SLR May 2017 Staff Picks


Thrilled to share the first edition of SLR’s Staff Picks. I asked around the (virtual) office to see what virtual instruments and sample libraries our contributors were currently loving and using in their own work this month.


First up is the short list fom SLR Editor, Brian Brylow.

If you’re not familiar with Brian, he is a Composer, Sound Designer and Producer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He creates music as part of the electronic duos Parallaxe and Gorgon Nebula as well as Arpegiator. Brian probably owns more VI’s than anyone I know! His Staff Picks are below:

1. Swing More! by ProjectSAM
There is NOTHING this comprehensive that allows you to achieve the sound of the authentic Big Band sound from decades past. Topped with some unusual instruments to add unique timbres, this one is a complete game changer!

2. Analog Strings by Output
Being a synth fanatic, mission one for me was to find all of the truly classic 70’s string machine sounds and then start to layer in the wealth of unbelievable sounds that you can create with Analog Strings. If you run out of ideas, the snapshots won’t let you down!

3. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
Truly a synth, but when the factory library under it is over 55 GB by itself, it moves some mountains on it’s own. I have expanded it far beyond it’s base with third party libraries and it is a staple of nearly everything I do in the studio.

4. Mercury Piano by Wavesfactory
The sound of the Mercury Piano is sheer beauty offering gorgeous timbral qualities not found in many sampled pianos. i use it for both ballad and uptempo numbers alike as it sits so nicely in the mix.

Next, we have staff picks from contributor Sam Burt.
Sam’s a songwriter, producer, composer and educator based in the UK. A former BMG/Sony Records/Universal Publishing artist, Sam now creates music as part of the duo Border Scout and for trailer houses. It has been a pleasure having Sam contribute reviews for the site as they are always thorough and well thought out.

1. Pendleonium by Sounddust
A collection of mostly guitar samples often through weird reverbs with a host of options to blend and morph the sounds. Great unique sounding for lead lines full of character and gravitas.

2. TAL Sampler by TAL.
Quite the opposite of Kontakt but very creative to play with. Takes me back to my Akai S6000 days. Sometimes less can be more!

3. Diva by u-he
After flogging my Juno 60 I was in regretful mourning until I found this, which not only replicates the Juno sound to the letter, but also does the same for a bunch of other classic synths. The greatest soft synth out there full stop IMHO.

Next are the picks from contributor T.M.K Davis.
Tim has been playing keyboards and drums for 20 years and composing orchestral music for about 10 years. He is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in music production with a focus on video game scoring and commercial music.

1. Superior Drummer by Toontrack
A extraordinary drum sample library with great flexibility and customization. The xpacs are a little expensive but well worth the cost. Each new pack adds new sounds, mixed settings, and drag and drop midi patterns. I was a little apprehensive about getting it at first, but it has quickly become my go to library for drums.

2. Action Strings by Native Instruments
A top notch sounding phrase player. It is an excellent tool to help find that string phrase you’ve been hearing in your head or to help inspire a new direction when you’re having writer’s block.

3. Symphonic Choirs and VotA expac by EastWest
Great sounding choir library with one of the best word builders available on the market. The word builder has a steep learning curve, but is definitely worth investing the time and energy into learning.

Lastly are my picks.  If you don’t know anything about me, I am a composer creating music for commercials, television, film and interactive media based out outside the Los Angeles area. I started SLR a couple years ago and it has been a thrill getting to share news and reviews as the site develops.

1. NOVO Strings by Heavyocity
Though the standout highlights that everyone has been talking about are the hybrid, rhythm and phrase extensions, what I am loving are the amazing sounding tradition articulations. At first, I thought this was a bit of a slim offering for the base articulations samples, but since my review, I just keep going back to them for the timbre!

2. Orange Tree Samples Evolution Guitar Engine
Even though I am a guitar player, when tasked with adding strums, rhythms or solos,9 out of 10 times I reach for is one of my OTS Evolution guitar libraries. As someone scoring to media, with the need for speed and flexibility, the Evolution guitars are so much easier to edit on the fly then re-micing my amp or guitar and re-tracking and they sound great.

3. Transport by Refractor Audio
I have never had gear-lust for physical modular synths, but the bleeps and blips of this library keep finding their way into my work!


See all past Staff Picks Posts