Review: SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling

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The SWAM all in bundle comprises of 32 solo instruments including strings, brass and woodwinds. The developer’s emulation software uses physical, acoustical, and behavioral modeling to create expressive playable instruments primed for Midi Polyphonic Expression (MPE). With groundbreaking technology and demos with a real human feel, I couldn’t wait to have a deep dive into this collection.

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Review: SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling

 

SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling normally sells for $2150.00.
At the time of posting, the SWAM All In Bundle $1400 was available for $1400.00 from ILIO

Having played with the instruments for some time now the strengths certainly outweigh the limitations. I purposely have not used the term “weaknesses” as I don’t feel that there is anything weak about the bundle. The technology is still new and for such a high level of instrument having already been achieved, I am excited to see how Audio Modelling take these instruments further. The only real limitation for me is the amount or articulations and I stressed in the video that with different controllers you can create more incredible articulations. While some articulations are not present currently, the high level of expressiveness is really easy to achieve in real time. You can tweak this in the midi programming later yet you should not need to. With other solo instrument packages, you can create extremely realistic melodies and performances, but in my experience the programming can take hours to get right. With the SWAM instruments, it takes only one performance. You are however limited by the capabilities of your own playing, yet it’s a great excuse to improve your playing ability.

The strings are instantly playable out of the box. I love the expressive feel and they fit effortlessly into productions. Not having the ability to control vibrato of an instrument is one of the key factors I look for when purchasing a new library. the vibrato control on the MPE controller is so natural.

SWAM Cello

As a guitarist I find myself wanting to wobble the keys of my MIDI keyboard to get vibrato with no effect, just a habit. With the SWAM instruments and an MPE controller, that is possible. They take playing instruments into a whole new dimension and they really need to be tried to be believed.

Aside from being able to tweak many parameters of each type of instrument, I really like how each instrument has different variants with different timbres. How many other “libraries” for want of a better word do you know you can remove one viola and replace it with a different viola?

SWAM Violin

Not only does this represent great value for money, but it should eliminate any need for other solo instrument libraries. I agree to an extent, yet if you need Bartok Pizzicato then you may need to look elsewhere. But for main articulations there is so much here in guise of legato, staccato, pizzicato, col legno, glissando, bends, trills and grace notes. It’s all how adept you are at playing your MPE controller. Yet, as with all new technologies, I can imagine development is an ongoing process and these articulations will become available in the future.

The brass instruments sounded very authentic to me yet they required the most set up. The portamento needed to be adjusted for each instrument and I did tweak certain aspects of the playing. The brass did not feel synthetic although with extra reverb I felt they really came into their own. I like all of my libraries to be as dry as possible so I can add my own reverbs and create a performance space. I find it a great option to be able to play the instruments completely dry and did not find the in built reverb to be too over powering.

SWAM Trumpet

I used a large, cinematic reverb in the video, I can imagine with subtle use, these instruments can be used easily as soloists and first chairs. Again, the excess of options, playing styles and mutes is exceptional and necessary to get the best out of your MPE controller and these instruments.

Finally, the woodwinds really came into their own with the human feel. The breath and key sounds along with the expressive vibrato and legato made these instruments feel alive. While many libraries have these features sampled, these nuances are also controlled by your MPE controller.

SWAM Flute

This makes each performance unique and not just a slight variation or round robin of a key or breath sample. I found the woods to be extremely responsive and very expressive. Again, these can be used in a full orchestral setting and would be perfect during a cadenza or to add a solo line to an ensemble section.

To summarise, the SWAM collection contains extremely pro-level and exciting instruments. They need to be experienced to be believed and really show how far the MPE technology has come. I would encourage anyone to try MPE instruments as it is a whole new world of playing and performing. While similar results can be achieved, MPE is a huge time saver but above all else, it is extremely fun. I wholeheartedly recommend the SWAM instruments although there is a learning curve and the time must be put in to get the most out of them. I can’t wait to use these in a full production and I also can’t wait to see how Audio Modeling develops this technology. For sure though, they have done a fantastic job with the SWAM All in bundle.

Facts

Occupies 730 MB once installed.

Does not use samples

32 solo instruments split into three categories, Strings, Woodwind, Brass

Runs in the Audio Modeling SWAM engines using physical, acoustical and behavioral modeling

Compatible with Midi Polyphonic Expression MPE controllers but can be used with traditional midi controllers.

SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling normally sells for $2150.00.
At the time of posting, the SWAM All In Bundle $1400 was available for $1400.00 from ILIO

Demos of SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling

Videos of SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling

Contributor Pete Checkley reviews SWAM All in Bundle by Audio Modeling
“The SWAM all in bundle comprises of 32 solo instruments using physical, acoustical, and behavioral modeling. With groundbreaking technology and demos with a real human feel, I couldn’t wait to have a deep dive into this collection!”