Sample Logic Cinematic Guitars 2

June 13, 2013
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Sample Logic’s Cinematic Guitars 2 picks up where the original left off by further exploring the sonic landscape that’s possible through combining creatively sampled acoustic and electric guitars with all manner of sound sculpting controls available within Native Instruments’ Kontakt 5 soft sampler. As with the first library, Cinematic Guitars 2 (CG2 from here on) is squarely aimed at composers for media, although there’s certainly enough musical variety to find favor among rock, industrial, and electronica producers. But is this sequel as good as the original?

Six Strings and Beyond

CG2 is divided into single instrument patches and multis that combine two or more instrument patches on the same MIDI channel. The instruments are arranged into three categories: Atmospheres, Instrumentals, and Percussives. Folders within each category further organize the patches by musical application, such as “loops,” “pads,” “ambience,” “stingers,” and so on. This sensible organization scheme is intuitive and makes it relatively easy to work with CG2’s massive sample set, which weighs in at over 17GB. I also appreciate how many of the instruments’ names reference film and video game soundtracks. For example, instruments such as “Gladiators in the Mist” and “Valleys of Mars” conjure scenes and sonic textures that imply how these sounds might be used.

CG2 is not your typical “guitar sample library.” While you will find a solid-yet-modest selection of more conventional riffs and melodic loops played on acoustic and electric guitars, the bulk of CG2 borders on the edge of music and sound design, which is a good thing. Even the multisampled guitar patches have an experimental quality that pushes them into fresh territory—and frankly, do we really need another “purist” guitar library?

Much of the raw sampled material has been processed and manipulated to create sounds that bear little resemblance to the original sources. For example, I found dozens of evocative pads and textures that I’d be hard pressed to identify as anything close to a guitar. I should also point out that CG2 isn’t limited strictly to guitar. Other plectrum instruments were used, as is evidenced by some of the sample names. It’s all wonderfully creative material that’s made even more musically useful thanks to a feature-packed user interface that offers a wealth of programming options (more on this below).

As with the instrument patches, the multis are organized into helpful categories: Construction Beds, Instrument Stacks, and One Note Glory. Construction Beds feature instruments mapped across different areas of the keyboard, allowing you to build a “bed” by playing in different registers, while Instrument Stacks employ combinations of stacked instruments to make composite patches such as pads and leads. As the name implies, “One Note Glory” multis are intended to be played by holding down a single note — these are the “instant cue starters” that typically comprise layered melodic and rhythmic loops. On the whole, CG2’s multis are truly inspirational and are the place to start when you’re on a tight writing deadline.


Programming Options

Functionally, the user interface is nearly identical to that of Synergy X (reviewed July ’12), so refer to that review online for details. Briefly, there are dedicated sections for EQ, dynamics, reverb, delay, lo-fi, distortion, and other effects, as well as the arpeggiator. Parameters for each section can be modulated via a step sequencer or LFO, and indeed, many of the factory patches show off the rhythmic modulation capabilities of CG2 (think Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers soundtrack). Additionally, instruments based around looped audio samples feature a step editor for adjusting volume, pitch, pan, and filter cutoff settings for each slice within a loop. In short, there’s a lot of rhythmic variety that you can bring to the sounds. 

That said, there’s only so much you can do with turning effects on and off and step-modulating effect parameters. Many times during the review I wished I could get deeper inside a sound, the way I’ve become accustomed to working with “sample oscillators” in Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Camel Audio’s Alchemy, or NI’s Reaktor. In other words, I think Sample Logic has hit the ceiling on what’s possible within the context of Kontakt. After all, it’s a sample player (albeit a very full-featured one) and it doesn’t offer the kind of sample-level synthesis options that would take CG2 to a whole new level. Ah, but a synthesist can dream, right?

Trigger and Multi Madness

 
 Fig. 1. These pads trigger effects chain treatments, letting you "play" the effects and get radical sonic changes within one patch. Of course, you can map them to physical pads or keys.
CG2 boasts two new interface options: Triggers and Multi Script Macros. Triggers allow you to momentarily engage one of 48 different effects chains from one of six trigger buttons (see Figure 1). This is cool for live performance or working with sounds in an improvisational way. Hit the onscreen pads (or their MIDI note equivalents from your keyboard) and you can instantly change the character of a sound. It’s not possible to create your own custom effects chains, however. 

Multi Script Macros let you control multiple instrument parameters from a single knob, hence the term “macro.” It functions similarly to the macro function in Ableton Live, letting you create complex parameter sweeps from a single knob. A multi can have up to six macro knobs, all of which are freely assignable to instrument parameters. Nice.


Conclusions

CG2 is certainly a must-have for any media composer and offers the kind of fresh, up-to-the-second, evocative, and adrenalin-pumping textures that producers of any kind of contemporary pop music could put to use in their tracks immediately. The programmability is top notch, as is the sample content. I can’t wait to hear what Sample Logic does next.

 

PROS: Impressive sound-shaping controls available from the custom user interface make it possible to dial up seemingly endless variations. Imaginative and inspiring sample content.

CONS: Much of the sequenced and rhythmic material is just one or two bars—longer patterns would help minimize repetitiveness. Documentation of features could be better.


Bottom Line: Guitars never sounded this weird, scary, aggressive, and beautiful.

$399.99

samplelogic.com

 

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