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UVI Attack EP88

Rhodes Mark I Virtual Instrument By Dave Stewart
Published November 2016

Part of the enduring appeal of the Clavinet, Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes is their strong attack, enabling keyboardists to hold their own against guitarists and drummers. Back in the day, Rhodes owners used treble-boosting devices such as Dyno-My-Piano’s Dyno EQ to accentuate their instrument’s distinctive ‘ping’, but now UVI have gone a step further: their Attack EP88 is an elaborate, 47,000-sample presentation of a vintage 88-key Rhodes Mark I prepared with a brass tack on the surface of each hammer, guaranteeing a Rhodes attack like no other.

UVI Attack EP88.Attack EP88 (9.3GB installed) has five discrete signals: the main body of the sound comes from the Rhodes’ jack output, presented in a choice of a pristine DI feed or an equally clean, very nice-sounding ‘tube channel’ preamp. To capture every nuance of the unique attack, the instrument’s harp assembly was also miked with a mono Neumann U67 and a stereo B&K pair, and a contact mic was attached to each tine. The latter miking produces a kalimba-like, tuned-percussion timbre somewhat reminiscent of a toy piano in the bottom register, while the other mics produce more of an untuned metallic ‘thunk’. You can dial in these mic signals to create colourful percussive textures, or solo the DI or tube channel for a more conventional, satisfyingly full-bodied Rhodes tone.

As well as maximising the attack, this deep-sampled electric piano offers a choice of ‘shallow’ (pure overtone), ‘ideal’ (more overtone) and ‘deep’ (pure fundamental) real-life, per-note voicings on the DI and tube channels. You can also micro-tune individual notes up or down 50 cents, though the detune settings are unfortunately not displayed in numeric form. Multisamples, including release tails, pedal-up and pedal-down versions, were recorded at eight velocities with up to seven round robins — hence the large sample count.

A choice set of effects includes five virtual stompboxes, providing distortion, chorus, phasing, delay and ‘Printemps’ (‘spring’ reverb, geddit?) for the DI/tube signals, while the miked samples benefit from the excellent Sparkverb reverb. There are also classic auto-pan and tremolo effects, and an exquisitely lush stereo mode featuring adjustable sample-layer detuning. Other goodies include a built-in arpeggiator and the fabulous ‘wheel strum’, which creates multi-octave arpeggios on held chords.

Configured for the free UVI Workstation player and requiring iLok authorisation, this impressively versatile instrument is great for funk playing, but also capable of producing beautiful ethereal timbres. A few minor criticisms: one of the round robins in the DI signal’s D4 sample 0-75 velocity range has lost its initial attack, the Sparkverb hall preset used on the miked samples is not available for the DI/tube channels, and you can only save user patches in multi format. But in all other respects, this a super, highly customisable, great-sounding, five-star sampled Rhodes tailored for the needs of pro keyboardists.