It may be the Christmas holiday vibe, but in these past few weeks I happened to test a trio of sample libraries that shares a certain ‘nostalgic meets cinematic’ quality, somehow perfect for these weeks.
The first one is the Realsamples German Celesta, part of their well known Beurmann collection (here you can find our interview with Nicolay Ketterer from Realsamples). This celesta is from Schiedmayer in Stuttgart, Germany, and was built around 1960. If you can’t afford an expensive beauty like this, the Realsamples library is an ideal option. They recorded every note with 16 different samples, including the release sounds, providing 8 variations of each key release sound, for a total of 1200 single samples.
I really appreciate the fact that Realsamples libraries are available for multiple formats, including EXS24 (very handy for Logic users), Halion, GigaStudio3 and, of course, Kontakt. I had some problems installing the presets while testing the library on Kontakt, but pointing the sampler to the actual samples directory did the trick.
The pristine signal chain (Wagner U47w tube microphones, Crane Song Flamingo preamps, and Universal Audio 2192 digital converters) ensures the instrument the quality it deserves. This Realsamples German Celesta captures the sweet, tinkling and yet mellow sound that fascinated composers like Tschaikowsky, Bartok, Feldman, and made songs like “Sunday Morning” or “In the Wee Small Hours” (among thousands) unforgettable. For classical music, soundtrack composers, and singer-songwriters, the Realsamples German Celesta is a faithful (albeit pricey) companion that won’t disappoint. Add your quality reverb of choice and you’re in “celestial sonic heaven.”
Price $ 139.95
Sound Dust is the brainchild of Pendle Poucher, a UK based composer, sound designer and lover of funny noises. I came across Pendle’s work several years ago when he released his first library, a lovely Dulcitone that ended up becoming one of my favorite EXS24 patches. Sound Dust now boasts a delightful range of products that all share Pendle’s quite unique taste for sound-design. The two libraries I’ve tested, Ghost Dulcitone 1900 and Plastic Ghost Piano, are perfect examples of Sound Dust’s approach. Traditional instruments, creative digital treatments, a touch of synth magic, convolution reverb impulses (from real spaces and classic hardware) and voilà, the inspiration is served. The Ghost Dulcitone’s main source is the previously released Dulcitone 1900, a beautiful sounding instrument (the second Dulcitone in Sound Dust catalog), blended with Moog Voyager’s noise bursts, a Nord modular electric piano-style patch, and three altered versions of the original samples (the actual ghosts). For the Plastic Ghost Piano the main source is a patch created by Pendle years ago on a Technics WSA 1 analog modeling synth, loaded into a convolution reverb plug in and blasted with varying levels of controlled white noise and the output recorded and remapped as a 6 velocity layer multisample. To add character and body, these samples are blended with a Planet T and a bunch of broken piano samples.
You can read further details on the making of these unusual libraries on the Sound Dust website, but the most important question is: how do they sound? In a word, inspiring. I love their creative and, most of all, musical approach. You can tell this is the result of a musician at work, not just some well executed but sterile tech wizardry. A large number of well-crafted presets ensure hours of fiddling fun and a ready-to-use range of choices at your disposal. Would you rather create your custom ghostly instruments? No problem, here you get to play with several parameters that will almost make you feel like Doctor Frankenstein.
Between the two libraries I’ve enjoyed the Dulcitone one the most, The piano felt a bit thin for my taste, but I’m sure I could still find plenty of use for it. If you are looking for warm, organic, cinematic, and somehow unpredictable sounds, you are in the right place with these Sound Dust libraries. Last but not least, they also happen to be VERY reasonably priced. Unless you’re afraid of ghosts, if I were you I would get these libraries ASAP! Note: both libraries require the full version of Kontakt.
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About The Author
Founder & main editor here at ANR, 'non-musician' and music-tinkerer. His first keyboard was a cheesy Yamaha PSS-270. He still loves it.