Some developers produce epic libraries; others specialise in smaller, single‑instrument releases. Tonehammer seem to excel at everything they do, from blockbuster products like their recent Requiem choral library to this bijou collection of smaller and very affordable libraries. Their Microhammer series is available both as single instruments cheap enough to impulse-buy if you need to beef up a particular area of your sonic arsenal, and as a complete collection with a healthy discount.
It's fairly eclectic and often experimental, covering a range of tuned and untuned percussion instruments, some unusual wind and bowed instruments, and (possibly best of all, for some musicians) some 'custom' hand‑built instruments whose origins remain shrouded in mystery.
Each has been beautifully sampled at 24‑bit/44.1kHz, blown, played with drum sticks, bows, mallets, metal rods, rubber balls, fingers and fists, velocity‑layered with round‑robin variations and sorted into dozens of different Kontakt instruments presented with highly tweakable front panels. Many are provided with impulse responses in wet/dry versions, all respond well to mod-wheel and other performance tweaks, and few avenues have been left unexplored when it comes to coaxing new and unusual timbres from each instrument.
For me, the more experimental content was the most interesting. There's Water Percussion, featuring drum kits made from water drops and cymbals clashed against water surfaces, delicate Luminabells created from tapping incandescent light bulbs, the tidal rolls and strikes of the Sand drum, and the enigmatic Iron Throne, whose bowed, scraped and struck performances could feature in many a horror flick.
For the more traditionally inclined, there are Clay Drums, Epic Room percussion (solo toms, octobans and rototoms), a versatile Musicbox, complete with winding effects available as added percussion, propane Smiley Drum, Wind Chime collection, licks from a Native American Spirit Flute, loops from an Overtone Flute, solo and ensemble Kazoo, and a single‑stringed Berimbau from Brazil, explored with both single hits and a host of loops at varying tempos.
Nor do Tonehammer take themselves too seriously, as witnessed by the Gnomehammer collection, including drums created from snow, a helium‑induced gnomic choir, and manipulations of children's balloons. At just $19, this 0.5GB library alone might just contain the perfect sound to finish your project.
It may prove too exotic for some, but I love the Microhammer collection for its quirkiness, unusual timbres and good value for money. Tonehammer aim to launch a new MH release into the wild every month, and show no signs of running out of fresh ideas just yet. I can't wait to hear what pops up next! Martin Walker
Microhammer 'I want it all' Bundle, $330; individual instruments, $9 to $39.