A review of the Desert Island sample library for the Ensoniq EPS joins a selection of readers own patches for the Korg M1, Ensoniq SQ80 and Yamaha TX81Z in this month's 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?
Paul McNamara, London
Another new presence in Patchwork is the Korg M1, and this sound from Paul shows the synth to good advantage. It's a warm brass patch with an intriguing hint of wind bells; velocity on the bells is switched off so that the bells sound clearest when the brass is quietest. The sound can become more controlled by adjusting the release and effect values on the performance edit panel.
Laurence Fenn, Aldershot
'Eurythbass' for the ever-popular TX81Z is so named because it was created to duplicate the bass sound on the Eurythmics' 'Sweet Dreams'. It's a warm, full sound with an analogue sizzle which really does the job.
Jason Offen, Humberside
The Ensoniq SQ80 makes its first appearance on these pages, with this realistic deep bass patch, which combines elements of fretless and acoustic upright bass. Jason points out that the realism of 'Rich Bass' is increased by the sound which occurs when the key is released - a sound not unlike fingers moving around on a bass fretboard.
In the last couple of months, Patchwork has looked at sample disk libraries for the Ensoniq Mirage. Now it's the turn of the same company's EPS sampler, and in particular the library on offer from Desert Island Disks. At the time of writing, the Desert Island Library is the largest known professional EPS library in the world, comprising around 130 disks, and increasing by 20-30 disks each month. They have been produced in the company's own studio, and, like the Desert Island Mirage library, the majority have been digitally transferred from other samplers via Sound Designer software.
The disks sent in for review cover a wide range of timbres, from choirs and drums to Korg M1 presets and Digdesign 'Softfynth' concoctions. Disks contain anything from two to eight instruments up to a maximum of 1600 EPS memory blocks. Certain disks derived from the Casio FZ1 (097, 098, 102) require the optional memory expansion board. Of coarse, if you've got an EPS-M, you're laughing...
The best place to start is with the manual, which details the files on every disk along with a short description. Some of these are more useful than others, for example "more Korg M1 sounds" doesn't quite compete with "Mouth drums and eight bass drums and snare drums on keys C1 and D1 of no longer than 100 blocks each". Some of the file names in the catalogue are different to those on the actual disks, although this doesn't really present a problem.
To begin at the beginning, disk number 002 (aka ARR1) is a high quality, sharp, breathy vocal sound ideal for moody Depeche Mode-like riffs. The TR808 samples on disk 013 feature the machine at its housey best, although the bass drum is maybe a touch too boomy. The 'S900 Choir' on disk 015 is particularly atmospheric in the lower registers, while 'Matrix 12 FX' on disk 023 is a dark, spacey background sound which falls in pitch when the key is held but rises when it's released.
Other disks of note include 035, which features a superb MPC60 kit, 049 on which you find an Akai S1000 kit, rightly hailed as the most realistic set of drums you will ever hear, and 063, the mysteriously titled 'Dirty Disk', including orgasms (1-8), burps, farts, sneezes, coughs and some especially entertaining vomit. The 'ESQ1 Lament' on disk 039 actually sounds warmer than my doctored ESQ, although 'ESQ1 Vox Strings' from the same disk is mysteriously absent.
If you like Jean Michel Jarre you will like 'Polymoog 1' on 087 and the aptly named 'Rendezvous' on 042. Both are the sort of sounds said Frenchman uses to great effect when creating atmospheres, although 'Polymoog 1' is very much more at home in the Oxygene/Equinoxe era. Finally there's 'HR16 Perc' on 088, ideal for clicky dance remixes and 'Clockwerk', again on 042, which brings to mind the word 'electropop'.
In general then, the disks are of the high standard we've come to expect from a company like Desert Island. Quite often the sounds don't stretch across the whole keyboard, but that's the personal preference of the makers who don't like sounds which go out of range. In any case, the keyboard range can be altered and saved if you so desire, but this doesn't really seem to be worthwhile. A demo tape of sounds is available for 80p, or in return for a blank C60 tape and an SAE. This would seem a good investment, to give an overall guide to exactly what's available. The library contains some sounds that are inspiring and others that are just kind on the ear. But overall they're the kinds of sounds you'll want to use, and are very easy to recommend.
Price £8.50 per disk.
Gear in this article:
Feature by David Bradwell