Output Exhale Review – A Vocal Engine

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Output sounds have well established themselves with composer favourites REV and Signal. Exhale is the third in line of these clever and intuitive sample based loop pad and lead libraries.

Based in NI’s Kontakt (full or free), installation is easy – activate it using service centre, and you can move the 18GB content anywhere you like.

Exhale’s GUI structure is similar to REV and Signal – I won’t go into too much depth here. Please read the reviews we did on REV and Signal – they’ll give you a solid idea of how the libraries are set up and accessible in Kontakt.

However, I will say that the structure has evolved very nicely, to make sounds simpler to access; I’ll explain later.

Exhale is a sample library based on vocals. There are 10GB’s of raw content that have been distilled into over 500 presets in 3 different main categories: Notes, Loops and Slices.

These are then subdivided further by style/atmosphere filters, such as Electro, or Airy. This double level of menu filtering enables quick access to appropriate presets, which are presented right at the bottom of the GUI.

Being vocal samples, the key is very important, as a lot of the loops are melodic in nature. There’s a button at the top of the GUI that allows you to choose the key, and whether the feel is major or minor.

The three main categories
Notes are aimed at creating pads and synth sustained sounds from the sample sources. Loops and Slices are self-explanatory, and unlike the notes category, each loop and slice preset contains a separate sound for each of the 12 notes one octave below middle C. Playing between them creates cool choppy phrases that are so popular in electronic music at the moment.

There are four assignable macros (as in Signal), that can be automated in the DAW you’re using, to add more movement to the sound. For each preset, Output has assigned the modulation sources it deems most effective, but if you want to change, it’s a simple click on the title, and a list of 15 different destinations comes up (like phase, stutter, pitch etc)

Diving down further
Exhale really shows off when you spend a bit of time with it, rummaging through the various sections, and creating your own sounds. In the top bar of the GUI is a tab called Engine. This changes depending on whether you’re working on notes, loops or slices. A click will reveal the main inner workings of the sound engine. You can pick the source sound (two sounds with the notes engine) from clearly laid out banks. There’s a cool Icon guide that shows you whether it’s a male, female or group

You can pick the source sound (two sounds with the notes engine) from clearly laid out banks. There’s a cool Icon guide that shows you whether it’s a male, female or group vocal, and whether it slides up or down. You can tweak the sound with volume, pan, envelope and eq assignments. On the loops and slices, you can shift the formant of the samples picked, and double or half the speed played, as well as tune and reverse each sample.

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Below this is a rhythm generator that enables modulation of 6 set elements of the source sounds using LFO or step sequencer: Volume, Pan, Filter, Phaser, Talk and saturate. Output have used every element that Kontakt provides here to allow some deep and complex modulations of the sound source. In the notes mode, you can assign differing amounts to the two different sound engines, by dragging the amount for

Output have used every element that Kontakt provides here to allow some deep and complex modulations of the sound source. In the notes mode, you can assign differing amounts to the two different sound engines, by dragging the amount for a or b engine above each modulation source. One thing I found myself wishing for was the ability to disconnect from the very tight locks to

One thing I found myself wishing for was the ability to disconnect from the very tight locks to rhythm. I found myself wanting to try adding some tempo-free modulations to the sound. A good compromise I felt, was the flux button…

To keep the modulation from sounding repetitive, the flux option modulates the modulation!! You can edit a step sequencer to change the rate of modulation assigned to the different effects. You can use this subtly for slight rhythmic shifts, to wild movements of the modulation. Another level to change the sound. I found this useful when creating pads – the subtle movement can be continuous, and you don’t find yourself hearing the same modulation movement within the pad.
If you’re looking for inspiration with modulating the sounds, there are several presets within the Rhythm engine, and also a Random button (on the flux editor) that gives more potential.

There are then seven effects, pitch, dirt, motion, compressor, tone, delay and reverb – that can all be assigned to macros.

Here’s a video walkthrough that demos Exhale in action:

The sound – Conclusion
Exhale is unashamedly contemporary in its sound style. Electronic music aficionados will drool over the presets, and will lose hours creating their own beautiful loops, slices and pads for their work.

There are a lot of strident focused sounds, especially in the Slices section, but I found that for me, I enjoyed creating dreamy, hazy sounds, think washed out druggy RnB like the Weeknd. I feel like this is the strength of Exhale.

The shimmering, soulful pads tug on the heartstrings, and bring a thick fog of sound to life. The cool, washed out verby and broken melodic phrases add melancholic moments and breath to the music.

The voice will always draw the ears attention over and above other sounds, and Exhale really enables you to play with vocalisations, creating sounds that barely hint at human involvement, or sounds that drive the rhythm of the piece with sharp vocal cuts at the centre. Once again, a massive triumph for Output.

Where to buy?
You can buy Exhale through our partners and support ANR = good karma for you!

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