Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion

Impact Soundworks set out to develop an Orchestral Percussion Library that was of high quality and content but was ultimately more focused on malleability and workflow. Did they succeed? Yes. The sheer amount of instruments included is impressive and with no corners cut.

The price point for the full library is an absolute steal and makes this an attractive option for both newcomers and more tenured users that may have already invested in another option(s). This library can no doubt add to what you may already have in your arsenal.

Ryan Scully, SCOREcast Online
The vast variety of instruments and the mod wheel controllable rolls make this library a real competitor in the world of orchestral percussion. Even though it’s not another “Epic-Library” you can tear the place down with some tweaking. So if you are looking for a versatile percussion library you should definitely give it a try. Value for money… a fantastic compilation of orchestral percussion.
The key strength and selling point for me with this library is its versatility. The instruments can easily fit into any genre where acoustic percussion would be needed and the overall sound quality is excellent. On top of all of this, the program’s interface is easy to navigate and use. The added touches, like being able to control percussion rolls via the mod wheel or the ability to load individual instrument patches, makes the program even better.

If you are someone who writes music in multiple genres and need a good all-purpose percussion library to build your compositions, Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion is a library I would highly recommend checking out.

Michael Hoffmann, OriginalSoundVersion

Archtop: Hollowbody Electric Guitar

Sound wise, Archtop is impressive too. Not only does it sound very real (thanks in part to its use of eight round‑robin variations per articulation), but it also has a lovely mellow tone which still retains enough presence to cut through in a mix… With a little practice, (users) should be able to fabricate very convincing and impressive guitar solos and chord‑based riffs to suit a great number of their compositions.

Tom Flint, Sound on Sound
The big sound of the hollowbody electric is at its best taking centre stage. Archtop captures this perfectly and is the sort of sampled guitar you could happily ‘feature’ in a track rather than hide in the mix. It’s beautifully presented, and its pristine DI sound serves as a fantastic foundation for a huge range of tones… A fabulous-sounding guitar captured to near-perfection with articulations and noises for supreme realism of performance.

CM Reviews, Computer Music

Vocalisa: Slavic Women’s Choir

At first the sound struck me as odd or a bit off, hard to describe. After playing for just a little bit it starts to sound good. Real good. This choir has energy, and lots of it. I can’t describe it any other way. When playing the Full Choir Master patch you can almost see them standing outside and singing into the blowing winds. It sounds strong, brave and beautiful. I have nothing in my palette of sounds that conjure the same feeling as Vocalisa does.

The sound lends a whole new tone or vibe to what I already have and you can go with a full, big womens choir or a smaller intimate one. When blended with other libraries it still gives that extra little flair of brave women singing. Vocalisa has a filled a spot in my palette of sounds that I didn’t know I was missing. It has a safe place in my template from now on.

Shreddage II: Absolute Electric Guitar

Emulating guitar sounds is problematic – or it was until Impact Soundworks launched Shreddage. Version 2 for Kompact 5 is rammed full of chords and articulations to get the most authentic sound possible… The quality of the samples here is really good. Although aimed at Rock and Metal, it lends itself to any genre. For those more accustomed to keys than strings, it is ideal with its impressive soundset and amount of control.

CM Reviews, Computer Music
The library has a huge amount of great samples covering every nook and cranny of the electric guitar, and it really is of the highest quality. Once I started to use it, I could tell that they must have put in a gigantic effort into the scripting, sampling, and design… What more can I say? I’d sum it up by saying it’s easy to use, has extensive options for articulations, sounds even better with its effects, and yet it can have a pristine, clean sound as well. I highly recommend it.

When they say “Absolute Electric Guitar” on their website, those words are a lot to live up to. They have achieved this with a brilliant product, great support, and an awesome sound.

Rob Mitchell, SoundBytes Magazine

Juggernaut: Cinematic Electronic Scoring Tools

Another contender in the “Hybrid” scoring tools category which brings a uniquely dark, gritty, growling and ominous sound to the field. An incredible value library considering it only retails at $149 compared to a number of its competitors. I really think Juggernaut is a great tool, and for this price, should be in every composers’ arsenal no matter what type of music they write.
Sound-wise, Juggernaut is hard-hitting, high-impact and unapologetically ‘electronic’ … what it has sounds very good, and the editable parameters and effects allow decent customization.
CM Reviews, Computer Music

Celestia: Heavenly Sound Design

A plethora of sounds on offer, a diverse array of crafted presets, and boundless editing capabilities on the front end: Celestia defies genre and is a hell (or heaven?) of a lot of bang for the buck. Don’t let the name fool you, angels can still turn into demons!
(Celestia’s) convolution can perform all sorts of marvelous sound manipulation… with some impulses that have an almost magical effect. Of course there’s a selection of halls and rooms. But options like “Extra Shimmer”, “Raindrops” and “Glittering” are something else entirely and cannot be described in words… It’s utterly simple – so simple that no prerequisite sound design skill is needed to accomplish satisfying results.
My final verdict on Celestia: Heavenly Sound Design is a positive one. The interface is well designed and easy to use, making it great for both professionals and beginners; the collection of over 500 instrument presets makes finding and setting up sounds very easy; and the library works great, both as a stand alone interface and as an instrument within a DAW… The ability to quickly alter different sound sources to create your own unique blends of instruments is incredibly easy, while the crossfade slider allows for added variety in the sound creation.

I’d highly recommend this software instrument for anyone looking for a good hybrid acoustic/synth instrument for their music writing. At only $139, it’s a great bargain when compared to similarly priced software. Celestia: Heavenly Sound Design can be purchased at the Impact Soundworks website.

Michael Hoffman, Original Sound Version
Sometimes I feel libraries try too hard to be different or “unique” and border on the line of unusable…that’s definitely not the case here. Some of the guitar and piano instruments are straight beautiful and the pads and textures are very light and evolving. I also enjoy the fact that everything isn’t a pad or ambiance in the library, even though they all feel like they belong in the same space, you get a really complete collection of complimentary instruments here that work very well together.

(Celestia) is a great sounding library with a clean interface and tons of flexibility that delivers and instantly inspiring collection of atmospheric sounds and textures. Anyone that’s been around here for any amount of time know’s I’m a sucker for ambient pads and atmospheric instruments, so this is a library I’ve been wanting to show you for a while.

JK Swopes, Sounds and Gear

Forest Frame Drums

All three drums have been recorded beautifully. Just enough raw character to truly capture the spirit of the hand-crafted drums, without making them a nightmare to fit in the mix or the same ‘room’ as your other instruments. Each drum can be played in either an intimate style or a more bombastic temperament (this is, again, where those dynamic layers star). There are also many useful sound manipulation tools built into the elegant and simple user interface.

All in all, this is a great library. Well recorded, deeply recorded, and a very intuitive playability via the highly attractive GUI. At just $49 it will make a great addition to your existing ethnic/hand percussion collections. I love them and can see myself reaching for them regularly, especially on days in the studio when my own playing is sloppy!

Curio: Cinematic Toy Piano

If you have heard the other libraries available from Impact Soundworks you know that their sound design skills are very good. Listening to the sounds in this library makes me like them even more and hold them in even higher regard. Here I know what they have sampled and to create such diverse sounds from a little toy piano is nothing short of amazing. And the sounds never sounds “created”, “mangled” or “re-sampled”, just sampled. Hard to describe but all sounds are in a way their perfect representation of themselves. Makes sense? I hope so, it’s hard to describe. I really like the palette of sounds though, and there are many sounds to choose from.

Don’t let the words “Toy Piano” fool you, this isn’t a toy, it’s a tool. It is a very well made tool for the cinematic composer.

Plectra Series 3: Kazakh Dombra

There’s even more to (Kazakh Dombra) that we’ve skipped over, like reverb, the cool legato hammer-ons, and more keyswitch instruments. The programming is very well done on this instrument, even more impressive for the price. For $29, it’s a no-brainer for composers and anyone looking for unique ethnic flair in his or her sample library.
Neptune, Voxcaliber

Koto Nation: Classical Instruments of Japan

This is all that really matters at the end of the day for most, and this has a very detailed, authentic sound. For me, it’s awesome, it’s not a general use, all around instrument. It’s specific to the instruments it covers, and it covers them well. … at the end of the day, a great sound is a great sound, and with all the articulations in this library it’s really easy to find what you need. It’s priced well within the reach of everyone from hobbyists to professional composers, so that’s always a plus.

JK Swopes, Sounds and Gear

Resonance: Emotional Mallets

Impact Soundworks didn’t stop with the natural sounds of this instrument collection. Comprehensive scripted interfaces let you modify various aspects of each sound and add carefully chosen convolution reverb. Impact have also used their sample base to design a further 49 new virtual instruments using software processing. These include some truly atmospheric impacts and keyboards, inventive leads and basses, epic percussion and evocative textures and drones. If you’re looking for fresh and unusual instrumental inspiration, you should definitely put Resonance on your shopping list.

Martin Walker, Sound on Sound

Groove Bias: Vintage Drum Sounds

Groove Bias is always my first choice for tracks that need serious amounts of funk and soul. For years, I’ve been wrestling with multi-gigabyte middle-of-the-road general purpose drum libraries, trying to treat them in various ways to get that ultra-punchy 70s/80s sound.

This can’t be overstated: the way the samples are recorded in the first place matters as much as your mixing techniques, if not more. After 10 minutes with GB, I was already slamming out breakbeats that sounded like they were straight off an Earth Wind and Fire record. It’s amazing how well ISW captures that sound with almost no processing.

Jake 'virt' Kaufman, WayForward
If you’ve been frustrated trying to find these types of vintage drum sounds, you probably didn’t even bother reading this far and have already placed your order. But for those who need further convincing, just take a listen to the demos on Impact Soundworks’ website… this is a great sounding collection of the types of drums that aren’t exactly abundant on the sample library market these days.
Tom Shear, Waveformless

Sitar Nation: Classical Instruments of India

Sitar Nation: Classical Instruments of India is easily the best collection of sampled sitars I’ve ever played. Given some of the sampled sitars we’ve all heard, that may sound like faint praise, but this set from Impact Soundworks pole-vaults over the others with a playability, a musicality, and a complexity that place it alongside the best sampled instruments of any stripe.

Sitar Nation is full of surprises, but the most pleasant one is the set”s overall musicality and expressiveness. If you’re looking for classical Indian instruments (and then some), Sitar Nation is an outstanding value.

Marty Cutler, Electronic Musician