Review: 66 Basses by 8Dio
Unique one-of-a- kind (at least for now) library
Massive epic bass sounds
Good choice of mic positions
Clear and intuitive interface
Warm analog sound
Easy to use, yet powerful sequencer
Deep parameter control under the hood
Very useful stack feature
Randomizing button can open unexpected sounds and combinations
Many of the samples are wet and somewhat muffled
Challenge to blend with other llibraries
Significant memory and CPU hit on older machines
Long pause when loading new samples
Can get lost trying out random combinations
No way to recapture random settings
66 Basses is a unique entry into an increasingly saturated string library world. It is clearly aimed at the trailer or cinematic composer looking for one thing: earth rumbling bass. It’s big and it’s epic alright, but it can also be used to create some surprisingly subtle and melancholic textures using the stacking feature. Those looking for a string bass library to augment or mix in with their existing string libraries may be disappointed. The sheer size of the section (66 players) creates a texture that will probably not blend well with others. But, for anyone looking for teeth rattling low end, it delivers. Sub-woofers beware!
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Review: 66 Basses by 8Dio
66 Basses is a straightforward, easy to use VI with comprehensive editing features. Starting with a world class group of bass players that were recorded with at least 10 different microphone settings, it offers a fairly full set of articulations including many of the more atonal, dissonant variety that seem to be ‘de rigeur’ in most recent cinematic libraries. While the articulations all sound great on their own, what really makes this package shine is the ability to ‘stack’ or combine them together. This can create some unusual and unexpected textures. Throw in an easy to use but robust sequencer and a host of effects to further ‘mangle’ or shall we say, ‘sculpt your sound’, and you have a very versatile and deep instrument. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a randomize feature which can be used on any combination of articulations, sequences and effects. 8Dio affectionately calls it their CHAOS button!
While the room sound and the sheer sonic overload of 66 basses playing at the same time does create some mixing and blending challenges, I believe its unique character makes it a very useful addition to almost any serious composer’s toolkit.
66 Basses sells for $248.00 from 8Dio
66 Basses is the first entry in the new Legion series. 8Dio describes this line of instruments as dedicated to solving ‘specific needs’ in epic cinematic music. Hmm! Well, I’ll be interested to see what ‘needs’ they feel warrant particular attention. If gut wrenching, earth shattering bass is a need, then it’s a great start! This library certainly does that and more.
It contains all of the articulations you might expect from string players. Sustains, shorts, arcs, harmonics and different effects. They’ve also added a number of unexpected ones such as dynamic waves, clusters, and bridge effects. These effects are eminently useful as is and no doubt many will grab and drop them into their tracks. But if you spend a little time combining sounds or heaven forbid, using the CHAOS button, you will be rewarded with some highly unusual results.
As mentioned, there are 10 different mic positions that you can choose from. All these positions can be mixed and toggled on and off in the Mixer section. They can be opened in RAM sparing DFD mode or a more demanding TM2 and TM Pro modes. There’s the usual, Decca, Mixed, Far and Wide, but there’s also a Binural mic position that was placed right near the conductor. Choosing that option lets you hear the group exactly as the conductor heard it. Now this may or may not be useful to you. In practice, I found that the hall the samples were recorded in added so much ambient reverb that the sound tended to muddy up quickly, especially when combining samples. For that reason, I preferred the Spot Mics. They gave a drier and crisper sound that retained definition when mixed together. But of course, that’s a subjective observation. It’s just something to keep in mind. It’s so easy to turn the sub 400KHz nether region into a big stew where nothing stands out.
There are a bunch of presets that are included to get you started immediately. These are combinations of various samples and effects already applied including some very useful ostinatos (who can live without ostinatos?).
You can use these as a starting point and then ‘roll your own.’ Or you can toss all good sense to the wind and hit that CHAOS button! Be warned though. Since many of these presets are stacked combinations with added effects, they will eat up a good amount of RAM.
They also take a fair bit of time to load. Choosing between articulations involves unloading and uploading different samples. That can be mitigated to some degree by batch resaving the samples before use. But be prepared to wait regardless. Of course, that’s a quibble and those on faster machines will probably not notice.
In that regard, 8Dio designed an intuitive and easy to navigate GUI. For one thing, the buttons are big and the writing is large enough to easily see what you’re doing. This is a god-send as Kontakt continues to (inexplicably) shrink its GUI making many of us have to squint ever more to see what we’re working with, especially on larger screens. The various menus are clear and can basically be accessed from the one page.
There are only two pages to navigate to,:the main page and the effects page. Everything is accessible from these two pages. Notice the stack and the reverse buttons. They…well… stack and reverse the samples! When you combine this with the glide and pitch envelope buttons, you can get some pretty convincing risers and downers. Trailer composers take note! Using these features, I was even able to get convincing epic drum elements! They won’t replace dedicated epic drums but they will add depth and guts to drum tracks. Amazing when you think about it since this is a ‘string’ library.
8Dio didn’t stop there. It added a robust sequencer, an X/Y axis modulation section and a complement of effects that can be assigned in any combination. How you apply them can have a massive effect on your sound; morphing it into something you could easily hear in a Hans Zimmer production. I won’t go into too many details because half the fun is discovering things for yourself.
The synth sections (3) are worth mentioning. These are sampled synth sounds. On their own, they’re not all that impressive, but that isn’t their role. These days, there never seems to be enough sub-bass on cinematic and especially trailer tracks. One of the tactics many trailer composers use to get those room rattling sub frequencies without adding more frequencies, is using simple low-end synth patches to double up the bass parts. These synths do that admirably. They don’t get in the way of the main bass parts. You can combine and mangle them in any way imaginable and if you can’t imagine it, there’s always the CHAOS button!
There is a manual that comes with the product, but it’s more of the listing of features type. (This seems to be more and more common. Gone are the days of the brick sized manuals that also served as great speaker bases.) Basically, it just lays out what each menu item is. There’s no real, step-by-step instruction on how to use the various features and what twiddling each knob actually does. But that’s ok because the actual GUI is so well designed and self-explanatory that you really don’t need the manual at all.
Woofer destroying rumble? Check! Deep and menacing? Def. But how about soft and haunting? Or emotional and melancholic? To my surprise, all of these were achievable with this instrument. And without too much trouble or time on my part. I’ve attached a piece I wrote that uses ONLY this instrument. Nothing else. Since I am primarily a trailer composer it’s naturally in the trailer mode, but it will give you an idea of what you can accomplish with this library and of course, my secret sauce of processing!
So, in a nutshell, is this library worth it? Only if you need it. It’s not a panacea and won’t make you a top selling trailer composer just because you have it. It’s very specific and does need some understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and why to get the most out of it. But of course, that’s the case with any product, isn’t it?
So, if you are a trailer or epic cinematic composer, and need to beef up your sub bass, definitely check it out. But even if you are doing underscore or more nuanced and subtle music, it has rewards to offer. With a little out-of-the-box thinking. Oh, and don’t forget. When all else fails…hit the CHAOS button!
This library needs around 14 GB of hard drive space. The product is watermarked to discourage piracy. It is downloadable from the 8Dio website using their propriety software downloader. The process is fairly painless
Please note, it needs the full retail version of Kontakt 5.6 or higher to run.
66 Basses sells for $248.00 from 8Dio
Demo by MCR