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Review: Sonokinetic Woodwind Ensembles

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Posted on: February 23, 2017
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Sonokinetic has just launched a new Woodwind Ensemble sample library for Kontakt. This library joins two other multi-sampled orchestra libraries, Tutti Vox and Da Capo, but with a brand new, super detailed and powerful interface. The Woodwinds Ensembles are the first to launch in the Orchestral Series, which will eventually include all orchestral sections.

Sonokinetic library users will welcome this new development, especially those who prefer to play their own parts and customize playable patches, rather than use the phrase-based libraries like Grosso and Capriccio Sonokinetic is already well known for. After designing many different Kontakt players for their solo instruments, phrase-based orchestral libraries and many other specialized offerings, Sonokinetic take their years of sampling and instrument design experience to the next level with the addition of Woodwind Ensembles. 

Overview

Woodwind Ensembles includes Flute, Clarinet, Oboe and Bassoon sections, each recorded with three players. On the website promotional page, Sonokinetic has detailed information about the make and model of each wind instrument with photos and note ranges.  This is a hefty library in terms of size: the Extended edition weighs in at over 156GB if you install the 16-bit and 24-bit versions. It’s nice to have a choice depending on the project, computer power and so on. Sonokinetic has offered different bit versions in their other libraries and continues this tradition with Woodwind Ensembles.  

The Extended edition comes with more articulation choices than I’ve seen in any other orchestral library and the interface is incredibly user friendly in terms of handling as well. Depending on your needs, the Standard edition could work just fine, but if you can spring for the Extended edition, you’ll get twice as much articulation content for 100 Euros more. Professional orchestrators will definitely want the Extended version of this library. 

Other important features that we will look at in the Kontakt interface include 4 recorded microphone positions, level option for multiple parameters, different legato choices, dynamic keyswitches, intelligent purging and loading system, advanced mapping page for more experience instrument programmers and so much more. 

Articulations Galore!

The articulation page is divided into six sections and includes sustains, marcatos, shorts (staccatos), dynamics, runs and other special ornaments like trills, mordents and flutter tongue techniques. Select articulations by clicking on the name inside the box, or use the keyswitches at the left and right sides of the mapped keyboard. The left side has the keyswitches for changing the articulation group on the white keys and on the black keys above you can select an articulation from the selected group. This is very handy for orchestrators who primarily play live and want to switch from one to the other quickly.

There are also secondary articulation keyswitches on the right side, above the playable range of the instrument. These controls are for changing note lengths in the Marcato section, crescendo direction and note length in the Dynamics section as well as octave range and run direction in the Runs section. Everything time-based is designed to sync to your DAW host tempo. Another great feature is the ability to stack up to 3 articulations together by selecting them in the group windows and then assigning them to one of the green keys located below C0.

You have the ability to play another articulation and then go back to the stacked group of 3 by just pressing the green key you assigned them to. Very handy! Having an interface based primarily on articulation control will no doubt help composers to quickly obtain a more realistic sound, closer than ever to the sound of a live orchestra. 

Advanced Options and Menus

Underneath the Articulation groups are a couple smaller areas containing controllers for different microphone positions, an advanced mapping page selection, an option box with selectable level, legato, control and dynamics settings. Individual sliders appear for each option menu to change the articulation’s level, legato, dynamics and more. This is the place composers can get into the gritty details when sculpting the sound. Composers will no doubt find these sections handy in the composition and mix process to fine-tune the dynamics and levels of individual phrases and parts. 

The microphone mixing section is similar to Grosso and Capriccio libraries and includes a quick Tutti mix slider for all microphones, which is great for mock-ups. The four microphone positions include close, far, decca and wide. The Sonokinetic team put a lot of thought into making more complex tasks easier and also included built in help sections for quick reference.

Advanced Mapping

The Advanced Mapping section is another innovative part of Woodwinds Ensembles. One of the key functions of this section is custom mapping the playable range and keyswitches. All the instruments can be mapping into the same playable range for tutti part performances for example. Articulation ranges can also be moved and controllers reassigned if you so desire. This is a deep section of the instrument that composers will love to dive into for detailed customization. 

Pristine Sound Quality and Virtuosic Playing

The sound quality of this library is outstanding. Each instrument section is very clean and tight. The bassoons and oboes have an authentically woody, punchy timbre. All the instruments sound beautiful together and weave in and out of each other like a real orchestral recording would sound. Hats off to the musicians who spent hours recording these samples, riffs, runs and special articulations and Sonokinetic for designing such a clear, user friendly interface to make playing these sounds a breeze. If this is a taste of things to come in the Orchestral Series, we should all be very excited indeed!

Price: Standard Edition – 299.90 Euros / Extended Edition – 399.90 Euros

Pros:  Incredible sound quality, variety of articulations and extensive key switching capabilities.

Cons:  The sheer size of this library for woodwinds alone will require lots of RAM and hard drive space to work in tandem with other libraries. Purge often!

Web: https://www.sonokinetic.net/products/classical/woodwinds-ensembles/

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