Vir2’s compact and easy-to-use Vital Series of libraries kicked off with the excellent Mallets (see SOS August 2017 review). The second instalment is titled Sticks and, this time, the sounds are derived from various sticks hitting various objects. So, for example, we are treated to the likes of a soft percussion mallet hitting a plastic bucket, a nylon brush on a metal pie tin and a number 2 pencil on a cardboard tube. This list might hint at a nursery school percussion section, but there are some seriously cool sounds on offer here amongst the 80 core instruments.
The dedicated front-end allows you to use up to four of these sounds in a single instance, and four colour-coded panels provide identical controls for each sound. This includes a browser function as well as volume, pan, attack, release and tune controls. The latter allows ±1 octave adjustment and considerably increases the sonic scope of each instrument.
In addition, each instrument includes a step sequencer. I think this is excellent and very easy to use. It offers pattern lengths between one and 32 steps, a rate control, and lanes for velocity, pan and pitch. The last of these means you can program melodic elements into your patterns. Step count can be set independently for each of the four instruments; if you like to create complex polyrhthyms, VS Sticks is up to the task. Each of the four sequencers also features 10 snapshots and, having created one pattern, you can easily copy/paste it to another snapshot on the same instrument or one of the other three. Colour-coded keyswitches are laid out across the MIDI Note range to allow on-the-fly pattern switching, so it is easy to build a complete percussive performance from a single preset.
The only catch is that there is no pattern preset system, meaning you have to create every pattern from scratch. No, it’s not a deal breaker, but I really hope Vir2 consider adding this in an update as it would undoubtedly speed the workflow up even further.
Finally, a global effects section provides EQ, flanger, phaser, transient, compressor, delay and reverb sections, each with some useful controls. The transient section is great for adding extra snap to the attack while the reverb includes some very respectable ‘spaces’ for ambience.
While the price might put it beyond some, VS Sticks is certainly going to interest serious media composers. The core sounds, although obviously niche, are very inspiring. In addition, the front-end, while uncluttered and easy to use, provides huge creative potential. And if you are happy to do all your own pattern programming, VS Sticks is top-notch stuff.