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Ambius Prime by SoundIron – full review

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SoundIron – Ambius Prime Full Review

SoundIron I had certainly heard of, a well respected developer of sample libraries with a pedigree synonymous with high quality, but somehow their Ambious libraries had passed me by, there were apparently two previous versions before this the third colmination of the series, behold Ambius Prime.

Forgiveness is due for the title sounding like a character fromm Transformers, for this is a library that delivers a huge range of potential for sound designers with a 9Gb pool of samples to draw from.

I outlined in a previous post the parallels between this and the newly released Thrill from Native Instruments, both adopt the currently popular X and y axis approach to adding audible motion and tonal morphing to patches, but at around half the price of Thrill does Ambius fall short in anyway.

I can’t answer that conclusively however whilst Thrill’s sounds lean more toward cleaner orchestral sources, Ambius has a wealth of etherial, dark, metallic ambient and dystopian content which is reflective of the range of libraries SoundIron have released over many years.

The meat and potatoes for us though is how we can interact with a library under the Komplete Kontrol banner and how much we can be truly creative with it as a software sound tool.

Firstly and strangely there factory side of the browser seems strangely sparse, vendor, product, types, modes and finally preset are the headline acts here, but if that isn’t brief enough, digging deeper into those choices offers little more. Types gives us synth lead, synth miscellaneous and synth pad, modes provides ‘sample based’ (hardly rocket science for a totally sample based library!) but weirdest of all there are a mere 3 presets, Ambius Prime 1 Tramnsmissions, Ambious Prime 2 Systematic and Ambius Prime 3 Expanse.

So what’s going on here, well there are certainly many more patches associated with each of those libraries, however rather than opt for placing them accessabily on the front browser they are selected inside the GUI when in edit mode.

What SoundIron have done here is use snapshots to create the meat and potatoes, whilst there are a mere 3 NKI files providing the gravy, actually that’s a poor analogy as those NKI’s are actually the meat which the whole library draws from. The downside is that on first appearance it looks like you’ve been short changed.

It took some delving into the folder structure to work out what was going on, but essentially Ambius 1 has a total of 38 associated snapshot patches with 4 banks, Ambius 2 has 25 with 4 banks and the latest Ambius 3 has 37 patches again with 4 banks.

That still might not sound like a lot, but there are four layers each with a bank and sound option, despite having a calculator my tiny brain can’t work out how many permutations of sonic possabilites that offers, certainly you can opt to use just a couple of sources but even with this adding effects and morphing delivers impressive results, so with all four sound sources engaged you soon realise the sonic potential of this library.

I listed the parameter mappings for this library in my previous overview but will add them again at the end for completenss, suffice to say there is a whole host of goodies to play and create with. One point about the bank and sound selection being in the edit pages is actually a double edged sword, that is where they need to be in order for us to access and create our own patches from scratch, but the fact that they are in the edit side of Komplete Kontrol means that they don’t get read aloud aside from the knob function (i.e bank and sound) when you turn that control and scroll through the sound selections you will need to be tapping a key on your S-controller to hear the changing sounds, so any named clue or fancy title is lost on us, but hey e’re used to using our ears and I’d far prefer to select a sample source based on how it sounds to someone else’s naming decision which may or may not accurately describe the vibe.

One more slight niggle in the edit pages, it would have made good ergonomics to make the first page a mixer page for the four layers, this way when sound designing you could quickly mute the layers you didn’t want to hear, instead currently the user has to scroll through 9 of the 16 pages in order to turn the volume down on layer 4!

The effects sections are very comprehensive and are a huge part of shaping any sounds you set out to design. The reverb section alone offers a knob for category as well as impulse with a large choice of SoundIron’s own inhouse creations, again being in the edit section we have no verbal description of the titles so it’s ear time again!

We do come a bit unstuck on the modulation section, layer, source and target each have a knob assigned but with no speech we don’t know what, where or whom we are modulating. This is perhaps where the call for Native Instruments to implement a click on these edit knobs as we could then potentially learn by clik number provided we had a ddiscernable start point. (tim I hope you’re reading this!).

The appregiator can be turn on or off on a per layer basis giving opportunity for some interesting experimentation and subtle low level movement within a patch, or you can simply create a very defined pulsing beat or tone.

I really like the inclusion of a sample offset knob on each layer, as this also extends the diversity of each single sound greatly just by changing the start point. There is also of course pitch and panning and the obligatory attack and release.

Finally the X and y controls, there is x and y on their own knobs followed by x target, x motion and x speed, replicated again for the Y cordinate. Here again through no-ones fault we are limited to the calculated degree of control we can instantly access, but the solution is once more to adopt an auditry approach and let your ears make the decisions.

Conclusion

I’m very impressed with this library, the sonic potential for sound design and creation is considerable, indeed I found myself setting out to create a patch only to create several more enroute, I think my user folder is going to bulk out on new NKSN files before long, and of course I can now sympathise with patch library designers who struggle with meaninful naming conventions, I’ve created such delights as ‘Chris Zombie Growl’ and ‘chris Metal Hit’, well if I lack imagination in patch naming maybe I can make up for it in sound design instead!

Ambious Prime from SoundIron is currently available until 28th August for $119.00 where upon it will revert to it’s standard price of $149.00

Ambius Prime

Ambius Prime Key Mappings

Page 1
Knob 1 — Macro 1
Knob 2 — Macro 2
Knob 3 — Glide

Page 2: XY Pad
Knob 1 — Pad X
Knob 2 — Pad Y
Knob 3 — X Target
Knob 4 — X Motion
Knob 5 — X Speed
Knob 6 — Y Target
Knob 7 — Y Motion
Knob 8 — Y Speed

Page 3: Layer 1
Knob 1 — Bank (Sound category)
Knob 2 — Sound (Sound preset)
Knob 3 — Volume
Knob 4 — Attack
Knob 5 — Release
Knob 6 — Offset
Knob 7 — Pitch
Knob 8 — Pan

Page 4: Layer 1 Filter
Knob 1 — Toggle
Knob 2 — Type
Knob 3 — Cutoff
Knob 4 — Resonance
Knob 5 — Gain

Pages 5 through 10 are the same as Pages 3 and 4, except for Layers 1 2 and 3.

Page 11: Arp
Knob 1 — Toggle
Knob 2 — Direction
Knob 3 — Time
Knob 4 — Mode
Knob 5 — Graph
Knob 6 — Swing
Knob 7 — Randomize
Knob 8 — Duration

Page 12: Modulation
Knob 1 — Layer
Knob 2 — Target
Knob 3 — Source
Knob 4 — Intensity
Knob 5 — Speed
Knob 6 — Invert

Page 13: Delay Controls
Page 14: Distortion Controls
Page 15: EQ Controls
Page 16: Reverb Controls

 

Disclaimer

The author accepts no responsability for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article.Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soly on information perceived whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web.
About the Author

Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review writer with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.

 

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