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Acid Orchestral Series

Sample Library By John Walden
Published October 2001

Acid Orchestral Series


Fans of Sonic Foundry's Acid are well catered for when it comes to most contemporary styles of music but, to date, one obvious omission from the Acid loop‑library styles has been something for those with a more classical bent. Now Sonic Foundry have put this right, with not one Acid loop library but a series of four that together make up their new Orchestral Series, all full of material performed by the Moscow Session Orchestra.

As the v3 release of Acid includes a video playback window, using Acid for basic scoring to picture work is now possible without the need to sync to an external video player. These orchestral loops could therefore potentially appeal to media composers, as well as musicians looking to add the occasional classical touch to their contemporary music productions.

All four CDs follow the same construction‑kit format, with the files for each kit being stored in an individual sub‑directory on the CD. In most cases (but, rather strangely, not all), each directory contains a WAV file of the complete performance. This performance is then split into a number of layers — not down to single‑instrument level, but generally into useful sections such as strings or wind, although the exact format differs for each kit. Two other directories are also present on each disc, containing some 'one‑shot' orchestral percussion (a small selection of bass drums, snares, cymbals, timpani and triangles) and pad chords (major, minor and minor sevenths). The files in each of these two categories are the same on each CD. The four CDs in the series have different musical flavours and their titles reflect this: Classical, Modern, Cinematic, and Rock And Pop.

Classical Rating: **** 4/5 Stars

The Classical disc contains 30 kits, and its style is very much of the Baroque and Romantic period. The pieces are very variable in length, from two bars up to 16, but the disc as a whole has a coherent feel, and with a little care it is quite possible to link material from different kits into a bigger piece.

Modern Rating: **** 4/5 Stars

The Modern title offers 38 kits and a set of musical atmospheres that are more varied, including light‑hearted moods, through more edgy pieces (great for those "we only have two minutes to save the planet/city/bomb from going off!" scenes) to some quite minimalist styles.

Cinematic Rating: **** 4/5 Stars

The Cinematic disc contains 27 kits, with an emphasis much more on moody underscore. Well over half the kits are in the 'thriller' category (you just know something bad is going to happen!), although there are a few pieces that would also work in other contexts

Rock And Pop Rating: *** 3/5 Stars

Of all the discs in the series, only the choice of material on the Rock And Pop title left me a little disappointed. While these pieces are very usable in their own right, the styles are very much at the lighter end of pop. A few of the kits have an almost Beatles feel, when somehow I'd hoped for something more along the lines of the Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'.

Loops based around percussion or dance styles can be repeated over many bars and still work well, but with orchestral phrases more careful arrangement is needed to create a convincing impression of a real orchestra. Fortunately, Sonic Foundry have provided enough variability within most of these construction kits to allow this to be achieved. In addition, the recording quality is of an excellent standard throughout, and the material in this series could easily be used to add a dash of orchestral colour to your latest assault on the Top 20. However, this series is probably of greater interest to those needing some instant musical cues for use with picture, and in that context all four CDs are well worth checking out. John Walden

Acid Orchestral Series