On 10-8-2000, Franz from Virtual Reality Sound Company posted a message in this discussion board asking for persons who wanted to review his new VRSound Giga Module sample library. Well, I did and three weeks ago I received a review copy of the sample library.
While the VRSound Giga Module sample library is new, the company itself exists much longer, creating sample libraries for hardware samplers like Akai, Yamaha, etc. They have recently ported a number of their sampled instruments to the GigaSampler format and collected them in the VRSound Giga Module, which currently cost $149.
The address of VRSound\'s web site is http://www.vrsound.com . Here you can order their libraries and also listen to some MP3 audio examples.
GigaStudio owners already have three sounds of this library. They can be found on the Soundware demo CDs that are included with GigaStudio.
I really like this drum kit. The kit sounds powerful. In comparison with the PowerKit in my Korg X2 synthesizer, the GigaRock kit sounds less artificial. The GigaRock kit contains most general drum sounds (about 30), like kick drums, snares, high hats and toms, but also sounds that you do not see often, such as a double hit on toms (wonderful to add powerful accents to your rhythm track). Most notes have between 4 and 8 velocity levels. This results in lively feel. Many sounds are mapped twice with two octaves in between. This makes it possible to play faster rhythms (using two hands instead of one).
This kit is similar in quality and setup (double mapping) as the GigaRock kit. Again you will find most general drum sounds, although (logically, as this is the funk kit) they do sound all a bit different from the sounds found in the GigaRock kit.
One of my favorites. 40 Mb in size and recorded with three velocity levels. The Rhodes (kind of electric piano) sounds very warm and full when played softly (perfect for ballads) and light and bright when played hard (good for pop and rock). There are some obvious sample transitions. I could repair the most troublesome one by overwriting the medium velocity level sample in the region from C2 to F2 with the neighbor samples. The slow tremolo and some stereo panning results in a full sound. Loops are perfect.
The same Rhodes, but now with a slightly faster and stronger tremelo. This time only two velocity levels, namely the medium and high velocity level. It sounds light and bright and is of the same quality as the Rhodes_Slow instrument.
This is (I presume) a Hammond organ played through a slowly rotating Leslie. Warm, full and lively are the keywords here, especially when you play chords. There are some obvious sample transitions, which is mainly a problem when playing arpeggios (instead of chords). Some can be solved by removing the rogue sample (such as the region around D3) and filling the gap by extending the surrounding regions. The sound is in stereo, with lower keys panned to the left and higher keys panned to the right. No mono variant available. One of my favorite sounds in this library.
Same basic sound as SlowLeslie. But as the name already tells, the leslie (a rotating speaker in a box) is turned from slow to fast speed. Sounds nice, but this is of limited usability. When you play a sequence of chords, it sounds as with each new chord the leslie is stopped and restarted again. This is not a fault of VRSound. You just cannot emulate the speeding-up and slowing-down of the leslie realistically with samples. Instead I recommend to use the SlowLeslie sound, play your sequence, record it as an audio track and lastly process the audio track with a good leslie audio plug-in effect.
Same basic sound as SlowLeslie. The modulation wheel overlays an extra note (a fifth higher?).
Sounds like the SlowLeslie to which the SlowToFastLeslie is added, controlled by modulation wheel.
I like the combined sound, which is even more full and alive. Good for chords of short duration (read my comments on the SlowToFastLeslie).
This Hammond sounds different then the others. Brighter, slightly distorted and rather aggressive.
This sound is divided in two parts. I like the two lower octaves. They contain a dark and very strong sounding bass. The two upper octaves provide instead a bright sounding slapped bass, which is hampered by a heavy sample transition in the middle.
Two octaves of electrical amplified deep bass. Soft, round and warm. Also rather noisy in some regions. Nevertheless, a welcome and useful addition to my bass sample collection. Also added are two octaves of sound effects on the same bass. Includes slide noise, but goes further then that. Useful for adding accents. It can make your bass line more alive. Can also be (mis)used to create alternative rhythms.
There are three variants of the Vienna acoustic piano. They differ in the placement of the microphones. The Vienna_Player has been recorded from the place of the player. The Vienna_Singer has been recorded from the place where the singer is standing (next/behind the piano). And the Vienna_Room has been recorded elsewhere in the room. This is a rather neat idea. The three variants all sound a bit different and all include some room acoustics.
The Vienna piano has been originally recorded for hardware samplers and therefore conforms to the memory limitation of such hardware samplers. In practice, this means only three velocity levels, no dynamic switching between sound with and without sustain pedal (these sounds are instead provided as separate instruments) and looping. The decay sounds a bit unnatural and static when you play a chord in the lower regions and let it sound out for more then six seconds. The sample transitions are good.
The sound difference between the three velocity levels is a bit too large. The high velocity samples in the region around C4 contain some metallic overtones which I personally did not like but could be typical for the sampled piano brand and model. When I disabled the high velocity samples I got a decent sounding piano that I find suitable for soloing. In comparison with the GigaPiano, the Vienna_Player sounds brighter and includes natural room acoustics. The website of VRSound has seven MP3 audio examples, including two piano solos.
A bit different in sound, due to the different microphone placement. Similar in quality as the Vienna_Player.
Sounds much thinner. I like this one less then the Player and Singer variants.
This piano is sampled with the sustain pedal down. It includes the typical sound of sympathetic snare resonance. Only one velocity level.
The Tokyo piano is different from the Vienna Piano. It has (sample-wise) three velocity levels. The metallic overtones are more pronounced here then in the Vienna player. It also sounds much brighter then the Vienna piano, which could make it usable for rock music (as a bright sound rises more easily above other instruments).
I am no expert on percussion instruments, so I will limit myself to providing statistics on the four included percussion instruments:
More then 80 different conga sounds. Various playing styles, including single hits and double hits.
About 12 different tambourine sounds, each mapped twice on the keyboard. Various playing styles like \"sustained rolls\", soft hits, hard hits. Some are moving through the stereo field.
Twenty-four sounds, including soft and hard hits. Some hits sound dark, others bright.
24 different timpani sounds (each mapped twice), including single hits, short and long rolls, soft to load sounds, from almost subsonic to bright. Interesting and useful.
There are three effect sounds included which are not easy to describe:
Synth-like effect. Contains an upward sweep and vibrato.
Bell-like sound that has been seriously mutated with audio effects. Lots of upward and downward sweeps and lots of stereo movement.
Bell-like sustained sound, without a percussive attack. Strong stereo panning. Useful to create a suspenseful mood.
Nice intimate sound. Sadly, this instrument is seriously hampered by some very obvious (and too short) loops that are even audible when playing chords. There are two variants: fast attack and slow attack. The slow attack variant is the better sounding.
There is one moog bass instrument included, one instrument that contains lots of synth beeps and pattern sequences and lastly three synthesizer pads.
Thanks for the review! I find it exponentially more valuable to read what a forum member says than magazine reviews, which are highly suspect (e.g. the ridiculous NFX reverb sounds \'perfect\'). The only thing is you didn\'t really wrap it up at the end and say whether it\'s a good value, better/worse than the competition, etc. But that aside, great very detailed and informative review.