Grand Glass Marimba Kontakt Library Review
Life’s not always about synths, you may wanna ask any TV or Film composer… Probably, they would talk about pianos, strings, brass, toms, timpani, snare drums… and many will tell you about marimbas, which, I personally, love. Having myself a lovely Glockenspiel at my studio (which I tend to use a lot), when I was offered to write a review about a Kontakt instrument based on Marimbas, my immediate answer was, “Yes” (with capital Y). So, let’s check out the Grand Glass Marimba!
As I’ve said, this is a Kontakt instrument, and you’ll need Kontakt 5.3 or above in order to run it.
You get six different patches: Arpeggios, Blue Sticks Close, Blue Sticks Room Overhead, Chord Progressions, Motifs & Ostinatos, and Yellow Sticks Close.
As you may probably think, Blue sticks Close, Blue sticks Room Overhead and Yellow sticks close, are One Shot samples, ranging from E3 to F6. They are of course velocity sensitive, and very well recorded. To My ears, the main difference between blue and yellow sticks is the attack and release of the notes. Also, the Yellow sticks, sounds a little bit harsh to me, while the Blue sticks, sound a little warmer and softer, with more defined top end. Beside the closed mics, there’s the Blue stick Room Overhead patch, which, as expected, has lots of Room in it, but, unfortunately, it also has some noise, which is most noticeable when the sound is decaying… anyway, I don’t think anyone will notice it in a mix context.
The other three patches are loops containing arpeggios, chord progressions and motifs, both minor and major, and in all three patches, you get different modes in the different keyboard octaves.
It is worth noticing, that in the Motifs & Ostinatos patch, you get different phrases for each note, a couple of octaves work as melodic lines, and the other octaves work as ostinatos or, maybe riffs, if you wanna call them that way.
Of course, this patches are also velocity sensitive, and polyphonic, meaning you can create really complex parts using more than one note.
Again, some of the samples, are a little bit noisy, but, hey, that’s what you get with real instruments recorded live by real musicians! And, as I’ve said before, in a mix context, you’d never notice that noise floor.
The loop patches have a three band EQ with High pass (around 100 Hz or so?), mids notch, to take out some “boxiness” and a High Shelf, which really makes the sound to shine, while the One Shot patches, have a three band fixed frequency bell curve EQ, and I think both the low end and high-end work as shelving eq, while the mids, work as a bell curve with some wide Q.
From now on, all six patches have the same controls: a small room reverb amount (which sounds lovely), tape simulation amount, which actually compresses the sound in a very nice way, a compressor, a maximiser and a stereo widening effect. All this processors, have fixed values, the are just on/off switches.
Well, this is a pretty versatile instrument, especially for being able to choose two different colors for the One Shots. I mean, moving a Marimba to your studio and record it properly it’s nor an easy neither a cheap task, and I have to admit, these samples are really well recorded, you can hear the room and the mics, and obviously, the instrument and the player. The loop patches, are awesome, guess I’ll be using them a lot for my TV and Short film gigs! Also, I believe that with some processing, maybe a little reverb and some delay, you can create some unique sounds.
The only downsides I can think of is that some samples have a little bit of noise, which, it is not a problem when the sound is dry, but, when you start to process it, it might be a problem… or not… guess it will depend on the mix. Finally, I’d love to see some more control possibilities for the compressor and the maximizer, but, that’s not a big deal, you can process the sound externally for more in depth control.
By the way, did I mention that I’m in love with the Arpeggios patch? 🙂
So, if you own Kontakt 5.3 or above, and you are doing scores or you just wanna add a different timbre to your music, you should definitely try this!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]