[Review] SoundIron's Vocal Suite 2
What a time to be a synth fan!
At the time of writing I just got home, dead tired, and I fired up my home studio to relax a bit while also checking up on the latest news within the scene. Arturia bundles on the NI website?! Whoah... And since we're talking Kontakt here, are you aware that you can get Kontakt with 50% off?! (at the time of writing, I honestly don't know how long this offer will last).
You know what I really appreciate and admire about Native Instruments? They look out for their customers, both users such as you and me but also resellers such as.. well, Arturia of course but in this review we'll be looking at SoundIron! They just released their latest bundle and sent out offers to existing customers which is really hard to ignore, but.. maybe more on that later.
In a recent post I talked about turning Maschine into a voicebox, now we're going to look at a specific aspect of that post in closer detail. Namely...
SoundIron Vocal Suite 2
As discussed earlier: while our synths can pretty much recreate any kind of sound we want there's one major issue they can't fully cope with: vocals. And that's where samples can come in handy, but what if you need or want more control over the way the voice(s) get used?
Well, then you may want to focus your attention to this collection of Kontakt instruments...
Voices of Gaia
"Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planet! She sents 5 special samples to 5 special synth people...". Errr, wait, wrong line! 😁
Voices of Gaia is a collection of samples made by 4 different vocalists (Bryn, Francesca, Michael and Strawberry) and it features vocals set for legato, staccato, sustain but also features some live phrases as well.
An example can be seen above where I loaded "Strawberry" (female vocalist) and I can set the sustain to use the vowels Ah p or F, Mm, Oh p or F and Oo. I can also pick phrases based on key or by set and they're provided for different tempos: 80, 100, 120 and 140 BPM though this heavily depends on the vocalist you're using.
Phrases then differ between bright, bombastic, melodic but you can also come across Arabian phrases, humming, vowel keys, soul keys and so on.
All in all this is a collection of vocals which you can use for backup phrases or non-melodic projects.
Voices of Rapture
Alter, bass, tenor and soprano ranges covered by 4 vocalists, but also ambience phrases, are part of this versatile instrument. You can also combine them in an ensemble as shown above where you have access to commonly used vowels: Ah, Ee, Eh, Mm, Oh, Oo but it also provides specific Latin phrases like: Agnus dei, Amor aeternus, Deum, Kyrie and so on. These can be used as legato, sustains, staccato and polystaccato.
This instrument is also brilliant for strong full background hums which can be perfect for fantasy settings. Imagine Arthur approaching Excalibur, the sword in the stone, and as he puts his hands around the hilt and starts to lift it you can suddenly hear a male choir rising in volume to emphasize the moment.
That is the kind of stuff which 'Rapture' excels in.
This instrument is all about cinematic scoring taken to extremes. You have access to a choir which provides you with a large amount of different, mostly Latin, phrases which are articulated in specific ways...
We have our ensemble again providing legato and staccato but also syllables, vowel sustains as well as Latin sustains. Soprano and tenor can also be used solo, there are ambiences and pads you can use as well as choral effects. And of course, shown above, divisi. Men or women using vowel sustains or Latin sustains where you can even mix or switch between sources and phrases.
Although this is a somewhat specific instrument I cannot help be convinced that it can suit many different scenarios.
Mimi Page - Light & Shadow
This is one of my personal favorites, so very beautiful..
"A young traveler enters the forbidden forest and makes his way to a small stream where he suddenly sees a deer walking in the distance. The deer looks up, but instead of fleeing it defiantly continues his way leaving the young boy frozen in his tracks while watching in awe...".
And while this takes place you hear a beautiful female voice in the background softly singing mystical sounding phrases which truly fit the fantasy scene.
That is what Light & Shadow is pretty much all about: a soprano voice giving us both ambient and pop phrases. Vowels, articulation, pads... it's all in here.
Once again a very specific instrument, but oh so beautiful...
Voices of Wind: Adey, Audrey & Kimba
Voices of Wind ("VoW") is a series of three female voices used in a wide variety of ways and it is also one of my absolute favorite part of this suite. Don't let the above screenshot fool you please: while the Vocal Suite 2 features three female vocalists there are some more shown above. That's because I was so impressed with the 'VoW' instrument from the first Vocal Suite that I decided to see if there could be more; I suspected that it was part of a series of some sort. Well, that turned out to be true so I decided to complete my collection.
But the VoW series within Vocal Suite 2 features:
Adey Bell; a vocalist who gives us warm sounding vocals that can be used in a bright and dark setting. Humming, phrases, vowels and also ambiences... it's all here.
Audrey Howitt lends us her voice to be used in a large variety of ways from blues or operatic to more classical and even fantasy settings. Legato, staccato and sustains and of course a large collection of varied phrases that can be used.
Kimba Theurich then gives us more sensitive vocals. Legato, staccato and sustains but also bright and dark phrases, humming and a lot of specific vowels. Need some vocal sounds for a fantasy Celtic setting? Or maybe you're looking for something more "nitty gritty"? 😉
Now, the beauty of this series, and the main reason why I just had to complete my collection, is because all these three instruments are unique in their own way. So... you don't get 3 female vocalists who give you the exact same material while using a different voice. Instead we get 3 unique instruments featuring three unique vocalists who each use their voice in their own special way. Thus also giving you their own unique collection of phrases. And that makes this collection so very special in my opinion.
See if you practice and get to known these instruments better then you'll soon be able to simply "string together" a singing performance for example just from playing these. Now, keep this in mind for a moment and then also realize the scale setting which is at our disposal on both Maschine and the Komplete Kontrol series...
Last, but certainly not least, is Olympus Elements.
Olympus Choir Elements is a choral instrument which gives you full control over your performance. It features both male and female voices that can be used in a huge variety of ways: ambiences, choral effects, marcato, staccato, sustains, true legato. But also phrase and vowel master instruments which give you nearly full control over how and what you'd like the choir to sing:
Here I loaded the Legato Ensemble: orange features male voices, blue features a mix between male and female and finally yellow features female voices. The choir can sing Ah or Oo and as you can see I can easily mix between them. In the above screenshow I'm using low, bass, male voices as backup while using the female soprano voices to actually sing a bit of a melody.
If you need a full sounding chorus then this might be just the thing to look into I think...
SoundIron's Vocal Suite 2 provides you with 8 different sample based vocal instruments which spans a large variety of styles, articulations, phrases and even gives you control over a whole chorus!
And also important: as you probably noticed above all these instruments are fully NKS compliant, meaning that you can easily play them on either Komplete Kontrol or my personal favorite:
The Maschine! 😎
And there you have it!
Thanks for reading, I hope this could be useful for some of you!
And for those who'd like more Voices of Wind...
Warning: This instrument is not included with the Vocal Suite bundle which I reviewed above. However, it was (recently) released by the same company and well... I just had to mention this critter as well 😊
Voices of Wind - the complete series
SoundIron has completed the VoW series and so they now bring us the "Voices of Wind" Kontakt instrument featuring the combined voices of all six amazing female vocalists: Adey, Audrey, Connie, Juliana, Kimba and Phoebe.
As mentioned this instrument brings the whole series together and thus it gives us all six individual instruments, of which I already reviewed 3 above, and it has also added an ensemble as shown directly above. Not only brings this all 6 vocalists together, but we can also fully customize their place within the stereo field when using the ensemble instrument.
Let's take a brief look at the other 3 instruments in this series:
VoW - Connie
Connie has a really nice soft, somewhat mystic, voice which can easily bring moments to life. One of the things I especially enjoy about this instrument is the use of a sequencer in order to "program" phrases. Play the phrases, use several breath samples in between and you got yourself a really powerful backing voice.
As with all other VoW instruments in the series you can use Connie with legato, staccato and sustains featuring several vowels: Ah, Ee, Eh, Mm, Oh, Oo.
Vow - Juliana
The image for this instrument is a raven and to be honest I think it's fitting. While Juliana also gives us some beautiful soprano sections she also excels while singing within the mid-range as well, making her voice somewhat stand out there. A little bit lower, warm and yet still delicate. But then again, what to expect when you get custom FX presets such as: Distort Dial, Raven's Call and Ice Queen....
VoW - Phoebe
Once again a nice mixture between a soprano as well as some darker voices. Although the section shown above is more about ambience and custom sound effects I still think some of the preset names really does the instrument justice.
All these instruments also come with their own effect rack:
If you enjoy the Voices of Wind instruments within the Vocal Suite 2 then I think you're going to love having access to the full series as well. Beautiful sounding female vocals which can be used in a wide variety of ways.
But wait, there's more!
As you probably know by now Native Instruments and iZotope have joined forces. This even resulted in an awesome bundle containing both Komplete as well as iZotope's Music Production Suite. And this could be a perfect opportunity for us to make all the above sounds even better than they already are! 😮
I mean... ever heard of Nectar?
While I did customize the setup for the VoW ensemble I merely used a default preset for Nectar (shown above) and seriously.. despite the fact that we're already working with pretty clean and smooth samples this combination still manages to improve on our sound even more. Subtle differences here and there, sure, but differences and enhancements nonetheless!
And this ladies and gentlemen is a prime example of why I've been so enthusiastic about the combination of Native Instruments' Komplete and iZotope's production suite: it can truly take some sounds to a whole new level.
So there you have it!
Thanks for reading, I hope you guys could enjoy this extra part as well.0
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