Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A61 [Exciting In-Depth] Review
Unless you've been imprisoned in Iqaluit, Nunavut, since the early 1990s, you’re no doubt very familiar with music technology mega brand, “Native Instruments” (NI). Chances are, the percentage of contemporary music producers, home-recordists, and DAW users who don’t own at least one NI product, is probably so low that it’s negligible to measure. Be that as it may, NI has pretty much always been the industry leader – perhaps even the industry creator – of all samples-based virtual instrumentation. Well, in regard to the personal computer and software DAW domains that is.
As magnanimous as NI’s sample and software archive is, they've not been strangers to the hardware side of the equation either. In particular, their Traktor rigs became tremendously popular with our musical wannabe cousins (DJs), and many a fine home recording was captured using Komplete Audio devices. Machine hybrid systems, which married percussive pad controllers to software samples, allowed electronic music artists to get as creative and hip-hoppy as their one drop hearts desired. The small studio and home producer crowd really sat up and took notice when NI released their industry-shaking line of dedicated keyboard controllers: Komplete Kontrol “S” series – in 49, 61 and 88 key configurations.
Q Up Arts California Keys [Exciting, Deep] Review
California Keys is not a single instrument. In addition to the acoustic grand piano – which was sampled in configurations ranging from stereo all the way through to 7.1 surround – Q Up Arts has stuffed in a collection of beloved, vintage organs and e-pianos. Albeit, Q Up’s take on some of the instruments is a little off-the-beaten-track, the “Cali Keys” bundle has quite a lot to offer.
The MSRP is a rather ambitious figure of $499 (USD), but the bundle is offered on sale occasionally, and Douglas Morton is conscious of making Q Up products available to students for amiable rates. Quite frankly, this helps Doug and his company stand out from the crowd; well-deserving to be duly commended.
e-Instruments Session Keys Electric R, S, W [Deep] Review
For those who might be acquainted with “Session Horns (Pro)” and “Session Strings (Pro)” - badged as Native Instruments products – e-Instruments’ self-branded “Session Keys” series of highly playable electric pianos will not come across as unheard-of-strangers. In fairness to software giant, “Native Instruments”, the aforementioned strings & horns libraries’ product pages do cite e-Instruments as the actual creators. As a matter of fact, it’s because of the company’s partnership with Native Instruments that e-Instruments gained ground as a relatively new developer at that time.
It’s fair to say that e-Instruments have certainly proven themselves to be top-tier sampling experts since 2010, weaving a pedigree of interest and notability. Enticingly so, their commendable “Session Keys” series of electric pianos are very fairly priced. Each one costs but $79 (USD) / €79 apiece. If at all possible, I do recommend that Canadian customers purchase using US funds. Even though the current exchange rate of USD to CAD (at the time of this publication) would result in an amount of $105 (CAD), for some reason e-Instruments’ online store charges a hefty $129 (CAD).
SonicCouture EP73 Deconstructed Review
Uncontested . . . strong word; don’t you think? One would have to make sure that the claim could be substantiated or one would be considered brazen, or ill-informed, or rash, or gullible, or just plain stupid. I honestly hope that you don’t think that dear ol’ Brother Charles fits into any of those categories. *Smile.
SonicCouture have not simply raised the bar; they may even have ‘become’ the bar, as regards Rhodes MKI sample libraries. Man, this library rockZ. I mean it . . . this library abso-freakin-lutely RockZ! The depth and detail of SonicCouture’s sampling process is immense.
The level of realism is tremendous. The release noises, the pedal noises, the triple-layered Round Robin sampling, the attention to sonic detail, the inclusion of close and contact mic’d acoustic/mechanical sounds all contribute to making this perhaps THE MOST unique and authentic-sounding virtual Rhodes to date.
SonicCouture occasionally offer sales, but the Listed Retail Price of $129 is very fair in ratio to the sound quality. I have to be careful that I don’t brag this sample library up too much; we don’t want them raising the price . . . *Grin.
EmberTone Shire Whistle Review
Of Scottish ancestry, I grew up naught but 100 yards from the Atlantic shoreline in Englishtown, Cape Breton. The plaintive sounds of Celtic instruments always bring a wistful sigh upon me heart and beckons myself home; Embertone’s “Shire Whistle” is just such an instrument. With only a pair of Sennheiser headphones, it fairly addles me into fancying that the scent of salt brine is wafting on the evening air while distant, haunted, echoing cries of Atlantic Gulls are heard off the point, beyond the lighthouse.
The greenery of mountain spruce and tender, meadow moss lie to the south. Amidst the hum of busy bumble-bees, flittering sparrows melodiously call to one another with one happy tune after another. What’s that to be heard just over the crest? Yes, indeed, tis “Shire McGuire” expressing thanks and merriment for yet another day of blessing and growth upon his beloved garden and vale. His wizened fingers dance over the holes of his fondest keepsake; his father’s Irish whistle.
EmberTone captured the essence and charm of this poetic instrument and have lovingly wrapped it for us as a Kontakt sample-set. This blessed little gift may be had for only a wee bit of coin from a trader’s sporran. Tis no more than $20 middle earth dollars.
PrecisionSound Gospel Drawbars Review
There have been a few notable Hammond organ sample libraries and VIs (Virtual Instruments) released over the past 10 years. Some of these made us sit up and keenly take notice, whilst others were greeted with yawns of disinterest. I’m excited to present this latest offering from Sweden’s masters of sampling, PrecisionSound – the amazing “Gospel Drawbars”. This ear-tickling sample-set is available in both NI Kontakt and Logic EXS24 formats.
PrecisionSound have been outputting respectable sample sets, in various formats, since 2003 and with each new release, it is obvious that they are honing and refining their sampling processes. When I first loaded this 1 GB sample set into Kontakt 5, I knew immediately that it wasn’t yet another ‘so so’ virtual Hammond wannabe. The depth and richness of ‘believable’ tonewheel sound must be experienced to be understood.
Gospel Drawbars is NOT another B3 sample library; this one is a meticulously-recorded 24 bit/44.1khz digital sample-set of a rare, well-functioning Hammond AB organ (circa 1937). The AB was Hammond’s 2nd offering, and is the direct ancestor of the B3/C3 line. This sample-set is absolutely soaking wet with vibe, character, and vintage-sounding charm. It’s almost too good to be true; the most unique Hammond organ sounds to have ever been heard “in the box” for only $69.
By the way, a full-length video presentation accompanies this review. (Pssst, it's near the bottom of the page.)
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All of the articles published on Reviewer's Revival are undertaken to be purely objective, impartial reviews. Reviewer's Revival is not owned, funded-by, nor hired by any company or individual. Reviewer's Revival is the sole property of, and solely under the discretion and direction of Brother Charles.