Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
The latest addition to Zero‑G's popular Ethera series is Gold 2. The title features a substantial collection of synth, pad, sound effects and drum options amongst its sonic arsenal, but it is the vocals of Clara Sorace that are the main attraction.
The headline amongst the various vocal options is a brand‑new version of their true legato engine stocked with samples for creating 'epic' vocal parts; if you are a media composer who works in the cinematic or epic trailer fields, Ethera Gold 2 is aimed very much at you.
Zero‑G have a very helpful PDF available on their website that details the differences between the various Ethera titles. For Gold 2, the library clocks in at a hefty 27GB of sample material. This includes lots of content for the two well-featured hybrid synths — Action Synth (both v1 and v2 are included) and Core Synth — which can provide a wide range of sounds spanning acoustic instruments, various organic sounds, synth pads and textures, and sound effects. There is also a large collection of drum, percussion and other rhythmic loops. And, while I expect many working composers would have dedicated virtual instruments that perhaps cover similar ground in more detail, Gold 2 has plenty of raw materials to build complete instrumental beds 'in house'.
That said, you could layer the various vocal sounds with almost anything and it is still going to sound great. Separate instruments are provided for sustained vocal sounds, a 'builder' (you can construct combinations of syllables) and special effects via 'vocal chop' and vocal reverse instruments. However, it's the Vocal Phrases and True Legato instruments that really shine. These are organised into 43 style/key presets spanning styles such as drama, epic, ethereal, ethnic, modern, angelic and battle and, in each style, an impressive selection of phrases are spread across the MIDI note range. They sound fabulous and are super-easy to work with.
...it is difficult not to be impressed by both the musical potential and value for money Zero‑G are offering here.
The new 'epic' True Legato is equally impressive. While the True Legato option in Ethera EVI is perhaps more suited for emotive, mid-to-low tempo, performances, with Gold 2, the new sampling is intended for louder, faster, performances. Once you get used to the velocity-based sample layering that offers different types of legato transitions, the instrument is easy to use and, again, can sound breathtakingly good.
It's perhaps true that the Ethera series are niche products aimed at specific musical styles but that's not going to stop countless media composers exploiting Gold 2 in a TV or film score near you soon. In addition, given what is a fairly modest price tag considering exactly how much content is provided, it is difficult not to be impressed by both the musical potential and value for money Zero‑G are offering here. Ethera Gold 2 is just epic all round.