June 2017 Staff Picks
Each month we ask around the (virtual) office to see what VSTs and sample libraries our contributors are currently working with on their own projects so that we can share them with you.
Welcome our newest contributor Shaun Chasin! Shaun is a Canadian composer for film, TV and video games who studied at University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television graduate program. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his cat Bogie.
Evo Grid by Spitfire Audio
A collection of evolving sustaining string textures and sounds great from everything to drama to horror. I have found any time a cue ends with a high sustaining note or is written with a high pedal for instance, Evo is my go to over any standard string sustaining sound any day.
Zebra by u-he
Not a kontakt instrument but an extremely useable and neat sounding synth. Create your own unique sounds from scratch or start with any of the large number of preset soundscapes, pads, textures, pulses, or rhythms.
Rev by Output
Based on reverse sounds, Rev offers an interesting and unique sounding collection of playable keyboard patches as well as tempo and pitch synced loops. It’s very stylistically versatile. I’ve used it in everything from sentimental pensive drama scores all the way to bombastic action writing.
Editor Brian Brylow (Composer, Sound Designer, and Producer) creates music as part of the electronic duos Parallaxe and Gorgon Nebula as well as Arpegiator. Brian probably owns more VI’s than anyone I know! His Staff Picks are below:
Xbow by Soniccouture
Clearly one of the best sampled E-Bow emulations for electric guitar. It provides excellent texture to a variety of musical styles including pure electronic landscapes where it really shines.
Riff Generation by In Session Audio
A brand new library that provides previously unheard of compositional capabilities including a robust step sequencer that allows you to change the instrument used on each step. Quite a creative tool!
Igneous Electric Cello by Spitfire Audio
An eclectic instrument that offers some interesting timbres through the use of a number of custom signal paths and playing techniques. This can add some really surprising results that spice up your compositions.
Next up is contributor AMM (Alexandria M. Mueller). She is an award-winning composer and violist based in St. Paul, Minnesota and active contributor.
Gypsy by EastWest/Sounds Online
I don’t use this library often but every time I come back to it I am pleased. EastWest has done a fine job capturing colors of these instruments and the chutzbah of the playing style. I have found the solo violin especially interesting in this regard. I’ve also found this library useful outside its original context when I am looking for a “dirtier” sounding cymbal.
Symphony Series String Ensemble by Native Instruments
As a real-life string player I am generally unimpressed with string samples of any sort, especially when it comes to legato playing. This library is part of my standard arsenal, however, as its tone and control are reliable and precise. Automatic divisi is also a hugely beneficial feature of this library which helps keep it closer to a live ensemble balance.
Next are the picks from contributor T.M.K Davis. Tim has been playing keyboards and drums for 20 years and composing orchestral music for about 10 years. He is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in music production with a focus on video game scoring and commercial music.
1. Superior Drummer by Toontrack
An extraordinary drum sample library with great flexibility and customization. The xpacs are a little expensive but well worth the cost. Each new pack adds new sounds, mixed settings, and drag and drop midi patterns. I was a little apprehensive about getting it at first, but it has quickly become my go to library for drums.
2. Action Strings by Native Instruments
A top notch sounding phrase player. It is an excellent tool to help find that string phrase you’ve been hearing in your head or to help inspire a new direction when you’re having writer’s block.
3. Symphonic Choirs and VOTA expansion byEastWest/Sounds Online
Great sounding choir library with one of the best word builders available on the market. The word builder has a steep learning curve, but is definitely worth investing the time and energy into learning.
Last but not least is one of our most active contributors, Sam Burt. Sam’s a songwriter, producer, composer and educator based in the UK. A former BMG/Sony Records/Universal Publishing artist, Sam now creates music as part of the duo Border Scout and for trailer houses. It has been a pleasure having Sam contribute reviews for the site as they are always thorough and well thought out.
Signal by Output
Not exactly a boutique product, but it is simply hugely impressive. Finding new depths in it by diving in heavily to presets and tweaking, especially when recently I needed a 16th triplet feel.
Cassyntherette by Rattly and Raw
Crazily brilliant crusty synth sample set. It’s wobbly, it’s raw, it’s gritty – what’s not to love about that?!
Decimator Drums by Audio Imperia
No one has taken a rock drum kit ensemble and done anything like this. Immensely fun and I love the limitations of it – simply sledgehammers its way through a mix.