Big Fish Audio | Keyboard Magazine Craig Anderton | Acoustic Legends HD Product Review
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Acoustic Legends HD | Keyboard Magazine

Reviewer: Craig Anderton Back to Acoustic Legends HD product details

Pros: Very well-recorded samples. Creative use of presets. Kontakt 2 Player includes useful effects, and goodies like a metronome and pitch reference. Chord banks are great for rhythm guitar parts. Internal aux buses with effects.

Cons: You miss out on the joys of re-stringing, and tuning, real 12-string guitars.

Emulating guitar on a keyboard is not just about great guitar samples, but about emulating the nuances of guitar playing. Acoustic Legends (AL for short) does a fine job of providing samples (19GB's worth, sampled at 24 bit/94kHz), but interestingly, covers some of the nuance aspect as well.


AL is a "sample library-meets-virtual instrument," implemented via NI's Kontakt 2 Player. It's multi-timbral (64 channels standalone, 16 channels as plug-in), and all presets are graced with low shelf/high shelf/mid freq+gain EQ, reverb, and stereo width controls. Furthermore, four aux sends feed individual outputs, and there's a total of 32 mono outs (VST/DXi) or 16 with AU/RTAS, which you can add or delete at will; surround is supported in most hosts as well. Note that AL's files are compatible with Kontakt 2 if you really want to go nuts with editing. Each out and aux has four insert slots for the 12 included effects (ignore the convolution option; it's not available) and 19 (!) filter types. To save memory, a purge option removes samples that aren’t being used; MIDI-wise, you can load individual presets or multis. Overall, this is one groovy player once you a) figure out the documentation is located in the sample library folder, and b) read it.


Sure, there are nicely sampled acoustic guitars (nylon, steel, 12-string, and bonus stuff like acoustic bass, banjo, and just in time for the Tiny Tim revival, ukelele). They use the "add in some fret noise to add realism" trick, and make good use of multi-sampling, But I love to play the Chord Banks (6 and 12-string), which map down strokes on one octave, up strokes on another, keyswitches on the lowest octave to choose different chord types, and additional octaves for single notes, mute strums, and body knocks. It takes practice, but you can get groovacious rhythm guitar parts. Note that several individual patches use keyswitching as well. My other faves are Things You Can't Do On Real Guitars, like being able to play harmonics chromatically, and play the high notes of a nylon guitar with a "virtual thumb" instead of fingers. Also, several patches are available in "lite" versions to conserve memory, "Voice Limit" versions that don't allow more than one chord to play at a time, and more . . . including some nifty effects variations.


Sampled guitars are no big deal, but AL offers considerable expressiveness. You can recreate guitar sounds, yes, but more interestingly, you can create guitar parts that will have guitarists wondering how the heck someone could play that. As I double on guitar and keys, I can see why the Keyboard staff tossed this my way. As a guitarist, it gets the authenticity "seal of approval." But as a keyboardist, I find AL's extra options intriguing and valuable. No set of samples can replace a real guitar, but no real guitar can replace a creatively-crafted set of samples, either. There will definitely be times when I'll reach for AL instead of the real thing.

Claim Check

Acoustic Legends HD is a premium library of acoustic guitars and acoustic guitar-related instruments. Our goals in developing this product were multiple: to give the user access to as wide a variety of guitars as possible (e.g. seven different steel-stringed guitars were sampled, each with their own contrasting characteristics, two different nylons, two different twelve-strings, two separate and huge chord banks, etc.), and to make the instruments as realistic and instantly playable as possible. We recorded numerous layers, articulations, and chord types, and extensively researched and tested the most intuitive ways to map them on to the keyboard. We also created a bank of special effects instruments, all based on the raw acoustic guitar samples, that are useful to sound designers and synth programmers. The end result is a package that gives keyboard players instant access to a huge assortment of high-definition acoustic guitar instruments.

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