ASPIRE MODERN MALLETS BY HEAVYOCITY
Mallets have undergone something of a creative renaissance in recent times when it comes to sample libraries, and with good reason I would venture.
Thanks to state of the art fx processing and cinematic sound design techniques that Kontakt can both host and deliver, those perhaps once humble and seldom used GM Marimba & Vibraphone presets have suddenly become far more appealing as a compositional voice, things are now likely to ramp up another notch with the launch of Heavyocity’s latest library, Aspire Modern Mallets.
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Undoubtedly Heavyocity have a definite knack of taking specific instrument types and applying their renowned hybrid scoring magic to the theme.
Aspire Modern Mallets is certainly no exception, here they once again apply their well versed trademark flair for sound design and again create a whole gamut of emotions that span a range between relaxed gentle tranquility and spine tingling supernatural scariness.
Heavyocity are using their Ascend NKS mapping template for Modern Mallets, which many will be familiar with from their excellent Ascend Modern Grand library.
ASPIRE requires KONTAKT or KONTAKT PLAYER (version 6.6.1 or later), and is naturally NKS compatible to work within Komplete Kontrol.
There is 1 master NKI preset file, which in turn feeds a further 114 NKSN snapshots, these being what we find inside our Komplete Kontrol browser.
Download & Installation
Download is achieved by using the Heavyocity Portal which is by and large accessible to screen readers. The application will handle the download, unarchiving and final construction of the entire sample library folder for you.
Authorisation is then done using Native Access and the same code is used to authorise your product. You then just need to locate the folder on your system to finalise things, prior to a rescan of Komplete Kontrol to update the database to add Modern Mallets to your browser.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plugin Edit NKS Parameter Mapping
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 – Bank: All Stars, Core Mallets, Extended, Rhythmic, Rhythmic Melodic
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Mallet Instruments
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Marimba, Vibraphone
Knob 7 – Character: Arpeggiated, Metallic, Processed, Sample Based, Tempo Synced,
Plugin Edit NKS Parameter Mapping
Page One – FX On/Off + FX 1
Knob 1 to 4 – FX 1 to 4 On/Off
Knob 5 – FX 1 Threshold
Knob 6 – FX 1 Ratio
Knob 7 – FX 1 Attack
Knob 8 – FX 1 Make Up
Page Two – FX 2 & FX 3
Knob 1 – FX 2 Low
Knob 2 – FX 2 Mid
Knob 3 – FX 2 Mid Frequency
Knob 4 – FX 2 High
Knob 5 – FX 3 Time
Knob 6 – FX 3 Feedback
Knob 7 – Damp
Knob 8 – Level
Page Three – FX 4 & Convolution
Knob 1 – FX 4 Pre-Delay
Knob 2 – FX 4 Size
Knob 3 – FX 4 Colour
Knob 4 – FX 4 Mix
Knob 5 – Convolve On/Off
Knob 6 – Master
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
Page Four – Shape
Knob 1 – Shape On/Off
Knob 2 – Low Pass Cut-Off
Knob 3 – High Pass Cut-Off
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Gate Rate
Knob 6 – Gate Amount
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated
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Knob 1 – Ambience On/off
Knob 2 – Delay Time
Knob 3 – Delay Amount
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – pre-Delay
Knob 6 – Size
Knob 7 – Mod
Knob 8 – Mix
Page Six – Arp & Echoes
Knob 1 – Arp On/Off
Knob 2 – Rate
Knob 3 – Octave
Knob 4 – Swing
Knob 5 – Echoes On/Off
Knob 6 – Transpose
Knob 7 – Rate
Knob 8 – Amount
Page Seven – Channel 1 & Channel 2
Knob 1 – CH1 Volume
Knob 2 – CH1 Pan
Knob 3 – CH1 Convolve
Knob 4 – CH1 Tone
Knob 5 – CH2 Volume
Knob 6 – CH2 Pan
Knob 7 – CH2 Convolve
Knob 8 – CH2 Tone
Page Eight – Channel 3 & Random
Knob 1 – CH3 Volume
Knob 2 – CH3 Pan
Knob 3 – CH3 Convolve
Knob 4 – CH3 Tone
Knob 5 – Random On/Off
Knob 6 – Scatter
Knob 7 – Drift
Knob 8 – Unallocated
Page Nine – Stereo
Knob 1 – Stereo Width
Knob 2 – Stereo Flip
Knob 3 to 8 – Unallocated
The level of NKS accessibility achievable using the Komplete Kontrol speech feature within the Aspire Modern Mallets library is on a par with other Heavyocity releases, offering 9 pages in all.
Certainly there are some tasty more advanced features buried within the user interface that we have never been able to make use of, such as selecting our own channel sound sources, recording automation, sequences, ADSR and modulation to name a few.
It is good to see options to adjust the arp and note echo parameters found within Modern Mallets, although I would like to have seen a deeper level of control for more detailed tweaking for both of these features.
We do of course have the onboard arpeggiator with our Komplete Kontrol keyboards, so if it comes to the need for alternate pattern choices, this is always a reserve option, just be sure to turn off Modern Mallets own arp firs!.
The echo feature can be thought of as a programmable midi note repeater, which can add a nice touch to your played notes.
We can change the note rate which is tempo synced, and also the pitch relative to the played notes, as well as turn it on and off and mix volume balance, but there is not a mapping for the note repetition feedback, which as it stands for us appears to leave it set at the value saved for each preset when it was originally created.
The Kontakt Experience
When I cross referenced the parameters that had been made available for automation by loading the master NKI into Kontakt on it’s own, I was intrigued to find that in some cases those desirable additional controls were in fact included
The attack & release, echoe feedback and a few other niceties were sitting there in my DAW parameter list almost teasing me!
If only these had been dragged and dropped over to the Komplete Kontrol knobs with a few extra pages then our accessibility experience within KK could have increased somewhat.
The Modern Mallet Palette
There are two choices of Mallet types within the library, these being Marimba or Vibraphone, which respectively cover the typical construction materials of wood and metal.
As you may have seen from the browser description, there are five different categories within the library. (as ever my apologies and commiserations for A-Series & M32 owners who unfortunately have no access to the banks section when using their KK browser).
Let’s now take a brief run through of the categories found in the banks section…
This bank of 17 presets I believe refers to the fact that all 3 of the available sound source channels are used within each of the patches.
This triple combination is put to good use with the blending of both Marimba & Vibraphone samples in tandem with some great effects.
As a singular example, ‘Bowed Cascades’ demonstrates how the lush bowed vibes samples can generate an air of mystique when modulated with both the arp and echoes section.
In this preset the arp is set to 1/4 while the echoes are using a rate of 1/2.
The overall feel can be varied significantly just by tweaking the play rates between these two parameters, with options that can range from 1/4 to 1/64 including triple time for the arp, and 1/1 and 1/32 including triple time for the echoes.
There is also the option to alter the pitch of the echoes separate to the notes played by the core samples, providing further flex ability for experimentation.
Thoughtfully Heavyocity have included a bank of sixteen presets which use the core sample sources that are used to populate the 3 available sound channels in the other more sound design orientated presets.
Here there are 7 Marimba and 9 Vibraphone patches, offering variations such as basic, soft, compressed, lush ambient, bowed, old time, small room, tremolo and finally under. (the latter presumably being the microphone placement position when originally recorded).
The Extended category contains 27 preset examples of the Hybrid Scoring style that Heavyocity excel at.
Here they make full use of the Modern Mallets Ascend engine, throwing all manner of reverse samples, evolving and shimmering pads, and ethereal ambient washes into the mix
Heavyocity followers will note that both Ascend Modern Piano and Modern Mallets do not include the now legendary Punish & Twist effects.
I can understand that decision, as these libraries do not really attract the more aggressive tones that this effect leans toward, however if you were not aware, Punish is available as a separate FX plugin for the more radical experimentalists among you.
We are again on familiar territory with these 27 Rhythmic presets. Using the echo feature in many cases there are a cross section of rhythmic based patterns to be found here, all tempo synced to the DAW clock rate.
These are usable for all manner of compositions and bring with them the important motion and animation requisites needed for popular contemporary scoring styles.
There are 26 presets in this bank, which add a melodic element to the rhythms. This is achieved again using the midi echo feature as well as copious application of the 4 part convolve effect chain, which is also tempo synced to the DAW.
Mallets In Use
Veteran Heavyocity users will feel right at home with the general workflow and compositional usage of Modern Mallets.
The categorisation of the presets follow a by now established arrangement, that being the aforementioned cleaner sounds, the sound designed hybrid content followed by the rhythmic and rhythmic melodic based material.
There were no keyswitches to be found within the library, which I think again like the absence of the Punish effect defers to them not really being necessary.
Interestingly Heavyocity do not include tuning controls for the samples loaded into each of the 3 channels. I initially suspected that this might be an omission of the NKS mapping template, however delving into the manual also revealed no mention of such a feature.
I would as ever highly recommend taking a look at the walkthrough videos for Aspire Modern Mallets, Heavyocity always do a great job with these, deftly demonstrating the creative possibilities in the context of a full arrangement.
If you are already familiar with Heavyocity products then by now you will know the score. They always lend themselves perfectly to modern media composition, whether used collectively or singularly out of the box in their usual well polished and mix ready state.
Aspire Modern Mallets further builds on a now very expansive and creative Heavyocity hybrid scoring portfolio, with each new addition still remaining capable to both aspire and inspire us.
Aspire – Modern Mallets can be purchased from the Heavyocity Web site,
For a limited time, Heavyocity is offering ASPIRE for $99 (reg. $119). In addition, owners of ASCEND: Modern Grand will receive an additional 20% off. Offers end March 3, 2022.
Aspire – Modern Mallets Product Page:
Aspire Modern Mallets – Content Overview:
Aspire Modern Mallets – Preset Playthrough:
Same Scene, Different Score – Modern Mallets:
Aspire Modern Mallets – User Manual:
c) Chris Ankin
February 22nd, 2022
The author can not accept any responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this review,or Any inaccuracies found therein. All opinions and 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
Based in Buckinghamshire, England, Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review author and contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.
He has also worked extensively in, and been associated with music, recording, film Soundtrack, Game & media, the creative arts, publishing and investments since 1982 under his own name and various other pseudonyms.