Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5 Stars
Saturn Hybrid Piano is the debut plug‑in from Sample Factory. It’s available as a Kontakt instrument (full version of Kontakt 6.7.1+ required) and is distributed by Big Fish Audio. It needs around 9GB of space and 8GB of RAM.
The primary sound is sampled from a Kawai GX grand piano using quality condenser mics. There are three levels of velocity (somewhere in the region of mp, f and ff) with four round robins each. Articulations include regular sustain, pedal down sustain, staccato and reverse. There is the option to layer in synth pads and alter the sound with various effects and filters to create some very unique patches.
The design is a single‑page layout featuring seven sections. A drop‑down menu containing 160 presets (and 40 user spaces) can be found at the top of the GUI, starting with basic pianos and finishing with effected sounds.
To the left is the synth pad section, with 24 samples taken from the Moog Grandmother and Roland Juno‑60, a filter, mixer and ADSR controls. An optional staccato section transforms the pad to more of a synth stab, plus you can reverse the samples for some interesting note endings.
The central panel houses the 10 effects with four effect slots available. Mouse‑over and drag vertically to control the level of each. Selecting the gears icon opens further panels for fine‑tuning.
You can link effects by clicking the icons below and selecting the MOD button top right. Two faders appear that allow you to bring them in one by one when using the horizontal, or equally across the whole selection when switching to the vertical. Assigning a controller to a fader allows for some great performance options.
Next is the LFO panel, with Volume, Pan, Pitch, LP, HP and BP options. Choose any combination of these filters and fine‑tune each using their individual parameters. Each has four available waveforms, with a width control for the square wave. You can modulate the sound even further using the step sequencer. Up to 16 steps can be drawn in with the mouse (half note to 32nd note) for each of the modulation effects. As with the LFO panel, switch each one on individually and then select by name to fine‑tune the tempo and mix.
To the right is the Dynamics panel, containing controls that affect the piano sample only. Limit the dynamic range, slow the attack rate, change the envelope shape and fine‑tune with a three‑band EQ containing HP and LP filters. Manipulating these filters can give you sharp, bright tones through to a nice felt‑piano effect.
This plug‑in offers numerous options and was really inspiring and enjoyable to use.
Despite being primarily based on a piano sample, this plug‑in offers numerous options and was really inspiring and enjoyable to use. There could be multiple uses for it across a wide range of musical genres.