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World Impact: Global Percussion | EQ Magazine

Reviewer: Marty Cutler Back to World Impact: Global Percussion product details

Just when you think your sampled drum-and-percussion library is complete, along comes some new sound set to prove otherwise. Vir2 Instruments World Impact Global Percussion ($399.95) hosts one of the most comprehensive, globe-spanning collections of ethnic percussion that I've come across.

The 12GB, two-DVD library is hosted by Native Instruments' free Kontakt Player 3 or Kontakt 3.5. Both provide AU, VST and RTAS plug-in versions as well as a standalone instrument. I recently updated to Kontakt 4.0.2 and auditioned the instrument on a dual 2.8GHz Quad-core Xeon Mac Pro with 6 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.5.8.

My Old Flam
You load instruments from menus organized by region or by type of instrument. For example, if you want to load a selection of shakers, you can audition related instruments. When you're working with clients who want to audition every variation of a single percussive element, you'll find this feature a real time saver. Alternatively, if you would like to choose instruments of Asia, for instance, load a bank that gathers instruments by region. Loading banks lets you reorder the array of instruments in any way you'd like and allows quick load times.

World Impact includes a few sampled articulations, but the Kontakt engine provides scripting for most of the performance-oriented articulations using one-shot samples arranged in kits. That's handy, as it lets you mix and match your own playing with chokes, flams, rolls and loops without having to call up a secondary patch. You also get a series of graph-style controls called Triggers (25 of which are user-programmable), and you select the basic timing of the performance from a drop-down menu. That supports rhythmic divisions between quarter and 64th notes and includes triplets. You can constrain any notes you input to the rhythmic values selected, making it easy to create some pattern variations without losing the beat (see Web Clip 1). Oddly, no controls for swing are provided.

You get a graph for selecting velocity (which also enables triggering of a note), a Smoother and a pitch-axis graph. Pull a bar up or down and that Trigger will be harder or softer if you've edited velocity, or it will be above or below the hit's original pitch if you've selected the Pitch trigger. The Smoother modifies the sample start letting sounds flow into each other without repetitive attacks. This worked nicely with the berimbau patch and gave the effect of a mixture of bowed and percussive notes playing in rhythmic patterns (see Web Clip 2). Only one Trigger pattern can play at a time whether you play a single note or a chord, and all notes fall in line with the prevailing pattern.

You can create microtonal pitch variations. Humanize controls regulate further deviations from the graph settings, including timing. Roll Triggers were less effective, sounding fine on some instruments and machine-like on others. An arpeggiator or step sequencer would be useful, but the main thrust of the Triggers is the creation of rhythmic performances a single element at a time in conjunction with a trigger key. Each instrument has a healthy variety of hits, so you can always create realistic and effective rolls by simply playing them.

Its Own Reward
World Impact's sounds are expressive and full of detail, covering Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. You'll find separate sections devoted to Taiko, an FX folder (including a terrific menu of vocal percussion) and processed, repurposed samples in the Bonus Sound Design folder. Tablas, steel drums, a huge variety of shakers, bata and congas rub elbows with frame drums, balafon, donkey jaw, Wuhan cymbals, ceramic and mallet bells, and lots more. Sounds are further enhanced with EQ (high, low and a sweepable mid frequency) and a natural and sweet-sounding library of impulse responses for Kontakt's convolution reverb. The Taiko drums are sumptuous and deep, with an additional set of controls to balance close-, stage- and room-mic samples.

Despite the Trigger feature's lack of swing and monophonic behavior, World Impact is a highly successful sound library. It digs deeply into esoteric percussion and regional variants. I wish there were some included documentation about the playing techniques, either in drum notation or with a few sample MIDI files to illustrate some of the playing techniques. Vir2 World Impact should easily cover most, if not all of your ethnic percussion needs.

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