A review of the Desert Island sample collection for the Mirage joins readers' own patches for the Roland D110, Ensoniq ESQ1 and Casio CZ5000 in this month's action-packed edition of Patchwork.
If you're still waiting to see your particular synth featured in these pages, then why not be the first to submit some sounds?
Don't forget that if your patch gets published, you'll receive a free year's subscription to MUSIC TECHNOLOGY with our compliments. So send us your favourite sounds on a photocopy of an owner's manual chart (coupled with a blank one for artwork purposes) accompanied by a short demo-tape (don't worry too much about classic performances and impeccable recording quality; just present your sounds simply and concisely - and convince us you're the best of the bunch). Include a decent-length description of your sound and its musical purpose in life, and write your full name and address on each chart. And remember, edited presets are all very well, but an original masterpiece is always preferable. OK?
E Macarthur, Glasgow
These are possibly the pick of the 11 sounds sent in by "E" for the D110 and Casio CZ5000. 'Filterise' is a beautifully smooth pad sound, ideal for slow chordal work, that builds up slowly as it sweeps across the stereo image. It also possesses a very natural phasing quality which lends itself very well to the old "atmospheric" intro.
E Macarthur, Glasgow
'Mellow Bell', on the other hand has a harsh, almost sinister tone, which makes it much more suitable for use in a film soundtrack than a commercial pop song. If soundtracks are not your forte, "E" informs us that adding a chorus will give the sound a more dramatic, spacey effect.
Jason Creasey, Andover.
While the ESQ1 regularly breezes (sorry) onto these pages, sound effects for it have been in short supply. 'Wind' provides an atmospheric background effect, much higher on the Beaufort Scale than your average synthesised hurricane. Careful programming of LF03 and ENV2 means that as the keys are struck harder the attack delay decreases and the ferocity of the wind gets greater. Real gale-force stuff.
Desert Island are a new company producing disks for Ensoniq's tried and tested Mirage and EPS samplers. The Mirage library currently comprises 50 disks full of sounds from state of the art systems, the majority transferred to the Mirage via Sound Designer software.
The 14 disks sent for review concentrate on ethnic instruments, drums and percussion, and synthesisers, although the library as a whole includes choirs, Fairlight classics, industrial sound effects, pianos, and others too numerous to mention here.
Generally speaking, the ethnic sounds (disks 001, 003, 008, 023) are an inspiration. The sounds manage to combine warmth with an unusual silky cleanness, which is hard (although obviously not impossible) to achieve on the Mirage. Disk 004, called Hip-Hop 1 contains some useful percussion sounds whose applications extend beyond the confines of rap. There's a rather marvellous electronic zap, uniquely useful for 12" remixes, and a gunshot which owes more to John Wayne than Dirty Den. Disk 029 (Environments) is strongly recommended if setting up location atmospheres is your idea of fun. The environments offered include a swamp, a stream, and the seaside, complete with waves and seagulls. Seagulls are becoming increasingly popular within sample libraries, but these stand out as particularly realistic.
To get an idea of the types of sounds available, Desert Island produce a demo tape at a very reasonable cost of 80p. Considering the disks cost £8.50 each, the tape is really an essential aid to getting the most for your money.
So, if you're stranded with your sampler on a desert island which ten disks should you take? The choice is up to you, but you shouldn't have too much trouble finding at least ten out of this selection if the review disks are anything to go by. The company are currently developing sample libraries for the Akai S900/950 and Casio FZ1. If these are up to the standard of the Mirage library it looks like they're in for a very busy summer.
Price £8.50 per disk, including p&p. Demo tape featuring a selection of sounds available on request for 80p, or send a C60 cassette and SAE.
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Feature by David Bradwell