Review: Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G

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Spine-chilling. Heart-pounding. Spell-binding. Ethera Soundscapes is an all-terrain vehicle for creating a captivating sonic environment, making it an ideal tool for cinematic, game, and trailer composers of all genres.

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Review: Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G

Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G selss for $79.99 from Zero-G 

 

Thoughts

Zero G is perhaps best known for assembling eclectic libraries featuring inventive sound design and versatility from horror to the ethereal. Ethera Soundscapes is a combination of three different instruments: Voice, Synth and Ambience. The vocal instrument is a re-imagined follow-up to the acclaimed Ethera Vocal Library, featuring the same performer (Clara Sorace) and stunning attention to detail. The vocal selection includes sustains, portamento, legato, and phrases.

The vocal instrument uses different interface windows depending on the type of patch: Voxel Portamento & Phonemes and Phrases. The main window includes controls for attack, release, sustain, frequency, amount, offset, punisher [saturation] and legato. Amount and Frequency are used together to control pitch, such as for alternate tuning systems. “Offset” is a very interesting control that allows you to start at a different point in the sample’s envelope, which allows you to repurpose the same sample for a new voxel.

This Offset control also appears in the Phrases version of the interface which goes further by having two different offsets engaged (while in legato mode), which allows you to connect two phrases that have different starting points. Another interesting feature of the Phrases window is that it has two different time modes; one syncs with the DAW, and the other is a local control that allows you to time stretch the phrase without affecting the pitch. Even with all this depth to the controls, I found the vocal instrument is very easy to control straight out of the box.

The vocal samples are compelling and versatile across a range of styles. There is a real intensity and shape to the vocal performances that is often lacking in other vocal libraries.

 

The synth and ambient libraries contain a wealth of possible presets, and dozens of controls to further expand the options. The main window houses controls for speed, grain, smooth, attack, decay, sustain, release, form, hertz, amount, offset, and shape. The synth presets include Arp., Long, Short, Distortion, Multi and Roli. You can customize the sound using a variety of controls in the main window: speed (time stretch the audio), grain, smooth, attack, decay, sustain, release, form (controls formants), hertz, amount (pitch modulation), offset (change starting point of the sample), and shape (saturation).

 

Behind the main window are even more controls including the FX rack, a modulator editor, and an arpeggiator. The FX window includes all the usual FX, but additionally contains an amp simulator and a cabinet simulator, both of which sound very good.

 

Next is the modulation editor. This tool contains a MIDI learn feature that allows you to assign CC and control settings in the main instrument window.

The Arpeggiator has six drop-down options: Up, Down, Up & Down, As Play, Random and Chord. This tool works very well for creating variety with any of the available synth presets.

I spent a lot of time playing with the settings on these various windows, and I’ve still only scratched the surface of its capabilities. Some of my favorite presets are the Alien Horn, Piano Deep Rev and the Ethnic Pad.

In addition to the synth options, there are also a multitude of interesting ambient patches. Even raw, many of the ambient patches are sculpted into interesting and dynamic textures. Some of the ones I find most useful are Atonal Ambience, Underworld Pad 2, Music Pad 1 and War Texture. Some of the textures are subtle and sound more organic, such as the animal ones and the waves, and others are processed in a way that the faint bit of realism left in it is entirely and wonderfully disturbing (for example Bells Children). All of the ambience patches can also be run through the controls mentioned above, which creates more possibilities for evolving textures.
There isn’t much to criticize about this library. The options available are almost overwhelming in their variety and the many built-in controls function very well. There is a slight risk of overloading the CPU if you are in chord mode in the Arpeggiator, but I only caused this once or twice (the second time was on purpose). I was really intrigued by the ambient patches and noticed that some of them have panning effects and layered elements, so I would have liked to pull those textures apart and explore new combinations of the elements that make up the patch.

Overall I found this library compelling and extensive. It has an impressive array of eclectic elements and capabilities to customize, combine and recombine elements into interesting and evolving textures. It lends itself particularly well to building tension in a scoring context such as action and psychological thriller.

Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G selss for $79.99 from  Zero-G 

 

Facts

The library downloads at 14 GB and requires the FULL VERSION of Kontakt (5.1+).

Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G selss for $79.99 from  Zero-G 

 

Demos

Videos of Ethera Soundscapes by Zero G