integration.
The disk space required for installation is 3.23Gb, with some 7,952 Stereo Samples, recorded at 24-bit, 48 kHz Stereo files compressed using the Lossless NCW Format.
Provided within the library are 5 main NKI files, and 20 Sound designed FX NKI files, all of which appear within Komplete Kontrol and are selectable as presets.
Although SoundIron are a recognised Native Instruments partner, this library is not currently available to purchase and download directly from the Native Instruments website using Native Access to install it.
Instead after purchase, you will receive via email a link to a dedicated installer, into which the serial code needs to be pasted. Unfortunately at present this is not screen reader friendly, so you will most likely need sighted help for this stage of the installation.
Once the files have downloaded, the installer will unpack and construct your main library folder containing all of the required elements which you can then place into your preferred location. Final installation and authorisation is thenn completed via Native Access in the normal way of adding your serial and browsing to and choosing your library folder location.
A quick rescan of Komplete Kontrol, and I would also recommend a Kontakt 6 batch resave to optimize your new libraries performance, and you can then dive in and explore the sounds.
Komplete Kontrol Browser and Plug-in Edit Mapping…
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Bank, FX Presets, Main
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – type, Percussion,
Knob 6 – Sub Type, Other, Small Metal, Wood
Knob 7 – Character, Sample Based
Knob 8 – Presets x 25 (5x main NKI, 20 x FX)
Plug-in Edit Pages & Controls
Page One – Layer One
Knob 1 – Layer on/off
Knob 2 – Sound Select
Knob 3 – Swell
Knob 4 – Attack
Knob 5 – Sample Offset
Knob 6 – Release
Knob 7 – Vibrato
Knob 8 – Filter
Page Two – Layer Two
Knob assignments as above
Page Three – Layer Three
Knob assignments as above
Page Four – Layer Four
Knob assignments as above
Page Five – Fade & LFO
Knob 1 – Fade Amount
Knob 2 – LFO on/off
Knob 3 – LFO Shape
Knob 4 – Target
Knob 5 – Sync
Knob 6 – Rate
Knob 7 – Intensity
Knob 8 – Fade in
Page Six – Filter
Knob 1 – Filter on/off
Knob 2 – Filter Type
Knob 3 – Mod
Knob 4 – Resonance
Knob 5 – Freq
Knob 6 – Invert
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Seven – Arp
Knob 1 – Arp on/off
Knob 2 – Direction
Knob 3 – Time
Knob 4 – Mode
Knob 5 – Table
Knob 6 – Swing
Knob 7 – Random
Knob 8 – Duration
Overall I was really very satisfied with the level of accessibility that Rattletines delivers to the blind user, of particular note was the inclusion of the ability to select the instrument sample sound source on a per layer basis from dedicated controls. This having been previously omitted from the first Hopkin Instrument release. This really does open up the possibilities for more expansive sound design and creativity beyond the provided presets.
This sound and articulation selection is also mirrored with key switches on the lower octaves of your keyboard, which is convenient for performance use. .
I thought I was about to hit a slight bump in the road in the mappings after I discovered that there appeared to be no dedicated volume level control for each sound layer, which would have made mixing and blending between sound sources impossible, however I found that the ‘Swell’ control was effective for modifying level, and so I breathed a sigh of relief!
There are no NKS assignments for control of the reverb, however this was not a real issue as the main 5 presets are quite dry, and are not overtly wet even in the sound designed patches. This I am a fan of, as we do have the option of adding additional FX slots within Komplete Kontrol, and would much rather choose my own FX to suit the track or project I am working on, as opposed to having a baked in ambience or frustratingly unreachable controls.
Thoughtfully SoundIron have provided separate presets for microphone position 1, and position 2. Microphone 1 being the close mic, and 2 being more ambient but still close enough to capture the all important in-harmonics that the instrument resonates.
The other three main presets focus on various other aspects of the instrument such as the hacksaw blades and mahogany wood tones.
The remaining 20 presets are the sound designed FX patches , which cover a variety of moods and genres, and serve as great starting points for further exploration and sound design by yourself.
There is a page dedicated to the filter section, which worked globally across all layers, however the singular filter control which was assigned to knob 8 of each layer page did not seem to be functioning the way I expected it to be on a per layer basis, I later learnt that this is down to the need to choose a filter type first, which is unfortunately via an inaccessible mouse driven dropdown box.
There were also no dedicated pitch or pan controls for each layer, so in a perfect world an additional page of eight controls would ideally have been desirable to facilitate the lack of these features based on two knobs per layer, but then where does one stop when it comes to adding pages and parameters!
Rattletines In Use…
Part of the Hopkin Instrumentarium ethos is undoubtedly one of experimentation, and it’s an interesting concept to consider that a uniquely constructed organic real world musical instrument such as this, can stretch beyond it’s originally intended physical constraints when put to use in the creative virtual world of computer music.
Certainly the raw Rattletines sounds are unusual and interesting in themselves, and very usable in a variety of situations, however I think when you put your sound design hat on, and begin to blend, mix and match the sound sources still further, the library comes into it’s own and cannot fail to transport you to another level of imaginary destinations that were perhaps not evident when you first began to scratch the surface of the instrument.
Despite not having full NKS access to the whole gamut of features and controls that are present in the visual and mouse driven GUI, we can still be immensely creative with the controls we do have to play with.
Just as an example, I mixed two sample layers together, two were variations of Rattletines glissandos, I then added a third layer, which was a sustained and sweepy pad sound, I then turned on the LFO and chose to set the target to pan for the LFO to modulate, which also syncs to the DAW tempo, and suddenly I was audibly somewhere vastly different from where I was less than five minutes before!
Thoughts & Conclusions…
Rattletines and indeed very likely the growing collection of Hopkin Instrumentarium libraries can provide a welcome opportunity for composers to step away from the beaten track of more traditional sample libraries, whilst not being so zany that they are completely unusable in your more bread and butter projects.
Rattletines being a good case to point, for it is equally as capable of providing the soundscape to scenes of an African grassland plain, as it is to the desolate wastelands of a distant planet, or perhaps even the jingly happy play sounds of a kindergarden creche, to the isolated torture room cellar of a serial killer, which I think you will agree is quite a diverse audio contrast!
With an almost ideal level of accessibility, in tandem with good affordability, this is a sound tinkerers sample library, as well as being one of those swiss army knife products that can fill holes in compositional gaps when you are looking for something that little bit different.
Rattletines, HOPKIN INSTRUMENTARIUM 2 from SoundIron is available for purchase and download from the SoundIron website.
The normal price will be $39.00 but at the time of writing is on introductory promotion for $29.00
SoundIron Rattletines Product Page:
Composing with Rattletines:
SoundIron Interview with Bart Hopkin:
Rattletines Product Manual PDF :
August 23rd, 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.