There are now a good number of Kontakt-based virtual instruments using sound engines that blend multiple samples. Luftrum’s take on this approach is Lunaris and, if you had not already guessed from the title and the imagery of the UI, Lunaris offers the user a source of pad sounds. The underlying 4.5GB sample library delivers 100 multisampled pad sound sources plus a further 100 sound sources based upon ambient ‘nature’ field recordings, synth transients (these allow you to add more obvious pitched elements to your patches) and sustained synth soundscapes.
The Lunaris engine allows you to blend up to four of these in a single preset. Slots A and B can load any of the 100 core sounds while slots C and D also have access to the additional 100 sounds. Each of the four layers offers an ADSR envelope, filter (with various different filter types), volume and pan. In addition, at the base of the display are four small sub-panels called Main, Flux Motion, Mod/Seq and Effects, each of which offers further controls that can be configured on a per-layer basis. The Effects section includes a ‘global’ option so that a single instance is applied to all layers, saving some CPU cycles.
The degree of user customisation offered by the sound engine is very impressive and, while that does make for a somewhat busy UI, the control set is well laid out. The modulation options provided by the front end are particularly flexible. This includes the interesting Flux Motion controls that apply a little random filter, volume and pan, and the Mod/Seq controls, which provide more conventional sound-modulation options including a simple pattern-based sequencer for modulation control. The chorus, distortion, phaser, EQ, delay and reverb effects are also very good.
Further creative options are provided by the Time Stop option, a type of sample & hold feature that is available on a per-layer basis. The Filter Split function ‘thins out’ your pad sounds by searching for competing frequencies between layers and applies suitable filter adjustments. Finally, you also have the Random button that, while retaining all the core settings, loads up a random selection of the sound sources into each layer: instant inspiration.
And what does Lunaris actually sound like? Well, with over 250 presets created by a number of sound designers (including SOS contributor Martin Walker), the short answer is very good indeed. There are ambient pads, atmospheric pads, slightly rhythmic pads and sound-design elements, and the moods span dark to uplifting. Of course there are plenty of other sample libraries and virtual instruments that cover similar territory, but within this musical genre, Lunaris is very impressive. There are some beautifully deep and involving sounds here. Given what’s on offer, it is also very competitively priced. Lunaris is definitely one for media composers and those working in more ambient music styles to check out.