Review: Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments

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Mallets are an essential part of a media composer’s toolbox and are a perfect underscore instrument. The Fine Mallets Bundle from Cinematique Instruments couples great sounding samples with unique treatments that can be used for everything from solo tracks to effective underscore. This is a great collection of mallet instruments and has already found use in my own production library work.

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Review: Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments

 

Fine Mallets Bundle sells for €110 from Cinematique Instruments

Thoughts

Marimba
The marimba is normally my favorite mallet instrument, and that’s still the case here. Played with three different mallet styles, you can select from ‘Hard’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Soft’ within the interface, corresponding to the marimba being played with a Hard Mallet, Felt Mallet, and Big Soft Mallet respectively. The ‘Hard’ articulation was made by hitting the marimba with a hard plastic mallet. This gives the marimba a lot of percussive attack. The ‘Medium’ articulation is my personal favorite. It features a typical felt mallet that strikes a nice balance between percussive attack and a rich, warm tone.

The ‘Soft’ articulation was produced by playing the marimba with a large soft mallet which gives it the warmest and least percussive sound. The marimba sampled here has a 5-octave range reaching from C2 to C7 with up to 4 round robins and 4 velocity layers. The samples are well done and provide you with the feeling of sitting in a room with a warm ambience of a beautiful marimba. Arpeggio, Tremolo, Octaver, and Drive settings are also provided within the intuitive interface. The Octaver is special, as it adds a fullness and richness to the tone through the use of adding additional octaves. The onboard reverb and delay (global throughout all of the instruments) are very useful and offer a wide variety of settings to take the marimba to places it wasn’t originally intended to go. I especially like the delay function that is provided for every instrument, as you can select it in intervals of 4th – 16th with a simple click.

One of the coolest parts of the interface is the little ‘+’ button that is placed beside the ‘Medium’ and ‘Soft’ articulations. When clicking the ‘+’ you are given the ability to add an additional wood layer to the articulation, allowing you to dial in the sound even more. The marimba is ideal for underscore work for film and media tracks and this one has already found its way into my own work.

Solo Vibraphone

The vibraphone is similar to the marimba, but uses metal bars with resonator tubes beneath to produce its sound. It has a tremolo driven by a motor with a pedal to allow you to make the metal bars ring or be dampened. The vibraphone featured here has a 4 ½ octave range, again with up to 4 round robins and 4 velocity layers. There are three main articulations to choose from; ‘Mallets’, ‘Bowed’, and ‘Prepared.’ The ‘Mallets’ include both open and muted articulations. When you click the Pedal control the instrument will play with muted samples by default. Engage your sustain pedal and, voila!, you get sustained samples. With the Pedal control engaged the notes turn to yellow by default and then change to orange to reflect the sustains.

The Pedal control is a really cool feature that makes you feel as if you are playing a real vibraphone. The ‘Bowed’ articulation was created by playing the metal bars with a bow. This provides a haunting and mysterious sound that would be right at home in a suspenseful film score. Very cool! The last main articulation, ‘Prepared’, is actually a series of articulations created with everything from spoons to paper and even spatulas. This is a great way to extend the usefulness of this instrument even further, even if it might feel a little strange to do so. I find these articulations to offer a little extra color to the vibraphone pallet. The Custom feature is another fun way to extend the vibraphone beyond where it might traditionally go. You can use this feature to either randomly assign any of the main or ‘Prepared’ articulations to the keys on your keyboard, or you can even assign each individual note to play the articulation of your choosing. I’ve never been a huge fan of the vibraphone, but I think I might have been won over through Fine Mallets. The vibraphone here is great.

Glockenspiel Box

The Glockenspiel Box instrument is actually several instruments in one, and could possibly even merit an entire review itself. By clicking the picture of the instrument in the middle of the interface you are presented with the option to select a Metallophone, Glockenspiel, Spieluhr, Kalimba, and Bowl. This was a delightful surprise, as I was not expecting to receive all 5 instruments within this single patch. What’s more, each instrument is presented with multiple articulations (Metallaphone – 5; Glockenspiel – 8; Spieluhr – 3; Kalimba – 2; Crystal Bowl – 3). I really enjoyed each of these instruments. The samples are clear, the articulations offer a lot of color variation, and the effects are helpful.

The effects presented in this instrument are Reverse, Color, Tone, FX (including Chorus, Noiscape, Rotary, Shaped, and Distortion). Again, the global Reverb and Delay on offer here are great. All in all, this is a great single patch that offers a lot of variety and tone variation.

The Fine Mallets Bundle is a great collection of mallet instruments. I slightly miss the inclusion of a Glass Marimba here, but it’s hard to complain when you are receiving a total of 7 instruments combined with 30 articulations. Cinematique Instruments have done a fantastic job here of sampling these instruments, giving us plenty of articulations to choose from, and including it all within an easy-to-use, intuitive interface.

Facts

3 NKI files
30 articulations
3,000 samples
1.9 GB
Clean and intuitive user interface.
Requires the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or above.

Fine Mallets Bundle sells for €110 from Cinematique Instruments

Demos of Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments

Videos of Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments