With a new collection of things to be shaken and struck, Dave Gale looks on to see whether or not all that shimmers is gold…
Price £91, £129 with expansion pack
Contact Time+Space | 01837 55200
Shimmer Shake Strike key features
- Extensive hand-percussion library
- Available (at point of purchase) with an Expansion pack
- Five tambourines, 12 shakers and 33 struck percussion
- Expansion pack doubles number of tambourines and shakers
- 289MB of samples
- Kontakt player/NKS compatible
One set of instruments that can be regarded as a ubiquitous part of any sonic arsenal is hand percussion. This new offering from In Session Audio aims to give a little shimmer to your shakers…
Three is the magic number
Loaded as a NI Kontakt Player-compatible instrument, Shimmer Shake Strike offers three locations to plug in a variety of shakers, tambourines and small ‘struck’ percussion. Drums are not part of this provision, but we are offered a wealth of instruments including cowbells, agogôs, claps and finger snaps.
We reviewed the expanded version, which doubles the number of tambourines and shakers, while adding an extra 100 pattern presets. One shortcoming is that the Expansion pack must be added at the point of purchase.
Once loaded, hitting play or running in sync with your chosen DAW springs a couple of shakers into life. In this basic state, it’s very authentic, if sounding a tad machine driven. When a performer plays a shaker or a tambourine, it’s all about direction of movement, subtlety of dynamic and accent.
In Session Audio has gone to great lengths to capture this, and the initialised first-call preset doesn’t show the best representation, but a quick look at the pattern page demonstrates the large amount of potential, while highlighting its basic starting point.
Firstly, in a straight 4/4 time signature, movements are alternated to mimic the back-and-forth motion of the performer, indicated by the arrows on the faders. The height of the fader will increase the level of accent within the pattern, while rising to the full height of the fader will offer additional performances, such as multiple shakes, rolls or strikes.
The shakers sound crisp and clear, and with a little programming, sublimely good.Control of playback is handled automatically, in sync with your DAW, or by manually triggering a pattern, which will be useful for building new patterns. This method allows for the key-switching on the fly, which offers great flexibility.
Outside of the basic instrumental stalwarts, the struck instruments offer a wide selection, with plenty to choose from, including claves, triangles and even empty bottles. They all have a great immediacy, made all the better by the large control of tonal and production elements, from within the mixer page. Each instrumental element offers its own set of pitch, tone and EQ controls, while a master section offers delay and reverb, together with compression and tape saturation.
While this is an impressive instrument, it isn’t without a couple of minor gripes, such as the inability to click on a chosen step, while in pattern mode, and place a step/accent where you want it, rather than having to drag the step upwards. It would also have been helpful to allow for MIDI pattern export, too, so that patterns can be placed in the DAW. But these elements do not detract from the quality of the library. It’s highly usable, very engaging and most importantly, sounds pretty fantastic.
Stylus RMX £249
It’s ubiquitous and legendary in many circles, for good reason, as Stylus RMX offers a superb and easy to use collection of percussion instruments in isolation, alongside a myriad of stunning drum loops. It’s an oldie, but a prized goodie for many producers.
EZX Latin Percussion EDX Pack €69
The fantastic Easy Drummer/Superior Drummer packages both offer great drums with complete flexibility. The Latin Percussion EDX Pack offers a superb collection of percussion instruments and grooves.
+ Great collection of percussion instruments
+ Very sharp and crisp, sonically
+ Plenty of control over playing subtlety
+ Very competitively priced
– No option to add expansion, after purchase
– No MIDI file export
This is a classy collection of hand-percussion instruments, which sound very realistic in isolation, and blend beautifully within a track.