Recently Spitfire Audio came out with a new Kontakt sample library from their Signature range, called “Joey Santiago“. A name that burned itself in my brain – ever since I first heard “The Pixies” as a teenager, and went online to research the band and how come they sounded so great.
Joey was a constant inspiration during my first years of learning guitar and understanding the versatility and magic of this instrument. So you can imagine my excitement when this library was announced, especially by a company so well-known for their deep sampling techniques and love for sound design. Reviewing this library was a ton of fun for me, but I will still try to give you as unbiased a perspective as I can.
This new library from Spitfire Audio’s Signature range was Recorded in LA, re-amped in London, and mutated in Edinburgh. It is a well-traveled treasure chest of the coolest sounds you’re likely to find in a sample library. Why? Well instead of trying to be cool (an inherently uncool action) why not simply engage the skills of someone who exudes it?
“Joey Santiago” contains a variety of multi-sampled instruments recorded and performed by the man himself through his favored guitars, his fabled board and his much toured amp rig. Spitfire then re-amped the whole thing back in London’s Pool Studios. In addition to the multi-sampled virtual instruments, they also captured hours of Joey shredding, gating, twisting, and distorting into the raw materials for new sonic adventures.
Finally, this raw material was taken to Christian Henson’s new ‘warp room’ on the edge of an extinct volcano in Scotland for further sound bending.
If you’re familiar with any of the recent Spitfire products, you will have no trouble at all navigating this library, thanks to Spitfire’s wonderfully consistent interface design. In Joey Santiago, we find all the usual Spitfire interfaces: the overview panel, the general control panel, the Ostinatum, the Edna engine and the Mercury synth. If you’re not familiar with those interfaces yet, just pay a quick visit to Spitfire’s website for an in-depth explanation.
All of this enables us to pick the amps we wish to use, and to utilize their popular “Mercury Synth” and eDNA engine to take the work of all these amazing people and make it your own. Once done, we can happily tell people we have Joey Santiago from the Pixies on our track. And who wouldn’t want that?
So what are the different elements of this library?
In the “Joey Santiago Plucks” we find a ton of different versions of single sampled notes, differentiated by the amps and effects they run through. Much like any simulated guitar plug-in, but with a lot more character and customizability than most general guitar plug-ins or libraries.
The “Santiago sounds” folder contains a wonderful selection of different sounds produced by Joey and all kinds of creative ways. They are great for adding color and character to existing tracks, and for all kinds of sound design purposes.
All the sounds in this folder run in the Mercury synth, which provides a ton of possibility for further mangling and shaping of sound.
Furthermore, there are two folders containing patches for the Edna engine: “Gigantic Mutations” and “Radiant Pads”. Together both these folders contain something over 200 patches and deliver a really rich selection of creatively processed loops and pads and all kinds of colors, sourced from Joey’s recordings.
Most of them are great out of the box but given the possibilities of the Edna engine, there seems to be very little to no boundaries to further shape the sounds into what you want them to be. And to me it what makes it the most fun to work with the pads and mutations is that they instantly conjure up a scenery or an atmosphere within my imagination, and so in a way the sound tells me how to use it.
$300 for a guitar library can certainly seem like a little steep as far as pricing goes. But Spitfire audio, as usual, convinces by the level of depth and creativity they put into their sampling process.
I have, so far, not come across any guitar library that was as successful as this one in preserving, what I can only call the soul of the instrument and performer. Beyond that, the work that was done after the original sampling, by sculpting the truly amazing pads and sound design elements, is what makes this a well-rounded package, that is not one bit overpriced.
However, this is a very specific library for very specific use. And while I can think of 100 ways to use it, I can imagine that in many studios it would only collect dust.
For someone who is just looking for a very neutral and realistic guitar simulation plug-in or library, this might not be the best choice. But for someone who values their creative and expansive approach to the specific sound of an instrument and the performer, put in the context of scoring and explorative sound sculpting, this library could be a jewel in their collection and a great source of inspiration.3
Get More Details: Joey Santiago
Also, you may like to read my ALBION ONE Review, another great sample library by Spitfire Audio.