Heavyocity – Gravity – A Heavyweight in Sound Design!
With the Heavyocity sale nearing it’s end as I write this in early September 2017, it’s a good time to recap on what their flagship sample libary has to offer, make no bones about it, this is a big library with lots of possabilities but it’s definitely not for everyone and as we shall see there are some not insignificant accessibility limitations.
Risers, Hits, Stings, Whooshes, Pads… if you’re a purist musician and only the term ‘Pads’ is a part of your vocabulary then this library might not be for you, it makes sense to bring that up right at the start because Gravity is predominently a sound design tool in the epic sound genre.
The team of sound designers at Heavyocity are established trailer, film and game composers in their own right, and they set out to create a piece of software that could put these crucial design elements into the hands of the common man, that’s us! If you fall into that category of composer yourself with an extended possible use within EDM, Soundscapes, Experimental or anything inbetween then read on.
There are quite a few twists and turns in the way Heavyocity have designed Komplete Kontrol access to this library, and this is due to the complexity and volume of sounds and design elements involved.
As an example if we were to break down the elements of the average ‘hit’ that high octane thud we all know and love from seemingly every trailer, then we find there is often components that make it what it is. The rise is that gradual approach from silence that warns us it’s on it’s way, that can be tension buildingly long, or frrighteningly quick, the hit itself can have a sub level punch that makes us feel the pain of violence or duck if it’s an explosion, the tail at the end can also vary in length depending on what we’re trying to convey, then there are other sounds that can also be thrown into the mix. Immediately you can see that what at first seems pretty straightforward can actually be quite complex.
Some breakout patches in Gravity are spread out over four octaves to reflect these different elements, and keyswitches are incorporated at the lower octaves to enable playing of all elements at once, with further keyswitches programmed in upper octaves to offer ‘on the fly’ real time effects like stuttering and filtering. I almost wish I’d hung onto my S88 keyboard just to get the extra octave acreage!
As with similar reviews it makes sense at this juncture to list the various browse categories you will find on the library side of Komplete Kontrol…
Skipping past the obvious vendor and product knobs we have banks, this is a biggie…
Complex, element menues, atonal reverses, atonal sweeps, disturbing metals reverses, disturbing metals sweeps, reverse hits, tonal reverses, tonal sweeps, whoosh menu, ambient, short, hits, atonal, disturbing metals, tonal, Pads, Risers, stings,
Depending upon the choice you make in the bank menu, there might be a sub bank, for example ‘Pads’ reveals the presence of complex, element menus, which in turn provides the next knob ‘types’ to show soundscapes, synth miscellaneous and synth pads which then provides us with sub types offering yet more options of bury pad, bright pad, deep pad, evolving pad, layer pad, other pad.
We then have the mode knob giving long evolving, processed and finally synthetic. last but not least knob 8 shows the presets! I won’t go on and list every possible option, it would not only would it be complex to do, but also dull to read, suffice to say that there is plenty of presets to explore here, it’s a little like having a large collection of Russion dolls and then mixing them up for good measure.
I will now summarise the all important edit knob mappings before I conclude with my opinion of the whole library.
If you have read any of the other Heavyocity product reviews that I have written here, particularly for the Gravity Pack series you will be familiar with the individual Knob assignements. Rather than list them all again I will instead give just the page titles so you know what’s editable.
Page 1, Punish and Twist
Page 2, Master FX and distance
Page 3, Delay and Chorus
Page 4, Reverb and Volume Mod
Page 5, Mixer
Page 6, Filter page 1
Page 7, Filter page 2 and EQ page 1
Page 8, Eq page 2
Page 9 Trigger FX page 1
Page 10, Trigger FX page 2
Dependent on which preset is selected the number of pages available can be abridged, for example with pads there is access to the mixer section to enable volume and panning of each layer of the overall sound. There are also presets that are clearly made up of more than one layer, yet no mixer page is availble which is a little puzzling.
The cost of Gravity is a not insignificant investment, so it is important to try and establish that it is something you will use. There are a decent number of presets here, but through no fault on Heavyocity’s part there is no Komplete Kontrol mapping access to the GUI’s dedicated design functions. Here sighted users can choose each sample source, mix each layer and even program sequenced movements and modulation, in short you can create your own patch from scratch.
Another element present here and also in other libraries not specifically from Heavyocity, is the use of multi-functionality assignments on Knobs. As an example there is a mapped knob titled ‘envelope’ with the following knobs being used for ADSR, however the ‘envelope’ knob is used to choose the type of envelope we are subsequently editing. As other than their titles knobs on the library side offer no audible feedback, surely yet another call to Native Instruments to implement at least a click if not speech?
At a guess I would say that we are able to harness around 70% of what Gravity can do, so the question we need to address is whether it’s cost is equal to the amount of use we are likely to get from it. Certainly if you are creating for any of the media genres highlighted at the beginning of this review then I think Gravity will reward you well, for others just wanting to insert a casual riser or hit into a dance track then there are other less costly alternatives on the market at a fraction of the price.
Heavyocity Gravity retails for $449.00 but is on offer at half price for £174.00 (note usual price is in U.S. dollars direct from Heavyocity, offer price is from Native Instruments during limited offer).
(c)Chris Ankin 2017
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.