As a busy 2016 draws to a close, we reflect back on some of the incredible virtual instruments, sample libraries and effects plug-ins released over the year as developers continued to push the boundaries and make our lives as musicians ever more creative and exciting. In no particular order, here are our top 10!
The iZotope Neutron mixing plug-in has proven to be a revolutionary step in the world of mixing and post production. Musicians, producers, composers and engineers alike have all benefited from it's intelligent metering and analysis that can listen to your audio, identify instruments, and offer tailored starting points for creating powerful mixes. An essential addition to the iZotope collection.
"Possibly iZotope´s best product since Ozone. Packed with innovation and excellent design, Neutron is easy to use, but deep enough to offer a flexible and professional experience, and with a little tweaking, can intelligently improve your mixes." - Music Tech
After almost a decade since the release of Rob Papen's legendary Predator virtual synth, the legacy now continues. Predator 2 is built on Rob Papen’s original vision but enhances it further with an awesome selection of new features, functionality, and improvements while staying true to the underlying concept of being fun and easy to use. This is achieved by having a user interface designed so that almost all controls can be accessed from a signal screen with no complex edit menus.
"Master Rob has done it again! I'm blown away from the sounds and the sound quality..u don't have to touch a knob if u don't too sounds are thick, cleanm wide and there's patches for every genre! I won't do anotha track without it!" - Tim&Bob (Funktwons)
Industry newcomers Gothic Instruments have had a highly successful year after releasing 4 exciting and versatile new products. DRONAR Hybrid Module makes it astonishingly easy to create rich, dramatic, complex and evolving atmospheres with a set of controls designed to invite deep exploration, expression and discovery. Incredibly innovative and addictive, there is nothing quite like DRONAR for offering so much live expression control.
"DRONAR is difficult to ignore, offering as it does a significant chunk of finally-produced, often luxurious material at a very reasonable price. Whether you´re into dark drones or questing for the ultimate pad, ambience or tripped-out cinematic moodgasm, it comes highly recommended." - Sound on Sound
After the release of such world-class products such as Omnisphere 2 & Trilian in the past, we thought it couldn't get any better from Spectrasonics, but we were wrong! September saw the release of Keyscape, the largest selection of collector keyboards in the world, featuring 36 different instruments, including some extremely sought after keyboards such as the Rhodes LA Custom 'E Model'. The incredible attention to detail and meticulous care given to each instrument allowed Spectrasonics to develop these sounds to a whole new level of authentic tone and inspiring playability.
"Keyscape puts an incredible array of beautifully emulated keyboard instruments at your fingertips with high quality effects to match" - Computer Music
Known for their world-class virtual instruments, Spitfire Audio have once again gone to extreme lengths to create one of the most realistic and detailed sounding virtual orchestras available, focusing on never-before-sampled dynamics at the 'very edge of silence'.
Capturing the Scandinavian zeitgeist Spitfire Audio have sampled a 100 piece orchestra playing never-before-sampled instructions at the very edge of silence. Alongside orchestral content are bellows, percussion and a characterful warped synth section. Everything you need to take it down a degree or two!
"Based on the Ying-Yang mindset, mixing loud, epic sections with beautifully calm, haunting passages will really boost the quality of your tracks, and Albion V Tundra does an amazing job with delivering the serene part of the equation." - The Audio Spotlight
We love Toontrack products, and this expansion pack for EZdrummer 2, one of the world´s most popular drum plug-ins, is one of our favourites to date. The unique blend of natural and electronic percussion, recorded using modular synths & some experimental foley work, is something we've never heard before!
The Dream Pop EZX is a sonic panorama where wood meets metal, man battles machine and complex textures of modular synthesis clash with the crude, unfiltered tone of nature. This is the perfect canvas for ethereal soundscapes and contemporary music where you let your own creativity be the primary architect.
"EZX Dream Pop is a very welcome addition to my growing EZDrummer library. I love the close mic sounds of the acoustic kits. The dry and upfront acoustic samples blend seamlessly with the electronic hits" - Pro Tools Expert
Zero-G ETHERA is a stunning cinematic vocal Kontakt instrument* that combines amazing vocal samples, incredible simplicity and a high degree of playability all packed into a beautiful Kontakt interface for total ease-of use.
The Phrases section includes 45 patches ranging in styles from Epic, Fantasy, Celtic, Operatic, Tribal and World and even EDM and soul. These can be mixed and combined and using the two Off-Set controls you can change the starting points of the samples using the waveform display. This allows you to create new phrases and to personalise the existing phrases. These phrases can be manipulated in many ways by the GUI controls including time-stretching or syncing to your host application.
Please note that Ethera has now been discontinued to make way for Ethera 2.0, an exciting update to the instrument which contains and extra 1GB of samples and new featrures including a cinematic phrase builder and a 'legato expert' section.
"It sounds absolutely amazing and the range and variety of vocal noises that can be coaxed from it is endless." - 9/10 Computer Music
This year we were happy to release our very first exclusive product, Dark Ambience Patches for Omnisphere 2. Created by renowned UK sound designer and electronic musician Ian Boddy, Dark Ambience contains 100 patches for Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 handcrafted from an extensive collection of vintage and analogue modular synths. Take a journey into the deeper realms of ambience and electronic music with everything from soundscapes, textures, special FX, synth sounds and beyond.
Here is list of some of the impressive equipment Ian used to craft these patches:
- Roland System 100-M
- Serge Animal, Audio Interface, Dual Oscillator, Klangzeit, CV Matrix Mixer, Dual ADSR, Stereo Mixer & custom panels
- Analogue Systems
- Doepfer A-100
- Cwejman SPH2 & FSH1 & MX-4S
- Make Noise DPO, Wogglebug, Rene, Maths & QMMG
- Minimoog & Moog Voyager
"All these sounds produced such a wonderful dark atmosphere and suits perfectly for cinematic soundtrack production. For me this new sound library really demonstrates the brilliant coding skills." - Synth Anatomy
Produce breathtaking orchestral music. Garritan Personal Orchestra is award-winning software that places an entire symphony orchestra at your fingertips.
Garritan Personal Orchestra democratized the creation of orchestral music by making a comprehensive collection of virtual orchestral instruments both accessible and affordable. GPO 5 continues in this tradition by vastly expanding the number of included instruments and offering new techniques, performance spaces and reverbs, and instrument body resonances. The result empowers you to produce truly inspiring symphonic sounds with a much higher level of realism.
"GPO5 is a solid, if not earth-shattering update. It´s a superb option for the thrifty producer looking for quality orchestral sounds in a flexible, easy-to-use package." - Computer Music
Wouldn't it be cool to have a reverb that auto-magically adapts to your sound and blends with perfection? A reverb that doesn't clutter up your mix, and doesn't push your sounds into the background. A reverb designed to sound beautiful and lush, rather than just realistic. A reverb so organically smooth it's as if your sounds had a longer sustain to begin with. A reverb that loves creating organic ambient sonic textures.
"Adaptiverb is the kind of tool sound designers dream about, but its capacity for weirdness shouldn't detract from the fact that it is also a fantastic studio reverb for vocal and instrument applications with it's unique ability to avoid pitch clashes where appropriate." - SoundOnSound