Review: Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

by

It’s always exciting when a historical library is released! Soundiron‘s Ancient Greek Strings is a detailed and customizable hybrid instrument with a 4 layer engine, controls for micro-tuning, an ARP, filter, and an arranger. The library goes beyond the natural sounds of these 7 ancient string instruments.

Jump to the Videos of Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

Jump to the Demos of Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

 

Review: Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

Ancient Greek Strings is a new Kontakt library by Soundiron. It includes one single main .nki file plus several presets aviable as .nkis.

As the name itself suggests, the library features seven instruments from the Ancient Greek tradition: Barbiton, Cithara, Lyre, Goat Horn Lyre, Pandura, Phormix, and Trigonon.  The instruments were built by Lyravlos, an organization that recreates authentic bronze age instruments using the same materials the instruments of were made of in 430 BC. Ancient Greek Strings was recorded by the Greek composer, producer and sound designer John Valasis, and played by Panagiotis Stefos (Lyre, Barbiton, Phorminx) and Olga Stefou (Cithara, Trigonon, Pandura).

The library needs the full version of Native Instrument’s Kontakt (5.5 or later version), so it doesn’t run on the free Kontakt Player.

Ancient Greek Strings normally sells for $59.00 from Soundiron

Thoughts

The library comes with one main .nki file and a different folder containing 20 FX presets as .nkis. The user manual is very detailed, and you can find in it information about the instruments themselves. The GUI is divided into three sections.

The first one, the Advanced Control Window section is “hidden”. By clicking on the settings symbol at the top of the interface, the Advanced Control Window opens covering the main wallpaper. It contains the per layer LFO, Filter and Arpeggiator assignments. If you click on the small circle near the “Keyswitches” word (which lights up if turned on), you can activate the keyswitches, assigned to the  low notes of the keyboard.

The LFO controls allow you to modify the samples’ shape introducing variations on the waveform. You can choose between Sine, Square, Triangle, Saw-tooth and Random, and you can assign the LFO to a specific parameter, selecting between Volume, Bass, Treble, Pitch, Pan, Filter Resonance and Frequency in the “Target” pop-up menu. The lock button syncs the LFO speed to your sequencer’s tempo, or to the Kontakt’s BPM “ETX” button.

The Filter allows you to add a particular filter effect to the instrument, by choosing between several filter types, and just under the filter system, you’ll find the “Scale lock” settings, meaning that, when the lock button is active, the instrument will play only the notes of the selected scale.

The arpeggiator, allows you to create arpeggios, rhythmic patterns and step sequences.

In the lower zone of the interface, you’ll find two areas. In the first you can activate up to four layers you can use to customize your own sound. In the first two layers you can choose one of the seven recorded acoustic instruments. The third layer lets you add an ambience pad to the overall sound, while the fourth layer (called “Sub-Synth”), selects the synthesizer layer, with a choice of six waveform shapes. Using the “X-Fade Slider”, you can crossfade between layers A and B.

The lower area contains the knobs to control the parameters of the selected layer, such as attack, volume, release, vibrato and pan. Volume is already assigned to CC72, and Vibrato to CC76 but you can assign any parameter to any other CC if you’d like to. The Offset Knob (“Ofs”) allows you to cut the beginning of a sample, and you can also control semitone and cent tuning for the current layer using the Pitch knob (“Pit”). On the right side, you can choose the kind of sound to assign to the layer, as well as the articulations for layers 1 and 2. Available articulations are Pluck Finger, Pluck Pick, Staccato, Mute and FX. On layers 1 and 2, you can switch between the acoustic instruments by clicking on the instrument’s name on the selected layer. If you click on the small black circle button under the volume’s knob, the knobs’ values will show up.

Under this zone, you’ll find the FX Rack window, which lets you add effects like Chorus, Compressor, Delay, Filter, EQ, and many others, to the overall sound, allowing you to customize it even more.

On the keyboard, keyswitches notes are red, the blue keys are playable chromatic keys, and the turquoise keys are the natural sound of the instrument’s strings. The blue keys above and below are stretched from those points.

 

Generally speaking, this is a quite good library. It’s always exciting when a new historical library is released. The strength of this one in particular is that you are not limited only to the traditional use of these instruments, but you can create peculiar pads and textures combining the four layers together in order to create your own sound for a wider use of the library itself.

The library doesn’t contain any mic position options and the samples sound pretty dry. If you want to remove any room sound you can turn the release knob to the minimum. At this point, you still have a bit of tail after you release the key, so the sample doesn’t sound unnatural. The instruments sound pretty realistic and you have some velocity layers available that allow you to go from very soft to very loud dynamics.

Thanks to the light mapping you can see where the root string notes are in order to achieve more realism while you are playing. All the available notes on the keyboard are playable but, as I wrote before, beyond the root notes the samples are stretched; therefore, the more you move away from the turquoise keys, the more the instrument will sound unnatural, but I think this feature is more about giving you the opportunity to mix every playable note with the synth and/or the ambience layer.

Facts

The library includes one master .nki instrument plus 20 FX presets.
It requires the full version of Kontakt (5.5 or later).
Samples are saved as 24 bit/48 kHz uncompressed PCM wav files
The library downloads as 8.23 GB installed.

Ancient Greek Strings normally sells for $59.00 from Soundiron

 

Demos of Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

 

Videos of Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron

Contributor Giuseppe Corcella reviews Ancient Greek Strings by Soundiron
“It’s always exciting when a historical library is released and Soundiron‘s Ancient Greek Strings is a detailed and customizable hybrid instrument, With a 4 layer, controls for microtuning, an ARP, filter and an arranger the library goes beyond the natural sounds of these 7 ancient string instruments.”