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Chris Hein OCTA

Sample Library
Published April 2023

The Main screen provides options for configuring the performance features, like defining the Keyrange for each channel and the neat fade‑in/fade‑out feature.The Main screen provides options for configuring the performance features, like defining the Keyrange for each channel and the neat fade‑in/fade‑out feature.

Chris Hein’s OCTA instrument is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Making a living in the highly competitive world of film and TV scoring is undeniably challenging but, when it comes to the tools available to actually create the music, media composers have never had it so good. Chris Hein is a well‑established developer in this field and his latest product, OCTA, is aimed firmly at that audience.

Combining sample‑based organic instruments, various types of drums and percussion, and a range of synth sounds, OCTA ought to be suitable for the type of hybrid ‘organic/orchestral‑meets‑electronic/synthetic’ scoring styles that are so prevalent in modern film and TV music. In addition, while running as a Kontakt (full or Player version) instrument, OCTA is Chris’ first release that utilises a new bespoke engine known as Mega Structure. Further titles based upon this engine are already planned but, on paper at least, it would appear to offer some impressively deep possibilities.

Pieces Of Eight

OCTA’s 25GB of sample data delivers 100 individual instruments in three broad categories; organic ‘real’ instruments, synths, and drums/percussion. The 64 acoustic instruments span quite a range of sources and, while there are certainly instruments that fall under the ‘orchestral’ banner here (and Chris Hein is perhaps best known for his orchestral and guitar libraries), this selection is dominated by some of the less mainstream options.

For example, the acoustic instruments provide a selection of different vibraphone, marimba, xylophone and glockenspiel instruments. You also get hang drum and tongue drum options, harp, vibes, acoustic and electric piano and guitar/bass. There are some string options (including sustained and pizzicato styles) but it’s clear that the design intention was not to compete in this area with more conventional orchestral libraries. The synth sounds span various pad types, a selection of plucked sounds, some basses, and a number of synth leads. The drum/percussion group provides a selection of conventional drum kit sounds, wooden and metallic percussion and hang drum percussion. Each of the presets includes a wide range of individual sounds mapped across the keyboard. As we will see in a minute, OCTA’s engine provides plenty of ways to modify the supplied sounds.

OCTA’s front end allows you to create a preset using up to eight of the individual sounds at once. The supplied presets offer both individual instrument options and (of course) plenty of combinations. When using multiple sounds within the same instance, you get a range of different options to either select specific combinations from those currently loaded (via keyswitches) and to adjust the blend between any active sounds. The key element in the latter is the X/Y pad located top right, which features eight ‘nodes’ and, via the UI’s Main page, you can allocate any of the eight sound slots to a specific node and then use (or automate) the cursor within the pad to adjust the blend in real time.

The Main page is also where you can configure if/how each channel responds to the X/Y pad.The Main page is also where you can configure if/how each channel responds to the X/Y pad.

Alongside some impressive effects processing options that are available for both individual instrument channels and globally, the engine also offers some neat MIDI performance features (including key/scale note correction and key/scale‑aware one‑fingered chord generation). However, perhaps the highlight of these additional features is the sequencing engine. This gets pretty deep, but it’s very impressive. I’ll describe this in more detail below.

Sound Basis

As mentioned earlier, OCTA’s presets include both solo instruments (loaded on a single channel within the eight available) and multi‑instrument combinations. The individual solo instruments are very usable and many offer plenty of velocity layers so you can play expressively. However, the instrument selection is perhaps a somewhat niche one and, while some of the instruments have multiple performance styles available, these are designed more with changing timbral options in mind rather than the more usual sustain, staccato, and pizzicato performance options you might find in an orchestral library, for example. You do, though, get multiple preset versions for each individual source instrument, with each featuring unique effects options, and these can dramatically alter the resulting sound. Used for melodic lines over a broader instrumental bed, the individual instruments work well and have plenty of character, even if they don’t offer quite the same obsessive level of sampling detail you might find in some orchestral and/or world instrument libraries.

The multi‑instrument presets offer numerous combinations of the various individual sounds. I’m pretty sure the potential of these combo options were the focus of OCTA’s overall design, so it’s perhaps not surprising that, sonically, it’s here that things get particularly interesting. The browser offers a straightforward means of accessing all of the presets based upon tag‑based filters, but they fall into a number of broad styles. For example, a number of presets provide keyswitchable instruments, such as the Vibraphone KS or Piano KS presets. However, when you load these, you often find OCTA becomes populated with something more than the named instrument. The keyswitching system within OCTA — and which provides very flexible configuration options for the user — essentially allows you to switch between different combinations of the eight channels (by toggling their respective mute states). So, while the Vibraphone KS preset, for example, has four different vibraphone instruments loaded (each featuring a different playing dynamic), and is predominantly a set of playable vibraphone‑style sounds, it also includes piano, harp and string layers. The keyswitching provides different combinations of all these layers, resulting in different tonalities.

However, the majority of the multi‑instrument presets feature blends drawn from across OCTA’s full palette, and it’s within these combinations that more hybrid ‘organic meets synthetic’ sounds come through. It’s also where OCTA demonstrates just how diverse and varied the resulting sound can be when you blend what is a relatively modest selection of 100 underlying instruments. A good example of this is the various synth‑based pad presets. By blending these in various combinations, shifting the blends via the X/Y pad, and controlling the note range in which each sound is active via the Keyrange feature, you can create a huge range of sounds. It’s worth noting that the Keyrange option includes the ability to define a fade‑in and fade‑out note range for each of the eight sound slots so, as you play up/down the key range, sounds are gradually blended in/out rather than simply being in or out as you move between notes in which they are either active or not; it’s a very clever bit of design.

In terms of sound design, therefore, OCTA is very much a case where the sum is considerably greater than the individual parts. There are some beautiful and inspirational sound combinations available and, while you can’t defy the sonic laws of physics to move beyond the 100 instrument sound‑source building blocks, there is an almost endless series of ways they can be combined to create something new.

Going Mega

While the core 100 sound sources define OCTA’s overall sonic character, the Mega Structure engine and UI play a big part in letting you get the most from the underlying sample base. I’ve already mentioned some elements in passing but the options are deep and, while I can’t possibly cover all the details in a review of this length, a few features are well worth highlighting to give a sense of what’s possible.

The various options are spread across six sub‑pages; Mixer, Main, Effects, Presets, SEQ and Settings. The features on the Mixer and Presets pages are straightforward and self explanatory. Equally, the Effects page does exactly what you might think, but is notable in that you get plenty of per‑channel and global effects slots. All the effects are courtesy of Kontakt itself, but it is worth noting that this includes a per‑channel filter that provides some very flexible sound‑shaping options on its own.

OCTA’s Effects page provides a comprehensive set of options for further sound‑shaping.OCTA’s Effects page provides a comprehensive set of options for further sound‑shaping.

The Main page contains plenty of possibilities. This includes the key/scale options mentioned earlier and, via the Chord lane, you can individually configure each of the eight sound slots to generate chords (in key/scale) based upon a single note trigger. The Type lane is where you can link a sound slot to the X/Y pad for real‑time blending, while clicking on the Envelope lane pops open an amplitude envelope editor for each individual sound slot at the base of the screen.

The Settings page lets you define CC numbers for volume, pan and filter cutoff/resonance on a per‑channel basis, and this is also where you can create an automation curve for the X and Y axis of the X/Y pad. Again, it’s well featured and easy to use, allowing you to sequence all sorts of interesting rhythmic or evolving effects to the sound blend.

OCTA’s SEQ page is a pretty deep experience, but the results can be both inspirational and creative.OCTA’s SEQ page is a pretty deep experience, but the results can be both inspirational and creative.

For me, though, the special fun is contained within the SEQ page. This provides access to an individual — and fully featured — sequencer/arpeggiator for each of the eight sound slots. In each case, you get lanes for Velocity, Volume, Pan, Transpose, Tune, Length, Notes, Filter (both cutoff and resonance), Pad (X/Y pad automation) and Send (effect levels). The Notes lane is particularly powerful, providing options for arpeggios, chords, chord inversions and note voicing, essentially allowing you to orchestrate your individual sounds so they take different roles in chord construction (much as you might with a string section, for example). What’s more, the sequencer for each sound can be configured with different step counts, allowing you to create sequences where the note patterns evolve over repeated cycles. Oh, and you can also create 12 sequence variations for each channel and keyswitch between them in real time. It takes some time to get your head around it all, but it’s deep, powerful and very creative. Thankfully, there is a good crop of SEQ presets to get you started, and these demonstrate what can be achieved. These are particularly inspiring to play and, with a few well‑chosen chords and some tweaking of the sound blend, you could easily imagine creating a complete musical cue with just one instance of OCTA.

Does OCTA Score?

While I’m sure there would be song‑based contexts in which OCTA could undoubtedly contribute, its more obvious role is in film or TV scoring. Perhaps not for action or hi‑tech sci‑fi, given the core sound set, but there are lots of other genres of score that it would be ideal for. For example, the ‘dramedy’ style (think Danny Elfman’s theme to the Desperate Housewives TV series) would be right up OCTA’s street. Equally, you could imagine the sounds working for cartoons, mystery, lighter horror/tension, romance, and magical or ethereal moods. Indeed, anything that requires a somewhat lighter touch than the bombast of a full‑blown ‘orchestral meets mega drums meets sound effects’ sort of thing.

Anyway, film/TV composers working in suitable genres will find plenty to enjoy, both in terms of the sounds and the UI/engine.

OCTA is a joy to use and instantly inspiring.

At full price, while you might not need a Hollywood budget to add OCTA to your virtual instrument collection, it is still going to represent a significant investment to many. However, there is a discount available if you own other Chris Hein libraries. Either way, providing you are prepared to dig in and access the full potential offered by the engine and UI, it’s difficult to argue that it doesn’t justify its asking price. OCTA is a joy to use and instantly inspiring. And I’m already intrigued to know what other combinations of instrument sounds Chris Hein might bring to the Mega Structure format. For busy film/TV composers, OCTA is well worth exploring.


  • Powerful eight‑part sound‑blending options.
  • Impressive UI/engine combination with powerful internal sequencing feature.
  • Great for dramedy and related film/TV scoring styles.


  • Deep feature set so be prepared to dig in.
  • Intentionally niche selection of core sounds won’t suit all musical styles.
  • You need a budget.


OCTA makes something special out of a fairly niche core sound set. The powerful sound blending and the sequencing features will undoubtedly appeal to film and TV composers.


€299 including VAT.