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SoundIron is a fledgling company – and already a rising star amongst the many sample creation companies out there. Helmed by Mike Peaslee, SoundIron is creating stunning sample libraries useful in many different fields of music creation. In this article, I’ll review the Requiem Lite Choral library. It was originally part of (Peaslee’s old company) Tonehammer’s repertoire, but has undergone some major updating and has been re-released recently, under the SoundIron banner.
Requiem lite is a full, realistic-sounding choral sample library, featuring recordings of vocalists from the San Franciscan VOLTI choir, amongst others. Requiem lite offers a full SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir, divisi sections (male and female) a couple of Soloists, and various choral fx and ambiences thrown in (more on that later) It runs on Native instrument’s Kontakt. Note though, it only runs on Kontakt 4.2.3 or later. Previous editions, including Kontakt player (the free Kontakt) will NOT be able to run it. There is talk of SoundIron releasing a version that will work on the free player in the future.
Requiem Lite is definitely not a featherweight. It weighs in at just under 6GB fully installed. Thankfully there’s an excellent installer that comes with the purchase. It takes a long time to download 6GB of .rar files, but the installer remembers where you are in the download process, so if you have to stop for any reason, you can resume from where you left off. No issues. If you’re not often connected to the interwebs, DVDs are available for shipping and handling fees.
The GUI is a pleasant parchment looking script for Kontakt, with all the basic information on the page. There are a couple of buttons below, to toggle between performance, and Tone/FX parameters for each sound.
There are 62 .nki patches to choose from, divided into 7 folders. Most patches have different versions – such as full choir, men, women, lite, etc. So there’s plenty of variety. All of the patches contain parameters for Attack, release, and tone/fx. Many of the patches have layering built in, where the choir can sing two different words, or vowels, and you can blend between the two (each of the layers selectable in-performance using keyswitching) And some of the patches have legato options. More on that later.
Sustains, poly-sustains and legato
There are several patches that allow you the use of the Whole choir in full SATB format, or in divisi sections (of Male and Female) all these patches are available in lite format too, in case your equipment is struggling with resources.
The sound quality is absolutely excellent. It’s nice to hear distinct vocalists, but with the overall sound still being cohesive. 8 mic placements were used to record the choir, and those signals were carefully mixed together to give a full, balanced sound. Because it is the Lite version, there are no options on mic placement. But the big advantage of this is that you’re using a ton less memory and cpu, as there is just one signal. To be honest, the choir is so well mixed, I never really missed having the placement option. There is an included convolution reverb that can be used to place the choir in different spaces.
You can play these choirs with thick full chords, or you can press a switch and change to legato mode, in which one note is played at a time. The legato mode is truly excellent. Historically, sample packs like this have fallen down when you try and connect notes together to create a flowing melodic line. The attack and release of each note would just not sound right. With the legato patches, SoundIron have got this just right. There’s a little tweaking required, but for the most part, it’s possible to get beautiful flowing lines from the choirs, with a very slight slide from one note to the next. What takes it over the top is the fact that you can do this polyphonically – enabling up to 3 legato lines at once. The only limit is a range parameter, that requires distance between the notes you play (the minimum distance being 2 tones). There were times when I wished the range could be closer, so I could play suspensions and resolutions to a chord. But that’s a minor niggle.
These are all vowel-based patches. You can sing lines with one vowel layer – “ah”, for example, or you can blend between 2 (“Ah” to “Oh”) or if you’re feeling really clever, you can blend between 6 vowels, using keyswitches and cross blending between the two layers you get on each patch. Each of these patches are as a full choir, with the 6-vowel option also available divisi male and female.
The poly-sustains were nice too. Gorgeous-sounding, these patches differ from the sustains in that they are based off pre-sung words, such as “adoramus, Apocalypse” etc. As with most of the patches, these are 2 layered, so you can blend between words, and change them (using keyswitch) to different words mid-performance. There’s an option again to switch to legato mode, so that you can change notes mid syllable.
There are two soloist patches – a soprano and a tenor. These patches are built identically to the 2-layered poly-sustain patches, other than being solo voices. As with the others, these samples sound gorgeous – very human with lovely vibrato, without sounding warbley or shrill. You again have the option to switch to legato to create very authentic sounding melodic lines.
It’s here where I’d like to bring up perhaps the only slight issue I had with the software. It would have been really useful to be able to change the tempo of the sung words. This is only an issue with the soloist and poly-sustain patches. (there is a good attempt to resolve this with some timestretch patches, but you unfortunately have to trade tempo control with sound quality). I think that perhaps this was a decision made to keep the library cpu and memory light.
There are really two main patches here that are split. The ‘Requidrone’ patches, split into full and lite editions of SATB and divisi, create luscious brassy choral pad sounds. There’s a layer for bottom and top end, in which you can change the octave and volume of each, or cut them in and out. The Vocal cues are oh’s ah’s and eh’s, layered on top of big warm pads, and you can blend between any of them.
The second patch is a more ethereal ‘Requiembiences’, offered in full and light options. There are again two layers you can blend between, titled with greek letters that represent different manipulations of choral sounds. They don’t sound choral, but offer nice glitchy raspy pad sounds that would go well in a cinematic score.
The choral fx section is extraordinary. There are some excellent body percussion patches, from knee slaps, to claps, stomps and finger clicks, rumbling feet, applause. There are dissonant and atonal vocal sweeps (think of the ‘lost’ soundtrack, but with voices instead of strings) there are whispered and hissed full consonants, and other tonal swells. There are some really original sounds in this bunch, that I’ve not seen or heard in other sample packs. And they’re not afterthoughts either – I think they’d be excellent in adding tension and drama to tracks. The choral FX was a very nice addition.
The Phrase builder
This is a standout tool that is excellent for creating clear (allbeit non-sensical) phrases very quickly. It’s intuitive, easily accessible, and will create superb phrases with minimal tweaking. Here’s a video of it in use:
The phrase builder is included in the marcato and staccato patches. Short (again excellently recorded and mixed) vocal bursts that can be tweaked with sustain, attack and delay parameters. It’s a bit of a shame that the phrase builder isn’t included in a larger part of the sample pack, as it’s a very strong tool to be able to quickly create dramatic sounding phrases.
This is also a nice addition from SoundIron. As well as the more expected cathedral, hall, and stairwell presets (All of which add lovely ambience to the choir) there are the more unusual sounding fx-type reverbs with equally unusual sounding titles, such as smear, iron drag and shnivering? Regardless of the titles, the ambiences created are pretty inspiring, from subtle filter delays, to what sounds like a massive thick plate reverb. For the more out of the ordinary usages of choral samples, these could really inspire the writer.
Here are the demos from the website that showcase the various elements of Requiem Lite:
Conclusion SoundIron make it clear what their intentions are with the software, that..
“Requiem Light is intended for users who want a professional choir library at their fingertips, without the usual tradeoffs. It’s designed to excel, whether dropped into the most resource intensive orchestral scoring templates or loaded on a laptop for composing on the road or use in live performance settings.”
I think they achieved their aims. Working from a laptop, I think you’d find this choir more useful than some of the others out there, as it doesn’t take up much cpu bandwidth, yet the sound quality is, as expected from SoundIron, excellent. It’s a full, yet clear sound that captures vocal detail but still sounds grand. The excellent convolution reverb with impulses gathered by SoundIron only adds to the strength of the library. The legato phrasing really stands out. On top of this, I think the addition of the Choral FX, and the Phrase builder combine to provide an excellent choral package that you’d find quickly indispensable in your sample arsenal.
Price $314 for download only (add shipping and handling if you want a DVD)
…the sound quality is, as expected from SoundIron, excellent. It’s a full, clear sound that captures vocal detail but still sounds grand…
full and balanced mixed down sound from 8 mic positions
not heavy on CPU or Memory
phrase builder intuitive and useful
Choral FX a very nice addition
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
for a beautiful sounding SATB choir that you need to be able to dive in and quickly get up and running – this is excellent. If you’re going to be spending more time, and want deeper adjustment, especially with phrasing, tempo and mic placement, you’ll need to look at other options
sung latin words at a fixed tempo
phrase builder limited to certain patches
Kontakt 4.2.3 or later. NO free player. (Although they’re working on a locked player release)