Fancy a little Smack? If you are thinking drugs or S&M, then think again, because Smack is a rather neat virtual instrument sample library for Kontakt from Big Fish Audio and, while it does involve things being smacked, said things are generally hands, fingers and feet, and are brought together solely for their sonic properties. Yes, if you need some organic percussion sounds to drop into your music productions, then Smack might be just the thing.
Wrapped up in a dedicated, but also straightforward, Kontakt front end, Smack is built upon about 750MB of samples and includes bass drums, toms, various stomps (‘large’ and ‘small’), single and group natural and electronic clapping (again, ‘large’ and ‘small’ groups) and different types of finger snaps. This lot is complemented by some traditional (tambourines, shakers and so on) and some less traditional (‘found’ sounds, including various household items) percussion.
The collection of sounds is presented as a series of Kontakt patches, with a generic patch containing some samples from each sound-source type (and mapped into groups across your MIDI keyboard) joined by a series of more focused patches that contain more variety for each particular sound group. For example, the ‘Stomps’ preset covers kicks, things combined with kicks, foot stomps, toms and various wood, plastic and metal-influenced percussive sounds.
Within each preset, the samples are grouped into similar subsets that are colour-coded on the Kontakt virtual keyboard. This is useful, as the front end also includes a suite of effects — stereo width, EQ, transient, distortion, compression, reverb, delay and tune (pitch) — and you can choose whether to apply these at a global level to all the groups within a patch, or to individual groups only. While the effects themselves are pretty streamlined in terms of the controls offered, there are more than enough options to add some additional character to the sounds as required. The reverb is convolution-based and includes some very usable virtual spaces, from small rooms through to a more expansive ‘large drums’ sound.
Sample-based ‘body’ percussion is, of course, a path that has been trodden before, but Smack is an interesting collection of these kinds of sounds. The sounds themselves are very well presented, and each group offers plenty of variety. Smack is perhaps a bit of a niche product, and would be a bit OTT if you are just looking for a few claps for your EDM track. However, with no harmful side-effects (although the sounds are quite addictive), and more than 50 shades of slap, smack and click (but no tickle), Smack could be a very useful tool for busy media composers, a bit of ‘old school’ blues stomping or building an unconventional rhythm track for your left-of-centre music production. John Walden