Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
There are many software instruments that create big sounds with lots of complexity but sometimes you need something more genteel, either to use alone or to layer with the more complex sounds. Teletone Audio’s Ondine certainly leans towards the lighter, less complex end of the synth spectrum, but although the samples upon which the instrument is built started life as sounds from popular analogue synths, most have been treated and processed to give them a more organic texture.
Ondine can be hosted by Native Instruments’ free Kontakt Player or the full version of Kontakt (5.8 or later) and works by offering a series of over 50 instruments and 25 multis that can be modified using a very modest number of controls. 700MB of disk space is required.
The straightforward GUI is based around just seven knobs and two sliders, the two larger knobs appearing to control multiple parameters at the same time. Mood has a different function depending on the patch, but in general it fades from a simpler version of the sound to a more complex one, typically introducing distortion, noise, reverb and delay. Movement does much as its name suggests, going from a fairly static sound to one with modulations in pitch, level, pan position and so on. Again this works differently for different instruments; for some instruments Movement acts as a Sensitivity knob, where note velocity is mapped to an additional parameter such as pitch.
The Modulation slider might better be described as a Special Parameter control, as it can control a low‑pass filter, add noise, bring in another octave, or control overall volume depending on the selected instrument. As with the Mood and Movement controls, the best way to explore is simply to try it to see what it does. Expression sets the overall volume of each patch, while the envelope section adds a Hold control to the familiar ADSR controls. Hold, which can be as long as 20 seconds, sets the amount of time the peak level is held until the decay stage starts. Sounds that include a pulsing modulation don’t have a ‘lock to tempo’ option but rather start their cycle each time a new note is triggered. There’s also a straightforward way to map controls to MIDI Continuous Controllers. Hooking up Modulation, Movement and Mood to be controlled at the same time by the mod wheel, for example, can produce quite complex timbral changes.
Exploring the sounds, you’ll find pads, leads and basses, the common theme being that most have a genteel and slightly dreamy nature...
Exploring the sounds, you’ll find pads, leads and basses, the common theme being that most have a genteel and slightly dreamy nature — though there are a couple of more wild sounds. Those with slow, shallow pitch modulations slot well into lo‑fi or ambient tracks and can sound quite trippy, but the neat thing is that you can very easily change the character of each preset instrument with just a handful of controls to create a mix‑ready version of the sound that includes appropriate effects. Those skilled with analogue synth programming could probably come up with similar sounds using instruments they already own, but for the composer who needs quick access to a range of genuinely musically useful sounds that can be dropped straight into a mix, Ondine does a great job.