Wednesday, July 14, 2021

REVIEW: HAMMERS+WAVES by SKYBOX AUDIO - Modern Keyboard Collection

Hammers and Waves by Skybox Audio for Native Instruments Kontakt Reviews

 Hammers+Waves by Skybox Audio
is a ten instrument modern keyboard collection like none other. Captured with beyond-human precision by robotic automation.

 Each of the 10 Instruments has an individual  Interface and comes with the same controls.
(Mod, Swarm, Source, Fractals, & Space)


The world’s first Deep Granular Synth and gives you the power to generate modern, unique textures, from beautifully cinematic atmospheres to grinding chaotic drones.

This is the Motion arpeggiator engine specifically designed for acoustic keyboard instruments.

Each instrument comes with an array of Presets and an intuitive meta-tagging System.
Hammers and Waves Skybox Audio Preset meta tagging insterface


Skybox Audio is a new virtual instrument company out of Los Angeles, California; and has innovated a new sampling technology. The creators are professional composers, programmers, mix engineers, and robot-builders. They state, 'they are on a mission to create world-class virtual instruments for today’s modern composers'. This is not an understatement with the launch of their debut product Hammers+Waves. Skybox Audio built a sampling robot exclusively from scratch that recorded each key with perfect precision with 16 tiers of velocities. Hammers + Waves was created by
Danny Dunlap (Professional Composer) and Azrul Saleh (Sound Designer/Audio Programmer/Composer) had built a robot to make extraordinarily authentic recordings with a collection of pianos and keyboards.

They had the vision and idea to remove human perception from the process. Skillfully they accomplished this by applying the perfect amount of pressure to the keys in a consistent fashion, so the velocity zones weren’t determined by amplitude but by the amount of applied force to give a beautiful genuine sonic snapshot of the original instrument.
Though many late nights and experimental failures, they painstakingly created a real robot that captured an entire 88 key piano with sixteen velocities per note in about 48 hours, nearly entirely autonomously.

Next, they brought on Grammy-nominated mixer, engineer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dana Nielsen as a partner to engineer the Hammers + Waves recording sessions. They then collaborated to create a new style of granular synthesis that makes beautiful modern atmospheres. Continuing, they developed a state-of-the-art motion and arpeggiation engine.

Hammers +Waves includes ten deeply sampled instruments in four categories. The Acoustic category of instruments includes a Modern Grand (Yamaha C6 - Grand Piano), Relic Upright (Schaff Bros Upright Piano), and UX Upright (Yamaha UX3 Upright Piano). The Chime group contains a Dulcitone (1898 Dulcitone), J Celeste (Jenco Celeste) and a J Toy Piano (Vintage Jaymar Toy Piano). Electric has a Suitcase 73 (Fender Rhodes Electric Piano) and a

EP200A (Wurlitzer 200A Electric Piano). Finally, the Prepared section comes with an Obscura Grand (Yamaha C6 Felted Grand) and a Muted Relic (Schaff Bros Muted Upright Piano). There are 500 presets, all meta-tagged, which we discuss next as we look at the interface.

The GUI is aesthetic and pleasing to the eye. When you load up any one of the instruments, the instrument appears against a soft grayish-white background and five controls on the bottom. There is Mod, Swarm, Source, Fractals, and Space. Swarm provides you the ability to apply deep-granular synthesis and create powerfully cinematic lush or dark atmospheres. Fractals is an arpeggiator that will deliver rhythmic movement to the instrument. In the top left, you will see three small lines that provide entry to the settings page and is where you can meticulously adjust and assign fx. Right-clicking on any control will bring up Learn Midi CC and allow you to attach any fx to the modwheel.
Click on the title of the instrument in the top left to gain access to an array of presets further pinpointed by the brilliant description tagging system. Every nki instrument also includes the same thirty-word description tags of how the preset should sound. For instance, if you were looking for something Rhythmic or Evolving, you would click on the block with the tag listed on it, and it will bring up those presets via the left column. Keep in mind, tweaking and saving your own presets is also available. Between the preset title and settings is a small rectangle box with an arrow pointing down that takes you to a section where you can save a user preset.
If you click on the name of each knob on the bottom, you will enter an individual FX page for each of those controls. The Mod page contains, volume, pan, pitch, and more. Swarm has an XY pad, a design & animation knob, attack, decay, sustain, release, and more. The Source page has velocity curve shape, realism + hyper realism sliders, and other dials including, Blend, Color, Shift, Shape, and Octave. The last fx control 'Space' contains Delay and Reverb. There are five delays to choose from and a profound amount of reverbs, and other options.

Hammers+Waves is an absolutely beautiful sounding sample library that goes far beyond what people may think is just another collection of virtual piano and keyboard instruments. This is a top contender for becoming instrument of the year, in my opinion. I'm not kidding, once you delve into this library the possibilities become endless and the the inspiration just flows. Yes, I own plenty of piano based libraries and I have to say this is true game changer. What sets this apart from other libraries is the powerful engine that can give you everything you need to add movement, textures, and granular synthesis with ease.  
HAMMERS+WAVES is a Kontakt Player compatible instrument and downloads at 53GB.
 These instruments would compliment any genre of film, video game, or other electronic music production. Even though they built a robot to help in the sampling process of this library, it certainly won't write the songs for you, but it will stimulate those creative juices.
There are absolutely no cons I found within this collection! 

 Hammers+Waves is the ultimate package for creating melodic, beautiful, lush, emotional, darkly atmospheric, or rhythmically spellbound cinematic piano and keyboard-based compositions
It earns no less than perfection. 










 Written by Steve Montgomery

(Media Composer/Infinite Mindscape/Darkmood Music)


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