Bioscape from Luftrum
The sound designer Luftrum has a long history of creating many high quality and inspirational sound preset collections that span a wide selection of softsynth plug-ins, ranging from Alchemy, Omnisphere, Diva, Zebra, Repro, Pigments, Sylenth1 and Roland Gaia being among the most popular to name but a few, as well as Lunaris being his previous popular venture into Kontakt land.
Luftrum’s brand new library builds further on the concept of Lunaris, now having it’s NKS support right out of the box, and adding to an already impressive and ever growing portfolio of products,
He has risen admirably to this challenge, and in the process brought to market an inspiring and for us, really quite accessible library with this release, so then to the topic of this review which is Bioscape.
What Is Bioscape…
Bioscape brings together a large number of real world organic and manmade sound samples collating them into a collection of over 300 plus presets made by world renowned sound designers, this combined with it’s intuitive to use user interface, enables any sound creative to indulge and immerse themselves into a huge world of audio mutating potential.
Concentrating on atmospheric pads, soundscapes, drones, both natural and industrial ambiences, Bioscape plays host to the kind of sounds that any media creative can harness within their work whatever the level.
Bioscape will occupy 4.5Gb of disk space, and runs in either the Kontakt 6.2 or above full or free player versions, and is NKS ready.
(Avoid using Kontakt 6.4.0 due to a recognised Kontakt 6 bug, instead ensure you upgrade to 6.4.1)
There is one single master Kontakt .NKI preset file, and a further 324 Kontakt snapshot .NKSN presets from which to explore the large variety of sounds.
Download & Installation…
The Bioscape library is easily installed using Native Access, by pasting in your serial number, after successful recognition, you just need to head to the ‘not installed’ tab to download and install the library to your nominated default location.
If you have updated to the current Komplete Kontrol 2.4.0 you will no longer need to open the KK standalone application for a re scan, however any version prior to this will still require you to do so in order to add the library to the KK database.
Following this you can fire up your DAW and jump right in to the wonderful world of Luftrum!
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Parameters…
I thought I would do something a little different with this review, and for good reason.
Bioscape actually has some 17 pages of NKS parameters mapped to the Komplete Kontrol hardware, so rather than forcing you, dear reader to wade through rather a lot of information before reaching the meat of the review, I instead decided to list just the browser section here, and instead place the fully detailed NKS mappings at the very end of the review, after the linkssection…
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Banks: ASMR, Dronescapes, FX, Pads, Playable’s, Pulses, Textures,
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Bowed Strings, Flute, Mallet Instruments, Piano/Keys, Plucked Strings, Reed Instruments, Sound FX, Soundscapes, Synth Lead, Synth Misc, Synth Pad, Vocal,
Knob 6 – Sub Types: Field Recording, Foley, Machines, Nature, Noise, Other FX, Water, Ambivalent, Heavenly, Hypnotising, Peaceful, Wind & Noise, Distortion, Destructive, Gloomy, Male Choir, Metal, Shots, Vinyl, Insanity, Chime, Classic Poly, Soft, FX, Melodic Sequences, Other Sequences, Percussive, Creature,
Knob 7 – Character: Airy, Bright, Lead, Sample Based, Wet, Acoustic, Dry, Electric, Evolving, Filtered, Human, Metallic, Processed, Dark, Deep, Analog, Digital, Dirty, Glide Forward/Pitch Mod, Huge, Lo-Fi, Long Release, Riser, Synthetic, Clean, Melodic, Sub, Stabs & Hits,
Knob 8- Presets
Even the most cursory glance through the above categories and descriptions reveal the wide palette of sounds that can be found within Bioscape, and whilst the definitions are not set in tablets of stone with regard to their suggested usage, it’s good to see that a detailed and thoughtful level of tagging has been applied to help the user to more rapidly filter down the kind of sound they need.
Every now and then it’s refreshing to come across a product that either deliberately or by happy accident offers an extended level of user access. despite suspecting the latter is usually the case, it is nevertheless still very welcome to see such a library on occasions.
Bioscape is just such a product, I was somewhat taken aback when I began bashing Komplete Kontrol’s page right button, and it kept going and going. My heart always sinks a little when writing a review to find that the NKS show stops abruptly around page three, so to finally arrive at page 17 after hearing my screen reader announce a good many useful parameter sections along the way was somewhat of a revelation.
Entering the Bioscape…
The concept of what makes Bioscape tick is in essence a simple one, each preset can be made up of up to four separate sample sources mixed together from 16 distinctive top level main categories which are as follows:
Bowed, Cityscapes, Creatures, Deserts, Drones, Electric, Forests, Harps, Ice, Industrial, Metal, Misc, Mountains, Tones, Water and Wind.
These all have their own folders within the master samples folder, and each of the titles play host to further sub categories of which I will not list here, but suffice to say there is sample sources aplenty from which to unleash your creative whims.
Although the operational concept may seem a simple one, the whole is much greater than the sum of it’s parts, the whole here meaning the sound that finally hits your monitors.
There are all manner of treatments that can be applied along the signal chain starting from the raw sample to a polished gem, and with such an eclectic pool of well recorded sounds from which to forge your jewel, the odds of creating a diamond I would suggest are more stacked in your favour.
Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the toys we get to tinker with…
Each of the four sample channels have in dependant controls for level, pan, tuning, amplitude (ADSR per source), play mode, filter type, filter controls (cut-off, resonance, amount & key track) and filter Envelope (ADSR).
There are also effects controls which are applied dually to source A & B and C & D, at an NKS preset level, these can be used to turn on/off any effect that has already been applied in the preset design using the Chorus, Phaser, Distortion, EQ, Delay and Reverb processing, although more advanced effect editing is not possible purely with the NKS controls.
When it comes to effects though, Bioscape makes use of the Kontakt 6 stock FX engine, so if you do want to accessibly gain a greater level of global control for things like reverb, you could easily turn off the existing preset effect, and add your own into another Komplete Kontrol FX slot, or use Bioscape within Kontakt (more of which later).
Bioscape includes a four channel sequencer which can be used for recording and automating modulation FX over time. there are NKS controls mapped for adjusting the rate and steps, however the process for engaging and using this feature are not completely accessible, as some components of it’s operation do still require GUI interaction.
Bioscape has an interesting ‘Time Stop’ effect implemented on it’s own dedicated page. This can be switched on or off on a per sample basis, and when turned on it will use Kontakt’s algorithms to speed up or slow down the sample source without affecting the pitch, this can be a dramatic and fascinating mode to explore, it’s worth noting however that the speed controls are bound in two tandem pairs to A + B and C + D, so if time stop is only switched on for sample A, then adjusting the speed will change only this channel, and B will remain static, but of course either can be taken entirely out of the mix using the source volume controls, to isolate a single sample if this is what you wish to do.
Choosing User Samples...
Bioscape offers the sighted user the ability to drag and drop their own sample sources into the interface, but unfortunately due to our mouse usage limitations we cannot do this without sight.
I had hoped instead that there might perhaps have been the ability to create a user folder containing our own choice of samples that the interface might recognise as an alternative method to incorporate our own content. This is not currently possible, so this is something I will suggest that could be added for a future update, barring technical reasons.
All is not completely lost however, as unlike other libraries, I have found that using the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in Windows 10 with NVDA my screen reader, I was able to browse, select and load a sample from the 345 available factory samples, either into an existing preset to modify it, or using the supplied ‘initial’ empty patch to create my own preset from scratch.
I did need to jump back and forth between the plug-in UI in order to update what the OCR was reporting from the refreshed window, but with patience it was quite doable, and this I am sure would also apply for MAC users with their current excellent VOCR capabilities.
The Sonic Playground…
Bioscape goes a little further than other libraries in terms of accessible user interaction, as alongside the large number of supplied purposely designed presets, having the option for those that are so inclined to shape and edit your sounds somewhat more than the norm is an empowering change from just the all too common limitations of the simple factory preset tweaking experience.
The available 324 presets make for fantastic starting points in your sound exploration adventures. It’s audibly captivating just how far from the original preset you can stray with a few editing tweaks. It’s kind of akin to a drunken late night You tube surfing session, where you sensibly start off watching an educational video on recording techniques, and an hour later somehow find yourself listening to a trending post of a dog barking your national anthem, and can’t remember quite how you got there!
When it comes to these supplied factory presets, Bioscape has been blessed with some excellent examples that fully exploit what the library is capable of. Having content contributions from fellow talented sound designers such as Arksun, Simon Stockhausen, Claus Gahrn, Adam Pietruszko,
Empty Vessel, Sonic Underworld, Echo Season, Triple Spiral Audio and of course not forgetting Luftrum himself, all of these guys of whom are very well respected in their own fields of sound and preset design.
Most genres and moods are catered for, from relaxing ASMR and mindfulness chillouts, through to dark and malevolent drones, pulses and soundscapes. There is a whole bunch of material here that will quite readily lend themselves to a wide range of styles.
There is a lot that can be learnt from perusing the presets to checkout how they have been constructed by the professionals. Often just by altering the sample play mode feature can yield interesting results, for example reversing a sample loaded into one channel can make a nice contrast to a forward playing one in another channel.
Change the pitch, add a DAW synced LFO and things can take another spin, but do try and remember to save your presets though, as it’s easy to drift away from a good idea to something less desirable and then forget the path back, that’s the voice of experience speaking here!
Bioscape In Kontakt…
As with other recent reviews, I loaded Bioscape into Kontakt outside of our beloved and cosy Komplete Kontrol environment, to cross reference the parameters within my DAW (which is Reaper).
There were quite a few additional parameters on offer here that are not in the NKS template, but when it came to NKS mapping I guess Luftrum had to draw the line somewhere.
Overall I found there were 223 parameters here, which is probably around 75 more than are present within KK, had they all have been mapped it would probably have resulted in a total page count of around 28.
Many of these extra controls handle the deeper nuances of the effects section such as reverb, delay, chorus, phaser, distortion and various EQ controls.
There were however a couple I would really liked to have seen within the Komplete Kontrol mappings. Sample start and end controls could provide us with a little more additional flexibility, and the other one which I came across within the manual was ‘Mutate’, this gives you a random dice roll of the currently loaded preset, which I’m sure could yield some interesting results, however this is not currently mapped in either the master Kontakt NKI or Komplete Kontrol.
I was able to find it using OCR, but having it as a true hardware option would be more useful in terms of easy access.
Bioscape is certain to appeal to sound design, media, game, film, soundscape and ambient music creative’s.
Most libraries accessibility is seldom 100% perfect, but Bioscape is nevertheless probably one of the best I have seen in a while, particularly where without any criticism being intended, it was probably not part of the original design road map.
Luftrum has done an excellent job in bringing together a fantastic choice of inspiring and malleable sample sounds from an eclectic pool of source recordings.
The library presets authored by some of the industries most recognised sound creators further underline and demonstrate Bioscape’s poss abilities, and also perhaps leaves the door open for potential future add on sound packs and updates.
Overall then, Bioscape is a creative and intuitive to use library that will make the hours vanish, competitively priced it should certainly be a worthy contender for the contemporary media composer.
Bioscape can be purchased directly from the Luftrum Sound Design website, for the price of $159.00
Luftrum Bioscape Product Page:
Bioscape In Depth Walkthrough:
Bioscape User Manual:
Bioscape – NKS Plug-in Edit Mode NKS Mappings
Ok, take a deep breath, as promised here are those all important 17 pages of NKS mappings!
Page One – Quick Mod Amount & Quick Mod Play
Knob 1 – Quick Mod Amount 1
Knob 2 – Quick Mod Amount 2
Knob 3 – Quick Mod Amount 3
Knob 4 – Quick Mod Amount 4
Knob 5 – Quick Mod Play 1
Knob 6 – Quick Mod Play 2
Knob 7 – Quick Mod Play 3
Knob 8 – Quick Mod Play 4
Page Two – Quick FX Amount & Quick FX Play
Knob 1 – Quick FX Amount 1
Knob 2 – Quick FX Amount 2
Knob 3 – Quick FX Amount 3
Knob 4 – Quick FX Amount 4
Knob 5 – Quick FX Play 1
Knob 6 – Quick FX Play 2
Knob 7 – Quick FX Play 3
Knob 8 – Quick FX Play 4
Page Three – Mix Pad & Level
Knob 1 – Mix Pad X
Knob 2 – Mix Pad Y
Knob 3 – Play
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Level A
Knob 6 – Level B
Knob 7 – Level C
Knob 8 – Level D
Page Four – Pan & Tune
Knob 1 to 4 – Pan: A,B,C,D
Knob 5 to 8 – Tune: A,B,C,D
Page Five – Amplitude Envelope A & B
Knob 1 to 4 – Amp Envelope A: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Knob 5 to 8 – Amp Envelope B: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Page Six – Amplitude Envelope C & D
Knob 1 to 8 – Mappings as above for sources C & D
Page Seven – Play Mode & Filter Type
Knob 1 to 4 – Play Modes for A,B,C,D Channels
Knob 5 to 8 – Filter Type selection for A,B,C,D Channels
Page Eight – Filter & Filter Envelope for Channel Source A
Knob 1 – Cut-Off
Knob 2 – Resonance
Knob 3 – Envelope Amount
Knob 4 – Key Track
Knob 5 to 8 – Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Page Nine – Filter & Filter Envelope for Channel source B
Knob 1 to 8 – Mappings as above
Page Ten – Filter & Filter Envelope for Channel source C
Knob 1 to 8 – Mappings as above
Page Eleven – Filter & Envelope for Channel source D
Knob 1 to 8 – Mappings as above
Page Twelve – LFO 1 & LFO 2
Knob 1 – LFO 1 Shape
Knob 2 – LFO 1 Rate
Knob 3 – LFO 1 Tempo Sync
Knob 4 – LFO 1 Retrigger
Knob 5 to 8 – As above for LFO 2
Page Thirteen – LFO 3 & Seq ReTrigger
Knob 1 to 4 – Mappings as page Twelve for LFO 3
Knob 5 to 8 – Seq Retrigger 1 to 4
Page Fourteen – Sequencers 1 to 4
Knob 1 – Seq 1 Rate
Knob 2 – Seq 1 Steps
Knob 3 to 8 – As per Seq 1 for Seq 2, 3 & 4
Page Fifteen – Timestop
Knob 1to 4 – Timestop a, B, C, D
Knob 5 – Speed A & B
Knob 6 – speed C & D
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Sixteen – FX A & B
Knob 1 – Chorus A & B
Knob 2 – Phaser A & B
Knob 3 – Distortion A & B
Knob 4 – EQ A & B
Knob 5 – Delay A & B
Knob 6 – Reverb A & B
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Seventeen – FX C & D
Knob 1 to 8 – Mappings as above for Channels C & D
(c) Chris Ankin
September 1st, 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.