Review: Insolidus Choir by 8Dio
Superb sound quality
Polyphonic legato on most patches
Lots of mic options
Complex yet very playable
Sequencer a little cumbersome to navigate
Solo button cancels other solos in mic mixer
Shorts not short enough for any punchy staccato playing
Libraries this good do not come cheap!
Described by 8Dio as one of the crown jewels in their entire collection, the new Insolidus choir does not disappoint. The sampling heavyweights have arguably created the most realistic and expressive library of a choir yet released. It is a hugely playable representation of a large male and female lyrical choir that is simply oozing emotion. Insolidus is the new standard in high end choir sampling.
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Review: Insolidus Choir by 8Dio
Troels Folmann and the team at 8Dio have long been masters of sampling the human voice. Having covered many different types from orchestral ensembles to epic hordes, children’s choir to solo voices, their new offering is something quite distinct. Insolidus is a lyrical choir, which is to say it specialises in a softer, slower and more flowing style. With 40 male and 25 female voices it still has a big sound, but it is more of a delicate hugeness. 8Dio have pioneered new recording and sampling techniques in creating this top flight library, so without further ado let’s see what they have been up to in more detail.
Insolidus Choir sells for $599 from 8Dio
Common to each nki patch is the Main tab which contains 3 pages. The most important of these is the articulation page where you can select the precise vowel phrase or single vowel to be triggered. These can also be controlled by key switches, velocity or midi cc to suit individual workflow preferences. It is via this page that you also reveal the sequencer, which gives you 64 slots in which to insert syllables. Given the scale of this and the diversity of syllables it gives the composer scope to create very long and complex lyrical chains. Building the sequence is pretty easy, though I can’t help thinking if could be more intuitive, possibly using drag and drop.
Another page gives you overall options for velocity curves, dynamics, male to female volume balance and more. The third page reveals the microphone mixer. The default mic is the Mix which seems to be a combination of all the mics mixed to what 8Dio consider a good overall blend. And what a blend it is!
The quality of recording and singing in Insolidus really is quite magnificent. If you want to customise the mic set up then simply unselect Mix and create your own blend of 3 hall mics (Decca, Far and Wide) and 4 spot mics. Each has all the regular mixing desk options and additionally boasts a stereo field adjustment and simple EQ presence knob. The solo button is for some reason not-latched, so you cannot solo two or more mics which is a little annoying. Be aware that loading up all the mics will often use over 1GB of memory, so you will need to be stocked up in RAM to keep things flowing easily.
Aside from the Main tab with it’s 3 pages, each nki also has an Effects tab if you want to get sound designing, though it somehow feels wrong to start mangling such beautiful sounds! Once you get your head around the structure this library feels simple to negotiate. Where it gets more complex (and more exciting!) is in the individual patches themselves.
Taking them in the order they appear in the folder, first up are the Arc Syllables. These are gorgeous samples that capture the natural dynamics at source with the choir going from p-mf-p over the course of each articulation. There are 2, 3 and 4 syllable phrase variants that are all locked to host tempo. Key velocity and the modwheel can also be employed to slightly modify the arc.
8Dio have eschewed the idea of using the modwheel solely to control volume and of using individual vowels. Instead we have real dynamic arcs and baked in syllable transitions.
Combining this approach with polyphonic legato gives superb realism, whilst still maintaining excellent playability. In my opinion these patches are the real highlight of Insolidus and the natural volume arc is simply sublime.
Next are the true legato basic vowels of ah, eh, oh and uh. These are all under full modwheel control and whilst seeming a little bland in such a deep library, they are nonetheless excellent in quality and very useful.
We then have 6 patches all of multiple vowels with various options. The 3/4 ones utilise more complete latin words but can still be sequenced, with one patch being normal and the other with real swells (essentially this is giving accents on different syllables). The 4/4 options use the same syllables as the Arc articulations, but one gives full modwheel control, another has real crescendo (love this one!) and two more feature swells. All of these employ polyphonic legato and it is also worth noting that across the library there is an excellent symmetry across syllables articulations, so once you have got your MIDI down you can seamlessly audition alternative phrases.
there is an excellent symmetry across syllables articulations
There is a usable bunch of shorts (which are not really that short) and sustains. The latter include looped articulations which can be very handy in certain contexts and for sound design. Finally, there is a patch devoted to vowels from the quietest pianissimo to a full on fff yell. This is pretty fun and a welcome bonus as it can be used to great effect in spicing up compositions. Note that none of these patches use the polyphonic or monophonic legato.
Multis are included which combine the major instruments of this library to aid workflow. We also have the male and female choirs available as individual section patches.
It is worth highlighting the superb polyphonic legato working ‘under the hood’ that makes this library quite unique.
We are all familiar with normal monophonic legato which when we play a keyboard in legato style it triggers specific mini samples to blend intervals for added realism. For strings and voice especially this is critical for convincing performances. However, what if we want to play a chord in our choir yet over the course of the notes we wanted to augment or change that chord. Ordinarily, even if we do this playing legato on the keyboard each new note added would simply trigger the entire sample again from the start. Yet here in Insolidus 8Dio have implemented polyphonic legato, so as you change the chord, those extra notes beautifully blend into the current sample being played. The option page gives you a button to turn poly legato off, so it is worth doing this and comparing the two to really get an idea of what is happening.
I certainly got lost playing Insolidus whilst writing this review, which goes to show the depth and emotional draw of this library. The core of it is undoubtedly the wonderful Arc and Multi-Vowel patches. However, the other patches are still extremely useful even if they lack the glory of the main event. What is key in this library is how 8Dio have implanted limitations on the end user in terms of not giving them total control, whilst at the same time still giving enough to provide for total originality. The net result is super realism with excellent playability. It would have been nice to have a way to reduce the number of individual nki patches and somehow combine the Arcs and Multi-Vowels, but arguably it might have made the interface over-complicated.
Insolidus is certainly priced at the top end, but if you need something that can do soft and emotive lyrical choirs there is not much out there to beat this.
End users should be aware that it is not suited to epic Hollywood blockbuster or over the top operatic, for that you want something like 8Dio Requiem or Lacrimosa. However, Insolidus will work amazingly for emotional underscore and main themes, the beginnings of trailer tracks and for those creating classical pieces that need a big sounding, but nuanced choir. Hats off to 8Dio and to the talented vocalists, this is truly a high watermark in terms of sampling that rawest and most emotive of sounds – the simple human voice.
As with all of our reviews, please make sure to check out the audio and video demos to make sure that this is the right tool for you. The 8Dio main walk-through below is especially good and really shows off how you can combine multiples patches well in a composition.
This library has a huge 37,500 samples making up 89GB (compressed to 37.2 GB). There are 4 hall and 4 spot microphones. Articulations are made up of syllable arcs, dynamic multi-vowels, shorts, sustains and tonal FX. A phrase sequencer is included and most patches use polyphonic legato. You will need a full retail version of Kontakt 5.5 of later to run this library.
Insolidus Choir sells for $599 from 8Dio