Soundiron has released the Elysium Harp, and yes, you’ve guessed, it’s a nice Kontakt instrument based on a 47-string Grand Concert Pedal Harp.
The Soundrion team gave us the chance to test this wonderful virtual instrument, so here are the first impressions:
First thing’s first: this is a huge library with really huge patches and probably one of the most complete Harp Kontakt library around (at least to my knowledge), and since I love Harps, I can’t wait to start this review, so, shall we?
This virtual instrument has to offer 6 different patches that just look beautifully designed and, of course, they sound equally beautiful. Each of these patches includes the performance window as well as a Fx rack window.
It is worth mentioning that if you are running a really huge Kontakt session, there are three Lite patches, which of course will demand about half of the memory than the big brothers.
Elysium Harp 1 – Main
As all patches have slightly different controls, I’m gonna talk a little about every single patch.
The first one on the list, is of course the Main harp, which is just a regular finger plucked harp which ranges from C-1 to C8 which is quite an amazing range. It has 6 different velocity layers.
It has the same parameters controls than the other two harp patches, that is swell, a simple attack and release envelope, body control, offset and vibrate amount, which actually its more like a tremolo effect.
The mixer has two channels with different mic positions, those are front, back and room; a nice feature is that you can output each channel to a different output in Kontakt.
Each channel also has pan and presence -which just seems to be a compressor. The Sequencer has two modes: arpeggiator and glissando.
The glissando is quite amazing cause you can create your own glissando effects using the amount of notes and the speed as well as the human function. The next section is called Pedals, and here you can choose the scale, so, if you are not a great keyboard player, you can choose any scale and just play it using the white keys on your keyboard.
Finally, is the velocity range which is unique to this patch, here, you can set the minimum and maximum velocities.
Elysium Harp 2 – Special articulations
This patch, is pretty identical to the main patch, except that instead of having the velocity range slider, it features different articulations to select from, and those are: Finger nail, which provides sharper attack; harmonics, which are the harmonics for every string; Xylophonics -in three different flavours-, which according to the user’s manual, it’s the sound from “plucking while finger damping where the strings meet the soundboard”; finally the last articulation is Bass buzzes, which, I need to say, sounds amazing! again, according to the manual, you get that sound “by shifting the pedals after plucking the string”.
Elysium Harp 3 – Glisses
This patch is all about glissandos and you can select the chord for the glissando using key switches. You’ll find all kind of C7s, C minor pentatonic, Ebm pentatonic, FMaj7, and F# major, minor and Major 7 chords.
Elysium Harp Amb
The three Amb patches are quite similar, they mix two layers of samples and add an arpeggiator. These patches sound particularly cool, and they are meant to be used as something else rather than traditional harps. They work great for pads, drones, and sound effects.
The effects rack page, opens a new world of sound design possibilities. Like the Theremin+ you get 10 different slots and 17 effects to choose from. This can make your harps sound really crazy and innovative. Specially when used with the Amb patches.
The Performance window includes fairly basic controls like swell, attack, body, release, offset and vibrate. But, when you hit the controls button, a new set of features opens up.
You’ll find a sequencer, the pedals section -more on this later-, a mixer, which lets you mix between two different mic positions, as well as panning and presence.
Depending on the patch you will also find different articulations, velocity range or chords -for the glissando patch-.
Also, there are three really cool ambience patches called Chromadone, Gloop and Stranch which include and arpeggiator and they definitely don’t sound as traditional harps at all!
This is probably the best and more complete Harp library for NI Kontakt out there. I mean, you get the obvious finger played harp and glissando articulations, but also you get six different and really cool sounding articulations plus the three amp patches and the three lite versions.
Of course, all of this, combined with the fx rack and all the expressiveness of the instrument itself, makes it a must have for composers working for media as well as for producers that need new sounds in their palette. I know I’ll be using this a lot![author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]