Product Review | Electri6ity
|Recording Magazine||Allen Goodman|
In this issue about getting great guitar sounds, allow me to mention a way to do it even if you don't have a guitar in your studio! Electri6ity, produced by Southern California company Vir2 Instruments, is an electric guitar library intended to provide all the nuance and articulation of a real guitar performance. It ships on four DVDs containing 24-bit samples taken from eight of the world's best known guitars--over 24,000 samples for each one.
Included in the package are an installer for the library and a separate installer for Native Instruments' Kontakt 4 Player if required. You can use the sounds with the full version of Kontakt 4 if you already have it. The library itself takes up roughly 27 GB of hard drive space. After installation, authorization is provided by the Native Instruments Service Center and is pretty straight forward. Overall, installation was a breeze, taking only about half an hour on my test system.
The sampled instruments read as a who's who of some of the greatest guitars ever made. There's a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, Les Pauls with humbuckers or P90 'soapbar' pickups, a Rickenbacker (exact model number not given), a Danelectro with 'lipstick' pickups, a Gibson ES335, and a Gibson L-4. Each one was sampled with Front, Rear and Front/Rear blended pickup positions.
What makes this library truly special, beyond the selection of guitar and pickups, are it's diverse articulation choices. Electri6ity offers up all sorts of playing mode options, from monophonic to polyphonic, sustained and muted legato, all of which can be combined with real-time slides from fret to fret. Articulations include sustain, dead notes, ghost notes (clean or dirty), "chucka chuckas", harmonics, hammer-ons and pull-offs, and other techniques for lots of real-time performance enhancement. If that wasn't cool enough, you can choose the release mode while performing; I felt the coolest effects here are the finger noise, pick noise, and hand/palm mutes, but there are also short, meduim and long slides, slide noises and more.
Vir2 Instruments has programmed Electri6ity with AMT (Articulation Morphing Technology) and VMT (Velocity Morphing Technology) extensively, which allows the Kontakt engine to analyze your performance, thus allowing playing style and velocity to switch back and forth amongst samples for realistic playing. These playing engines are phase-accurate, so morphing from sample to sample doesn't introduce weird tonal shift.
Electri6ity also allows you to go deep into the parameters for each sample, options such as vibrato, tuning, strum direction, pick placement, resonance, and a host of others.
Tone and playing technique
Each instrument comes in DI and amped versions, along with 'full', 'sustain only' and 'muted' options. The latter two versions offer up dramatically decreased load time which proves useful if you don't want or need all articulations.
The Amped versions also include built-in effects options, the first of which is a multi-effects unit, with phaser, flanger, chorus, reverb, and delay algorithms. The second is a "screamer" style distortion unit with tone, overdrive, and mix levels. The last in the threesome allows amp modeling; 7 different types of amps such as British, Classic, Modern and Jazz are provided, along with 3 mic positions, and 3 room simulations. While these effects sound okay, I found them a little lacking in body for my tastes, so I ran Electri6ity through Native Instruments' Guitar Rig and the results made me very happy indeed.
Playing Electri6ity live takes some getting used to, and I wouldn't recommend trying it with anything less than a 76-key controller; 88 would be best in order to have free access to all the articulation keyswitches. You could still use a shorter keyboard, but you would need to go back and either overdub your articulating changes, or manually code them into your sequencer. This isn't a failing of the program by any means; it's very cool to have all this articulation control at your fingertips, even if there's a learning curve involved in remembering where everything is.
At a fraction of the financing it would take to purchase and personalize all eight of these guitars and/or hire a session player or two, Vir2's Electri6ity delivers you a robust, easy to use option for any studio. Be prepared to learn how all the articulations work and sound, and you'll soon be creating great guitar tracks with impeccable sound quality. -Allen Goodman