Impact Soundworks Ventus Ethnic Winds Bansuri – Maximum Playability
Welcome back to Music Nation Studiowise. This week we’re looking at a somewhat unusual, single flute instrument from Impact Soundworks – more known here for their hardcore Shreddage guitar and bass line, this should make for interesting testing.
Whereas many virtual instrument libraries feature this or similar instruments as part of a larger collection, Impact Soundworks choose to focus only on this one instrument. With 14 playing styles, 350 phrases, and a whopping 4500 samples, this is a true monster attempt at capturing every detail and intricate style involve with playing the instrument…and it shows.
Out of the box, this is one of the most playable and expressive instruments we’ve tested – It just sings right off the keyboard. The included key switches change seamlessly together, with none of the noticeable changes in recording characteristics common with such instruments. Each note played shows a wave readout of the sample triggered in the GUI, mostly to show that each note on the round-robin system is unique, but also to give you a good indication of how the note is going to resolve – quite handy when freestyling. Busting with creative ornaments (little frills or tricks that add movement and interest to the notes) and endless customisation of the articulation controls, this is a well-designed and implemented instrument.
This is a Native Instruments Kontakt library that unfortunately requires the full version of Kontakt 5 to operate, so you’ll be in for another $400 USD if you don’t own that already. At $99USD it’s not cheap, considering it’s only a single flute instrument, with the additional cost of Kontakt. possibly a deal breaker for some.
Getting into the software. on the control panel, you have large ornaments dial, allowing you to increase the likelihood an ornament phase will be played at the beginning or the end of your note strike. Interesting concept, but too random for my tastes so I mostly kept this to a minimum. A dynamics slider and aftertouch-controlled vibrato slider work well together to provide good performance dynamics, plus an interesting flutter control which can also be assigned to aftertouch to provide a much more aggressive and angry vibrato effect.
You have two microphone positions to alter, full ADSR, transpose and fine-tune controls. A very interesting micro-tuning system allows you to define the root note and further manipulate the scale of each of the 12 notes, giving you somewhat detuned results. Something you need to play around with a bit, but some very pleasing dissonant style results can be found if that’s your thing, or creating non-western scales. Out of the box, most of the instrument is pretty thick in reverb, and though I like the effect, turning it off provides a lot more definition in the mic placement and tuning. Of course, it is too dry for most circumstances, but just to get your bearings I found that the best starting place.
Opening the advanced menu reveals more controls, most of which you should most normally avoid, but messing with the legato length, vibrato depth and frequencies and many more detailed controls are here. Most noticeable here are the Ornaments Recording and Playback controls. This allows you to record a set arrangement of ornamentations produced by the large ornaments dial, then when the play button is enabled, have them playback in the same order when you strike the keys. You can this way create preset ornament styles and save them for future performances. I found the system a little hit-and-miss, but I’m sure with practice you can achieve good results.
Also included is a 4-rack effects section featuring EQ, compressor, delay and one of the better-sounding convolution reverb processors out there. An effect randomiser is here too, though not something I personally would utilise – if you’re looking for some weird effects, could be handy.
The additional phases instrument provides a massive selection of prerecorded one-shot style runs. Fortunately, they flow perfectly with the normal instrument, so mixing and matching the expertly played phrase with my, rather amateur, fumblings flow perfectly, making my sequences a lot cleaver sounding than I could possibly be. A neat reverse sample button with a bounce ‘ping-pong’ option delivers even more creative options, and interestingly, the reversed samples don’t sound lame like a backwards tape, they mostly sound like the notes are played backwards. You can set start and end points for pulling out specific parts of the phrase, and adjust the speed playback. Very cool stuff.
Clearly designed to deliver maximum playability, the TACT system allows you to totally customise the articulations to your liking, and share the same settings across all your Impact Soundworks instruments.
Expertly performed by Josh Plotner, the instrument perfectly captures the character of the ancient flute. Traditionally a Hindu instrument, mostly from North Indian regions, the signature sound is used on many well-known arrangements, both traditional and contemporary. A nice bonus Sitar and Tambura drone have been included to accompany your playing, which in themselves actually sounds pretty amazing too.
This is a stunning instrument to play. I’m no expert in the genre, but even my rather amateur attempt at performing to a backing track sounded amazing. This is a very versatile sound, one I think can be used in many styles. Though it’s traditionally an Indian instrument, it sounds right at home on most other tracks I played against. Somewhat similar to an orchestral flute without the full range, the more earthen tones give it a lot more depth and warmth and can easily be used in similar situations. It is a definite consideration if you are looking for a good solo flute.
Thanks to the clever round-robin engine and play controls, anyone can achieve convincing results fairly quickly. A great sounding and easy-to-play instrument that would be a frequently used tool in any producer’s sample library collection.
For full details for this and other Impact Soundworks instruments, check the main site Impactsoundworks.com