Sample Logic Morphestra 2 – The Inspiration Machine
At its most fundamental level, Morphestra 2 is an orchestral sample library. Every sound has been recorded beautifully, and you really get the sense that no expense was spared in the making of this instrument – Sample Logic’s whole range indeed follows this thread. Though the raw sounds alone would be worthy of the price, what sets it apart from a regular library is its four sound core engines which allow playback of up to eight sound sources! Impressive!
With the ability to morph between 4 of these sources, with effects and the pattern sequencer and the morph animator and the and the and the!!!!!!! ARRRRRGH! oops sorry, my mind was blown! Oh and yeah it has a totally awesome “Randomisation” button too, this kept me distracted for an hour or so!
What’s great about the way they’ve organised Morphestra 2 is that if you want to go on an audio-phonic magical mystery tour as I did, you can, but if you are after specifics like, Atmospheres, dramatic percussion, and straight-up orchestral elements then that’s all in here too. One could argue that Sample Logic has over delivered to the extreme with this pack. But then….nah. The interface has been well thought out with all menus leading to easy-to-understand submenus, with the visual aesthetic remaining constant. That is until you decide that you might want to load a multi, then suddenly it has the design aesthetic of the eastern block in the 40s. Or the early days of Native Instruments. Same same. Also, the Multis become kind of mundane compared to the “wow” factor of the full Morphestra 2 NKI instrument. And to be honest, even though the Multis sound awesome, the real juice is on the main page! Anyhow, I doubt you will have much need to venture from there.
Sample Logic has stuffed Morphestra with oodles of presets! And I mean oodles and strudels of the suckers!
Now sometimes I get frustrated with presets because you can feel like you’re being spoon-fed somebody else’s ideas, or there’s just too much panning and effects going on trying to oversell you on that particular sound, but I found each of the presets to be perfect springboards for my own ideas and let’s face it if you had to program these by yourself you’d never get anything done! Another great feature is that you can choose one big preset that will load 4 sound sources plus effects and then load a preset for each sound source thus creating your own master preset which you can then save as your own. Maximum return for minimum input.
Morphestra 2 in action
I’ve been twiddling with Morphestra 2 for a few days now and have it set up in such a way that I have my Maschine 2 acting as MIDI controller for the “X/Y” section of Morphestra, and another set of controllers for the “X/Y” of the effects. This is where the true magic comes into play. If you are a TV, Movie or Games composer then this is where you get to move with the pictures in a truly organic way, and I guess I’m pointing out the obvious here, but I’m assuming that’s what they were getting at all along with the whole morphing vibe. Once you’ve loaded/created a patch that suits your cues it’s then just up to you to turn the lights down low turn up the lava lamp to full power, and start morphing!
Morphestra is by no means a screen composer or sound designer-specific tool. This at its essence is a “drama” machine, so any style of music that needs cinematic tension will benefit greatly from what Morphestra 2 has to offer. I’m looking at you, Trance producers!
OK now for the bad news.
Morphestra is ENORMOUS! Over 26GB in fact. With 16GB of morphed instruments and multis entirely derived from the orchestral recordings, as well as the multis from the original Morphestra. All of this at 24bit 44.1khz quality. oomph!
Morphestra can be downloaded using a third-party client called “Continuata” which works great but will take a REALLY long time to download. I have a pretty decent internet service and it still took nearly a whole day to get this downloaded and installed. Now the next problem is “Load Time” for patches.
If you are a seasoned professional in the world of sound design and scoring to picture then, it would be fair to assume that time is money, and you’ve probably invested in the fastest drive technology available. Most of my friends in these lines of work have been used to massive sample libraries for years and have setups geared primarily for these kinds of products, so I can’t imagine them losing too much sleep over this, but if you’re like me and run a Mid-2010 iMac with a 2TB 7200RPM drive then prepare to wait up to 45 seconds to load the main Morphestra 2 .nki. Once your patch finally loads, you then have to deal with the Kontakt side of things. Now maybe I’m just not that good at using Kontakt, but I found recording automation from the Morphestra 2 front panel into my DAW was utterly impossible! I found myself getting in the groove with my mouse on the “X/Y” pad only to realise I couldn’t record those movements into my DAW (Presonus Studio One, btw). I had to assign my Maschine controller (As I mentioned earlier) to CC values that corresponded with the “X/Y” pad and control it from there, A minor inconvenience I guess, but it did take “flow” out of things. To Morphestra 2’s credit, there is actually an onboard recorder to capture X/Y movements, but it’s not the same as having a long stream of automation data to play with.
The bottom line with any of these products though is “Will I Use It?” or will it gather dust in the sample-riddled wasteland that is most people’s hard drives? Personally, if I had a more “state of the art” computer or a decent SSD for my samples (And if NI ever upgrades Kontakt so that all parameters spew out automation data!) I could hardly imagine a project I wouldn’t use this on! So in short Yes! Yes and Yes!
To reiterate my opening comments, this is an “Inspiration Machine!” clunkiness aside there is no way you are not going to be inspired the second you trigger the Morphestra 2. An excellent achievement by the people at Sample Logic and as soon as I have a set-up from this century I’ll be overusing it at every possible opportunity!
By Ian V Jones
For full details and to purchase, visit the Sample Logic site today.