Archive for February 10th, 2012

Roger Nichols Gear To Be Auctioned

Sadly, last year we lost an audio engineering great with the passing of Roger Nichols. The family is auctioning off his gear through Sweetwater and ebay. You can view the gear here.

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Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble

When did the fascination for ethnic percussion overwhelm the film scoring landscape? Maybe it was the day Eric Persing made a pilgrimage to the land of mystery and came back with a set of samples that he turned into the hugely successful “Heart of Africa” library. Today, no film composer worth his salt is without a mighty set of pounding drums that can convey a sense of power and awe at the flick of a key switch.

Given the fact that multiple libraries of this nature were already available, I wondered why Mike Peaslee decide to devote the time and energy that went into SOUNDIRON’s new release, Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble. Mike told me that Tonehammer (of which he was a co-owner) developed techniques for recording big drums that he was constantly striving to improve. Mike felt he had at least one more major release of this type in him.

Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble, available as a download from the SOUNDIRON website ( is currently discounted to a price of $179, is the result of these efforts. Eventually, APEwill return to its list price of $199. The full version of the Native Instruments Kontakt 4 player is required.

What a gorgeous sounding library, and extremely well laid out to boot! SOUNDIRON went crazy with multiple mic placement combinations, and to be real it’s going to take me (you too!) some time to compare and contrast them all.

APE weighs in at a hefty 14+ GB, and many of the presets draw tons of CPU cycles, so SOUNDIRON followed the well established practice of offering several different versions of each. The lite ones have a limited number of samples (four) per round robin. They load the quickest (obviously) and I’d recommend that you use them to explore APE. Computers with less than 64 bit operating systems will most likely choke on this material, particularly if you use the heavier presets.

Download the manual from the SOUNDIRON site. It’s fairly clear, but I pointed out to Mike that there are some omissions. For example, the company has a very interesting arpeggiator they niftily name the Uberpeggiator. I get it; it has lots of controls. You can for example, instruct the plug-in to hold the note you’ve just struck, and then add other notes (the same drum sound with different pitches, perhaps, or different instruments) into the arpeggiation cycle. I couldn’t figure out why some notes were going in and out until Mike and Chris (the SOUNDIRON partner who added this feature) explained that if you hit a note a second time you remove it from the cycle- the manual didn’t tell me that!

The bigger presets contain round robin cycles of 12 samples per note. You can also hit the Shuffle button, which introduces a random factor to the note repeats. I can’t believe I’d ever hear the repeat in a round robin cycle of a dozen, but if your golden ears can, knock yourself out with this function.

May I riff here? That is, Riff, as in West Side Story! When you’re tapped to execute a midi version of this classic Broadway score, check out the solo bongos! Damn, they’re good!

As you’d expect, there are controls that allow you to re-pitch and play with filters and eq. SOUNDIRON has also provided some very useful convolution reverbs. These aren’t the Carnegie Hall type, but rather warehouse and garage type environments, plus a bunch of zingy sounding spaces that let you take the drums into some weird and very attractive places.

Multi-drum presets are included and so are some empty templates that you can use as starting points for the creation of your own. APE also ships with a set of Ambience presets that derive from the drums themselves, adding a tonal unity to the package. Of course, you probably own Omnisphere, in which case these sounds may simply become a pleasant diversion.

If you already own a healthy complement of mondo drums you may want to pass on Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble. If you’re in the market for this kind of product, however, APE is a must consider item. The drums are beautifully recorded, the effects are excellent, the interface is first rate… and the price is quite reasonable.

Highest rating.

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