SOUND ON SOUND REVIEWS
SOUND ON SOUND magazine Vol.14 No.3. December 2008
Review by Chris Carter
Analogue Systems Sample CD
Although Analogue Systems don't say as much, you could consider their new snappily titled 'Sample CD' as a showcase for their highly respected range of RS-Integrator synth modules, which were used exclusively to produce this disc . The 80 minute audio CD was recorded by synthesist Bakis Sirros, a long term RS-Integrator owner using his own Analogue Systems 24U modular system. And, according to the sleeve, all the sounds were recorded raw without any multi-tracking or overdubbing and without any additional processing.
The sounds are organised into a dozen or so categories: Basses, Filter Sweeps, Leads, Modulations, Phasers, Harmonic Generator, Drums, Rhythms, Sequences, Soundscapes and Special FX. The vast majority of the sounds have been recorded as multi-samples spread across two or three octaves, mostly at: C1, E1, G1, C2, E2, G2, C3 and the sleeve includes a comprehensive note mapping list for each sample on each audio track. As most of the 48 tracks contain three or more multi-sampled sounds we're talking about a hell of a lot of samples to play with here. Although, due to the nature of the 'audio sample CD' format keeping track of what the track list says and what you are listening to can become a problem with so many individual sounds.
The Bass section has a range of decent sounding synth basses including filtered, layered (up to 3 VCOs) and raw waveforms, although sounds like 'VCO Raw Pulse' tend to sound pretty much like any other pulse waveform, regardless of what was used to generate it. The Filters & Sweeps and Lead categories include some very rich sounding waveforms, with plenty of movement within the tones, there are some particularly nice synced and heavily cross modulated articulations and sweeps.
The Ring Modulator and Phaser groups (using the RS20 and RS400 modules I assume) are more run of the mill and include standard fare RM cross modulations and a selection of phased tones, textures and drones whose waveforms are mostly in the lower registers to emphasize the medium to slow phasing effects.
The two groups of percussion sounds: Drums and Rhythms features some creditable analogue bass & snare drums and high hats, derived from either short bass envelopes or very short filtered white noise hits. There's also a useful collection of spiky sounding and occasionally quirky rhythmic loops (all listed with BPMs). I wasn't as impressed with the Special FX section, which I found a bit gimmicky, that is unless you're composing for kids cartoons or 80s' video games.
The Harmonic Generator section, while not sounding particularly analogue does contain some of the more interesting sounds on the disc. They tend toward an electronic ambient vibe and cover everything from phased space choirs, stepped wavetable type sequences and unusual shifting harmonics to echoed random patterns, organ tones and weird filtered syncopated rhythms. I wasn't entirely won over by the five Soundscape tracks at the end of the disc. Some are a little too frantic and busy or end too abruptly but they could be useful for sound design projects.
Being the lazy bugger I am I'm not a big fan of the 'audio sample CD' format (too much hard work involved on my part) but many of these sounds, particularly the basic waveforms, will benefit from layering, looping and further manipulation in your sampler or DAW. Also if you are thinking of buying some RS-Integrator modules then this disc would be a good place to check out what the system is capable of. Although having said that I was occasionally left wondering exactly what RS-Integrator modules were used to produce some samples: "Filter Crossmod Sweeps" and "Res Saw Bass" doesn't actually tell me that much about how the sound was generated, and the geek in me likes to know these things.
While a few of the samples are a little pedestrian sounding for my taste the audio quality throughout the disc is superb and it is outstanding value for money. In fact at this low price I‚Äôd say it could be regarded as an impulse buy. Either way I have no problem recommending it to anyone looking to expand their arsenal of sampled synth sounds.
Format: Audio CD
Price: £9.95 + P&P
Available from: www.analoguesystems.co.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1726 850103
Copyright © 2008 Chris Carter / SOS Publications.