The founders of Gothic Storm Music, Dan Graham and Adam Hanley started Gothic Instruments focusing on creating high-quality sample libraries for film, trailer and TV music. These innovative, easy to use instruments are divided into two categories: DRONAR and SCULPTOR (FYI: The Gothic Instruments products require the full version of Kontakt).
The DRONAR series is dedicated to creating rich, complex and expressive soundscapes. This sound design series includes libraries based on a certain category/instrument, currently strings and guitar (more instruments are coming soon).
SCULPTOR is more of an SFX creation toolbox, mainly dedicated to trailer music but can have a great use in dance or other types of music as well. The series includes drops, hits, whooshes and other SFX that are used to drive the emotions of the listeners.
This review includes all the libraries from the Gothic Instrument Bundle.
FYI:U it is not possible to load the libraries into Kontakt with the “Add library” option. You will either have to create shortcuts to the library in Kontakt, use the (slightly annoying) file finder, or create your own .nicnt file and wallpaper to able to add it the normal way. But these are small niggles in a stunning collection…
DRONAR: Cinematic Atmospheres
Let’s start with the newest release, Cinematic Atmospheres. This library is used to create atmospheric FX and focuses on the FX dial. The main purpose is to enhance emotion, making the listeners feel tense, haunted, sometimes even uncomfortable.
The pads are great to use as an intro to sci-fi, horror, or thriller tunes which will set the mood.
The possibilities of customizing sound using the mod wheel or other automations make the library exceptionally versatile. By simply pressing a few notes the engine will add bass, mid-range and a top note to create a full sounding pad which makes the library usable for everyone, from beginners to professionals.
It also speeds up the composing process when you can get a pad sound that fills the desired parts of the frequency spectrum with just a few notes and some EQ.
The main page of the Cinematic Atmosphere GUI has 6 dials: Hi, mid, lo, fx, intensity and movement. Playing around with these enables extensive customization of the sounds. There is also an expert page where you can mix layers, play around with hi, mid and lo samples and customize the sound completely. I find that the 6 dials on the main page is often enough to get the sound you are looking for and very rarely have I felt the need to explore the expert page.
The library contains 144 patches for Kontakt, 1662 samples and a total of 3.76 GB of audio. You can see a quick overview of the presets in the video below.
There is also an Arpeggiator page which is perfect for creating tempo synced and unique arpeggios which sits very nicely in the mix. The Arpeggiator is also a nice tool when you need to get some more movement on the track or to help build up a crescendo.
The library is mostly used as a complement to the song by adding pads or FX to enhance or emphasize emotions. It comes with a variation of nice presets for the beginner and most of the sounds can be endlessly customized by the more experienced user.
DRONAR: Dark Synthesis
The Dark Synthesis is used to add darkness, mystery, tension and invoke emotions to the listeners.
Dark Synthesis uses highly synthetic sounds to create pads or atmospheric FX to your music. The library comes with 127 presets and 7.25 GB of high-quality sounds.
For those of you who don’t enjoy creating synth sounds from scratch, this library is perfect for generating top quality synth sounds with just a little playing around in the interface.
The possibility to create very complex sounds in seconds makes it a great tool to quickly produce pads or atmospheric sounds.
The GUI comes with a rhythm engine where you can get some rhythm patterns within the pads. A walkthrough of the library can be found in the video below.
The Rhythm Editor is another useful tool which allows you to create even more movement to your synth sound.
I feel like the library is best suited for cinematic music in the sci-fi or horror genre and I’m going to make great use of it in intros to trailer music or as pure sound design tool for movies.
DRONAR: Live Strings
Live Strings is a more organic sounding library. The source sounds come from recordings of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and are offered in 4 atmospheres: Close, Small, Hall and Cathedral where Small is exactly that; a small ensemble recording.
The library has the following articulations: Sustain, Staccato, Pizzicato, Trills, Col Legno, Pins, Groans, Screeches, Swarms, Swirls and Ponticello. It also comes with 204 presets and 10 GB of audio.
As for other Gothic Instruments products, Live Strings also has a GUI consisting of (among others) a main menu and an expert menu.
The main menu consists of the 6 dials hi, mid, lo, fx, movement and intensity. By setting the movement to zero you will obtain a pure pad sound and by dragging it up the intensity of the arpeggiators increases. It takes some time to recognize the full potential of the arpeggiator feature, but the video below helped me a lot.
The expert menu provides more options for customizing the sounds, which I highly recommend. The expert tab and its features are explained thoroughly from around 4:55 in the video below.
I feel that Live Strings is not the best when used as a real orchestral string library, but after all that is not its real purpose. I find it shines more as a pad or FX type of library, to get an organic sound.
What I find amazing is that when doubling a high quality string library with Live Strings you can get a really rich sound with lots of depth and colour. This is Live Strings’ greatest strength – the incredible ability to blend in with other string libraries to create rich sounds which are practically impossible to create with other techniques.
The library has lots of possibilities when it comes to creating emotional or even otherworldly atmospheres and pads.
The presets provide a nice foundation and with the 6 dials on the main menu, combined with the ability to customize the sound with the expert menu, it is possible to get the perfect sounding pad for your needs.
I have only used Live Strings for a week or so, but I’m already in love with it and I’m sure I will use it a lot in my next compositions.
DRONAR: Hybrid Module
Hybrid Module is another product used to create atmospheric pads or FX. When compared to Live Strings, Hybrid Module is more focused on creating deep and dramatic sounds.
The module comes with 300 powerful presets and 8 GB of compressed audio that can be customized or blended as desired to obtain the sound you want.
The library is easy to use and highly adaptable to whatever style you are making.
The massive sound you are able to create from just a few notes is astonishing – you can get a huge sound which fills the entire frequency spectrum.
I have found great use for Hybrid Module in almost all my recent projects and it is a good tool to have when creating cinematic music or music for media in general.
If you want a deeper look in the available features you can watch the walkthrough video below.
Hybrid Module comes with the same menus and customizable options as the other DRONAR products which is a huge advantage. I would definitely recommend Hybrid Module to anyone who wants cinematic pads with lots of richness and depth or anyone who just wants some fresh and modern additions to their current synth libraries.
DRONAR: Guitarscapes Module
The Guitarscapes Module has a huge range of guitar-inspired textures and FX from natural accompaniments to complex soundscapes. It comes with 320 presets in all styles and 5.89 GB of audio.
The organic sound of the Guitarscapes Module comes from recordings of mandolins, steel-, electric- and acoustic guitars. The recordings together with the DRONAR engine create sounds that would be almost impossible to re-create from scratch with different tools.
What I like the most about the Guitarscapes Module is its flexibility: It can be really helpful when making cinematic music but it also shines in rock, pop or indie music production.
It is easy to create rhythms in the Rhythm Editor which can be used as a driving element in the music, or simply to create more vibrant compositions.
Similar to other DRONAR instruments, Guitascape’s main menu is often enough to get the sound you want, but advanced users will find even more options for customization to suit their needs in the expert tab.
A walkthrough of the library, its presets and the GUI is found in the video below.
I can already say that I will definitely use Guitarscape in the majority of my future cinematic pieces. The sound is unique and blends nicely with other atmospheric sounds, either from Gothic Instruments or other companies.
I have also been able to create professional sounding atmospheric background music with Guitarscapes alone which is really nice.
SCULPTOR: Epic Drops
Drops are also known as downers or falls and are a popular element for trailer or dance music.
The Epic Drops are a mix of drops, from simple and subtle to more complex with lots of texture. As are all of the Gothic Instruments products, Epic Drops is highly customizable to create unique sounding high quality drops without sounding like every track out there.
Epic Drops includes 79 presets from the creators as well as some guest composers. The main menu in the GUI allows you to mix two sounds, pitch change, EQ and more.
The raw sounds included in the library can be easily sculpted through the sound menus tab in the GUI.
Please check the video below for a comprehensive walkthrough of the library by one of the creators, Dan Graham.
The library needs to be complemented with other libraries in the Gothic bundle (unless you just need it to work on pure FX or sound design tracks).
For more experienced producers, this is a great tool to get that little extra bit in your tracks and it is an amazing addition to the bundle.
SCULPTOR: Epic Risers
A riser is a sound effect that helps drive a song to a crescendo, most often to a drop or towards the ending climax. Epic Risers have 254 high quality presets for different usages, including guest presets from renowned composers.
The flexible options in the GUI enables easy sculpting opportunities of the sounds to create unique sounding risers of all types, from simple sweeps to dramatic crescendos.
Similar to other Gothic Instruments products, I think that the sculpting options are Epic Risers’ greatest strength – they enable almost an endless source of unique risers that fit nicely with most genres.
One neat feature is the Random button which randomizes the sound. This is perfect when you are feeling low on inspiration or just want to get some fresh ideas.
By clicking the Random button you will get a randomized sound and dial settings which can then be tweaked if desired.
There is also a Super button which compresses the sound and adds more power and depth. It can be great to get that little extra bit in the sound but for most times, I find it is a bit too much. I prefer to add my own effects to the sound in my mixer to stay in control.
If you want a deeper understanding of all the features in the Epic Risers library I suggest that you have a look at the walkthrough video below.
This library is essential when it comes to creating customizable risers. Epic Risers shows its strength best in trailer or sound design music, and I have also found it useful with pop/rock music as well to subtly emphasize a crescendo, climax and/or drop.
SCULPTOR: Live Impacts
Live Impacts is a library containing all kinds of impacts, strikes and blows. It is perfect for creating hits in trailer, dance, TV-music or sound design.
The sounds are sourced from recordings of explosions, metal, stones and fire creating an organic raw audio which is then processed (by Hollywood trailer sound designer Alessandro Camnasio – he’s responsible for other Gothic Instruments libraries as well) to be used for sound effects in most genres.
Live Impacts contains 82 presets and 1.46 GB of audio. Every impact in the library is made up of 2-3 elements to create a richer sound covering most of the frequency spectrum.
This is one of those products that can save a lot of time and effort to cinematic composers.
There are plenty of great features in this library that I find particularly useful. The first is the ability to create a “pre-hit” sound, a sort of whoosh leading up to the actual impact. It is possible to adjust this pre-hit sound to be the right length for your purposes with the GAP button.
Another great feature is the Random button, which similar to the Epic Risers will create a random impact sound. The sounds are combined randomly and you can create an almost endless amount of different impact sounds by just clicking the Random button.
The GUI is similar to other SCULPTOR interfaces and has additional controls as well as a dedicated FX page on a separate tab.
For a more thorough overview, you can check out the video below.
The flexibility of this library is remarkable, it can be used in everything from pure trailer music to cinematic music and even pop/rock.
By layering some Live Impacts with a real drum set you can get a huge percussive sound and a truly epic rock song.
For anyone who wants to create epic sounding music with top quality, modern hits Live Impacts is simply a must-have.
SCULPTOR: Massive Whooshes
Whooshes are mostly used as pure sound design or as an element to create excitement or tension on a track.
Massive Whooshes contains presets and sounds to create a vast variety of different whooshes for all kinds of genres.
The raw audio can be combined and processed, or you can use any of the 130 available presets that are included with the product.
Each whoosh is made up of 3 elements to create variety and richness in the sound. The GUI has similar features to other SCULPTOR products and the helpful Random button is a huge plus.
A walkthrough of all the features is found in the video below.
I like that the whooshes can be devised for almost any purpose, from very airy and light to dark and complex.
I would use this library more for cinematic or trailer music but I believe it could be used to smooth out transitions in pop or rock songs as well.
The ability to create these smooth transitions or to help emphasize hits or crescendos, together with the top customizing options, makes Massive Whooshes one of the top whoosh libraries out there.
I would recommend this product to anyone creating cinematic or trailer music. It makes it easy to build unique sounds and pro-sounding transitions, and it complements the other products in the Gothic Instruments bundle perfectly.
The Gothic Instruments libraries all boast a similar style GUI which has a very distinct and easy to use main page. This makes for a quick, fun and productive experience (time is money, the old saying goes).
The GUI also includes an advanced/expert tab where more experienced users can shape unique sounds.
Personally, the variety of sounds, their top-notch processing quality and the customization options are the greatest strengths of this collection.
In summary, the Gothic Instruments Complete BUNDLE is an essential tool in any serious trailer or TV music composers’ arsenal, and a great addition for anyone looking for fresh sound design ideas.
Last but not least, the bundle’s price (£299) is really attractive, considering the quality and amount of samples you get. Highly recommended!
Written by Elias Nilsson
Elias Nilsson is a composer/producer/musician mainly focusing on creating music for media, currently located in Linköping, Sweden.
You can find him on his YouTube channel.
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