SoundIron – Didgeridoos
Soundiron have a large catalogue of sample libraries that now span over a decade of releases. Among their more traditional output they have always strived to balance their products by adding content that is out of the ordinary, whether it be a library based on the sounds from a Washing Machine, a Glass beach, Subway Trains or Flatulence (yes really!)
We have come then, to expect the unexpected from SoundIron, and Didgeridoos is perhaps not such an unusual theme when compared to those I’ve just described, but it is definitely not among the standard sample library fayre.
Sounds of the Outback…
The library was created in a collaboration between William MacGavin and David Zagardo. William being both a talented player and builder of these unique instruments, whilst David is a recording engineer and composer specialising in film music and post production.
SoundIron do make it clear from the outset, that they are not seeking to replicate in a traditional playable form all the infinite nuances and textures that come from a real Didgeridoo,.
Upon reflection, I think this approach is a sensible one, as despite the apparent simplicity some might initially assume of the sound this ancient instrument produces, it’s voice is actually complex and fluid in practically every element imaginable.
To have truly emulated the playing experience, the vast timbre, percussive elements, noise and variable breath, vowel and rhythm articulations would have been a gargantuan task, that would almost certainly resulted in a huge data footprint due to the necessary number of round robins, and perhaps even a shortage of available midi expression controls to accommodate all of those expressive playing techniques.
Instead Didgeridoos presents the user with many of the essential playing articulations, alongside access to lots and lots of Didgeridoo samples that have been categorised and keyswitched, with up to four layers of content from which to tailor and tweak the sound you want.
Taken in this context Didgeridoos is very much a sound design playground, enabling users to blend and forge new sounds based on this ancient of instruments, using the myriad of didgeridoo loops, vowels, hits, textures, chiffs, and breath noises to add the essence of the original sounds into their own presets and tracks.
Didgeridoos requires Kontakt full or Free Kontakt player version 6.1 or above, and is NKS compatible.
The library itself takes up 9Gb of disk space in the NCW compressed format.
There are two main master .NKI files (ensemble & Solo), and a further 20 FX based .NKI (as opposed to snapshot .NKSN) presets.
Download & Installation…
Download is via SoundIron’s own bespoke library installer, available for Windows or MAC, and accessibility for this is steadily improving, I did manage to get things down and installed from the cloud without sighted intervention using OCR, and I am aware that further updates are in the pipeline.
The final stage is the authorisation via Native Access, and re scan of Komplete Kontrol to get things all set up and ready to go.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-In Edit NKS Controls…
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 & 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Flute,
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Didgeridoo,
Knob 7 – Character: Sample Based
Knob 8 – Presets: x 22
Plug-in Edit NKS Parameters
Page One – Layer 1
Knob 1 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Category
Knob 3 – Volume
Knob 4 – Attack
Knob 5 – Sample Offset
Knob 6 – Release
Knob 7 – Vibrato
Knob 8 – Pan
Page Two to Four Layers 2 to 4 (Parameters as above with the exception of Layer 4 where category is exchanged for sound, this being the synth sound layer)
Page Five – Select & LFO
Knob 1 – Select Layer
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 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Type
Knob 3 – Modulation
Knob 4 – Resonance
Knob 5 – Frequency
Knob 6 – Invert
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Seven – Arp
Knob 1 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Direction
Knob 3 – Time
Knob 4 – Mode
Knob 5 – Table
Knob 6 – Swing
Knob 7 – Random
Knob 8 – Duration
Page Eight – Constrain & X-Fade
Knob 1 – On/Off
Knob 2 – Scale
Knob 3 – Key
Knob 4 – X-Fade Amount
Knob 5 to 8 – Unallocated
On the whole Soundiron have been pretty comprehensive with their choice of mapped NKS parameters for this release.
It’s a bit of a shame that the pitch tuning for each layer has been left out of the NKS equation, I suspect this is due to the other more essential layer parameters already having fully occupied all of the eight knobs on a page.
Perhaps in an update a page dedicated to the pitch controls for each layer could be added, which would actually take up just one additional page, these being course and fine tune for each of the four layers.
There is a category control which allows you to select sample articulations, and thankfully the sub sound selection missing from the NKS controls (but present in the Kontakt only parameter list) has been replicated via the use of keyswitches, which are located at the very bottom low end of your keyboard.
I would love to see Soundiron also add the ability to turn off reverb on their presets, whilst the core samples of layers 1 & 2 are fairly dry when selecting your own, some FX presets are decidedly wet, so the option to turn off or adjust size and mix would be a great extra option to have.
The manual gives mention to a legato switch, which unfortunately was not present in the NKS map, I was also unclear as to whether it had an associated keyswitch.
When doing my usual Kontakt only cross reference parameter check, I noted that the pitch controls and sound selection option was present in the parameter listing in Reaper my DAW. These could all be automated and midi learnt if required, or adjusted manually. The effects however had not been made similarly available for automation.
going Down The Pipes…
Lifting the lid of Didgeridoos turned out to be quite a Pandora’s box of delights, as there is actually a lot to play with in terms of blending the available samples when you scratch below the surface.
There are four layers of sound sources to work with, the first three all being Didgeridoo based sample content. Layers one and two consist purely of Didgeridoos sample material , rhythmic, percussive, tonal and atonal in fact pretty much every sound you can imagine a Didgeridoo making, and also some you can’t!
Layer three contains longer and more processed derivatives, drones and FX etc but still sample based.
Finally layer four is a synth consisting of 10 basic waveforms, which can be blended to taste, or not used at all with the three sample based layers.
Cats & Keys…
Each of the three layers has a category control knob, which due to Komplete Kontrol not having any speech feedback on the user plug-in side, means it’s a lottery to know exactly which particular category we are selecting, at least from a distinctive name or title perspective.
Most of us fortunately do still possess the asset of being able to hear, and by this it means we can press a key while rotating the dial to hear when we reach a new category from the obvious change in sound.
This then presents us with a new selection of Didgeridoo samples, and yet another sub set are unlocked via the aforementioned keyswitches located at the lower octaves.
As you can I’m sure mathematically surmise, the amount of sample pool source material on offer here is vast, when spread across three layers, and in combination with the ability to mix and match all of the four layers, equates to quite a hefty amount of material to creatively work with!
Delving Still Deeper…
We are able to select and work with an LFO on a per layer basis (again by adopting our own process of audible elimination), which extends the sound design possibilities still further.
Finally still with FX, there is the option to adjust filter and resonance and modulation, and also assign how they are controlled, by routing them to velocity or the mod wheel for example.
Our usual focus here at KK-Access is of course accessibility within the Komplete Kontrol environment, however it is always worth looking at the source of a library, and what can be done with it creatively from within it’s original host application, this being Kontakt.
We do now have some accessibility options via user created macros on both Windows and Mac, and most DAW’s now present us with useful parameter lists.
It’s a bonus to know that there are one or two additional parameters on offer within Kontakt directly, so setting aside a little time to design a few of your own presets using the Didgeridoos library loaded directly into Kontakt can be a very rewarding pastime.
provided you have the patience to edit and tweak the parameter settings this way. Saving the results as a ‘patch only’ .NKI file will allow you to then later add the results of your tinkering back into the Komplete Kontrol database for later recall.
It’s a great feeling knowing that a preset has been entirely crafted by yourself just from the bare bones to a now hopefully polished gem!
The final two pages of NKS mappings are assigned to the Arp and Scale settings. Given that Komplete Kontrol has it’s own similar features which are more accessible to us in terms of spoken feedback, these are perhaps a little superfluous for us to use alone as a performance tool, but they could still be put to use if desired within the area of preset creation, for example by engaging an arp on a single sound layer.
Didgeridoos is what I refer to as an ‘onion skin library,’ (stay with me we’re nearly at the end!), on the surface it’s an onion, but there are many layers to that onion!
Sure, many people will not ordinarily be throwing a Didgeridoo sound onto the tracks that they write, however Didgeridoos does offer a rare palette of unique timbres, tones and rhythms that are not heard in your average everyday sample library.
The access to key parameters for blind and visually impaired users via NKS or even just within Kontakt is good, this in turn results in better than average creative sound design potential for those who are willing to invest the time.
Whether deciding to use the library blatantly in a world music style soundtrack, or perhaps a little more sparingly on an ambient piece,Didgeridoos could offer that sprinkle of worldly ethnic atmospheres that may just help to lift a track and provide that additional tone of colour it needs.
Soundiron Didgeridoos is available to purchase directly from the Soundiron website, the current introductory offer of $69.00 runs until August 18th, after which the usual price will be $99.00
Soundiron Didgeridoos Product page:
Soundiron Didgeridoos Walkthrough:
Composing with Soundiron Didgeridoos:
(c) Chris Ankin
August 7th, 2020
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 solely 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.