Sound Dust Cloud Cello and Viola Review – A New Life For Classical Instruments

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cloud_cello+viola
At ANR, we’re big fans of Sound Dust’s unique products. Their lovely Dulcitone 1900 was also one of our 2014 Sonic Joy awards.
Cloud Cello and Cloud Viola are a nuanced interpretations of classical instruments – aiming to create completely new sounds utilizing “unlikely” bowing materials and quite peculiar sound treatments.
These deeply multisampled hybrid instruments can conjure a natural “expressiveness” via an expression pedal or alternative MIDI input, ranging from tiny, intimate sounds to massive “superwaves”.
Most samples have roughly twenty seconds of playtime before being looped. It should be noted that the goal here is not authenticity, as there are countless other powerful libraries that fill that niche, but to twist the old to realize unprecedented modern textures.

Cloud Viola

Cloud Viola enlists various play methods, regular bowed notes (which can add a nice accent to the attack of a note), Col Legno notes (a plucking sound) recorded with valve condenser mics and contact mic which is stuck to the body, bowed with 10mm coarse garden twine, and finally, the ‘clouds’: the first cloud is twine played 100% wet through a hardware reverb (via the grain oscillator in Kontakt) with the second cloud is a 100% reverbed version of the first cloud minus the grain oscillator.

There are a lot of controls: velocity (how much the note is affected by velocity of the midi) and aftertouch (a fairly psychotic pitchbend) affect all signals. However, for each separate mic’d sound one may affect pan, reverb sends (to a convolution reverb at a later stage), delay unit (enabled by clicking VERB Send to display the delay controls for time, feedback, and width), ADSR, invert phase, lowpass filters, vibrato speed and depth (a type of pitch modulation LFO which can sound absolutely insane/”Boards of Canada”-esque), and tremolo speed and depth (which is volume modulation LFO).

The clouds have their own separate algorithmic reverb units (with size and damping controls), formant filters. All parameters can be mapped to midi (such as mod wheel) via right clicking. Also affecting the whole unit are Rotor, which can be fast or slow, and balance and distance parameters can be changed, Filth, which can increase distortion and noise tremendously, and Tone, which has various EQ settings that are morphed between. There are many options for algorithmic reverbs, and some even crazier/stranger sounds under the category “Oh REALLY ?”. There are also various amp convolution reverb options as well as a three band EQ.

There’s even a versatile selection of demos that speak for themselves:

Main Specifications

  • 1.72GB of 24bit samples (uncompressed).
  • 5 deeply sampled articulations through 8 “oscillators”.
  • Accented bow : short bowed note with conventional bow. 5 x round robin per note. 2 mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic.
  • Col Legno : latin for “gently thwacked with the back of the bow”. 5 x round robin per note. 2 mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic.
  • Twine : bowed with 5 meters of green garden string. 5 x round robin per note, minimum 20 seconds per sample. 2 mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic. Hard-wired to CC11 for expression pedal or midi controllers.
  • Dark Cloud : Twine recorded 100% wet reverbed through Strymon Big Sky hardware reverb. Playback through Kontakt grain oscillator.
  • Pale Cloud : the Dark Cloud recorded 100% wet reverbed through Strymon Big Sky hardware reverb unit, so basically 200% wet !
  • Effects per oscillator : tremolo, vibrato, saturation, pitch selection, pan, lowpass filter, reverb and delay.
  • Advanced architecture with automatable MIDI control of everything on the interface.
  • 74 specially created convolution reverb impulses recorded from real spaces, expensive hardware, and some less obvious sources including a Roland Space Echo, Strymon Big Sky and the stage of Glyndebourne Opera House.

Check out the official Cloud Viola web page for further details.

Cloud Cello

Similar to the Cloud Viola, the Cloud Cello entertains a cello being played with coarse string. The solo version has the same articulations as in the Cloud Viola library: Bowed notes, Col Legno notes, twine notes and the cloud notes.

Controls are largely the same as with the Cloud Viola with one major exception: the Cloud Cello boasts a unison section, yielding colossal “superwaves”. The ensemble version replaces the different articulations with six similar articulations all with different round robins (always triggering different notes and samples, allowing for an organic, real and “natural” wall of sound).

As with the Cloud Viola, there are quite a few sound demos for the Cloud Cello:

Main Specifications

  • Two instrument variations – solo & ensemble versions.
  • 2GB of 24bit samples (uncompressed).
  • 50 themed instrument presets (.nki’s) each with modwheel patch morphing for variation.
  • 38 extra patches for Omnisphere 2 using Cloud Cello samples.
  • Seven deeply sampled articulations through eight ‘oscillators’.
  • Accented bow: short bowed note with conventional bow. 5 x round robin per note. Two mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic.
  • Col legno: Latin for ‘gently thwacked with the back of the bow’. 5 x round robin per note. Two mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic.
  • Twine: bowed with 5 meters of green garden string. 5 x round robin per note, minimum 20 seconds per sample. Two mic positions- valve condensor and contact mic. Hard-wired to CC11 for expression pedal or midi controllers.
  • Dark Cloud: Twine recorded 100% wet reverbed through Strymon Big Sky hardware reverb. Playback through Kontakt grain oscillator.
  • Pale Cloud: the Dark Cloud recorded 100% wet reverbed through Strymon Big Sky hardware reverb unit, so basically 200% wet!
  • Sub Bass: (ensemble only) Moog voyger sine bass.
  • Effects per oscillator: tremolo, vibrato, saturation, pitch selection, pan, lowpass filter, high pass filter, reverb and delay.
  • Advanced architecture with automatable midi control of everything on the interface.
  • 74 specially created convolution reverb impulses recorded from real spaces, expensive hardware, and some less obvious sources including a Roland Space Echo, Strymon Big Sky and the stage of Glyndebourne Opera House.

Check out the official Cloud Cello web page for further details.

Conclusion
These two robust and inspiring libraries have been brilliantly compiled and pack an immense amount of organic textures and sonic wallop.
While certainly not the pick if you’re looking for a conventional ‘classic’ orchestral sound, these two can cover a lot of ground with respect to experimental productions, and can be utilized in conjunction with ‘proper’ orchestras for additional aural flair.

There’s a great attention to detail on both the quality of the samples and the presentation– the effects are of quality and the sheer amount of parameters made accessible to the producer are laudable.
Currently sitting at £35.00 ($37.16) each or £55.00 ($58.40) for the pair, that’s quite a lot of bang for your buck.
Heads up: both products require the FULL version of Kontakt 4 or above.

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Sound Dust Cloud Cello and Viola Review – A New Life For Classical Instruments

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