Acousmatic Engine By Cymatic Form
Many readers will undoubtedly be familiar with the Native instruments products Kinetic Metals, Kinetic Toys & Kinetic Treats, however some will not be aware that the creative mastermind and driving force behind these classics is sound designer Jeremiah SAVAGE.
These Komplete libraries as well as many of the presets for the original Native Instruments Kore, Absynth, FM8, Reaktor, Massive, and Arturia Pigments are just some of the many notable accolades in Jeremiah’s long career.
Now there is another new product to add to this impressive roll call with Acousmatic Engine, a unique sample library released through Jeremiah’s own company Cymatic Form which promises to bring some controlled harmony to the otherwise wild and chaotic world of conceptual sound design!
Acousmatic runs in either the full version of Kontakt 5.8.1 or the free Kontakt player equivalent, and is also NKS ready for use within Komplete Kontrol.
The library requires 1.22GB of disc space, and the samples are compressed using the NCW format.
Instead of the now often used combination of single master NKI and NKSN snapshot presets, Cymatic Form have opted to make all of their 500 presets using the standard Kontakt NKI file format as the preferred delivery method of all of the content.
Download & Installation…
Download came courtesy of a singular zip file, which once un archived can be moved to your preferred location path.
The supplied authorisation code is then required to be pasted into Native Access for registration, and the library location can then be browsed to, and added to complete the process.
The final step, is to load Komplete Kontrol standalone, where the product will be added to the KK database, and subsequently appear on the factory side of your browser.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Parameters
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Banks: Lovecraftian Horror, SciFi Noire, Steam punk
Knob 4 – Sub Bank: Aero phones, Friction, Movements, Machines, Soundscapes, Struck
Knob 5 – Type: Brass, Flute, Organ, Sound fx, Soundscapes, Synth Pad, Vocal, Bowed Strings, Percussion, Synth Misc, Mallet Instruments, Piano/Keys, Plucked Strings
Knob 6 -Sub Type: Synth, Trumpet, Didgeridoo, Field Recording, Foley, Metal, Nature, Noise, Ambivalent, Destructive, Gloomy, Hypnotising, Insanity, Wind & Noise, Percussive, Chime, Other, Bell, Wood, Harpsichord, Machines, Orchestra, Melodic Sequences, Other Sequences, Sweeps & Swells, synth Choir, Pipe, Other fx, Water, Peaceful, Other Piano/Keys, Harp, Computer, Creature, Heavenly, Small Metal, Steel Drum,
Knob 7 – Character: Acoustic, Additive, Airy, Arpreggiated, Bright, Clean, Dark, Deep, Digital, Dirty, Distorted, Electric, Evolving, Filtered, FM, Glide/Pitch Mod, Granular, Huge, Human, Lead, LoFi, Melodic, Metallic, Percussive, Physical Model, Processed, Riser, Sample Based, Sub, Tempo Synced, Vocoded, Wet
Knob 8 – Presets: x 500
Taking even just the most cursory of glances over the many categories, types and sub types to be found within Acousmatic Engine, will make you quickly discover the highly eclectic nature of this library. The categorisation is fluid, and as such much of the content will readily lend itself to crossover between the suggested themes.
Plug-in Edit NKS Parameter Mappings
Page One – Macros & Main
Knob 1 to 6 – Macros 1 to 6
Knob 7 – Warp Wheel
Knob 8 – Motion Speed
Page Two – Main
Knob 1 – Start Warp (sample start)
Knob 2 – End Warp (sample end)
Knob 3 – Electrics Volume
Knob 4 – Acoustics Volume
Knob 5 – Acoustics Resonance
Knob 6 – Electrics Pitch
Knob 7 – Acoustics Resonance Pitch
Knob 8 – Articulation
Page Three – Envelope & Shape
Knob 1 – Attack
Knob 2 – Decay
Knob 3 – Sustain
Knob 4 – Release
Knob 5 – Shape LoFi
Knob 6 – Distortion
Knob 7 – Spectral Filter
Knob 8 – Spectral Resonance
Page Four – Delay & Modulation
Knob 1 – Delay Amount
Knob 2 – Delay Damp
Knob 3 – Delay Feedback
Knob 4 – Delay Time
Knob 5 – Modulation Amount
Knob 6 – Modulation Speed
Knob 7 – Modulation Depth
Knob 8 – Modulation Feedback
Page Five – Ambience & Arp
Knob 1 – Ambience Amount
Knob 2 – Room Filter
Knob 3 – Stereo Pan
Knob 4 – Stereo Width
Knob 5 – Arp Octave
Knob 6 – Arp Repeat
Knob 7 – Arp Speed
Knob 8 – Arp Note Length
Page Six – Settings
Knob 1 – Velocity Amount
Knob 2 – Mono Glide
Knob 3 – Vibrato Depth
Knob 4 – Vibrato Delay
Knob 5 – Vibrato Speed
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
We have a total of six pages of NKS parameters to work with in Acousmatic Engine. On page one there are 6 macros that are pre-assigned with each preset, and in common with all libraries that now use macros, we are unable to gain access to the user interface with a screen reader in order to assign these ourselves.
We do however have access to other parameters, such as the ability to mix the volume of the engine sound layers, change the ADSR, start & end sample points, resonance, delay, reverb and modulation.
There is a set of Arp controls, which provide the ability to alter the octave, repeat, speed and note length, unfortunately there is not an On/Off control, so if the Arp is not already engaged within a preset we cannot turn it on, conversely if it is already on, we cannot turn it off, but this could potentially be addressed in an update, either via NKS or perhaps a key switch trigger.
I cannot really bemoan the accessibility too much though, as there are a very generous 500 presets with which to play with, so finding something close to your needs is entirely likely.
Starting The Engine…
The theme banks that come with this initial release of Acousmatic Engine are Lovecraftian Horror, Steam punk and SciFi Noir, all genres I wholeheartedly approve of as a connoisseur of such subject matter.
The point being here however, is that Acousmatic Engine is just that, an Engine, meaning that future add on packs are possible and highly likely to appear, expanding your sonic horizons still further.
These banks are then sub divided into instrument types as follows:
Wind instruments and anything that vibrates with air
Anything that acts as resistance of one object or instrument moving
over another to produce sound. Bowing, scraping, even pad-like sounds, etc.
Instruments that are percussive such as bells, pianos or anything that is
struck to produce sound or noise. Can be combined with other articulations such
as Friction, etc.
Sounds that may or may not be tonal and give a sense of
environment or mood.
Arpeggiator and sequenced driven patterns or other movements.
As you will already have seen from the browser category descriptions, there are a wealth of sounds and derivatives that stem from these starting banks and instrument types that seemingly cover everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, and it’s quite possible that one of those is also included too!
The Engine itself consists of two main sections of sound source generation, these being Electrics and Acoustics, which provide Electronic Synth type sounds juxted respectively against Real World instruments & natural environment samples.
Each of these two master sound layers are constructed using up to eight individual source layers, however via NKS we can only control the two top level layers globally , so the ability to drill down and mix & match the sound source content ourselves is not accessible via NKS at this micro layer level.
The Warp Wheel control is an interesting parameter to tweak, again we are unable to program the parameters that it affects, however the factory presets make good use of this in all of the patches, and playing in real time whilst simultaneously tweaking this control which is also assigned to your mod wheel, reveal that even the most minuscule of movements can produce some quite radical and fascinating results, contributing greatly to the sound shaping capabilities of Acousmatic Engine.
Despite us not definitively knowing what fx/parameters have been pre assigned to each of the six macros in each preset, it is apparent that useful and sensible choices have been made here at the sound design stage. Tweaking the macro controls via the NKS hardware knobs, will in most cases be an obvious audible indication of what is happening, and again just as with the Warp/Mod wheel movement, some drastic sound shaping can occur, and strange though it may be to say, this element of surprise can be rewarding.
I would suggest and encourage Cymatic Form to perhaps further exploit the possibility of embracing this concept of randomness still further. For example it would be cool to have a control that does quite literally randomise all sounds and parameters within the engine, this would then effectively give us our own ‘lucky dip’ sound design preset maker at the roll of a dice, or rather the twist of an NKS control!
Manipulating the start and end points of the preset can also act as another gateway to changing the behaviour and feel of a patch, and when done in conjunction with the other available controls such as the ADSR, filters, fx, modulation and performance controls like velocity, vibrato and glide it does actually offer a good amount of mangling creativity.
Acousmatic Engine is a worthy sound design tool developed in the spirit of the original Kinetic series that many of us will already be familiar with.
When it comes to accessibility for blind users, there are some NKS limitations if you are someone who requires absolute precision control in your sound design workflow.
There are obvious small niggles like the ability to turn the arpeggiator on/off which could theoretically be addressed in an update. We have to accept that the omnipresent limitations of the NKS system itself being able to offer more advanced use is something we have learnt to live with.
To it’s credit though, Acousmatic does offer us a heck of a lot of presets with which to work, and we can certainly use these as extremely laudable starting points.
I can see that Acousmatic will find instant favour with game, app and media creators, the preset contents are ideal for making soundscapes and audio backdrops with which to forge your own atmospheres and other worldy landscapes.
The prospect of future add-on banks is very appealing, assuring us of a certain amount of longevity to the product. With the safe hands, sound design pedigree and industry experience that Jeremiah SAVAGE brings to the table, Acousmatic and indeed other future Cymatic Form releases will definitely be one to watch.
Acousmatic Engine by Cymatic Form is available for purchase at the Cymatic Form web site at a cost of $99.00
Acousmatic Engine Product Page:
Acousmatic Engine Tutorial:
Checking Out Acousmatic Engine – SLR Review:
(c) Chris Ankin
November 25th, 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.