Review: Terminus by 8Dio

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8Dio are back with a bang (and a slam and a riser and a fall!) for their latest Hybrid Tools release. Terminus rides the bleeding edge of larger than life sound design with a stellar collection of one shot samples.

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Review: Terminus by 8Dio

Few Hollywood soundtracks and trailers these days are complete without a good dose of sound design to increase the emotion and keep us glued to the screen. Sampling stalwarts 8Dio have been at the forefront of supplying composers with these sounds for many years now, chiefly in their superb Hybrid Tools range. However, the trends in sound design change as quickly as pop music and that dubstep wobble from a few years ago is now not so useful, which is why we keep seeing the Hybrid Tool line updated and freshened up about once per year.

The zeitgeist at the moment is nudging towards more synthetic sounds, but without ridiculous amounts of reverb or distortion, which has long been the fast track way of making something sound heavy and huge. What Terminus focuses on are cleaner, more simple sounds that, whilst still being very much geared for the most epic and hard hitting music, are far less drowned in heavy handed effects. This approach also lends them far better to layering and further processing, so a composer under time pressure can still come up with unique sound design.

Terminus sells for $348 from 8Dio

Thoughts

Terminus is divided into four main categories shown below.

Dividing these up is a really good idea, as often in libraries of this sort patches cover a wide range of sound genres and it can take a while finding the right vibe. The wrong sound design can really mess your composition up, as anyone who has tried a sci-fi slam amongst lush dramatic full orchestra will attest to! With so many samples on offer (well over 1000) having them well curated certainly focuses your attention and generally makes the job easier.

Each of these loads with a slightly annoying screen that you need to press enter on to trigger a 3D zoom in to the actual interface. A fancy touch but it would be nice to be able to turn this off after the first time! The GUI will be familiar to regular 8Dio users.

There is a browser to select the sound type and a well featured sequencer. The latter is less useful for the long effects, but has some creative use for the shorter percussive sounds. Sound types can be layered with the Stack button, ideal for putting a heavy whack on the start of a riser for example. A simple gate is also on hand to easily create interesting stuttering effects, which works great on long risers.

The bottom half of the interface is given over to Attack, Release, Pitch Envelope and Offset knobs. Speed and Glide are there too, but are defunct for the main nki patches. It would have been good to just take them off the GUI altogether in my opinion if they are not able to be used. The pitch control is brilliant for dialing in some radical pitch sweeps and the offset handy for shortening risers and falls. There is a Random button for the offset, but it has less practical application with these types of samples. To the right of these knobs are three buttons. Reverse does just that and is super handy for flipping the basic nature of any sound. Chaos selects a random sound and mangles the effects, whilst the Stretch button maps the last used key chromatically across the keyboard. This feature is excellent for new sampling adventures and can also be useful for tuning should you need them to match the key more accurately. The standard keyboard also features an octave of keyswitches to tune the multi-sample layout on the fly.

A second tab at the base of the GUI bring up the familiar 8Dio effects engine, with Phaser, EQ, Degrader, Delay, Transform and Reverb.

They are fairly standard tools to easily add extra complexity to the source sound, though I personally prefer to use dedicated plugins for such tasks. The one stand out effect however is Transform, as it uses a range of unusual convolution IRs which can radically morph your chosen sample.

For the Drums, Hybrid and Orchestral patches the sound categories are consistent and give you seven types of sound design to dig into. Hits cover huge impacts and have a sharp attack. By contrast Slams have a preceding whoosh and are generally less punchy and more ‘splatty’. Sub Hits covers everything from extremely filtered booms to dark impacts. There are both Long and Short Risers that mostly employ progressive upward pitch bend and sometimes add distortion and stuttering to increase the tension. The Long and Short Falls are the opposite and bend downwards displaying a dark dystopian quality. Of course the Risers and Falls can be reversed too, which kind of gives you a whole extra bank of sounds. It should be noted that for the Drum patch these two sound categories do not change in pitch and instead mainly use rolls to take the tension up or down.

The remaining Synth nki mirrors these sound categories, but also adds two more.

Ear Candy is spread over 4 groups and contains a plethora of sonic delights, from euphoric atmospheres to pitch shifting drones, and alien roars to glitchy mini melodic sequences. You certainly feel a bit like a kid in a candy store here and whilst it is a pretty random collection I think the idea is you just dive in and try and find cool sounds to add something unexpected to your piece – the icing on the cake if you will! The other bonus category here is Strums, spread across 2 groups. They are a goldmine of sparkly and often quite pretty quick transitional sounds. They are hard to describe, but if you imagine a mythical moon elf strumming a space harp in a crystal hall that’s kind of the vibe!

There are two other folders included. The first has 20 presets which show what great results can be had by experimenting with the engine.

There are patches here that layer sounds, stretch them across the keyboard, use radical envelopes, reverses, empty huge reverbs, you get the idea. Although the raw sounds on offer in Terminus are excellent you can still get very creative with them. The other folder duplicates the four main nki patches in time machine pro format and this is where that elusive speed control comes in to play, enabling samples to be shortened and lengthened with varying amounts of digital artifacts, depending on how radical you go.

So, what of the basic sample sounds themselves? Well firstly they are all powerful and emotive. The hits really do hit hard and the falls and risers provide plenty of tension and excitement. The Drums selection has perhaps the most organic impacts, but they are still quite designed and there are also plenty of rolls and patters. Hybrid moves us into that area of real blended with synthetic which is the epic sound of modern blockbusters. The Orchestral sounds all have a hint of a real instrument and are best described as aleatoric plus sound design. I found there is not much here to use amongst a purely orchestral based cue – for that you would need a more traditional aleatoric collection. Terminus is more neo-orchestral with a more modern and processed approach. For the Synth patch we are at the other end of the spectrum – very electronic and sci-fi, yet still as huge and impactful as the others.

There are three things that make this a stand out library for me. Firstly, is 8Dio dividing the sounds up into the four categories that are so well defined and thought out. Secondly, is that unlike many other competing libraries they are not leaning heavily on loud distortion, smacking compression and ridiculously massive reverbs. The focus is very much on unusual signature sounds that will take additional processing by your favourite third part plugins very well and can also work well layered with other sound designed elements. Whilst the sonic nature of Terminus is not always clean it is very clear and the sounds feel wonderfully open and simply huge. Thirdly, all the samples come in wav format – this is great if you like to just drag stuff into your DAW and if you use a sound file management system they are all embedded with metadata to make this process a breeze.

There is an in depth masterclass video by Troels (8dio co-founder) who takes you through the creation of one of his tracks, ‘The Captain’, using Terminus.

It includes midi and stems and I have no doubt will be most educational, as the guy is a really accomplished composer and good communicator. This is exclusive to the product and an interesting concept I have not seen before (though the HD video files does take up about half of the download size!). Coming from an educational background myself and also being entirely self taught I wholeheartedly applaud this and look forward to watching it.

With so many excellent sound design libraries out there you would be forgiven for thinking, “What? another one?”. BUT, as an owner of quite a few of the leading collections I can safely say this is right up there with the best. Sound Design is a fast changing and trend-based scene, but Terminus is thoroughly modern with clean, clear and epic sounds ideal for modern scoring in film, TV and trailers. Should you need a one stop shop for all your cinematic effects Terminus is one of the best on the market right now. It sounds amazing right out of the box and is easy and very enjoyable to use.

Facts

Terminus has over 1,200 sound effect samples as WAV files spread across four core instrument patches and divided into seven banks of sound types – Hits, Slams, Sub Hits, Short and Long Falls, and Short and Long Risers. It also includes extra banks of Ear Candy and Strum sounds. The library needs just over 4 GB of hard drive space and requires a full version of Kontakt.

Terminus sells for $348 from 8Dio

 

Demos of Terminus by 8Dio

Videos of Terminus by 8Dio

 

 

Contributor Sam Burt reviews Terminus by 8Dio
8Dio are back with a bang (and a slam and a riser and a fall!) for their latest Hybrid Tools release. Terminus rides the bleeding edge of larger than life sound design with a stellar collection of one shot samples.”