You are about to read a positive review from me about a product that in theory I should not like. I am somewhat notorious for writing many times in forum discussions that:
- I don’t much like, nor do I get hired to write, the style of trailer/library music generally referred to as “epic.”
- As a trained composer in the classical tradition, I don’t like or often use libraries with pre-assembled combinations of instruments.
- I generally prefer libraries that are pretty dry without a dominant venue sound because it is easier to mix and match them.
And yet, I tell you this is a terrific sounding library, as you will hear in the demos on the Orchestral Tools website.
What is it?
Metropolis Ark 1 a Kontakt based library that is specifically designed to give you HUGE sounds for epic style music. It was recorded in Berlin’s Teldex studio, a wonderful sounding venue. It includes high and low strings; high and low choirs; bassoons and contrabassoons; trumpets, trombones, cimbassi, tubas and a smaller and a larger section of french horns; percussion and piano; a guitar ensemble with left and right separate instruments, electric bass, and a drum kit. There are 18 sections/instruments with 160 GB of 24 bit/48k samples, are arranged into “Districts” in keeping with the 1927 epic science fiction film that it is named after.
District 1- Orchestra- strings, woodwinds, and brass.
District 2 –Choir –men and women.
District 3 – Percussion
District 4 – Band- electric guitars, electric bass, and drumset.
It works inside Orchestral Tools Capsule for Kontakt/Kontakt Player, which has a very advanced articulation management scheme that perhaps merits an article of its own.
There are patches with multiple articulations and lot of single articulations, some of which you see in Pic 1.
There are also TM patches that take advantage of Kontakt’s Time Machine to allow you to use a TM Slider to actually adjust the samples to desired lengths in real time, but I would advise caution with this as I could envision an inexperienced user doing more harm than good with these.
Did I mention that the sound is HUGE! Here is something I just did in about 10 minutes.
It includes five mic positions: close, spot, Decca tree, AB (distance) and surround, loading the close and Decca tree mics by default. When you switch mic positions, it has an auto-gain feature that adjusts the levels to previous levels. See Pic 2.
The sounds are uniformly excellent and depending on your mic positions choices, you can hear more or less of the Teldex sound, although even with just the close mic, it is pretty wet compared to some others. The only ones I don’t personally care for are the strings. This is something synthetic (not synthy) about them to my ears, but that is very subjective and you may well disagree. My personal favorites are the choirs, French horns, and trumpets. But everything in this library is ballsy.
As is de rigueur nowadays, Metropolis Ark 1 has lots and lots of articulations, excellent true legato and round robins, no machine gun or jerkiness in playing it. It feels very smooth and responsive.
By default MIDI CCs are set to control volume, vibrato, and crossfading, etc. but as is typical of Kontakt based instruments, you can reassign them as you wish.
The Capsule Interface
Capsule in an acronym for Control And Performance. The main page is the Performance view that you see in Pic 3.
This page will look different from instrument to instrument, and even more so on multi articulations than single articulations. This is where you can control the things you most commonly control and the Multi Slot view. It is here that you can take advantage of the unique polyphonic keyswitching feature that allows you to create keyswitches to control blend, morph, or switch articulations. It is way too deep to go into here and frankly since I am in the beginning stages of learning it, so I will simply link you to the Orchestral Tools tutorials that you will want to watch. It is a fantastic concept.
The Mixer view is where you choose and blend your mic positions, as I already displayed in Pic 2. But as you can see in Pic 4, there are additional controls for legato volume, purging, presets, soloing mics, etc.
The Settings view allows you to control how dynamics shape what you play. See Pic 5.
Finally, there is the Controller Table view that you see in Pic 6
As you would expect, it is here where you can set keys and controllers to either auto assign or custom assign them to behave in the manner you like.
If you are looking for a complete orchestral collection with a complete set of individual instruments capable of great subtlety, this is not the library for you. It is all about power, control, and executing epic music quickly and efficiently and once you know it well, it will do all that and sound gorgeous doing so. At 549 euros, roughly $625 US, it is not a dirt cheap, no-brainer but a fair price in line with its competition.
Price: €549 EUR
Requirements: Kontakt 5.5 or the Kontakt 5 Player
Pros: Beautifully recorded, can get you the “epic’ sound you need quickly but still gives you lots of control.
Cons: If doesn’t run the gamut of ppp to fff. It is for loud, louder, and loudest.
I have experienced some bugginess with Capsule on my Logic Pro X- VE Pro 5 rig, but nothing horrible and the very nice folks at OT are working with me to get to the bottom of it as it is not being widely reported and therefore may well be system specific.