Review: Kinetic: String Motion Engine by Kirk Hunter Studios

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Kirk Hunter Studios brings Strings patterns to your fingertips in this very flexible engine. With 4 independent layers, a Random function for different rhythmic patterns for each section, and even record with drag and drop to your sequencer!

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Review: Kinetic: String Motion Engine by Kirk Hunter Studios

Kirk Hunter Studios brings a powerful tool to develop rhythmic patterns and help your creativity. It comes with 2 Master NKI files, including a full String Section, one for lower RAM usage, plus an additional NKI file for each individual instrument of the section (Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double Basses).

It requires the full version of Kontakt (5.7.1 or later), therefore it doesn’t work with the free Kontakt Player.

Kirk Hunter’s Kinetic: String Motion Engine normally sells $149.99 from  Audio Plugin Deals

Thoughts

The GUI shows a four-layer engine including 4 independent Timelines. Each Timeline features a different kind of instrument. This is really important in my opinion because you can actually create a different pattern for each instrument, which leads to many creative possibilities.

The developer recorded 16 Violins, 10 Violas, 8 Cellos and 4 Double Basses for the library at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica. At first, it’s not very simple to understand everything this library can do so I recommend reading the manual to make sure you won’t miss anything.

Each timeline includes 64 notes or rest events you can edit to create your own patterns, and they are divided into 4 regions. The highlighted region is the one from which the pattern starts playing, and you can decide to activate another one by clicking on the header of the timeline, as well as change the length of each region. When you press a key, the pattern starts from the highlighted region of each timeline (they are independent so you can make each instrument section start on different regions), and then it goes from one region to another. If you don’t include some steps in any region, the engine will miss them playing only the steps included in the regions.

If you turn off the flag-like symbol under each timeline, you can deactivate repetitions and use the library as playable instruments. By clicking on the circle symbol next to the previous one you activate/deactivate the Region Cycling, meaning that you can make one or more Timelines repeating only the selected region, while the other will play the full pattern going from one region to the next.

Moving to the right, you can assign the articulation for each layer, choosing between Marcato, Pizzicato or Spiccato. Then you will find an important feature to add realism to your patterns: you can choose whether the accents occur every 2, 3, 4, or 6 events and if it should be subtle, moderate or dramatic or for no accent at all.

Next to this feature, a slider to change the Note Length from Tighten to Broaden. The Violins have also an “8va mode” which adds an Octave higher to the sound to emulate Violins I and II to play on different octaves.

You can then use the “Low Range” and the “High Range” sliders to set the playable range for each Timeline; this is useful if you don’t want more sections to play the same note. By clicking on the “Sord” button, you will add a “con sordino“ effect to the desired Timelines and using the Transpose function you can transpose any or all Timelines.

If you click on the Dice symbol you access a tool that I love: the Random Function. Thanks to this button, you can randomize the pattern for each Timeline, which leads to countless possibilities.

Each Timeline has a Solo and a Mute button so you can listen to each of them individually or bypass one or more instruments, as well as a Copy/Paste function so you can copy and paste any region to any other region in any timeline.

On the upper section of the GUI you will find the global buttons for Transpose, Dice, and Repetitions, meaning that they will affect all the timelines at the same time. You can also decide to visualize the grid based on multiples of 3 or 4, as well as the Event resolution to change the pattern values, from a whole note to a 32nd note, straight or triplets.

In the middle of this section, you can switch between several presets. It’s important to note that this feature is also available on each Timeline, so you can assign a preset for Violins, another for Violas and so on. If you click on the “Speaker” button you can listen to a preview of the selected preset, and you can also Save or Load a custom pattern using the floppy disc icon.

On the left upper corner, we’ve got a few more icons. By clicking on the info button, a text will appear showing a summary of what the library does. If you keep this selected and click on other parameters of the library, the text will change reporting the function of this or that parameter.

Next is one of my favorite tools of this library, and one of the most useful in my opinion: if you click on the MIDI connector icon, you can record the patterns as MIDI events, including notes, rests, and velocities inside the instance and then Drag and Drop the MIDI file on any other track inside your sequencer. Meaning you can use any other library you want to playback the patterns you created using this engine. . .  any other instrument you’d wish, not just Strings.

The Automation button opens a list of features that can be assigned to any MIDI CC. The Randomize Pattern function is by default assigned to Keyswitches, green-colored on the keyboard. Finally, the Mixer icon opens the Mixer window.

On the left side of the Mixer, there is an EQ. Moving to the right, a few sliders to add a human factor to the patterns, like scaling a certain amount of randomness to the velocity, or dequantize the events throughout the timeline. The middle section is dedicated to Mic positions and additional reverb. Three mic positions are available: Close, Mid and Far and you can activate/deactivate or mix them together thanks to volume faders.

Close mic is very important if you want to add your own convolution reverb. Since it was recorded in a church even this position is not very dry but the tail is short. You can also add more reverb inside the library itself, decide the size of the room and add more Warmness or Brightness to the sound, as well as choose between a few mixing presets. On the right side, you can mix the instruments together, as well as deactivate some of them and pan them inside the room.

In conclusion, this is a quite good library. At times, playback doesn’t sound very realistic but with the engines’ pattern player I almost forgot about that critique as I worked with Kinetic: String Motion Engine. The engine is very well done and makes this library very useful to experiment with new kinds of patterns and to get ideas to start with when you’re stuck.

The fact that all the single instrumental sections are independent and you can assign to each of them a different parameter allows you to get almost countless possibilities. And the random function enlarges those options. The MIDI Drag and Drop function is a big plus but as far as I could see if you record a pattern including the entire section, the notes played unison on more than one timeline (for example a pitch shared both by Violins and Violas) that follow two different patterns will be entirely recorded, so you’ll get more than one pattern at the same pitch, making you lose the sense and the division of it between the instruments.

 

Facts

It requires the full version of Kontakt (5.7.1 or later)
It includes 2 master NKI instruments (one for a low RAM usage) plus 4 NKI files each for each string section (16 Violins, 10 Violas, 8 Cellos, and 4 Basses)
It weighs 6.7 GB after extraction

Kirk Hunter’s Kinetic: String Motion Engine normally sells $149.99 from  Audio Plugin Deals

 

Demos of Kinetic: String Motion Engine by Kirk Hunter Studios

Videos of Kinetic: String Motion Engine by Kirk Hunter Studios

Contributor Giuseppe Corcella reviews Kinetic: String Motion Engine by Kirk Hunter Studios
“Kirk Hunter Studios brings Strings patterns to your fingertips in this very flexible engine. With 4 independent layers, a Random function for different rhythmic patterns for each section, and even record with drag and drop to your sequencer!”