Review: Bowed Bucket by Soundiron

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Producing clean, rich, meaty, Cello-like tones, this instrument is perfectly suited to playing sustained, staccato and rhythmic percussive sounds. Its thick, warm, low-end growl lends a satisfying tonality to notes, pads, drones and FX. While plucks, strikes and drumsticks produce rhythmic elements that mimic the kind of action and abuse one might never subject a real cello to.

Jump to the Videos of Bowed Bucket by Sound Iron

Jump to the Demos of Bowed Bucket by Sound Iron

 

Review: Bowed Bucket by Soundiron

Soundiron has been making noise in the sample library universe for nearly a decade, developing many interesting and eclectic instruments and sample libraries. Most recently, they’ve collaborated with Sample Logic to produce Modern Animated Percussion. They’ve also developed sounds and libraries for brands like Native Instruments, Korg, Presonus and Propellerhead’s Reason, as well as many other well-known sample-centric audio creation, loop and instrument products. The company continues to push boundaries and develop unique products for musicians and sound designers. The latest release, “Bowed Bucket 3.0” is just such an instrument. It’s a simple concept that leads to some very rich material, useful in musical composition and sound design.

Bowed Bucket sells for $29.00 from Soundiron

Thoughts

Hunter S. Thompson’s famous quote, “when the going gets tough, the weird turn pro” may seem like an odd opening for a sample library review but bear with me. You may not have considered buying a sample library made from a plastic bucket, either. If you think of the ubiquitous plastic bucket only as make-shift drum, behold this mighty bucket! However, if anyone was going to make a bucket sing, it’s the creative minds at Soundiron. Where, forgive me folks, the weird have clearly turned pro.

For the utilitarians among us, destroying a perfectly good bucket may be the kind of sacrilege that would make any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer cringe. Thankfully, Soundiron’s manual states that, although the bucket can no longer hold water, it is still useful for transporting “small children, pets and smaller buckets.” Pleasantly, the sum of the parts; a length of 4×4 lumber, Cello strings, bass tuners and plastic bucket – produce some very useful sounds. You might have preconceived notions, born of a time when you saw an improvised bass made from an old wash tub and a rope and think you know exactly what this will sound like. Pay careful attention to the demos. The Bowed Bucket (version 3.0) yields impressive results and in the capable hands of Soundiron’s team of creative sound designers, musicians and developers, it becomes a serious creative tool.

Producing clean, rich, meaty, Cello-like sounds, this instrument is perfectly suited to playing sustained, staccato and rhythmic percussive sounds. Its thick, warm, low-end growl lends a satisfying tonality to notes, pads, drones and FX. While plucks, strikes and drumsticks produce rhythmic elements that mimic the kind of action and abuse one might never subject a real cello to.

Bowed Bucket 3.0 boasts a new customizable user interface, new and updated presets and improved sample quality to extend the reach of creative control. All the samples can be found in the master preset along with powerful controls for expression, layering of up to 4 independent layers each with controls for linking, automation and customization.

The primary single instrument is complimented further by the addition of 22 designed “FX” .NKI’s named in a way that hints at their content. This brings the total number of included .NKIs to 23. All of which serve to elevate the status of the lowly bucket to a very interesting and value packed instrument. I found the combinations of layers and designed sounds to be quite useful in developing sound effects, suspense cues, rhythmic and atmospheric pieces, horror, sci-fi, world/ethnic pieces, pop and more.

The uncluttered interface offers everything you will need. Large knobs control swell, attack, start offset, release (with “Pad-mode,”) filter, vibrato, coarse and fine pitch and sound bank selection. A crossfader assignment can be applied to all 4 layers. In layer 3, you’ll find a menu of tonal and dissonant pads, synth-tones and ambient dreamscapes and in the Sub Synth layer, a basic synthesizer allows your choice of 6 basic shapes that can applied. To access the controls for LFO, Filter and Arpeggiator, simply click the upside down chevron in the center of the page.

The LFO, Filter and Arpeggiator menu allows for even deeper manipulation and controls to shape your sounds into whatever you would like them to be. LFO shape, modulation, speed, intensity, fade-in are all controllable while Filters offer 13 high-pass, lowpass and FX filters including assignable controls for expression, modwheel, velocity, aftertouch, key position and step sequencer table. The Arpeggiator offers controls for direction, note timing, swing, duration and randomization. There is even a key scale lock system to constrain notes to common scales.

And finally, the FX tab provides access to 18 effects and a slew of presets, giving you incredible control over your sounds.

Here you can select from a number of presets or craft your own, providing a plethora of sonic variations and alternatives to build into your layers.

In my opinion, Bowed Bucket presents some excellent sounds which will easily find their way into far more of my tracks than even I first might have imagined. At $29, you really can’t go wrong. Sometimes inspiration from the simplest things can lead to great compositions. Overlooking this little gem because it’s …well, a bucket… would be a mistake. Soundiron’s development team provides some excellent presets to spark ideas, and in my experience, it only took a few minutes of exploration before I had Bowed Bucket as a foundation for couple of quite useful scores. Be sure you watch the excellent videos and listen to the demos available on the Soundiron Website. I didn’t know I needed a Bowed Bucket in my life, but I’m absolutely thrilled to have one available with this kind of versatility.

Facts

Bowed Bucket is a single NKI bank containing 579 stereo samples. It occupies just 662 MB once installed and contains 24bit/48k uncompressed PCM wav samples which are unlocked for user customization. You must use Soundiron’s proprietary installation tool to download and install and have the full retail version of Kontakt 5.5 or higher to utilize this library.

Bowed Bucket sells for $29.00 from Soundiron

 

Demos of Bowed Bucket by Soundiron

Videos of Bowed Bucket by Soundiron

 

Contributor Steve Blizin reviews Bowed Bucket by Soundiron
“Producing clean, rich, meaty, Cello-like tones, this instrument is perfectly suited to playing sustained, staccato and rhythmic percussive sounds. Its thick, warm, low-end growl lends a satisfying tonality to notes, pads, drones and FX. While plucks, strikes and drumsticks produce rhythmic elements that mimic the kind of action and abuse one might never subject a real cello to.”