Rating: **** 4.5/5 Stars
It would be all too easy to overlook RAW Strings, by taking the title of this stylish compendium too literally. In their own words, Sudden Audio describe this package as ‘strings reimagined’, setting this sampled‑suite apart from the more usual orchestral or solo string bundles.
The curated string samples are dry, full‑bodied and very personal, drawn from solo violin, viola and cello, with sample capture undertaken in relatively close proximity. As a consequence, the untreated ‘Standard’ sample‑set is ideal contemporary production material. Meanwhile, these same samples have also been processed through cassette tape, running at 0.5, 3 and 5 ips (inches per second), providing an unusually appealing graininess. These throw open very subtle tonal and pitch modulations from source, with a sense that they have been honed and crafted to provide an excellent starting point for creative inspiration.
The string samples are presented in a number of articulations, offering less obvious choices, such as flautando, tremolo and harmonics. More commonplace sustaining samples are included, with and without vibrato, but the strengths lie firmly in the more unusual. That said, there are plenty of other colours, away from strings, designed to shore up the tonal construct of these stringed elements. The Rehearsal Keyboard sample, for example, is intended to be a quick and easy sketching tool, but it’s actually a very usable soft piano, which can reside perfectly alongside the strings. Other highlights include Singing Bowls, Bow Clicks and even rustling Foliage, all of which are included in reverse form.
The Kontakt instrument interface offers a welcoming and intuitive portal, where up to four sample layers may be loaded simultaneously. The samples themselves are selected from the appropriately titled Sound Book menu, and while the samples arguably do the heavy lifting, a fairly comprehensive set of editing options are available, at both partial and global levels. This includes volume, panning, filtering and ADSR envelope control, with the option to control elements remotely, allowing for real‑time performance, either while playing live or programmed within your DAW.
The onboard effects section is equally comprehensive, with application available at both the sample layer or master levels. These include EQ, algorithmic and convolution reverberation, delay, compression and various additional modulation effects. Added to which, each layer may be triggered via the included arpeggiator or sequencer, allowing for the programming of both note and control elements, such as volume and panning.
RAW Strings provides a unique and creative palette for production and sound creation. It offers a contemporary set of colours that could easily be exploited for cinematic backdrops or in a number of other production and commercial settings. The interface is incredibly intuitive and easy to access, inviting experimentation, but for immediate gratification RAW Strings also includes 68 snapshot presets. It is, however, difficult to ignore the immense creative potential for experimentation and user‑patch creation.