I don’t know whether it’s just me, but haven’t we seen rather a lot of very good Kontakt-based sample library/virtual instrument tools appear for composers over the last few months? I’ve been fortunate enough to try a number of these and, in Vir2’s Apollo Cinematic Guitars, I think we have another one. Once uncompressed, the library spans a weighty 22GB (taking some 14GB of disk space) and, as the title suggests, the source instruments are a diverse range of guitars with associated processing options.
The content is organised into five sections. The Instruments group provides 11 different ‘playable’ instruments with multiple velocity layers and round-robin samples. This covers acoustic and electric guitar and bass, nylon string guitar, mandolin, banjo and sitar as well as guitar harmonics. This section may be fairly conventional in format but the samples do sound very good and there are multiple patches with different processing options for each main instrument. The Phrase Builder section is also conventional in format, with 25 collections of strummed and picked phrases, each one with plenty of content to build a very real-sounding guitar performance and all consistently interesting to explore.
While both the above sections include some useful processing options — including some excellent effects — that you can add through a custom-designed Kontakt front-end, that front-end gets more interesting in the remaining three sections: Swells, Pads and Ambient Designer. Each is somewhat different in terms of the features offered, but these are all much less about conventional guitar performances and more about sound design based upon guitar sources.
While all three contain some fabulous sounds, the Pads and Ambient Designer front-ends are worth a few words. Each section features a single .nki patch, but the options for customising the sounds within the front-end are very wide. For example, in the Pads patch, you can blend and independently process two actual sounds from an extensive palette of well-organised samples. With the Ambient Designer section, the patch contains a combination of different ambient-style guitar sounds, and these can be triggered in a variety of ways from different key zones. There are major chords, minor chords, reverses, slides, sustained sounds and loops — plus effects options — so you can generate an almost endless number of combinations.
Whichever section you dip into, there are some glorious sounds to be found. Apollo Cinematic Guitars will undoubtedly find a home with many working media composers. Yes, it is guitar and, yes, you can muster some beautiful conventional guitar sounds from it, but it also impresses as a tool for sound design. The range and quality of sounds is impressive and, while the price tag may put it beyond the reach of some potential users, this is a very inspiring sample library/virtual instrument. Very cinematic, very guitar, very good. John Walden