Geosonics II By SonicCouture

Geosonics II By SonicCouture

KK-Access Review

I first started using Geosonics by SonicCouture back in November 2017, however whilst undertaking my usual pre-review research, I had not realised that the first version of Geosonics dates back as far back as 2013.

Although irrelevant for this article which hails the release of Geosonics II, it does nevertheless provide good testimony to the success and longevity of what in 2013 was a fairly unique type of product.

The concept behind Geosonics is to take natural real world field recordings, and then mix and process them alongside those from the synthetic universe

The source of the samples once again come from the archives of renowned nature recordist Chris Watson, whose work over the years has been featured in many award winning radio & tv wildlife documentaries.

For those of us old enough to remember, Chris also happens to have been a founder member of the Sheffield experimental band Cabaret Voltaire, prior to moving on to work as a freelance field sound recordist, but still retains his love of all things sound and sound design related.

Watson has also provided material for other Soniccouture releases, namely Haunted Spaces, which again merges environmental audio sources with pure digital electronics.

Geosonics II

SonicCouture have rebuilt the original engine for Geosonics from the ground up in this new outing, and have also added new Chris Watson source content and additional presets from notable contributors to showcase the new creative sound poss abilities.

Tech Specs…

Geosonics II runs in version 6.6 of either full Kontakt or the equivalent free Kontakt player, and is compatible with Komplete Kontrol.

The installation size is 8.7GB,

There is one master Geosonics NKI Kontakt file, which serves to feed the 450 NKSN snapshot presets that Komplete Kontrol uses.

Download & Installation…

Geosonics II does not augment the existing version of Geosonics if you already own it, it has it’s own new serial number and is a separate installation.

The easiest way to download the Geosonics II library is via Native Access. By simply pasting in your authorisation serial will now also enable you to both register, download and install your product all from the one application.

SonicCouture have now also added the ability to link your account directly with Native Instruments to make downloads and future updates a more seamless process.

Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Parameter Mapping

Browser

Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Bank: Forests, Ice & Water, Marine Life, Swamps, Wind, Wires
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Sound fx, Soundscapes, Synth Misc
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Field Recording,
Knob 7 – Character: Sample Based

Plug-in Edit Mode NKS Parameter Mapping

Page One – X Y Pad, Reverb, Level & Stereo

Knob 1 – X control
Knob 2 – Y control
Knob 3 – X Y Play on/off
Knob 4 – Reverb Mix
Knob 5 – Level Natural (field recording source)
Knob 6 – Level Pitched 1 (synth sound)
Knob 7 – Level Pitched Sound 2 (Synth Sound)
Knob 8 – Stereo Width

Page Two – Filter, Frequency & Resonance

Knob 1 – Filter Frequency Natural
Knob 2 – Filter Frequency Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Filter Frequency Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Resonance Natural
Knob 6 – Resonance Pitched 1
Knob 7 – resonance Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Three – Pitch & High Pass Filter

Knob 1 – Pitch Natural
Knob 2 – Pitch Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Pitch Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – HPF Natural
Knob 6 – HPF Pitched 1
Knob 7 – HPF Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Four – Amplitude Attack & Decay

Knob 1 – Attack Natural
Knob 2 – Attack Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Decay Natural
Knob 6 – Decay Pitched 1
Knob 7 – Decay Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Five – Amplitude Sustain & Release

Knob 1 – Sustain Natural
Knob 2 – Sustain Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Sustain Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Release Natural
Knob 6 – Release Pitched 1
Knob 7 – Release Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Six – Velocity & Filter Velocity

Knob 1 – Velocity Natural
Knob 2 – Velocity Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Velocity Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Filter Velocity – Natural
Knob 6 – Filter Velocity Pitched 1
Knob 7 – Filter Velocity Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Seven – Filter Attack & Filter Decay

Knob 1 – Filter Attack Natural
Knob 2 – Filter Attack Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Filter Attack Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Filter Decay Natural
Knob 6 – Filter Decay Pitched 1
Knob 7 – Filter Decay Pitched 2

Page Eight – Filter Sustain & Filter Release

Knob 1 – Filter Sustain Natural
Knob 2 Filter Sustain Pitched 1
Knob 3 – Filter Sustain Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Filter Release Natural
Knob 6 – Filter Release Pitched 1
Knob 7 – Filter Release Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Nine – LFO 1 Rate & LFO 1 Level

Knob 1 – LFO 1 Rate Natural
Knob 2 LFO 1 Rate Pitched 1
Knob 3 – LFO 1 Rate Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – LFO Level Natural
Knob 6 – LFO Level Pitched 1
Knob 7 – LFO 1 Level Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page – Ten – LFO 1 Pitch &LFO 2 Rate

Knob 1 – LFO 1 Pitch Natural
Knob 2 LFO Pitch Pitched 1
Knob 3 – LFO Pitch Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – LFO 2 Rate Natural
Knob 6 – LFO 2 Rate Pitched 1
Knob 7 – LFO 2 Rate Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Eleven – LFO 2 Pan & LFO 2 Filter

Knob 1 – LFO Pan Natural
Knob 2 – LFO 2 Pan Pitched 1
Knob 3 – LFO 2 Pan Pitched 2
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – LFO 2 Filter Natural
Knob 6 – LFO 2 Filter Pitched 1
Knob 7 – LFO 2 Filter Pitched 2
Knob 8 – Unallocated

Page Twelve – EQ

Knob 1 – LF Freq
Knob 2 – LF Gain
Knob 3 – LMF Freq
Knob 4 – LMF Gain
Knob 5 – HMF Freq
Knob 6 – HMF Gain
Knob 7 – HF Freq
Knob 8 – HF Gain

Page Thirteen – Generator & Jammer

Knob 1 – Generator Type: Jammer, Weaver, Phraser
Knob 2 – Play On/Off
Knob 3 – Jammer Preset 1 to 12
Knob 4 – Rate: 1/4 to 1/32 (includes triplet time)
Knob 5 – Mode: Random, Up, Down, Up/Down
Knob 6 – Length: Expressed as a percentage 1 to 200%
Knob 7 – Velocity: 1 to 127
Knob 8 – Swing: 1 to 50%

Page Fourteen – Jammer (Continued)

Knob 1 – Loop: On/Off
Knob 2 – Note: 0 to 12
Knob 3 – Octave: 0 to 3
Knob 4 – Timing 0 to 50%
Knob 5 – Velocity: 0 to 100%
Knob 6 – Gaps: 0 to 100%
Knob 7 – Double: On/Off
Knob 8 – Retrigger: On/Off

Page Fifteen – Weaver

Knob 1 – Weaver Preset: 1 to 32
Knob 2 – Decay: 1 second to 29.9 seconds, then infinite
Knob 3 to 8 – Unallocated

Page Sixteen – Phraser

Knob 1 – Phrase Selection: 1 to 12
Knob 2 – Mode: Transpose, Fixed, Octaves
Knob 3 – Start: 0 to 62
Knob 4 – End: 0 to 62
Knob 5 – Rate: 1/4 to 1/32 (includes triplet time)
Knob 6 – Random: 0 to 100%
Knob 7 – Auto: On/Off
Knob 8 – Record: On/Off

Accessibility

In general access to the Geosonics parameters is similar to that of version one, however there are a couple of niggles.

In particular other than reverb, there are no on/off switches for FX, so as an example a preset that has delay as part of it’s make up cannot be turned off via NKS, which was something possible in Geosonics 1.

There seems to have been a trade off between removing those more in depth FX controls, and replacing them with the introduction of the Generator tools known as the Jammer, Phraser & Weaver, which themselves offer basic access via NKS, and may not appeal to all users.

The other omission is the absence of the previously present sample offset for each of the sample layers, which can significantly alter the sound characteristics of a preset.

There is within Geosonics II, the introduction of a randomise button, which allows users to roll a dice and instantly generate a new sound.

This feature has not made it over to the current NKS mapping, which is unfortunate as it would in theory provide a means for blind & visually impaired users to at least come up with newly generated presets with which to further edit to their taste.

For sighted users there is a newly added option of dragging & dropping in their own wav files, but in common with other libraries this is not something realistically achievable for us non rodent users.

Also absent is the bank of the raw field recordings available in the previous Geosonics, which is not a deal breaker, but would be nice to have available.

When I cross referenced the parameters that are available for host automation in Kontakt outside of Komplete Kontrol by loading the master NKI file, there are parameters here such as the aforementioned sample offset, not found in the KK snapshots, which is a good sign in terms of possible updates.

SonicCouture do have an excellent track record of adding some popularly requested parameter controls , so my hopes rest on this reputation going forth, and my firm knowledge that Dan & James are very helpful chaps 🙂

Sonicality…

The source destinations for the field recordings used within Geosonics II would probably put many an exotic travel guide to shame, with climatically diverse locations such as The GOBI DESERT, ICELANDIC GLACIERS, BORNEO RAINFOREST, TAIGA FOREST, MASAI MARA, ANTARCTICA, GALAPAGOS, SOUTH CHINA SEAS, NSW DESERT, AUSTRALIA,NORWAY and the CARRIBEAN.

Geosonics II sees the introduction of two new categories to the banks section of the library, these being Forests and Marine Life, which sit comfortably alongside the existing Ice & Water, Swamp, Wind and wires.

100 new presets have been added to the existing collection, and this can be extended still further with the purchase of the Ian Boddy Terra Incognito add on preset snapshots pack.

This is something that SonicCouture are planning to further expand upon in the future with new sound packs becoming available.

They have also updated the Ian Boddy Strange Geography sound set, which was released for Geosonics1, and this can be downloaded as a free update for existing owners, or purchased separately.

To be clear, Geosonics II has the same original content as version 1, with the addition of the new field recordings and presets. I would however suggest retaining both versions on your system for accessibility reasons. Details of backward and forward compatibility between the two versions can be found on the website.

Geosonics II Under the Hood…

Geosonics utilises Vector synthesis, which in very simple terms means it morphs and cross fades between it’s sound sources, so in the case of Geosonics it is possible to create a new sound by blending between those natural field recordings and those delivered by synthetic waveforms.

This is a seductive combination, delivering as it does a juxta-position between nature and synthesis, and doubtless contributed to the success of the initial release as well as the excellent Haunted Spaces.

In the case of Geosonics II, there are three sound source elements to work with. The Chris Watson recordings are referred to as Natural, whereas the two synthetic wave sources are titled as ‘Pitched’ 1& 2.

I do understand the logic behind this,but it can initially cause a little confusion when you find the NKS Pitch/Pitched 1 controls, a minor observation perhaps, but plain old source A & Source B would have worked equally well for me.

Page one of the NKS parameters is where the bulk of the creative mixing between sources takes place. The by now familiar X & Y controls found in many products will morph you between the loaded waveforms, while the more conventional level controls will adjust their respective volume levels in the traditional manner.

We are sadly not able to access the UI browsers in order to select, load, mix & match our own choices of natural and synth waves, so as is the situation with so many products, we can really only work with the sounds pre-loaded into the presets provided, and here the saving grace is that there are an abundance of them.

Familiar Territory…

The standard conventions of synthesis pretty much apply from here on in, with ADSR controls for amplitude, filters and LFO. The LFO is notably free running with no option to sync to your host DAW clock, this is intentional rather than an omission, however I would like to have seen the tempo sync option included.

<pre class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code"><strong>    Generators, Jammer, Phraser & Weaver</strong></pre>

There are four pages of NKS assigned to the Generator section of the Geosonics II engine. Here DAW tempo sync is in place and allows for each type of generator to keep in time with your project.

Depending on how you ultimately use Geosonics II these could be useful tools, conversely , they may be something that you never really make use of, other than within the confines of the ready made presets.

It’s actually quite tricky to explain what these generator tools do, and rather than end up replicating the more in depth descriptions found within the manual, I will simply say that they are in my interpretation a hybrid arp and sequencer with an interesting degree of Euclidean experimentation woven into their design.

I found it more satisfying to tweak the existing presets that had these tools pre-enabled, rather than attempting to come up with something as compelling myself.

As an example I toyed with the patch ‘Abstraction Seq’, from the Ice & Water bank, which by default was set to use the Jammer. By switching this over to the Weaver and taking down the LFO rateand levels, the essence of the sound changed from a rapid pulse to an entirely slower vibe, phasing and swirling synths panned across the stereo field, while chunks of ice clattered together serenaded by what I think was the low moan of whale song.

This would I feel be ideal for creators of ambient soundscapes and perhaps ASMR media. There is certainly plenty of content to explore, and this is one of the major joys of Geosonics, just being experimental with a love of sound which does not necessarily need to be musical in the traditional sense.

There are a wealth of fascinating video walkthroughs and detailed information on the creational heritage of the Geosonics product to be found on both the SonicCouture website and YouTube channel, which I highly recommend perusing. .

Conclusion…

If you do not already own Geosonics, then adding it to your collection is a recommendation for any lover of sound and nature, the way the two can interact is simply fascinating.

In terms of use case, the obvious soundscape, cinematic, ambient, media and gaming genres will easily apply, however the creative potential will find a home in a broader range of productions.

As an upgrade from the original version, and despite the slight step backward in terms of access, I would still proffer it as a viable choice given the affordable upgrade pricing, together with the new presets and promise of even more new sound packs on the horizon.

Geosonics II by SonicCouture can be purchased directly from their website with a 30% introductory offer of £129.00 (usually £179.00)
Geosonics 1 owners should login to their accounts to find their upgrade pricing.

Geosonics Product Page:
https://www.soniccouture.com/en/products/28-experimental/g74-geosonics-ii/

Geosonics II Walkthrough with James:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwX4_cc6P0E

Geosonics II Preset Tour:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD9ud5mxRME

Geosonics II User Manual:
https://www.soniccouture.com/files/pdf/Geosonics_II_User_Guide.pdf
(c) Chris Ankin

KK-Access.com
November 17th, 2021

Disclaimer

The author cannot accept any 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 and/or gathered from official factual sources such as the developer, web or supplied 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.

E&OE

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