Sam Spacey Epica Bass
As 2016 draws to a close, we've been reflecting on the year in hi-tech music-making gear, asking you to vote for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months.
Now it's time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Over the next 10 slides we’ll be revealing what you’ve decided are the 10 best new soundware plugins of 2016, counting down to your number one. We’ll start with Sam Spacey’s Epica Bass...
We said: “Epica Bass ably fulfils its straightforward remit and sounds lovely doing it.
“Synth bass isn't the most diverse of instrument types, and while the 430 categorised presets – Monophonic, Arpeggio, Multi (as in, Kontakt Multi instruments), Polyphonic and Raw (as in, raw waveforms) – certainly capture a good spread, they are, by their very nature, a bit limited in range.”
Spitfire Audio Evo Grid 3
We said: “Far from the bombast of blockbuster, trailer-style playing, this Kontakt library is all about contemporary, and coolly subtle pulses and textures in the vein of modern minimalists such as John Adams and Steve Reich.”
Spitfire Audio Olafur Arnalds' Composer Toolkit
We said: “Olafur Arnalds' Composer Toolkit presents the felt piano as its primary sound source, though, as we'll find out, there's plenty more here besides.
“It’s worth the entrance fee alone; composers, please note that you'll lose hours on this instrument, such is its seductive playability. However, it's well worth exploring the full Composer Toolkit folder too, with sounds here organised into further sonic categories.”
Sample Magic Stacker
We said: “With its excellent source sample library, flexible synth engine, impressive effects and classy modulation system, Stacker sounds superb, whether producing the smallest of hi-hats or the most epic of drums; and once you get used to its homogenous channel layout and peculiar left-to-right ordering of tabs, the interface is a joy to use.”
Rhythmic Robot Soviet Organ
We said: “This is a multi-sampled Junost-70 Polyphonic Electronic Instrument – a Russian transistor-base organ complete with broken flight case amp and speaker section. By broken they mean functional but extremely gnarly. The normal body speaker can be blended with the flight case tones for some wonderfully characterful tones. Add tone, drive, amp envelope and Kontakt effects for further shaping, and you get a surprisingly flexible and vibe-laden instrument.”
Heavyocity Gravity Scoring Guitars
We said: “Scoring Guitars, based around excellent underlying guitar recordings, provides a wide palette of flavours by utilising processing that strays into full-on sound design territory. Some of this was achieved with outboard, but there’s no denying that the Gravity engine helps here as well, and provides plenty of options for those wanting to tweak.”
Spitfire Audio Tundra
They say: “Capturing the Scandinavian zeitgeist we've sampled a 100 piece orchestra playing never-before-sampled instructions at the very edge of silence. Alongside orchestral content are bellows, percussion and a characterful warped synth section. Everything you need to take it down a degree or two!”
Gothic Instruments Dronar
We said: “Drone creation might seem as simple as finding a decent pad and holding one or more notes for a few minutes. This is a good starting point, but for rich, evolving drones, layering and real-time control is essential. This is possible to do yourself with multiple good-quality sound sources and lots of time, but Gothic Instruments aim to make the process a lot easier with Dronar Hybrid Module.”
We said: “What we have here is a very well-conceived and good-looking but in no way revolutionary scripted Kontakt instrument built to do fairly conventional things to a diverse 9GB library of non-lyrical human voice samples, both solo and ensemble-based.”
Winner: Native Instruments Una Corda
We said: “What seems like a simple, though highly detailed, sampled instrument turns out to be a considerably more complex and flexible package that is both musical instrument and sound design tool. The Una Corda is immersive, responsive and highly creative, capturing the character of the original instrument, and pretty much justifying the price before the sound design aspect is even considered.”