An instrument and sound design tool based on the sound of weapons? Andy Jones rather hopes it delivers a little more than just that…
Contact Krotos Audio
Weaponiser key features:
- The ‘Fully Loaded’ version on test features 1596 weapon recordings from 13 different weapons with 135 presets
- Weaponiser Basic features 515 weapon recordings from four different weapons with 90 presets
- 400 preset kits/patterns
- 12 drum voices with 3 layers each
- Modular macro system
- Parameter-lock effects sequencer
There will probably be some people who will squirm at the concept of Weaponiser, on the principal that it appears to be a showcase for a wide range of gunfire sounds. With current political tensions concerning the issue I can’t say I’m massively happy about its core raison d’etre either.
But the fact remains that due to film, video games and TV – and some music, I guess – the sound of the weapon is in high demand. So it’s hard to really blame Krotos Audio for answering this need. Weapon-fire has been a core requirement for sound designers and composers for decades, and there’ll always be a need for the sound of gunfire as people tell stories that involve it.
The core of Weaponiser is the sound of guns and associated effects so you are – initially anyway – talking sound effects for the aforementioned media. But I said ‘initially anyway’ as what really perked my interest was the sound-mangling options that comes with the software. These flexible engines allow you to process the weapon sounds beyond recognition and also allow you to load in your own ammunition. Weaponiser could be a damn fine sound design tool too. Let’s see if it – you guessed it – hits the target…
Lock and load
Weaponiser is one of those iLok managed downloads and, thankfully, one that has moved on apace since my first experiences with iLok some years ago. It’s easy, simple as that. There are two versions of Weaponiser: Basic and Fully Loaded which offer different numbers of weapons, presets and samples – see the Main Features left for the stats.
We’re looking at the larger one, which is a 4GB+ download that requires 5GB+ of drive space, so it’s not massive, as you would expect given the rather short, sharp and shocking nature of the core content.
You load in from the 1596 sounds (from 2288 assets) with a tagging system with labels like ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Indoor’ to narrow it down to the type of sound you require. Then simply drag your chosen sample into one of four available slots in four different engines called Onset, Body, Thump and Tail. These are like the envelope of the sound – certainly Onset and Tail equal Attack and Release in normal terms.
That means you can have up to 16 sounds making up a combined waveform but it gets even more complex with the possibility to cycle around five samples within each slot. This obviously could get confusing, but a neat colour code system gloriously saves the day. Each engine has a colour that is used on its samples, slots, the rotaries for each parameter and within the resulting waveform to the right.
Muting, say, any Body sample slot removes it from the finished waveform so you soon learn what sound makes up each part. Within each of the four slots, the samples can also be adjusted in level and speed as well as muted or soloed.
The samples all sound very well recorded and you can already make some interesting combinations, but it’s all a bit scary, if I’m honest, and I want to move onto the more musical aspects pretty quickly. These come by way of an FM synth which is available for three of the engines to route through (the Tail has Reverb effect instead).
Suddenly Weaponiser moves from being a one-trick pony into being a massive kick and bass generator. You can create all sorts of moving, deep sounds and even some tearing leads. Onset and Body can be used to conjure more bass sounds while Thump more kick. Some descriptive synth presets would have been good, as it can be a bit random, but there’s no denying the attitude of some of the results you can get, and combined with further Fire Rate, Blast Mode, time and pitch options, there’s a huge amount of fun to be had.
Where it gets more interesting is with loading your own sounds in – a simple process. Again, using the synth gives you some incredible results – I was layering loops and songs together for some utterly weird results but is that really the point of Weaoponiser? Not really, but it’s a strength.
Do I really need this?
You do not need to own Weaponiser unless you have a very specific job in gunshot sound design. This is a very focused plug-in that is tailored for one type of sound. It’s also more of a ‘sound design’ than ‘song design’ tool, but that’s exactly where it could well score more than you think.
It’s one of those products that, if abused, or if used in ways it was not intended for, could well take you to places no-one else has been to. Like the TB-303, Weaponiser demands bigger thinking to get something totally new and different out of it, but it has the power to deliver it – all it needs is a little imagination on your part. So the question really should be: do you have the patience and imagination required to really dig into it?
There is plenty in Weaponiser to get excited about if you are a game or film soundtrack or foley designer. There’s no denying that it’s an excellent solution for that sector. The other strength is its software sound design capabilities. For producers who really want to go weird, then dive into the synth and use both the supplied sounds for kicks and bass or your own for more out there results.
Weaponiser should really appeal to two sets of users: those in need of some weapon sounds for whatever reason and those in search of experimentation, and this ‘game of two halves’ software really does deliver on both counts, right? Yes it does, but… The kind of money the Fully Loaded version costs puts it within reach of the sound designer with a big video game or movie budget – but it’s probably financially out of reach of most music producers and all but the most imaginative producers/sound designers.
I can understand why it’s so expensive – gathering all of those samples must have taken some effort. However producers on a budget – and let’s face it, we all are – can find the kind of sonic design creativity elsewhere for a lot less.
Various £free upwards
Type ‘gunshot sample CD’ into Google and you’ll find a number of free sample packs available to download from sites like www.sweetsoundeffects.com and www.thehighest producers.com. They seem legitimate and many are totally free.
Not specifically to do with gunshots, granted, but Physion (or Fission, as it used to be called) is one of the best products we’ve looked at recently that will ably handle the sound design side