EastWest has been making virtual instruments and sound libraries for a long time. Its instruments are used by some of the biggest names in film, game music and sound design including the likes of Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard and they grace some of the most memorable soundtracks of the past ten years. Complete Composers Collection is one of its flagship products giving you access to a huge range of virtual instruments at a very reasonable price.
The idea behind CCC2 is that you can tailor a collection of virtual instruments to suit your musical needs. The basic package gives you seven virtual instruments out of a possible package of 20. This basic package includes Hollywood Strings, Brass and Woodwinds. Ministry of Rock 2 (Drums, Bass and Guitars), The Dark Side (heavily effected Drums, Keys and other instruments), Solo Violin, and Spaces (a very powerful convolution based reverb plug-in).
If you should decide to tailor the package to your own requirements you can swap these instruments for some of the others in the range or simply add others in. With some instruments you pay extra and obviously if you choose more than seven the price will go up, but in comparison to buying them separately you make a saving of up to 70% on the individual prices.
Before choosing it's well worth going to the website and checking out each instrument's demo tracks.
So, having chosen and bought them, the package you get includes a USB2/3 hard drive. This drive includes all 20 virtual instruments and if you have USB3 on your computer all you have to do is install the PLAY engine (which drives all the instruments here), authorise your iLok and you are ready to roll.
If your machine only has USB2 then you will have to copy all the files to an internal sample drive as only USB3 is fast enough to stream these highly detailed instruments. That's the path this writer had to take which is time-consuming, but with near enough 500 Gig of samples it's hardly surprising.
Online registration is via the Soundsonline website and is really straightforward. You have to have an iLok2 (you can order one as part of your purchase) and the new iLok License Manager is a doddle so, although it takes time, that has far more to do with the number of instruments you are dealing with rather than any complications in the process.
Having installed and authorised, it's simply a matter of launching an instance of the PLAY engine and locating your instrument folders. PLAY knows which instrument type you have loaded and changes its skin accordingly. Looking at the keyboard at the bottom of the instrument you can see the range over which the samples are spread and any keyswitch keys and off you go.
As part of our package we chose Silk, Goliath and Orchestral choirs. Silk includes instruments such as Duduk (a Persian woodwind instrument), Kemenche (a kind of Zither) and various other exotic instruments from along the silk road. We have recorded most of these instruments over the years so we know what they should sound like. With all of them we were incredibly impressed.
As with Gypsy, which this reviewer has been using for some time, the detail is fabulous. Each instrument has plenty of articulations so you can make it speak as it really should. The recording quality of the samples is excellent and if you program a part with one sound then swapping to a similar instrument is very simple as the dynamics and articulations across sample sets are carefully mapped.
The orchestral instruments are equally detailed and, while you may not be able to go to the extremes of the bigger collections from Vienna Symphonic, for the vast majority of applications these are more than enough. Instruments like The Dark Side and Goliath add a whole other, more synthetic world to the palette and there are some choice noises there, from drums and basses through to extreme synth and guitar tones.
As you may have noticed, the subject of film music features a lot in this review. A set of sound libraries of this breadth and depth are ideally suited to anyone looking to make music for film, TV, or games and it's no surprise that many EastWest endorsees inhabit those worlds.
However, that would be pigeonholing what is a quite remarkable set of instruments that can be used in pretty much any musical genre. When sounds are sampled and presented in this quality and at this level of playability they become an inspiration in themselves.
As a set of writing tools these instruments can take you out of your normal musical sphere and suggest new musical worlds to inhabit. Be it the distorted tones of The Dark Side or the haunting melancholy of Silk, inspiration is never far away.
CCC2 is a very clever package too as it gives you all 20 instruments on one drive. If you need a sound you don't yet own then it's only necessary to purchase a licence and load it onto your iLok. And while we've looked at the Gold version here, if you want more detail in your orchestral sounds you can upgrade to the Diamond versions, which not only give you all the articulations but even choices of microphone position and type.
Add to that the SSL/EW FX suite and you can have SSL EQ and compression and a comprehensive convolution reverb as part of the PLAY engine adding even more flexibility to each instrument and patch.
Well thought out, excellent quality and inspiring. And for the price, it starts to look very tempting indeed.