Review: Ethera Gold by Zero-G

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The latest addition to the Ethera series focuses on the more epic side of cinematic music. With the addition of heavy trailer sound design and percussion, Ethera Gold is packed with useful sounds for big and epic cinematic music, with a strong solo female vocalist engine at its core.

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Jump to the Demos of ETHERA Gold by Zero-G

 

Review: Ethera Gold by Zero-G

Ethera Gold is the latest addition to Zero-G’s Ethera series. This time, the focus is on the more epic side of cinematic music, with the addition of heavy trailer sound design and percussion and more energetic true legato vocals. A hybrid wavetable synth makes up most of this library’s content, and the variety in its sampled sources is impressive, and the loop-focused “action synth” variant is a personal highlight. It’s safe to say that Ethera Gold is big, and while the variety is definitely a strong point, it also feels a bit bloated when it comes to the user interface. However, if you survive the learning curve, you’ll find lots of uses for this library across many types of production and composition.

ETHERA Gold sells for $99.99 from Zero-G

Thoughts

With such a wide variety of sample and synthesis controls offered by Ethera Gold, things can get a bit confusing. This is, in my opinion, the only area where this library falls short. I’ll touch on the different panels of the core synth interface, bringing up the issues I had along the way.

main-synth

The main panel is where you pick your layers and modify the basic parameters. This engine uses 3 layers – one for pure sampling, one for formant synthesis, and one that uses Kontakt’s Time Machine engine. On the vocal engine, this panel is where you would pick from different phrases and tweak envelope options.

LFO 1

The first Sound Control/LFO panel has a table that can be assigned any MIDI CC channel, which is something I don’t think I’ve encountered before. I did have some problems trying to interpret the “Free-RATE-Sync” text on the LFO knobs at the bottom. I had to read the manual to figure out that the left side of the knob adjusted the frequency based on hertz, and the right half adjusts the frequency based on your DAW’s tempo. The manual also said you’d be able to pick an exact frequency, but I found no way to input numbers, and the knob doesn’t have any indication of what speed you’re at, so it’s just a guessing game based on the position of the dial. Something needs to pop up here and tell you “25 hz” or “16th”, but that doesn’t happen.

LFO 2

The second LFO panel offers a few more oscillators that are already assigned. They have the same problem with the frequency knobs as I described above.

AR

This page is where you do your basic step sequencing. It’s fairly minimal, allowing you to modify tuning/pitch, step amounts, and step length. The button design here is a bit confusing because the toggles for “enable” and “hold” look exactly the same as the buttons for load and save. I would expect a button that bring up a pop-up window to have a different design from an on/off switch. It’s also worth mentioning that when you reduce the number of steps, the sequencer at the top doesn’t scale down to match it, which made me think it wasn’t working right at first. But it does indeed reduce the amount of steps!

FX RACK

The FX rack is pretty typical and functions as you’d expect it, using Kontakt’s Modulation, Compression, EQ, Distortion, Reverb, Delay, Amp, and Cabinet. This is probably the most intuitively laid-out portion of the Ethera gold interface.

I didn’t include pictures of the vocal engine, as I didn’t want this to turn into a lengthy gallery. But it is overall much simpler and less intimidating to navigate.

Ethera Gold absolutely excels in its sounds. The core synth and action synth snapshots really demonstrate the great sounds this engine can make. The presets are also well curated and categorized, so it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for. Thanks to the hybrid nature of this synth, there’s a uniting organic element to the majority of the presets. Everything sounds like “elevated” versions of their source material: big subby drum hits that still sound like drums, incredibly hyped brass, and cinematically cavernous sounding ethnic winds. There are also plenty of purely synthesized snapshots for those of us with more electronic needs.

The action synth is my personal favorite instrument. This includes both tonal and percussive loops. They are all very easy to work with and mold into your mix without too many identifying characteristics. The drum loops in particular are getting a lot of use from me when working on high-output projects, particularly in the modern/cinematic genres.
As for the Clara Sorace vocal samples, the true legato is definitely one of the best solo vocal patches I’ve used. While the lack of syllable options leaves a bit to be desired, this patch is still sampled very well, including velocity layers for different legato transitions. The phrases are probably my favorite part of the vocal engine. They are well categorized into genres and labeled with their key and tempo, so you can easily find the right phrases to fit your current project, or vice versa if you want to start with a phrase you like and build a track around it.

There’s no denying that Ethera Gold sounds great. It doesn’t provide much as far as realistic and playable instruments. But if you’re looking for organic-inspired sounds with a cinematic and modern flare, this is a great starting point that will take you very far.

Facts

ETHERA Gold consists of over 6,000 original samples at 48KHz, 24 bit. These samples span across several categories, including vocals, percussion, synths, and loops. There are over 500 snapshot presets to get you started. The entire library weighs in at 16 GB of disk space.

ETHERA Gold requires the full retail version of Kontakt 6 or later to run, and is available for $99 at https://zero-g.co.uk/products/ethera-gold

ETHERA Gold sells for $99.99 from Zero-G

 

Demos of ETHERA Gold by Zero-G

Videos of ETHERA Gold by Zero-G

Contributor Steven McDonald reviews ETHERA Gold by Zero-G
“ETHERA Gold is packed with useful sounds for big and epic cinematic music, with a strong solo female vocalist engine at its core.”