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Cinesamples Sew What

Kontakt Instrument
By Tom Flint

Cinesamples Sew What

Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars

I don't know about you, but I can't recall ever seeing a set of embroidery tools or a sewing machine in a recording studio. Nevertheless, after spending time playing with Sew What, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that for years Foley sound engineers have been making use of them. For this library, Cinesamples recorded the sound of every tool and material they could find that's related to embroidery, with the aim of creating a percussion instrument for Kontakt. That might sound a bit gimmicky, but the end result is a very substantial 2GB instrument, offering a wide range of sound textures that can be processed with the product's onboard effects and rhythm-generating tools.

Users who just want to work with the raw sound of sewing machines have 28 interfaces to choose from, almost all of which are based on recordings of Singer and Baby Lock models, covering a range of bpms. There are no processing tools included with these interfaces, and the rumble of the machines is a little bit overwhelming for most uses, but film and TV sound designers might want them in their libraries as general machine noise clips.

Sew What manages to deliver an original set of percussive sounds that are easily turned into rhythms with the aid of the intuitive arpeggiator.

The remaining 32 interfaces are based on noises created with sewing accessories and materials and all are equipped with an arpeggiator and effects. The arpeggiator can be set to have anything from two to 128 steps and offers control over attributes like note length and sloppiness. There are also plenty of preset rhythms to choose from plus the option of automatically creating random configurations or editing the level of each step by hand.

A separate page offers a selection of effects and processors, which includes a reverb, EQ, delay and compressor, as well as tuning, shaping and saturation tools.

Helpfully, any one of the 50 sample types recorded for the library can be selected from within any of the 32 interfaces, which means that a user can keep the rhythm and effect setups that they like and apply them to different sounds.

As for the sounds themselves, they are surprisingly varied and usable. There are scraping and tapping knitting needles; bags, boxes and jars of beads and buttons being dropped and shaken; noises made by tape measures, scissors, Velcro, shoelaces, zippers and elastic, not to mention the ripping and rustling of many different types of cloth. For one patch, the production team stretched shoelaces across a box to make a strange guitar, whereas for others they stretched cloth over embroidery hoops to create drums. There are even some tonal samples, created in several instances by hitting a large ring with knitting needles.

Lastly, all the sound patches are pitched across the nine octaves of the Kontakt keyboard, resulting in some unrecognisable but interesting results at the extremes.

Sew What manages to deliver an original set of percussive sounds that are easily turned into rhythms with the aid of the intuitive arpeggiator. There are plenty of usable presets to start things off and the varied sound textures offer a refreshing alternative to electronic and acoustic drums. As for the effects section, it is powerful but not overly complicated, making it easy to quickly apply or remove processing.

No sound designer or score composer should pass this one by.

Published December 2019