Marble is a Kontakt instrument with a relatively small footprint and low memory requirements. A seamless blend of synthetic and acoustic sources, it demands just 542MB of disk space. Its 63 instruments are split into Harmonic, Percussive and Textures, and each patch consists of two components taken from them. For extra mileage, the sources are built from up to six ‘round-robin’ variations and up to eight dynamic layers, which accounts for the 2500 underlying samples.
The percussive elements are particularly good and feature kits such as a meaty set of electro drums and an up-front Gretsch jazz kit, supported by shakers, small skin percussion instruments, plus electronic sounds such as the excellent FX kit and selected madness sucked from a Korg MS20. The sprinkling of harmonic instruments includes a trio of pizzicato cellos, guitars, staccato flute, kalimba and more, all captured with presence and bite. The textural collection is less extensive but each entry’s samples are full of movement even before the application of sequencers and effects.
So how does Marble roll? For a start the presets are pretty fab: of a standard the busy TV or film composer can reach for whenever impressive washes of moody tonality are required. If you’re afraid a pool of 63 instruments isn’t a huge total to draw from, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the 900 presets, some of which are complex one-finger performances. The presets are divided into Drum Kits, Drum Beats, Percussive Slices, Ambiances (sic), Single Player and many are further divided, eg. Ambiances is split into: Deep Pad, Mysterious Spheres, Moving Textures and Static. As the bulk of these are driven by the movement of step sequencers, the audition process can involve a lot of note or chord holding.
The diversity can largely be attributed to the many 16-step sequencers that automate the parameters of each slot, and to the 127 position ‘Marble’ sequence. Assigned to the mod wheel for instant performance thrills, the Marble processes the whole output using complex master effect automation. This comprises more than a dozen tables, each with 127 Marble positions offering elaborate control over volume, convolution effects, filtering, saturation and more. Another significant entry in the effect chain is Randomisation, complete with a sub-menu to specify which individual parameters should be randomised.
Marble isn’t cheap, but it’s small and efficient, which is a plus. Even on my relatively modest system, I can run eight instances in Logic without noticeable strain, layering the individual components to produce an instantly complete whole. It also mixes and matches well with other tempo-oriented instruments and, thanks to the relative simplicity of the GUI, you can dip in quickly without distraction. If time is short, the presets are good enough to plunder, but the in-depth sequencing and randomisation of multiple parameters is on hand when you want to add your own stamp. Although you quickly become familiar with the source material, Marble responds well to tweaks, effects and automation and usually delivers something of value.