[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!
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