August ’17 Staff Picks • Sample Libraries and Virtual Instruments


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.

See past months picks here

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:

Dark Matter – String Audio
Ingenious new Hybrid that offers so many timbral possibilities using it’s six layer engine. Kind of an endless playground for finding new sounds. Useful for so many styles of music in some way.► SLR Review of Dark Matter

► SLR Review of Dark Matter
► Link to Product Page

Bontastic – Soundiron 
This is not the cheesy sounding organ tone you might expect. In addition to some very cool organ tone, Bontastic sports some amazing sound designed treats that take this one way beyond traditional organ in its colors and capabilities.

► SLR Review of Bontastic
► Link to Product Page

BT Phobos – Spirifre Audio
Spitfire Audio. Despite being extremely impressed when I reviewed it, I continue to use it in electronic music and as traditional scoring library due to its versatility. In combination with the ROLI Seaboard and the Linnstrument it becomes an entirely different beast, Awesome 5D playing.

► SLR Review of BT Phobos
► Link to Product Page

Ethera Soundscapes – Zero-G
This is another library that is ueful in so many musical contexts. The stunning vocals of Clara Sorace from the Ethera libraries as soundscapes. The new 1.2 update makes this one even better.

► SLR Review of Ethera Soundscapes
► Link to Product Page

Welcome our newest contributor Steven McDonald! Steven is a composer and producer working in the Television, Games, and Trailer fields. Digging into virtual instruments and sample libraries to get the absolute most out of them has been a specialty of his since the beginning of his career.

Zilhouette Strings – Cinematique Instruments
This library surprised me – they have a really nice sound and you can make them pretty much completely dry, which I like. It’s nice that you can solo each instrument and treat multiple tutti patches as single instrument patches instead. The ability to select the size of the ensemble is fantastic and gives the library some legs.

► SLR Review of Zilhouette Strings
► Link to Developer

Eclipse by Wide Blue Sound
It’s very lightweight, but extremely versatile thanks to the large amount of control over the sound via the interface. The FX rack alone can do so much. Not to mention all of the other controls in the main Orbit Panel.

► SLR Review of Eclipse (coming soon)
► Link to Developer

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.

Orbit by  Wide Blue Sound
Packed full of interesting and inspiring sound sources, orbit allows you to you cycle through four different “orbits” to create evolving textures, pulses, and pads.

► SLR Review of Orbit
► Link to Developer

Movement by Output
Though not an actual instrument or sound generator, Movement has proven itself to be extremely useful and wonderful sounding. It’s an elaborate combination of LFOs. You provide it with your sounds, and it causes them to pulse, evolve and “move” in various and customizable ways.

Link to Purchase Movement

Elysium Harp by Soundiron
Perhaps one of the most realistic and natural sounding harps on the market today. Not only this but you are, in addition to the main patch, given a large series of alternate articulations including harmonics and muted tones. As well, a large series of synth sounds derived from the initial harp recordings.

► SLR Review of Elysium Harp
Link to Product Page

Next up is contributor AMM (Alexandria M. Mueller). She is an award-winning composer and violist based in St. Paul, Minnesota and active contributor.

Ethera Soundscapes – Zero-G
This library consists of dark ambiences, interesting synths and incredible vocals. I really like the built in motion in the ambient textures and how well your other musical ideas can sit over the top. The vocal phrases are stunning and the distinctive timbre of Clara Sorace’s voice is bound to make an impact on the listener.

► SLR Review of Ethera Soundscapes
► Link to Product Page

Recorders by Embertone
Get your Shire on. This library is a delightful collection of the recorder family. The ease of playability and attention to detail result in a realism so superb I was inspired to purchase an encore library.

► SLR Review of Recorders
► Link to Product Page

Shire Whistle by Embertone
As with the Recorders library, this whistle demonstrates ease of playability and stunning realism. In addition to its soloistic capabilities, it is also a fine companion for Recorders, giving you a brighter, more focused sound than the descant recorder.

► Link to Product Page


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.

Big Bang Universal Drums by Sonivox
It contains a ton of hits that would be perfect for writing trailer music. It also features an arpeggiator to help the rhythmically impaired create great sounding rhythms.

► Link to Purchase Library

Progressive Metal Guitar by 8dio
This instrument is a great tool for anyone who lacks the guitar skill to play these kinds of phrases. It is also a lot of fun to just play around with as well.

► Link to Developer Site

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.

Nailstrom Guitar – Audio Imperia
Far more versatile than you might think. Good shorts and longs and some cool sound design.
(Note: SLR readers save 10% Off all Audio Imperia orders with code “CUZUROCK” link here)

► SLR Review of Nailstrom Guitar
► Link to Developer Site

Simcock Felt Piano – Spitfire Audio
Fll version of something you can also get for charity donation via their Labs. Piano with only felts on – yes it is limited but for subtle parts works great and I often also layer it with other keyboard instruments to great effect. (link here)

► Link to Product Page

Misfit Stompbox – 8dio
Mad cheap mini library, but I like using with other stuff to create earthy and intimate beats. Numerous round robins help give it life.

► Link to Developer Site


See all past Staff Picks Posts