Rating: 5/5 Stars
It’s not so long ago that SOS reviewed Ethera Gold 2.0, but Zero‑G and library producer Stefano Maccarelli are already back with v2.5. This update features some brand‑new content (which I’ll get to in a minute) but all the features and content of 2.0 remain intact. This means you get an impressive collection of synth, pad, sound effect and drum options sitting alongside the star of the 2.0 show: the vocals of Clara Sorace. These include a huge number of beautiful vocal phrases but also a ‘true legato engine’ that can produce some fabulous ‘epic’ vocal performances. Clocking in at 27GB, Ethera Gold 2.0’s value for money was only matched by how inspiring the sounds themselves were to work with. It fully deserved its five‑star review rating.
The move to v.2.5 includes some refinements to the various synth engines. However, the most significant addition is the further 6GB of sample content. And while Clara’s epic true legato vocals get new articulations (eh, humming and mmm), the headline this time around is undoubtedly the new male vocal samples provided courtesy of Daniele D’Andrassi. Male vocals are therefore now included within the vocal phrases section (there are 700MB of new vocal phrases in total), the sustain samples and, best of all, the new male true legato option although, at present, this is via a single ‘ah’ articulation.
As before, the included Action Synth and Core Synth provide a wide range of sounds with some new content provided this time around but, of course, the real strength of the Ethera series is the vocal samples and that remains the case here; suitably blend any of the phrases, sustained vocal ‘pads’ or special effect vocals with even the most sparse of musical arrangements and it is difficult to go too far wrong. The new male vocal phrases are atmospheric and beautifully delivered. They are supplied in Snapshot‑based groups with titles such as Viking War, Soft Viking and Cinematic, and will undoubtedly be appearing in TV or film scores on a regular basis.
Playing the true legato patches requires a little practice, mainly because you have to find a suitable tempo for your performance to keep the legato sounding realistic across note transition but, otherwise, it’s staggeringly easy to get some incredible vocal performances. In that context, the additional articulations now available from Clara are very useful as some of these suit faster phrasing. They all sound great though and Daniele’s legato, while perhaps easier to use at medium and slower tempos, is truly epic.
On a technical note, it’s worth pointing out that Ethera Gold 2.5 requires the full version of Kontakt (it doesn’t work in the free Player version) and, on a practical note, it’s also worth saying that the pocket money price of the upgrade from v2.0 is a complete no‑brainer. Indeed, the library is fabulous value for money all round. Yes, it remains something of a niche product suited to fairly specific cinematic and epic musical styles but, for film and TV composers working in these areas, Ethera Gold 2.5 is an outstanding source of vocal magic.