Saturday, June 20, 2015

Arturia KeyLab 61 (Producer Pack) Review – Modern Hybrid Synthesis



Arturia have dressed it up and you can take it anywhere.

Bundled with the FULL version of “Bitwig Studio”, Arturia’s own “Mini V” (Minimoog emulation) soft synth, and luxuriously complemented with “Analog Lab”, the Producer Pack is a heaping portion of quality and value. Toting their “KeyLab” series of controllers as being Hybrid synthesizers, Arturia have successfully produced a line of well-built, well appointed midi keyboards that contend favourably with offerings from their competitors. 

Available in key configurations of 25 keys, 49 keys, and 61 keys, these sturdy, tactile-friendly keyboards boast full-sized, *semi-weighted keys with velocity and aftertouch response. During inspection, here on the reviewer’s bench, I couldn’t help but develop an appreciation for the notable strides that Arturia have taken to ensure a seamless, functional integration of hardware and software. A KeyLab controller operating in tandem with Arturia’s “Analog Lab” software truly does result in a rewarding Hybrid synth experience. The savoir-faire is enhanced all the more whilst being hosted within the BitWig DAW. 

It’s clear from the onset that these collaborative Arturia/BitWig Producer Packs dish up a palatable plateful of production-ready abundance at very attractive price points. In all fairness, the MSRP is a substantial value considering that “BitWig” lists for $299, “Mini V” retails at $99, and a “KeyLab 61” controller costs $499 when purchased individually. This review concentrates on the KeyLab 61 Producer Pack, which at the time of this publication, sees its list price marked at $549 (USD).

 
 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

AcousticSampleS Mark79 Review – Let There Be Rhodes!




Over the better part of a decade, AcousticSampleS have consistently proven themselves as purveyors of fine quality sampled instruments. It is evident in each one of their products that a careful balance is maintained between library size and sonic realism. The question could be asked: “What good is ‘realism’ if the instrument that’s been sampled isn’t pristine in its original state?”

Fortunately for us, company founder & owner, Arnaud Sicard, and his team at AcousticSampleS, sonically capture some of the best-sounding instruments available in the world. Mark79 is such an example of Parisian craftsmanship, par excellence.

This engaging instrument is experienced within the proprietary “UVI Workstation” sample player format, freely downloadable from UVI.net. Definitely a qualifying contender for audio quality supremacy, the UVI format provides convenience, ease-of-use, and exemplary built-in effects (including a streamlined version of UVI’s fabulous algorithmic reverb, Sparkverb). As with other sample players, such as Kontakt, a user can configure disk streaming, RAM consumption, ADSR, and most nearly any other pertinent option thinkable. Personally, I really like the UVI platform and I find it very comfortable to use.

Mark79 may certainly be categorized as a classic, vintage instrument. Here, we are presented a superb sample library of a classic 73 key ‘suitcase’ Fender Rhodes® Mark II, circa 1979. The samples were recorded dry via studio-grade DI into a high end tube-powered preamp. From the moment you play your first chord or riff, your ears are greeted with authentic Rhodes character a-plenty. The tone is rich, full and very well-balanced. All of this sumptuous tines n’ tone can be had for the reasonable price of 79€ / $87 (USD)

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