Review: Harmonics by Sampletraxx

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Sampletraxx are back and into uncharted waters with their intriguing liquid metal collection. Exploring the natural sonics of resonating metals, Harmonics offers the composer and sound designer an instant mood of mystery and tension..

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Review: Harmonics by Sampletraxx

Sampletraxx are a small company who have found an interesting niche in the sample library world, consistently releasing esoteric libraries at great prices. Such oddities are very much the special sauce that adds a splash of flavour to compositions. Their latest release Harmonics is no different and focuses on a very particular sound source – resonating metals. From ambient to caustic, it is a highly evocative collection.

Harmonics sells for €49 from Sampletraxx

 

Thoughts

Overall the sounds are distinctly otherworldly and designed, though all are solely based on metallic sources. There is no custom Kontakt GUI, so with little for me to explain in terms of functionality, it is perhaps best to dive in and look at each particular sound group in isolation.

First up are the Drones giving you 10 suitably trippy and complex vibes.

Most are quite gentle so will layer up well underneath conventional pads, but they have good mid range bite for them to cut through and add a veneer of tension. The Elements are similar, but a little more evolving in nature with a more tinkly and transient nature, all quite highly pitched.

Hits are divided into Hit Design and Hit Low. The former are quite complex high pitched chimes with long tails and the latter are cavernous lower impacts. These will work well as accents or layered with big booms to give transition points some sparkle. I found the use of reverb to be quite liberal which might not suit all. Many also have secondary metal ‘tinkles’ in the tail which can be an issue when you just want a single impact and a smooth tail.

Mellow Hyperpitch is a bit of an oxymoron in my book, but it does offer a bunch of lurking soundscapes that often build to squealing frequencies enough to bore holes in your ear drum! PassBy Reverse are similar in tone, but as the name suggests have a shorter whoosh type nature, resulting in quite spooky transitional effects.

Textures are divided into 1 and 2 which broadly is high and low pitched. They sound quite similar to drones, but with a bit more movement and variance across a longer sample length, sometimes over a minute long!

The final patch, Tibetan Bowl, is simply a raw recording of various bowl hits. It feels a bit out of place in such a designed collection, but might be there as fodder for those who want to do their own sound design or simply to help get your “Om” on!

There is obvious use in Harmonics for sound editors wanting to create atmospheric beds – think sci-fi horror or ancient tombs. For compositional use I can see myself using them as layers under pads or for when I want to inject tension, as the feel of the library as a whole is very unsettling.

Think sci-fi horror or ancient tombs.

As I went through each and every sound I did notice that they might not be quite varied enough to be hugely flexible. Harmonics suffers slightly from a limited emotional palette with arguably a ‘one mood’ set of sounds. This could be due to a limited amount of source audio to begin with possibly. The lack of a dedicated Kontakt script does not help this fact either. I feel like it could be so much more if Kontakt was pushed into better use, perhaps with control over ambience and employing the modwheel as a low pass filter. I also lament the lack of big sonorous low metals, as many of the sounds are in the mid and high ranges.

Regardless of such gripes, Harmonics without doubt offers excellent recordings and superb sound design of a very particular sound source. Shimmering metals is not a common thing to sample, but they can be extremely useful sonics to add to compositions. Definitely a one-trick-pony by its very nature, but it does the trick as well as any David Copperfield (sic!).

Facts

86 Designed Textures and Elements
37 Hi and Low Designed Hits
10 Drones
26 Pass-by Reverse
9  Tibetan Bowl recordings

Kontakt 5.5 is required (free player not supported)
1.5GB of free disk space

Harmonics sells for €49 from Sampletraxx

 Demos of Harmonics by Sampletraxx

Videos of Harmonics by Sampletraxx