Output Analog Strings Review

Output just keep coming with their varied, interesting, sonically rich libraries that add a new nuance of sound to composers and producers libraries. Output libraries (see our reviews for Substance, Exhale, Rev, Signal and Movement) have become a staple part of my workflow and I find myself reaching for them more often than not on most jobs.

Analog Strings is their latest library to hit the eStores, and no surprise, it’s a winner.

Here it is.

Not Your Average Strings

It’s got ‘strings’ in the title, but if you’re expecting a (standard) lush cinematic string section then you’re underestimating Output. They took some time recording and sampling varying sizes of string ensemble, then blended them with various gorgeous sounding synths, mashing it all together with various vintage outboard, to create a beautiful hybrid library with a soundworld that hovers between organic and digital.

There is 20GB worth of content, comprising 90 sound sources laid out as a matrix, one-shots, pads and tape loops, all available as 3 categories of sound; orchestras, synths and ‘creative’ sounds. The string category includes two mic positions- close and far. Vintage synths and creative sources are the other sound sources that you can pool from. The sounds are all lovely, inspiring, and provide a really wide scape of sounds and timbres at your fingertips. The sounds are for the most part warm, and there are some hallmark Output sounds like looping muffled piano tones, and glazed over distorted guitar pads. Lush!

Each preset is comprised of two of these sound sources, which you can have completely separate control over most elements of the sound. I particularly like the tuning element – with quick access to tuning up and down a tone, or an octave. I found this very useful in creating haunting nostalgic tones by having one of the source sounds (especially the more pad-like sounds) tuned up or down an octave and blending it behind the other sound mix-wise.

The preset setup is standard Output – clever use of the scripting in Kontakt provides a descriptive filter menu that enables the fine-tuning of the 500 presets to filter down to the sounds you want. They are contemporary sounding, plenty of PWM vibe for the recent resurgence in that 80’s sound. the presets would fit in a massive range of genres and situations, from all kinds of electronic music genres, through soundtracks. Haunting pads, plenty of ear-grabbing gritty, warm modulating and almost melancholy sounds that add that certain icing.

Interface

The plugins main page consists of the 4 assignable macros (Outputs automate-able multi-parameter sliders), the two sound sources shown as waveforms and various quick edit parameters (volume, loop reverse tuning etc) and the preset bar at the top. There are several tabs available that open new pages within the window, addressing certain elements of the plugin: Edit, FX, Rhythm and Arp. The latter three also have power icons, enabling you to turn them on and off without leaving the main page.

Edit gives you slightly different sound design capabilities than their previous libraries. The editing is aimed at benefitting the string timbre and perhaps the overall sonic tone Output were going for when creating this library.

The amp envelope is a straight-ahead adsr. But there is also an envelope for Pitch. There is also a flutter section, which is an LFO modulating pitch. The range enables sounds varying from detune, tape wobble to vibrato and tremolo – type sounds. Below this is a section to choose the sound source you want to use. When you click that you’re taken to the matrix of 3 sound sources and 3 different styles – one shot, pad and tape. You can shift the tuning, select whether you want it forward or backward and so on.

FX – there are 6 effects per sound source layer – filter, EQ, Distortion, compression, delay and reverb. Then on top of that are the global reverbs, which have the initial 6 effects plus motion, which offers phaser and chorus.

Rhythm – each layer has two rhythm tabs that allow for pulsing motion using LFO or pattern shapes. The rhythm can be further modulated with the flux section, which is a sequencer to affect the sequencer. I love this. To get you kicked off, there are 40 rhythm presets to alter the sound, giving you something to build off.

ARP
– as it suggests, there’s a comprehensive arpeggiator to There’s also an arpeggiator per layer with 11 patterns, and all the essential arpeggiator elements to give further motion to your sound.

Each of these four pages has a macro edit subpage sitting above it, and upon clicking one of the four macros, you can then assign pretty much any parameter from those four pages to it. Hovering over parameters when the macro edit is enabled, will show you whether it’s assignable or not. Output have refined this process with each library they put out, and this is easily the best thought out method of quickly assigning parameters to macros. I use the macros a lot, as they provide a quick route to massive evolution of the sound: a smashing time saver for the harried composer!

Conclusion

I mean, I’m fully head over heels with Output’s output. They’ve got me out of corners creatively time and time again. This one is no exception.
I feel like Output really spend a lot of time thinking about what would be a niche library that has almost its own niche – that doesn’t compete with a thousand other libraries, simply because it’s got its own sound.

Again with Analog Strings I feel this is the case. The sound is very contemporary, that dark 80’s paddy vibe is all over this library. I don’t want to limit it to that. It’s like the bio-engineering of strings – there are the string pads, the string plucks, the string tremolos. And there are some IDM bright buzzy sounds in there, but the lasting impression that was left with me was of a dark, warm warbly hybrid retro string section that just oozes its way into your music.

Output Analog Strings can be purchased for $199, and for more info go here.

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Output Analog Strings Review

by Andy Dollerson time to read: 4 min
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