Sample CD ROM,available in Kurzweil or ISO 9660 format
(Bolder Sounds, retail price $129.95, upgrade $59.95)
Dennis Burns, owner and sound designer for Bolder Sounds, along with programming help from Dave Walker of Ontario, Canada, and Jon Stubbs of Boulder, Colorado has created a new expanded revision of the popular "eclectic" sample collection with lots of new samples, and great improvements in the programming of the sample data. Given the amount and quality of data supplied on the CD, the price is very reasonable.
All in all, there are approximately 397 MB of new audiophile quality sound banks. The banks are comprised of 33 programs of Plucked Instruments, 25 programs of wind Instruments, 5 programs of Bass Instruments, 24 Mixed Percussion programs, 7 Keyboard programs, 3 Synthesizer programs, and 12 Miscellaneous programs comprised of exotic instruments, such as a generous 19.6 MB sample of a bullroarer, two sets of Crystal Glasses, one running at nearly 30 MB, a 22 MB sample of a Hurdy Gurdy built and played by Tom Wasinger, a 3.7 MB Jaw Harp, a 2.7 MB Lightening Strike, and a Percussive Syllables library created by Hearts of Space recording artist Bill Douglas. This set is comprised of a 2.2 MB Psaltery, a 7.7 MB Train Crossing, a 2.6 MB Ukelin, and a 1.6 MB Zeta Electric Cello. There are also close to 30 excellent "world" percussion samples in this set, which include the best singing bowl samples I've ever heard. There is also a well constructed set of Persian drum loops in the percussion group that really stand out as highly usable creative programs. In the plucked section, the 30 MB autoharp set, sounds better than a real Oscar Schmidt autoharp sitting here in the livingroom.
There are two generous Bozouki samples for programmers and composers interested in world music and middles eastern flavors, a beautiful 11.4 MB hammered dulcimer, and my favorite, 17 MB of impeccably recorded Mandola samples. The best banjo samples I've ever heard are also in this set. Burns sampled 15 MB of a Deering Banjo which he recorded in stereo with a set of Nueman KM 183 omni mics. One of the really cool highlights of these banjo samples is that on the note G2 you'll notice there is a high G note in the keymap. This represents the 5th string of the banjo which is placed in what would normally be the position for a bass string. When banjo players do "rolls" or "frailing," this note is played with the thumb pick as the bottom note of an arpeggio, even though it's a high note. Boulder sounds suggests hold down the sustain pedal, while playing a G2, then any series of 3 notes in a repetitive arpeggio (with the sustain pedal still down) it's quite an effective emulation. I tried it on a traditional bluegrass tune I know, "Little Sadie", and if you had your eyes closed, you would swear there was a real banjo in the room. Amazing! Since I've owned a Taylor 812 since 1974, it was great to see that the samples of steel string guitars were Taylor. Great taste Boulder :) Luckily, I still like my vintage 812 better, but Dennis Burns does a great job of capturing the essence of Bob Taylors magic.
Some highlights in the wind section are a huge 20 MB bagpipe sample by Pat O'Kelly playing the highland pipes. The modulation could have been a wee bit more realistic, but over all, I'll give the lads credit. They did a fine job. While we're talking Celtic, I must not forget the 8.3 MB Uileann pipes. After working on an album for Celtic singer, Maireid Sullivan, featuring Eric Riggler, the piper for Titantic, and Braveheart, and dozens of albums, this is the only sample that I felt fell short on the album. While it sounds vaguely like a real Uileann pipe, the sampled version lacks the dynamics and modulation that make the instrument so unique. I tried, but no amount of pitchbend, or slider modulation on the K2000 could make this thing sound real. But one lukewarm sample in a large collection like this isn't a minus.
Other highlights from the disc include a large 29.7 MB Yamaha C7 grand piano. This is the same Yamaha Grand featured on the Bolder Pianos sample disc, and is warm, realistic, and brilliantly programmed. Bright and dark programs are represented here, as well as timbre shifting.
My favorite synth sample was the Roland JD 800 sample called Forest. It's a perfect pad for ambient music or film scoring. The thick rich OB8 sample was also well done, possessing all the warm fat qualities Oberheims were famous for creating. It would be hard to pick out a favorite bass. They are all excellent, although the 11.8 MB Zeta Electric Bass is superb. It sounds as rich and clear as the real thing, with great dynamics.
There are many more great samples in this collection; far too many to describe in detail. The documentation is excellent, augmented by detailed descriptions of the samples on the Bolder Sounds website. Once again Bolder Sounds have produced a very solid sample CD, and I highly recommend the collection.
Review by Ben Kettlewell
3156 9th Street
Boulder, CO 80304
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