Largo By SonoKinetic –
The latest edition to the SonoKinetic range delivers a new unexplored sub-genre to their collection, with a slower pace, yet strong sense of the thematic.
It was back in March this year (2018) when I brought you the review of SonoKinetic’s Noir sample library, and since then the guys at SonoKinetic have been beavering away at this their latest release Largo. To use their own terminology Largo is ‘Majestic Orchestral Sampling’, Alexa on my desktop tells me the definition is ‘musical performed in a slow and dignified manner’ which seems a fair description as what immediately sprang to mind was Dvorak new world symphony no.9 which was performed ala Largo, for the Brits reading this that’s the music from the Hovis bread advert, for anyone else interested there is a link at the review footer, but I’m sure you’ll instantly recognise the piece.
Whatever tag you care to place on Largo, it fills another missing slot in SonoKinetic’s impressive and ever growing collection of orchestral sample libraries, and readily lends itself to strong cinematic music scores and themes, subtle enough as an underscore yet bold enough to carry a scene if required.
The Largo Kontakt library will gobble up the best part of 100 gigabytes on your hard drive, however this is entirely at your discretion as all of the sample content is available in either 16 or 24 bit versions, so you can choose to install either or both if you wish.
The 16 bit samples equate to 37Gb and the 24 bit is 69Gb, both feature in excess of 44,000 samples and run in Kontakt 5.71 and above, and of course is NKS ready.
The data installation choice is actually a great move on SoniKinetic’s part especially when working with Komplete Kontrol, as both 16 and 24 bit versions (as well as lite versions of each more of which later) appear in the browser. This means that you can work on your project using the less resource hungry 16 bit versions, and then simply swap patches to the 24 bit version when you need to render down your work in higher quality, although granted to do this you will need to have the full installation available.
Speaking of installation, the SonoKinetic download software is quite accessible, once logged in your registered products appear in a table and you can tab around to find the download button. The application takes care of the whole procedure, downloading, unpacking and compiling the necessary files into one Largo folder which you then authorise via Native Access in the usual way.
All went well, and installation was a breeze after I had extinguished the flames on my by then smoking router! (yes I am joking of course although HD Netflix movies might have been out of the question for the duration of the download!).
SonoKinetic have again used the same recording hall space and orchestra as previous libraries, which ensures that all will sound consistant and work together if you mix and match styles and genres.
There are three orchestral sections, Strings 56 players, Woodwind 16 players and Brass 22 players. Like all good sample libraries there is more than one microphone position, actually there are 4 these being, Close, Decca tree, Wide and Balcony (far). There is also a proprietary stereo ‘Tutti’ mix made up of all four microphones used in the lite’ instrument patches.
The Grand Largo Tour…
When I reviewed the SonoKinetic Noir library, I reported that there had been some pretty innovative developments with respect to accessibility in that product, I’m delighted to say that this exciting avenue has not only continued but been extended somewhat within the Largo library. Let’s take a trip around the control mappings and I’ll then fill in the blanks…
Knob 1 – Vendor
Knob 2 – Product
Knob 3 – Unallocated
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Types consisting of Bowed Strings, Brass and Reed Instruments
Knob 6 – Sub Types being derivatives of types and consisting of String Ensemble, Brass Ensemble and Wind Ensemble
Knob 7 – Modes being either Sample based or Tempo Synced (somewhat inevitably all instruments meet the criteria for both!)
Knob 8 – Presets which are Largo Brass 16bit, Largo Brass 24bit, Largo Brass lite 16bit, Largo Brass lite 24bit, this pattern is repeated across both Strings and Woodwind sections giving a total of 16 presets divided among the three sections.
So as well as the 16bit versions of each section, there is also a lite version which rather than individual microphone options provides a mix of all four, and this really is an easy way to work with what could otherwise be a CPU hogging preset, particularly when you are likely to want multipple instances on hand.
the additional lite versions of the 24 bit are a bonus and for me underline that SonoKinetic are catering for as broader spectrum of users as possible and ticking as many boxes as they can.
The Edit Section…
Page 1 – Preview, Phrase Select and Randomise
Knob 1 – Preview Audio
Knob 2 – Phrase Select Layer
Knob 3 – Section
Knob 4 – Phrase
Knob 5 – Variation
Knob 6 – Apply
Knob 7 – Randomise All Layers
Knob 8 – Unallocated
Page two – Phrase Edit
Knob 1 – Layer
Knob 2 – Volume
Knob 3 – Release
Knob 4 – Link
Knob 5 – Pan
Knob 6 – X-Fade
Knob 7 – Sync
Knob 8 – Mod Wheel
Page Three – Phrase Edit 2, Microphone Select and Tuning
Knob 1 – Layer
Knob 2 – Harmonic Shift
Knob 3 – Tempo Sync
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Mic Select/Mic 1
Knob 6 – Mic 2
Knob 7 – Mix
Knob 8 – Tuning Adjust
there is little differance between the parameter mapping of the main full presets and the lite versions, suffice to say aside from the exclusion of the microphone controls.
The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that I mentioned there being 4 microphone choices, yet the parameter mappings reflect only two. The reason for this is that you can only mix between two choices of microphone positions (and why would you need any more?), thus making your choices of the four available with each of the mic knobs. You can then use the mix control to find a balance between the two.
A worthy point to note is that if you don’t need two microphones loaded into ram, then use the mix control hard left or right to turn one of them off (confirmed by silence when you hit a chord) which will reduce a bit of CPU load.
Further NKS Innovations – Largo In Use…
Being creators of phrase based sample libraries SonoKinetic have clearly once again thought long and hard about how to make their products accessible and work seamlessly for both sighted and blind and visually impaired users alike.
The fact that the edit side of Komplete Kontrol does not speak any values aside from the labelling of the control knobs meant that potentially and certainly historically libraries such as Largo would pretty much have been off the table in terms of access due to the need for a largely graphical interface for users to navigate in order to choose the phrases they wish to use.
SonoKinetic introduced the concept of live audio preview loops in their previous Noir libary, and this has been exploited further with the interface for Largo.
The premise is largely the same in that once a particular instrument section is loaded you can audibly choose and use any or all of four phrase sections to effectively construct your work. The options however are significantly widened by the ability to further choose and select the individual layers that make up any given phrase.
this is achieved via a clever combination of both audio loops of the availble phrases (and there are many) and well thought out keyswitch mapping, enabling you to construct custom phrases with controllable options such as volume, panning, cross fading and sample offset.
The tempo synced phrases are triggered by playing major and minor triads between C1 and G2, and the extensive use of keyswitching means you can switch phrases and mute and unmute layers within those phrases on the fly in real time. Equally you could make an initial pass through of your musical idea and then simply go back in to record your mutes and expressions afterward (the option I much prefer!).
The phrases have all been recorded at 75bpm in 4/4 time, however Kontakt’s time machine algorithms take care of syncing with your host DAW tempo. There are some good tips in the manual for working with phrases to ensure things stay in time, there are also some parameters which can be adjusted to help with this, again selectable with keyswitches.
Thoughtfully SonoKinetic have also included a folder of midi files of all the recorded phrases, which will allow you to drop them into your DAW to facilitate voicing from other libraries should you wish to do so, there is a midi file drag & drop system which unfortunately cannot be exploited accesibly.
The position of the keyswitches varies slightly between each instrument section, this is not intended to confuse you, but actually to assist if you wish to have for example 3 instances of Largo loaded with each hosting a different instrument section yet on the same midi channel. This way you can then effectively be the conductor of a complete orchestra in realtime. I might have used this witticism before, but this will be little fun on a 25 key Komplete Kontrol keyboard!
Thoughts & Conclusions…
As I said in my previous review of SonoKinetic’s Noir library, any preconceptions or even guilt surrounding the use of a phrase based library such as this should be summarily dismissed . It really is an instrument in it’s own right and as such has a learning curve associated with getting the best results, and that’s no different to tweaking the sounds or groove of a modern electronic dance loop, it’s simply a different genre.
It almost goes without saying that the quality of sampling, instrumentation and original musicianship SonoKinetic continually manage to capture in their output is what puts them at the forefront of current sample library developers, but there I’ve now gone and said it anyway!
As with all of SonoKinetic’s sample library portfolio, Largo can be used as the central part of a composition, or as the background musical arrangement to underpin stronger melodic arrangements you may wish to add yourself, so far from being rigid there is actually a high degree of flexibility available.
As always I’d strongly recommend checking out the available audio and video walkthroughs and demos (see links at the end of the review), however the 24bit patch iterations sound very clear, clean and lush to my ears, and there is enough variation within the availble phrase content to be creatively original in your compositionss.
Largo like many SonoKinetic libraries occupies it’s own niche area of the market, and if you have need of the genre there is little else to either compare or come close to the quality of sound or perhaps equally as important for us level of accessiblility delivered by the Kontakt and Komplete Kontrol scripting found here.
Largo is available from SonoKinetic as a download or USB product from the website link below, download price is currently 241.88 Euros inc VAT
SonoKinetic are also signed up to the Able Artists discount scheme for qualifying users, information for which can be found at:https://ableartist.org/
SonoKinetic Website Largo Product Page:
SonoKinetic Youtube Tutorial Channel:
Largo User Manual:
Dvorak New World Symphony No.9:
(c) Chris Ankin June 2018
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soly on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.