Review: Dronar Master Edition by Gothic Instruments
Excellent selection of sound source material
Mixing of content between eight libraries allows for the creation of some brilliant creations.
Movement and rhythm are extremely easy to accomplish using simple controls like the modwheel or secondary midi controller
While the new engine is more CPU friendly, I still had some load time issues using an SSD. This doesn't diminish the experience terribly but perhaps some additional tweaking can be done by Gothic.
Gothic Instruments brings us the long-awaited Dronar Master Edition, Jam-packed with 50GB of sound sources and over 2,000 snapshots to bend to your will, there isn’t much that you can’t get out of Dronar Master Edition, whether you are looking for pulses, arpeggios, risers, downers, lead melodies, underscore or a wall of sound.
Jump to the Videos of Dronar Master Edition by Gothic Instruments
Jump to the Demos of Dronar Master Edition by Gothic Instruments
Jump to the SLR’s First Look Video of Dronar Master Edition
Review: Dronar Master Edition by Gothic Instruments
Gothic Instruments already had an “A-Game” with the release of their previous Dronar libraries, so where might you ask do they go this time around? The answer could quite simply be that they deliver a “Master Class” (pun intended) in sampling with the release of Dronar Master Edition. Housing the first eight Dronar titles in a new engine with the ability to mix and match eight libraries worth of content on the fly, plus the inclusion of over 2,000 snapshots are but a couple of areas where this new Master Edition outshines the competition. In Master Edition, the Dronar libraries are “better together” and give you infinite possibilities in sonic sculpture.
The Dronar Master Edition normally sells for $349.00 from Time & Space
Occasionally I receive a new library that really causes me to just get lost in the sculpting of new sounds. Dronar Master Edition is such a library, but on steroids. To call it a sonic tweaker’s paradise I’m not sure is beginning to do it justice. There are so many possibilities in the way that you can mix not only the eight available sound sources, but sculpt the sound using arpeggiators LFOs, effects and quite frankly the equivalent of a mixing desk worth of capability. If jumping in and getting under the hood is not your cup of tea, you still have in excess of 2,000 snapshots worth of content to explore. This includes all of the existing content from the first eight Dronar libraries along with new snapshots that mix sound sources between the libraries for you as a starting point. Dronar libraries were always great – this just takes it to a whole new level. Now you can get your Live Strings with a side of Dark Synthesis and Guitarscapes!
If you’re familiar with the Dronar series, then you know that this is one library that you don’t approach like a traditional piano keyboard.
If you’re familiar with the Dronar series, then you know that this is one library that you don’t approach like a traditional piano keyboard. As a matter of fact, less is more. You can make magic with a single note or push the boundary to four or five notes, but the traditional method of playing piano does not apply here as Dronar automatically adds a root base note, a high note and spreads out your chord in the middle range and then on top of that, applies sound effects which evolve based on how you animate them with the rhythm sequencer, LFOs and arpeggiators. Save that free hand for your 2nd Midi controller or use a pedal to get the most mileage from expression here.
You will get a whole new world of sound using the basic controls in the snapshots, but to truly unlock the gems hidden inside of Dronar Master Edition you are going to want to spend some time learning how to get under the hood and access the power available to you for sound design. Let’s jump into the basic interface.
Dronar Master Edition’s main page has a refreshingly clean but familiar interface if you have used any of the other libraries. You’ll notice that the entire keyboard ranch is not playable. The blue keys which are mapped from G1 to B4 are the playable range something that I have seen Gothic Instruments refer to as the “detection range”. The overflow range mapped from C5 to B5 is there to capture the top active in the event play outside of the detection range.
There are only six controls that require attention here.
There are only six controls that require attention here. Every sound in Dronar Master Edition has four sections: LO, MID, HI and FX. These controls in the center of the screen allow you to vary the volume of each of those sound sources. The Intensity control is mapped to the modwheel in order to move through the velocity layers and provide expressive control. The Movement control combines multiple parameters on the LFO and Arpeggiator pages allowing you to create fluctuations in the overall sound. In addition to those controls there is also a Reverb and Delay control that lets you set the amount of each that is passed from the drone through to the effect.
Each one of the four layers can be muted by simply clicking on the control name next to the dial. I found this to be an excellent way to experiment with existing snapshots to not only understand what’s going on under the hood but to get a sense of the subtle changes and possibilities available for sound sculpting. There is a tremendous amount of it available just on the first page without digging into the rest of the instrument, but that would just be doing yourself a disservice. Onward and upward…….
One of my favorite functions in sample libraries is “randomize”. Endless opportunities to keep clicking the button and looking for buried treasure of the sound variety. Warning: This can also result in extreme periods of loneliness, wearing the same clothing and snapping out of the cycle to find a pile of empty pizza boxes on the desk next to you. You really can really get lost in this given the sample content available.
The Sounds page is new in Master Edition and is broken up into four discrete sections which again are tied to the four controls on the front page. LO, MID, HI and FX. Within each section, there are two sound sources that can be loaded from among the eight available Dronar libraries. Each module can be chosen with a drop-down function and each sound can be chosen per module via the drop-down function as well. Moving to the right there is a slider that allows you to determine the mix of those sound sources. Placed in the middle each is played at equal volume. If you move it up or down it gives preference to whichever sound source you move it toward. The with style allows you to pan the A/B out of the center of the spectrum all the way to a hard left/right perspective. You can also control the volume of each individual layer here and engage the THICK button beef up the sound of that layer either with an additional active or having the cord spread across octaves depending on layer you engage.
An important note here is that you find something you like make sure to save your presets! All of the settings that you have made to each layer will remain constant when you click the randomize button, hence it will only change the sounds that are loaded at layer but there is no way to undo and go back to the previous selection that you may have found during a randomization.
The Expert page still make me chuckle a bit because the first time that I saw it in a previous library it reminded me a bit of one of those movie scenes were someone sits down at a spaceship in the controls are in a foreign language. In fact it’s well laid out and after figuring out just exactly what the first two controls are everything else was pretty self-explanatory. Here you have everything that you need to get really granular with sculpting your sound. You can adjust Attack and Release times, Envelope and Filter settings, Tone, Width and of course the Volume of each layer. One thing that I haven’t discussed yet is the Smart Bass feature. If you enable it, it will set the correct root note for whatever chord you play which is very handy especially if you are playing one-handed. If you disengage it, it will simply play the lowest note of whatever chord you are holding down.
Remember that I mentioned earlier that the LFO and FX can be tied to your modwheel? This is exactly where you shape the movement that you want to achieve with your sound for purposes of expediency in the review I won’t go through every one of the settings of the LFO as in truth they are standard synthesis parameters but it is worth noting that in the Drone Effects section of the page you have the ability to engage in control valve distortion and chorus along with reverb and delay sends.
If you truly want to get the most out of an energetic pulse or moving sound the ARP page is the place to do it. You have four separate arpeggiators, one for each layer. This is tempo synced to your DAW automatically. Dronar employs a unique feature known as a Pitch Arpeggiator. The behavior is essentially like having notes that are held on the keyboard cross faded between each other in addition to the Intensity and Filter functions that are engaged as part of the overall arpeggio on a given layer. This is quite a brilliant feature and the results are pure sonic magic.
While selecting step, rate and the overall intensity and filter on a per layer basis is pretty straightforward, there are some more idiosyncrasies with regard to function that I would encourage you to read the documentation on in order to fully understand how you can get the most out of this feature using your modwheel or other MIDI mapped controller.
On the Rhythm Editor page you’ll notice that the FX layer is missing from the controls. This section just like the Pitched Arpeggiator only applied to the LO, MID and HI layers. Despite the fact that the functionality isn’t new, given the ability to now combine the sound sources of eight independent Dronar libraries at one time breathes new life into the way that you may use these controls in the Master Edition. Depending on which sample you’re playing in a given snapshot Dronar as always doing something under the hood. In this particular case it’s playing random portions of the loops in differing order. The Rhythm Editor allows you to change those patterns and get very specific with what you’re looking for. This is another section that’s worth a deep dive in the manual to get the most out of it rather than stepping through control by controlling a review. While it is a feature that existed in previous libraries, the ability to create much more complex sounds warrants a rehash if you will of some of the documentation even for the well-versed.
The Master FX page is straightforward, giving you a three band EQ, Compressor, Delay, Reverb and a Gate functionality. Two items of note here are that the Delay and Reverb are return effects whereas throughout the rest of the library they are send effects. The Reverb also contains several Convolution IRs in addition to some of the standard reverb types.
I try really hard not to make competitive comparisons when doing product reviews. I am going to hold fast to that principle but for anyone who has wanted a Kontakt instrument that allowed you to have four independent layers each containing two independent sound slots plus a virtual playground worth of effects will be familiar with some of the product out there that run on other platforms.
When all is said and done there isn’t much that you can’t get out of Dronar Master Edition
When all is said and done there isn’t much that you can’t get out of Dronar Master Edition, whether you are looking for pulses, arpeggios, risers, downers, lead melodies, underscore or a wall of sound. What you put in is what you will get back. The snapshots are wonderful starting point and while they include all of the snapshots from the previous libraries that are contained within, they are also augmented by new snapshots that give you examples of mixing content between the libraries. That’s a great starting point but I urge you to go farther and to experiment with building your own sounds from scratch. That’s really where Master Edition shines. By that statement, I mean to take nothing away from the fact that all of the included snapshots are excellent and that this is still a world-class library but you now have so much more capability under the hood to work with.
My recommendation for a target audience is anyone who is making music for trailer, cinema, games or any type of electronic or ambient music. I’m sure there are uses beyond that as well. As with all of my reviews, please check out the demos and online documentation to make sure that this is the right product for you.
Dronar Master Edition downloads and installs at 28.5 GB and is a Kontakt Player Instrument and also works with the Full Version of Kontakt version 5.8. Master Edition is NKS compliant as well. The library contains 50GB of compressed content representing the first eight Dronar libraries along with over 2,000 presets including all of the content from the Dronar libraries: Hybrid, Guitarscapes, Live Strings, Dark Synthesis, Cinematic Atmospheres, Vintage Synth, Brass and Metal and Glass.
The Dronar Master Edition normally sells for $349.00 from Time & Space