Review: ERIS by Composer Tools

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When you need big, wide and deep cinematic atmospheres, ERIS is designed to to give you those huge moving and evolving sounds to build with. With a multi-layer sound engine, ERIS has a great deal to offer the sonic-tweaker and a huge supply of presets to get you started.

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Review: ERIS by Composer Tools

Composer’s Tools’ ERIS is a toolkit designed to do one thing, and do it well. When big, wide, and deep cinematic atmospheres are required, ERIS is no doubt a great place to go. Although its cryptic interface needs a lot of decoding to fully understand, there is a lot to be found within this package. Between the ACT Engine and a big variety of moving and evolving sound sources to choose from, the potential to lose hours browsing presets and tweaking controls is very strong.

ERIS is available from Composer Tools for $199.

Thoughts

Without a doubt, ERIS V1.1 has a great looking and inspiring interface. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, its Science fiction inspired look will probably match the tone of most of the projects this library is used for. However, beyond the style, several choices in the UI are this library’s biggest downfall.

Upon opening ERIS, you’ll be greeted with what looks like a control panel on the bridge of an alien war ship. The first place to look is the very bottom row and its 3 columns. These columns each represent a type of sound source, and the gray highlighted words in these columns are the currently loaded sounds. Each column (Atmos, Spheres, and Rotors) has a dropdown menu that let you display either only the loaded sounds, or the entire list of possible sounds. There is also a red “R” button, which chooses and loads one or two random sounds from the list. The failing of this area however is the naming of the sound sources. They all have mysterious “cool” sounding names like “Lesath”, “Comet”, or “Nitrogen”. These tell the user nothing about the sound they are about to load, so everything you do in this column feels like a shot in the dark until you start memorizing the timbres with their names.

On the top left is the ACT Engine (Automatic Composing Tools). These step-sequencer style controls let you build (or randomly generate) volume curves for each of the three layers. A nice feature is the ability to create custom keyswitches to save curves/patterns that you like. If you click the bracket symbol on the bottom row of this area, you can expand this window to a larger size for more detailed viewing, like below.

Around the XY pad in the main panel are a few things. The corners are actually ADSR control knobs with the corresponding letters engraved on them, buy by default they are usually upside down or sideways, so it’s a it hard to tell. The areas above and below the pad are buttons to add an octave above or below the current key. The button to the right randomizes all three of the sound source columns below. The mysterious symbol to the left opens up an “advanced” panel. This is another problem I had – the symbol is just some cryptic alien glyph, giving no indication to the users of what the button might actually do. Yet another example of the developers choosing style over usability. The advanced panel gives you 3 LFOs to play with, as well as a stereo-widener and the ability to map MIDI CCs to control the XY pad.

ERIS also comes with a full FX rack. Essentially every kind of standard effect you can think of is included, both as inserts and sends. A couple of things make these unique; first of all, you can turn the effects off and on with keyswitches at the top range of the keyboard. Something else is the “macro” panel that allows you to adjust the magnitude of every effect at the same time. Automating the macro knobs could really destroy the sound of your atmospheres and pads in a hurry. The FX panel is by far the most “normal” and easy to use part of the interface.

The Sound
This is definitely the area where ERIS excels. Even when I was still trying to figure out the interface, I was having a great time just playing chords and listening to the atmospheres evolve and twist. Thanks to having three layers of sounds all panned differently, every sound is nice and wide with a lot to listen to. I struggled to tell the difference between the “Atmos” and “Spheres”, but it’s easy to tell that the “Rotors” are sounds that move more and faster. The only real shame with the Rotors is that they don’t lock to your DAW’s tempo. A feature like this would have really added a layer of utility to the overall sound of the library.

Regardless of tempo-locking, it was refreshing that every time I used the randomizer button, the resulting sound was still beautiful and fun to play. When it comes to euphoric and dreamy soundscapes, there’s hardly a better selection of base sounds. Thanks to the added FX and ACT engine, there are also plenty of ways to add your own twist to these atmospheres. ERIS will most likely cover any composer’s Sci-fi inspired ambiance needs all on its own.

Facts

ERIS requires the full retail version of Kontakt 5.6 or later. It contains 15 GB worth of 24bit/48kHz uncompressed WAV samples.

It is available from Composer Tools for $199.

 

Demos of ERIS by Composer Tools

 

Videos of ERIS by Composer Tools