I have always been impressed by the creative and unique route that SOUNDIRON has taken with their selection of sampled instruments. From their ‘Laundronium‘ to their ‘Street Erhu‘ the instruments are always inspiring and distinctive.

The same applies to their latest instrument: The Angklung.

Honestly, I had never even heard of this instrument before, so I’ll describe it first before delving into my review.

The Angklung is an Indonesian instrument constructed from bamboo. Each note is a combination of 2 tuned bamboo tubes an octave apart suspended in a bamboo frame. The tubes have a bit of room to move at the bottom of the frame. The notes are played by shaking the frame, thus rattling the tuned tubes. The result is a percussive tuned shaker like sound. So notes are sustained by continuing to shake the notes.

So how does one sample such an instrument into something playable on a keyboard? SOUNIRON has developed some clever scripting within Kontakt to take care of it.

A lot of the extensive controls are found right on the interface so there aren’t very many patches. 7 to be exact. Dry, Hall, Hall Sustains(each with a Lite version) and Ambiences. I’ll start off with the Dry patch.

Angklung dry

There are some standard controls that you’ll find on a lot of sampled instrument: Attack, Offset and Release. These parameters do what you would expect them to by shaping the envelope and the starting position within the samples. There is a Swell knob to give some   shape to the dynamics. The Microtune and Stepping knobs adjust the tuning of the entire patch by cents and semitones respectively.

If you’ve used any of SOUNDIRON’s instruments within the past year or  so you’ll notice some familiar UI controls. The reverb with dozens of custom impulses of FX and various Spaces and the Uberpeggiator. Now to be completely honest, their Uberpeggiator has been rather intimidating to me in the past so I haven’t really delved into it’s depths. It is essentially, as it’s name suggests, an arpeggiator on steroids. Lots of controls and variables to shape your arpeggios and patterns. What I will mention here though is the cunning new mode called EZ Roll. Developed specifically for an instrument like this it doesn’t roll through different pitches that may be held down as a typical arpeggiator would but runs through the velocities only, making it multi-timbral. So if you hold down a chord, the notes will be ‘rolled’ together. Given the way the Angklung is designed, this feature makes it sound extremely realistic.

The difference between the Dry and Hall patches are the microphone perspectives. The Hall patch adds an additional Distance control. The instrument was recorded in a large hall with a close, mid and far mic setup. The Distance knob determines the position by blending the various mics.

The Dry and Hall  patches recreate the shaken sustain of notes artificially through the Uberpeggiator whereas the Sustains patch contains someone actually performing the shakes. Also unique to this patch is the Rel. Vol. knob which adjusts the volume of the release samples and the Swell knob adjusts not only the volume but the speed of the roll.

Something that mades me excited about the Ambiences patch which was also included in the previous instrument Rust 3 is the way that you can blend and morph between the sounds. SOUNDIRON has constructed it so there are 2 selectable layers and the Blend knob adjusts the where you are in the crossfade. Exclusive to this patch is the Legato control with 4 parameters. Polyphony is the number of individual notes played at once, Speed controls the speed of the pitch bend between the notes when Bend is enabled, Range is the number of semitones within which the legato is initiated. Outside of that range the notes are played polyphonically. Crossfade controls the amount of blending between the notes for smoother or sharper transitions.

So there you have it, another great instrument release from SOUNDIRON. I’m not sure if this instrument has ever been sampled before so I’m glad to have access to more unique sounds from around the globe. I also have to say that SI’s last bunch of instruments feature absolutely fantastic interface designs! Especially this one and the Street Erhu. As a graphic designer who has dabbled in GUI design, I really appreciate the beauty of these!

My demo track above uses SOUNDIRON’s Angklung as well as the Street Erhu and Twine Bass instruments.


music ©2012 Shannon Penner