CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS – By Red Room Audio
CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS is a new, innovative loop and phrase based drum and percussive library from Red Room Audio, that promises a simple fuss free way of quickly adding some epic and World rhythms to your project, whilst at the same time making available a versatile selection of parameters that can be easily tweaked from the Komplete Kontrol keyboard.
Take It As Red!…
When I first spoke to Red Room Audio owner Dickie Chapin back in 2018, it was soon after the first Avid & Native Instruments Accessibility forum at NAMM, he told me that he had been impressed with the important role that NKS and Komplete Kontrol could play in the lives of blind musicians, and that he would endeavour to implement NKS responsive parameter mapping in future Red Room Audio libraries.
To date, he, and Red Room Audio have certainly been true to their word, with some very accessible products. In fact not only their main Palette range of Orchestral libraries, have included NKS compatibility, but even their free and popular Palette Primary Colours and Snaps Claps Slaps Stomps & Shouts full Kontakt libraries expose their parameters to NKS when scanned into Komplete Kontrol.
This is indeed also the case with CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS, you will certainly need the full version of Kontakt to use it, but the mapping implementation is so well done that it works flawlessly within the Komplete Kontrol environment, so much so that you are likely to notice little difference in functionality when used within KK.
As stated this is a full Kontakt library for version 5.8.1 and above, that will require 16Gb of hard drive space. The 19,000 plus samples are in 16 bit/44.1 wav (24bit are available upon request) rather than the usual NCW format, which means there is also the option to use the files by simply dropping them into your DAW or loading them into Komplete Kontrol’s own sample module (more of which later).
There are 14 Kontakt .NKI files that provide the various types and time signatures within the instruments folder, also to be found here is a libraries folder which hold necessary NKA or Kontakt array scripts, which Kontakt calls upon to perform those under the hood actions that frankly we do not need to know about, as long as they work!
Red Room Audio currently use a download application called Pulse, which is simple to install and register, however I did find it’s accessibility on my Windows machine a little patchy in places. NVDA’s OCR was well used in order to navigate around the interface, essentially it’s a case of adding your provided authorization code, choosing a location and sitting back while it does it’s thing, however I did need a little sighted help in order to choose my location path.
Once the download is completed, you will be left with your central CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS folder, which can then be placed wherever you choose.
Remember this is not a Kontakt player or official NKS product, so there is no need to do anything further with regard to registering within Native Access.
Assuming you want to use Cue Builders within Komplete Kontrol, it will of course be necessary to place the library folder into an existing user location, or create one that Komplete Kontrol will see and pick up in a rescan.
For the uninitiated, this is done using the Komplete Kontrol standalone application, and both Windows and MAC platforms have their own access scripting method for achieving this task, but in brief the add new folder location button is to be found on the libraries user tab within KK.
When the scan has finished, you will find your new library listed under Native Instruments as the vendor, then Kontakt as your product and finally under the presets knob, you will see the Cue Builders presets prefixed with CB, so at least they are sensibly named and kept together alphabetically.
Komplete Kontrol Controls…
Normally at this point, I would describe the browser categories, but in this case they do not apply as there are none. Instead let’s skip directly to the plug-in edit parameters and see what we can do with Cue Builders!
Plug-in Edit Parameters…
Page One – Microphones & Global Playback
Knob 1 – Close Volume
Knob 2 – Hall Volume
Knob 3 – Close Width
Knob 4 – Hall Width
Knob 5 – Global Playback in Quantize
Knob 6 – Hold Until
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Two – Loop & Stem
Knob 1 – Loop Tilt
Knob 2 – Start
Knob 3 – End
Knob 4 – Attack
Knob 5 – Release
Knob 6 – Stem Volume
Knob 7 – Stem Mute
Knob 8 – Stem Solo
Page Three – Stem Stereo & Stem E.Q
Knob 1 – Stem Stereo Width
Knob 2 – Stem Pan
Knob 3 – Stem E.Q Low Frequency
Knob 4 – E.Q Low Mid Frequency
Knob 5 – E.Q. High Mid Frequency
Knob 6 – E.Q. High Frequency
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Accessibility issues?, well actually there are none (when did you hear me last say that about a library?). The nature of CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS and the way it is used, lends itself to not being overly demanding or complicated in terms of access requirements. It is also worth noting that Red Room have clearly made efforts to assign all of the Kontakt parameters to KK hardware controls, and in doing so have maximised everything for us to be able to use the product with no real access barriers.
The only section of the Kontakt GUI which we cannot make use of, is the effects rack, but given that we can easily add our own choice of effects from slot 2 onwards in an instance of Komplete Kontrol, this is no deal breaker.
CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC Rhythms In Use…
The concept of Cue Builders is pretty straightforward in essence, there are 14 presets in a variety of useful time signatures that are tempo synced to your DAW to provide over 400 different rhythm loops, and as we shall see, these have some equally useful controls that can enhance their creative flexibility, taking them beyond just being fixed percussive loops.
The Rhythm Method!…
The following is a breakdown of the six time signatures that you will discover within Cue Builders, these are divided into two sections, Epic and World…
3/4, 4/4 times 2, 5/4, 6/8, 7/8, 12/8.
3/4, 4/4 times 2, 5/4, 6/8, 7/8, 12/8
It’s great to see that there are two presets dedicated to 4/4 which is obviously going to be the most commonly used, but there are also some time signatures here that often get overlooked when composing, so this is a great way of both encouraging and inspiring compositional experimentation.
The rather intriguing thing about the way Cue Builders works is that it seems to increasingly unravel it’s potential as you become more familiar with it. As an example, when I loaded up the first patch, I noted that there were individual complete loop rhythms assigned to 21 notes across the Komplete Kontrol keyboard, and some presets have even more. I then however quickly discovered that each rhythm is constructed using a number of separate drum voice stems, which are themselves assigned to velocity triggered mutable keyswitches.
In the case of the particular preset I was using, there were six keyswitches which corresponded to the number of individual drum voice stems, and I could opt to turn these on or off from being a part of the overall rhythm, depending on how sparse or busy I wanted it to sound.
I then further discovered that moving the modwheel up or down introduced yet another handy variation, modwheel up isolating the lower end bass and pitch drum sounds, modwheel down conversely focuses on higher toned instruments such as claps, sticks and metallic hits etc, this feature is duplicated with a dedicated control parameter labelled as ‘Tilt’ found on page two of the mappings.
When you take a step back and look at the broader picture, and mathematics is certainly not my strong point so I will not attempt any calculations here, but the sheer amount of variety that is possible from those initial 21 loops that were in this particular preset, is quite mind boggling, given the ability to construct and combine as many of them at the same time as you wish,
Fine Tuning Cue Builders…
We have a choice between two microphones, close and hall, the samples within Cue Builders have been recorded in their natural sound stage environment with ambience baked in on the hall mic samples, the close mic provides a dryer alternative or of course you can mix between the two, there are also controls for adjusting the stereo width of each microphone setting.
The ‘hold until’ control is quite novel, this allows you to choose how long the loop plays for when you release it’s key, it will cut off instantly in the hard left position, or play from anywhere between the start and end of the full phrase if desired when turned gradually to the right.
We are also able to adjust the start and end points of a loop, and cleverly this has been scripted on a per loop basis making it potentially possible to crop and even change a time signature, which further adds to the level of seemingly infinite options offered by the library.
Attack and release do what they say on the tin, but again clever scripting allows you to fade in one phrase with a slow attack whilst holding down another phrase with a standard attack, and this is a very effective time saver where under normal circumstances you might have needed to do this within your DAW.
Stem volume, mute and solo all have justifiable places as assigned controls, and offer yet more control potential.
The final set of controls are for the stereo and pan control of a stem, and alongside these are equalisation knobs for the three bands including mid range frequencies.
Sounds On Cue…
There are a plethora of drum sounds used in the construction of the Cue Builders loops. Although these were not listed within the manual, there are an extensive range that covers the low, mid and high sound ranges, such as Taiko, various Toms, Conga, Tabla, Snares, Bamboo Sticks, Cymbals, Claps, Snaps, Chimes and Tambourine, I have most likely missed out a few here, but take my word that overall things did indeed sound both epic and worldly!
I installed the 16bitstandard version of Cue Builders for the review, and despite being 16bit the wavs are well presented, crisp and clear with no perceivable aliasing present. A 24bit version of the library is available if requested should you prefer this.
On the subject of Wave samples, the format used by the library, each and every one of the phrases and stems have been recorded in four different tempos. These being 72, 90, 112 and 140bpm.
Within the visual Kontakt GUI it is possible for sighted users to purge and switch between these variations in order to best match their DAW project tempo. Within Komplete Kontrol we do not have this option, however I did play phrases at various tempos, and did not notice any real issues, so it may be that the scripting detects and loads the most appropriate sample set based on your current DAW tempo.
Using Cue Builders within the Komplete Kontrol Sample Module…
If you have scanned Cue Builders into Komplete Kontrol, as well as the NKI files being added to your user Kontakt files, the Wave files will also become a part of the KK sample module database, again on the user side of the browser.
These will appear under the Cue Builders folder so should be easily identifiable, when you switch to one shot sample mode on the user side of your KK browser.
Although the user side of Komplete Kontrol only currently detects and presents the files as one shots, they are conveniently named and do state one of the four tempos as outlined previously.
Loading any of these samples will provide yet another level of tweaking and editing, so if you only wanted to use a single Cue Builders orchestral snare within a track, this is certainly achievable.
So, there we have it, three pages of Komplete Kontrol mappings, 20 available control parameters, an enormous amount of rhythmic, mixing and timbre variation and overall creative potential, with the added ability to access the samples still further within the KK sample module.
Final Thoughts & Conclusions…
I think Red Room Audio have done a really splendid job here, firstly in continuing the ongoing initiative of ensuring that their products will work with Komplete Kontrol hardware, even when as in this case, it’s a full Kontakt only library.
due credit should also be attributed for the choice of mapped parameters, it’s clear that thought has gone into making things work without direct physical GUI interaction, which regardless of the benefits to blind and visually impaired users, can actually be a great boon to every user with respect to workflow.
Indeed, it’s on the topic of workflow where CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS excels, if you have ever composed a epic or cinematic style track and not felt entirely satisfied with the composition of your own percussive elements, then this library can be both a lifesaver as well as a time saver. The original design concept behind the product came from Red Room’s Dickie himself as a means for more rapidly creating and building his own percussive cues.
This is actually a rather rare occasion where my fingers are unable to type any genuine words of criticism, basically if the style of rhythms and sounds included in CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS fit in with your music needs, then it’s a great addition to your library collection and musical palette!
I hope this is the first of a series of similar libraries, as the concept makes a great addition or bolt-on for any existing orchestral library, and there are potentially other genres to be explored.
CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS is available for purchase and download from the Red Room Audio website at a cost of $99.00
CUE BUILDERS CINEMATIC RHYTHMS Product Page:
Cue Builders Walkthrough:
Sample Library Review – First Look Cue Builders:
Cue Builders Product Manual:
(c) Chris Ankin
October 15th, 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.