I wish I had thought of that!
Decent Sampler version reviewed here One of the joys of Pianobook.co.uk is finding a virtual instrument that does something that you didn't think was possible. For example, I didn't realise that you could have two separate ADSR 'Envelope' sections - I assumed that like the filter and the effects, there was only one. But this instrument has two separate Envelopes: one for the 'Left' sound, and another for the 'Right' sound - oh, and it uses a very simple Left and Right metaphor for the sounds - the total opposite for the UI craziness that I'm noted for here.
The User Interface is split into three sections, the Left and Right sides have the two sounds, with control over octave transposition, (+3 to 0 to -3 octaves), plus the ADSR envelope, and a volume control. Simple and easy to understand. The two underlying sounds are contrasting: Left has less harmonics and a subtle chorus, whilst Right has more harmonics and a slower, stronger chorus. The looping seems good - I didn't hear any clicks or audible transitions.
Having two separate enveloped sounds gives a lot of creative possibilities (It's a tried and tested technique - the Roland D-50 added sampled percussive sounds to a digital VA synth and was a huge success...). The easiest workflow is probably to turn just one of the volume controls up, and set the octave transposition, then refine the ADSR to get the type of sound you want: percussive, piano-like (a slow decay into a sustained sound), or strings (slow attack and slow release) are the three basic envelope shapes. Then turn the volume control down and do the same process with the other sound, and then turn both volume controls up and do the balancing between the sounds so that the composite resulting sound feels right.
Once you have the sound, then there is post-ADSR filter and effect processing: low-pass filter, Chorus/Phaser, Delay and Reverb (the classic Decent Sampler effects!). The right combination of effects can turn an okay sound into a gem, but often, over-use of effects (you CAN have too much reverb!) can swamp the sound in mush. Each effect has one main controls, plus a wet-dry 'mix' control, which keeps things simple and doesn't overwhelm the user with sliders.
The end result is flexibility, and a broad range of timbral possibilities. There's lots to explore here, and there are some preset examples to get you started. I liked the sounds, which are somewhere on the boundary between synthetic and symphonic (hence the name?), and it is a tiny download, so there's no excuse for not adding it to your Pianobook.co.uk library!
Gorgeous UI and characterful sounds
I now know what GUI stands for! (Gorgeous User Interface!). There's a lot of artistic skill on display here: visibly and audibly. The UI sets the bar very high, and the audio is wonderfully edgy - is it processed real or is it synthetic? Turning the resonance up all the way and the cut-off frequency almost all the way down gives a very pure sound that strips away the strong resonances and gives a very nice tone that will be very useful as an extra layer for choir sounds and string sounds. I might have used a translation table to give more control of the lower end of the cut-off frequency, but this is just personal preference - I prefer 'linearised' controls where the user perception is the 'linear' bit (and I know it is difficult to achieve!).
A look inside the 'Samples' folder reveals chromatic samples, which is pretty unusual, and a lot of work! The looping sounds good, with only the B4 needing a longer sample to avoid the cyclic modulation. For added instant Christian Henson-appeal, then I would have been tempted to run the samples through one of the many 'tape transport' emulations which are currently fashionable, but that's always the factory preset designer's quandary: instant wow versus long-term usability.
If this was me, then I would have stretched the samples lower and higher, just to see how far they can go! I've never been one for restricting the range of instruments, and exploring pitches beyond the beyond can be a fertile place for inspiration.
Overall, then, an eye- and ear-catching little instrument that does synthetic vocal resonances very nicely, and a strong contender for being layered with other sounds.
Downloaded too fast!
This is less than half a Megabyte in size, which these days is tiny, so it downloaded very quickly - maybe too quickly! At first I didn't think it could have finished, and the web-site says that it is '0MB' in size...
But for that minuscule effort, you get a toy Darbuka which does exactly what it says: a pitched percussive instrument that might easily be mistaken for something synthetic (which it isn't!). So, solid sampled goodness. The default Attack setting seems to be half way, which is a very slow attack, and it makes it more of a soft flute-like sound. But by turning the Attack speed down to the shortest setting, you get a percussive sound which definitely sounds like it came from the instrument shown in the background photo. My only problem is that the range doesn't go low enough, so a quick edit to the .dspreset file, and I had it going L O W... (all the way to C-2). Cool!
Once I had the file open, then a quick "loopEnabled="true" for the whole group gave me a repeated Darbuka for held notes, especially at higher notes! And if you change the Trigger 'attack' to 'release', then you get a Swarm Darbuka! Hours of fun!
For some reason, 'tuning' is mis-spelt as 'tunning' in the XML .dspreset file, but the tuning is set to zero, so that isn't a problem.
This is a simple, fun instrument that makes a useful percussive sound that isn't going to be mistaken for yet another 808 drum sample. I particularly liked the rough, earthy sounds that you get when you tweak the .dspreset file so that the notes go very low. It definitely made me think differently about some of my virtual instruments that are several gigs in size, have crazy UIs, and are nowhere near as much fun as this!
Didn't do it for me...
An interesting piece of history... But no MIDI Controllers, unfortunately - I can add them if you want! There are a couple of errors in the .dspreset file - it has a LoVel value of zero, which is a MIDI Note Off - It should be '1', and 'tuning' is not spelled correctly.