Review: Pad Motion by Sample Fuel
4 distinct synth modules used in the composition of the 600+ presets
Easy to use Global Macro gives the ability to turn off / on the motion of the Pad
Ability to change the sample used in a layer via easy drop down menu
The Granular Engine provides various different AMP Envelope shapes and its own LFO
The GUI is tablature which makes it easy to move from section to section
User manual describing the Granular Synth is lacking
Difficult to set the parameters on the Sample Synth
Lack of LFO presets for AMP and Pan
Granular synthesis is just one form of engine that Pad Motion provides. You get the full “kit and caboodle” of engines that were previously released in both Poly and Wave plus an additional sample engine with 127 distinct sample wavetables.
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Review: Pad Motion by Sample Fuel
Sometimes you have to save the best for last. In the last of the Sample Fuel libraries I have been tasked to review, Pad Motion expands on the offerings Sample Fuel gave us with Wave and Poly. Not only does it provide patches that utilize some of the wavetables and oscillating synths of the aforementioned products but it now also gives you both sampled sources from which to draw on and, to make it even more interesting a grain module to add granular synthesis as its own layer. To state the obvious, here, Pad Motion is just what the title describes: Pads with motion. Pads which provide a unique character perfect for anyone that is into cinematic scoring whether it be trailer music or hybrid-style orchestral arrangements.
Pad Motion sells for $99.99 from Sample Fuel
One of the most important things I look at when reviewing or purchasing or playing any VST is the ability to create, to be inspired by a sound (or sounds) and be able to transform it into something rather unique and interesting (at least to the composer). With Pad Motion, I feel you get this and a whole lot more. All one has to do is to investigate the Granular Engine that comes with this library to know the amount of manipulation one can apply to the loaded preset to see it goes far beyond what one would normally expect. Personally, if you are buying this library to just use the sounds out of the box and, if I were the developer, I’d probably be insulted. Granular synthesis is something that should not be feared but rather revered. You don’t have to have a physics degree or be an expert in quantum mechanics to understand the applied basics of sound to granular synthesis. At its root level, what you are dealing with are harmonic waves that oscillate in “bursts” as opposed to a sustained wave. These bursts are contained within an amplitude envelope, generally smooth or bell-curve shaped, in nature. The grains, which comprise these bursts can be manipulated in such a way as produce certain sounds and/or patterns. It’s just a matter of understanding what these modulations to the grains will approximately produce, just like any other modulator to an oscillated sound.
Granular synthesis is just one form of engine that Pad Motion provides. You get the full “kit and caboodle” of engines that were previously released in both Poly and Wave plus an additional sample engine that allows the composer / performer to change on the fly via a drop down menu.
The browser is, well, the browser. The same browser you get with any Halion SE library. The download / registration of the library is the same archaic method used by any Halion product. You can probably tell I’m not the greatest Halion SE fan…maybe I’d have a greater appreciation with the full blown version…oh well!! When you first open the browser and select the Pad Motion library, one thing will stick out…practically every preset is listed as “Motion” …well, hey, that’s what this library is all about. Again, as I pointed out in the last review, if there is a 1L preceding the name of the preset then it is a single layered sound; if there is a 2L then it is a dual layered sound. One of the good things about Halion is the ability to load different presets, concurrently, if you want to experiment with far more complex soundscapes. In fact, you can load up to 16 at any given time though, personally, it might be a bit too much if you’re inclined to suffer from sensory overload. Once your preset(s) are loaded the rest of the time you’ll probably spend within the “Edit” tab of the program. Just as an example, below, I have 2 presets loaded: one a dual layer named Chatter and one a single layer named Fluffer…chatter and fluffer…hopefully what this review doesn’t sink into.
Just like this library’s counterparts, all of the CRE8 tabs are the same, outside the Synthesis tabs. For motion, the Main Page contains both a global AMP and PAN envelope, in addition to other global parameters such as ModWheel assignment, volume, portamento etc., etc.!! At the bottom of each page there are global macros which are, pretty much, set-up the same way for every patch: volume control for each layer, filter cutoff amount, attack, release, delay, reverb and, of course, motion. The motion knob will easily let you reduce the amount of overall motion and even turn it off if you want to hear what the Pad sounds like without any LFOs applied. In the case of this library, for the most part, you will not see the arpeggiator used as a motion source. Of course, the module is available in full force to use how you see fit. In addition to the 2 standard LFO’s on the Motion page, you get a Pitch Envelope, an AMP Envelope and 2 step sequencers. My only issue is that, within Halion SE, the LFO / Envelope preset is fixed; there is no opportunity to add your own however, you can perform some minimal manipulation to the parameters if you so choose.
If there is one thing that truly annoyed me about this product it was the lack of a good user manual, especially concerning an explanation of the Granular Synth engine. So, that being said, I will point you to a very good web resource aptly called granularsynthesis.com if you want a good explanation of the various controls and parameters. This will give you a pretty good idea how different settings like grain density, speed, duration and length effect the overall sound. The other area which I would have hoped to be given more attention on this page is the “Grain Type” …in essence, these types relate to the shape of the AMP envelope…for instance, Gaussian, is your basic bell shaped AMP Envelope and Blackman-Harris is a more peaked curve. It would have been nice if the shape of the curve overlaid the sample wave or a brief info bubble showed the shape of the curve. The pleasant surprise on the page is that there is a dedicated LFO which can be assigned to several different grain parameters. One thing of note here, is that if you do elect to engage an LFO, you might want to slow the SPEED setting from 100% to something extremely slow so you let the LFO do the manipulation of the grains. Now, if you really like to get adventurous, set the LFO to a S&H shape and have it modulate the pitch; you’ll get some extremely interesting results though probably a bit far removed from the motion synchronous PAD you started out with.
Last, but not least, Pad Motion provides a Sample Synth engine. The library comes with 127 distinct sample waves which can be changed on the fly via a drop down menu. If a particular layer contains more than a single sample wave which makes up the overall sound, you will only see the top layered wave and will only be able to change that one, if so desired. Several parameters are at your disposal to make changes to the sample. For instance, you can set the sample to move in 4 distinct ways: normal forward, reverse, normal one-shot, and reverse one shot. Much like an IR, you can set the start and end points, the fade in/out curves. In addition, you can set the sample wave to 5 different Loop settings with the ability to designate the start / end points. While this is all set and good, it would be nice to see the changes made to these patterns reflected in the wave pattern at the top of the page. In addition, using the mouse to raise or lower the settings can be extremely annoying and somewhat difficult.
Even with the minor flaws (some, of which, will hopefully be addressed if there is a future update), this is an extremely versatile and powerful set of complex pads. The addition of the granular synthesis engine makes this an extremely attractive library at the price point it is being offered at and it helps it stand apart from the myriad of pad libraries that are on the market. So, if you like to delve into something out of the ordinary with sophisticated modulation abilities, you can do yourself a favor by picking this up. You won’t be disappointed.
Pad Motion v1.5 from Sample Fuel downloads as 2.12 GB and contains 609 patches. One of the following 3 products is required to install Pad Motion: HALion 6, HALion Sonic or HALion SE. The library can be purchased from Sample Fuel at:
Pad Motion sells for $99.99 from Sample Fuel
Contributor Raymond D Ricker reviews Pad Motion by Sample Fuel
“Granular synthesis is just one form of engine that Pad Motion provides. You get the full “kit and caboodle” of engines that were previously released in both Poly and Wave plus an additional sample engine with 127 distinct sample wavetables.”