We look back at some of the biggest music production tools of 2017

2017 has seen a veritable plethora of releases, from quirky cool plugins, to huge hardware upgrades. It’s been a roller coaster year for the music industry, and especially the tech therein, so we’re taking a look back at some of the releases that made an impact throughout the past twelve months.

January: Audiority Grainspace

Grainspace is a cool plugin based around high quality, realtime, granular processing and reverberation. It’s a reverb with amazing creative potential, and is kind on the wallet! Not only have you got control over the distance and position, but there’s a cool set of LFO’s, and Freeze & Grain options. Highly flexible, and great value – it’s a good start to the year!

February: Soundiron Sonepheres 1 – Distance

Film & television composer Blake Ewing lends his creative vision to Soundiron’s February release. The Sonesphere series aims to explore deeper aesthetics, stylized niches and specialty production concepts of composers and sound artists. Distance brings a unique set of atmospheric synths, textural pads, evolving soundscapes and drones in an intuitive Kontakt format.

Soundiron Sonespheres

March: Heavyocity NOVO: Modern Strings, Gothic Instruments DRONAR Live Strings, ProjectSAM Swing More!

With March came the release of one of the best sounding, classiest, and slickest Strings libraries in the world. Heavyocity spared no expense when putting NOVO: Modern Strings together. From the recording location of Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. Studios,to the layout and design of the Kontakt interface, this is an instrument that you can’t afford to miss out on. As composition for film, and sound design become further intertwined, NOVO brings world class string samples and Heavyocity’s signature sound design to your fingertips.

Keeping in the theme of strings library, our best selling Gothic Instruments DRONAR title, Live Strings came out in the same month. With beautifully recorded samples, and the DRONAR sculpting engine under the hood, Live Strings module is a must have for anyone with a need for layered and textured string samples.

The final release of March brought ProjectSAM‘s sequel to Swing!.. Swing More! This Big Band Kontakt instrument brings the goods with its huge library size, deep multi-sampling, and quality articulations. If you’re looking for the ‘other orchestra’ when composing your film track; Swing More! captures that classic ‘Bond-esque’ soundtrack without even trying.

 

April: Softube Modular, Zynaptiq Wormhole, iZotope RX6

The triple release in April brought something to the table for nearly everyone. In collaboration with Doepfer, the creators of the Eurorack standard, Softube brought amazing analogue modelling to synth enthusiasts everywhere with Softube Modular. A great workflow, with loads of presets to get you started, Softube Modular brings authentic modelling from Doepfer, Buchla, Intelijel and 4MS to your software synthesis.

Zynaptiq Wormhole is now the official one stop shop for audio effects processors. Its an effects processing plugin for creating otherworldy sounds. It combines an eccentric spectral warping section with a lush reverb and precision-engineered processor that integrates pitch and frequency shifting into a single process. We’d argue that it’s an indispensable tool for sound designers, film composers and and electronic musicians everywhere.

There’s no better testimony to a plugin’s quality than picking up a Gear Of The Year award from Music Tech Magazine. Actually, RX6 has been critically acclaimed far and wide, this only further cements it as the diamond standard of audio repair software. There seems to be an endless array of key features and modules that are purpose built to clean every type of audio imperfection. We’ve used RX6 in videos, but to also repair pops and damage to tracks when we’re in the studio. It’s an unstoppable force, and we can’t wax lyrical enough about it.

May: Synthogy Ivory II – Studio Grands

May brought the gift of Synthogy Studio Grands, and an engine update to Synthogy Ivory. Now in V2.5, Ivory no longer requires an iLok, meaning that authorising your software is done directly through Synthogy. The engine also boasts a few new features including ‘Half-Pedal’ and ‘Shimmer’. Studio Grands gives you access to two world renowned pianos and spaces. A Steinway B recorded at Power Station in New England provides an amazing versatility in it’s size and power, whilst the Bosendorfer 225 recorded at Firehouse in California provides a deep and resonant tone.

June: Best Service – The Orchestra

The concept behind The Orchestra was to bring a level of simplicity and speed back to working with orchestral soundbanks. It comes loaded with pre-built ensembles, and a selection of core articulations. After that, everything is about speed of workflow. You can delve as deep as you want to perfectly tailor your composition, or you can work swiftly with the intuitive UI to realise your music.

September: Gothic Instruments DRONAR Cinematic Atmospheres, Toontrack Superior Drummer 3, NI Komplete Kontrol Mk II

September was awash with amazing titles, but the three that we narrowed it down to are far and away the big boys of the month. NI brought huge updates to the table with their new Komplete Kontrol 49 and 61 keyboards. In-built HD screens and more DAW integration means that they’ve stepped away from being mere MIDI controllers, to full DAW workstations.

NAtive Instruments Komplete Kontrol 61 MKII

DRONAR: Cinematic Atmospheres Module was the penultimate release from Gothic Instruments this year. DRONAR has always been a great atmospheric generation tool, especially for harmonic pads. Cinematic Atmospheres Module brings a new element to the series, focusing more on atmospheric fx and harmonic layering. If you have any need to compose with horror and suspense in mind, then this is the library for you.

We couldn’t wrap up September without talking about the release of Toontrack’s drumming powerhouse – Superior Drummer 3. It’s more than just a virtual drum kit, it’s a full fledged production platform. New features include complete mixing desk and plugins, 7 new drum sets, up to 11.1 surround sound, and multi-layered kits. There’s so much to unpack in SD3, we’d recommend checking out it’s huge list of features here!

October: Zero-G ETHERA Soundscapes 2.0, iZotope Neutron 2, Ozone 8

The latest addition to the ETHERA line of cinematic vocal instruments really upped the anti in terms of sheer bang for buck, and level of quality that is now synonymous with the series. ETHERA Soundscapes 2.0 explores both the dramatic and ambient aspects of cinematic music. Packed with three libraries, it provides male and female vocals, ambiences that range from shocking horror to grandiose beauty. It also comes with a custom made batch of synth instruments specifically designed for cinematic composition.

iZotope weren’t finished back in April with the release of RX6. Ozone 8 and Neutron 2 bring mixing and mastering to a whole new level with a new host of features. Easily the biggest upgrade to Neutron was the Track Assistant, that uses machine learning to analyse your instrument audio and create a preset to get you kickstarted towards your goal. Neutron 2 also brings 6 award winning effects to the party, available inside Neutron and in stand-alone formats.

Ozone 8 was similarly upgraded with a Mastering Assistant, taking a huge amount of guesswork out of the mastering process. All that being said, easily the best addition to Ozone 8 and Neutron 2 is the Tonal Balance Control. It’s a visual representation of how loud your audio is across the frequency spectrum in real time, and guides for how loud it should be. Not only that, you can dive into the controls of each instance of Neutron and Ozone open in your project. You can tweak EQs and compressors from the Tonal Balance Control – it’s incredibly powerful.

November: Zero-G Eastern Percussion Module, Rob Papen SubBoomBass II

November kicked off with one of the best selling releases from Zero-G this year, and the eagerly anticipated upgrade to Rob Papen‘s bass station – SubBoomBass II. Eastern Percussion Module entered the fray with some serious authority and authenticity. With an intuitive UI and huge array of sounds it was already set to be a great Kontakt instrument. Eastern Percussion Module is also packed full of amazing articulations, round robins, and an astounding list of real performances. All of the performances are in MIDI format for easy editing as well! A simple drag and drop affair can immediately add spice and life to your dance productions, world music compositions, and much more.

SubBoomBass II is now the definitive bass station as far as we’re concerned. It exemplifies every facet of Rob Papen’s scrupulous attention to detail, mastery of synthesis, and musicality. It boasts over 1900 presets, 80 samples to use in waveform synthesis – giving you a total of 128 waveforms to choose from. Not only that, the GUI has been cleaned up, and workflow around the sequencer and oscillators has been streamlined. Best of all, the signature XY pad from Predator 2 has also made the leap over to SBB2. Sky’s the limit, but you’ll be working deep down low with this one.

December: Gothic Instruments DRONAR Vintage Synth Module

2017 finishes in December with a futuristic twist on vintage gear. The latest addition to the DRONAR series comes in the form of Vintage Synth Module. Alessandro Camnasio took the audio from one of his personal original 80s synths, and then conducted black magic wizardry upon it. From light, airy and ethereal to big, bold and dramatic, the sounds in DRONAR Vintage Synth are incredibly versatile. This one will find a home in most cinematic and ambient projects, and you won’t be sad about it.

 

When it comes to the sheer level of musicality, and technological developments, this year has certainly been an exciting time to be creating. We’re keen to see what 2018 brings, and the new doors it will open for musicians and artists everywhere.

Click here to view all these releases and more on the Time+Space website

Posted by Garrick Wareham

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