Pianobook community sample libraries

If you did not stumbled across this awesome community project yet, you definetely should have a look at it. In particular if you are into anything sound design or film scoring related.

“Pianobook is a collective sample project inspiring musicians to embrace the magic of sampling and share their creations with the community.”

pianobook.co.uk

If offers a sheer number (520 at the time of writing) of sample libraries free to download and use. The actual content is not limited to piano libraries but meanwhile contains quite a range of different acoustic instruments or even voices and some synthetic stuff.

While centered around Kontakt capabilities when once started, it meanwhile offers also downloads in EXS or Decent Sampler format, at least to some extend. On top, it is an open project and invites everybody to also contribute to the library.

One should definitately check out the upright pianos to discover some real gems. Also the “found sounds” section reveals some great discoveries. To get a glimpse and more easy access to the library as a whole, I strongly recommend the according YT channel.

 

A short review of the LIRA 8 VSTi

While currently having the original SOMA Lyra-8 hardware here on my desk I was curious how the VST emulation created by Mike Moreno DSP might appear in comparison. The release is available in VST formats for Mac and PC under “Pay what you want or download for free”.

In case you never heard of the hardware Lyra, it’s basically a 8 voice drone synthesizer, providing some LFO and FM modulation capabilities plus a basic delay and distortion FX. It does not provide any Midi control but solely relies on manual interaction with it’s analog interface (plus some quite limited CV support). It also does not have any sort of filter, mod matrix or effect structure. However, it perfectly fits for different styles of experimental electronic and ambient music as well as all kinds of sound design e.g for film scoring and such.

The VST plugin resembles the overall appearance and usage concept almost identical to the hardware. All parameters are accessible via host automation in your DAW which indeed turns out to be really useful. To trigger the sensors, Midi notes C1 to G1 can also be used instead of clicking the interface. Since the original sensors are sensitiv to skin capacitance/resistance, I would have expected the plugin sensors to have some sort of velocity or aftertouch control accordingly but this is not the case.

Soundwise the plugin was a real surprise. While it might not stand an A/B test with its analog counterpart, it amazingly captures its overall sound aesthetic and gives instant gratification in this regard. Wobbling drones, shimmering soundscapes and fizzling FM weirdness – it can all do that and much more. But maybe even more important it is real fun to twiddle with and it appears to be very inspirational, exactly like the HW does.

What the plugin itself can’t give you of course is the tactile experience. Beside that there is an issue when it comes to tuning sounds. The oscillator tune parameters actually do have just very imprecise control given the huge frequency range across all octaves. This becomes even more of an issue if you try to finetune something in its FM sweetspot area.

Overall verdict: Highly recommended for all sorts of sound design or pure inspiration – if you can live with its constraints.