Spectrasonics - Vocal Planet 4
SUMMARY: An amazing collection of more than 12,000 vocal samples compiled on five CD-ROMS. Exquisitely recorded in a variety of styles including jazz, gospel, blues, dance, vocal percussion, and effects.STRENGTHS: Stunning audio quality. Tremendous variety and selection.WEAKNESSES: Wouldn't mind more quantity of processed sounds.
Ever wished you had one of those Bobby McFerrin Voicestras full of soulful male and female R&B singers to lay down some hot riffs whenever you needed them? Or maybe a mix of Tuvan throat singers, Bavarian yodelers, and Himalayan and Serbian melodic vocalists just for the fun of it? If so, then this is the collection for you.
Spectrasonics, creators of Symphony Of Voices (a four-disc set of symphonic and classical vocal samples) has done it again with a massive five-disc companion set entitled Vocal Planet. A project more than four years in the making, the discs include over 12,000 samples with support for a variety of samplers including Akai, E-mu EOS, Kurzweil, and Roland. Other sample players such as the EXS-24, GigaSampler, GigaStudio, Sampletank, and Unity can also read the Akai/E-mu format discs. The attention to detail is impressive with some selections making use of "Chromazones" and "Groove Control," two Spectrasonics innovations designed to help samples sound and feel more musical. Chromazones is Spectrasonics' name for recording a particular sampled phrase in all twelve keys - for example, Vocal Planet's R&B disc makes great use of this technique to avoid the usual "munchkin" effect. Groove Control is their proprietary method of slicing up mono or stereo samples so they can be played back at various tempos using a MIDI sequencer without losing timing or pitch. Like most recent Spectrasonics releases, Vocal Planet makes full use of this feature. There are Groove Control templates included for just about every major Mac/PC sequencer available, as well as Standard MIDI File format so just about anyone can get into the groove.
Most samples are recorded in mono, and sound great. Those that are in stereo, such as the Jazz and African sections, are even more powerful and sonically inspiring. Almost all samples are presented without effects or reverb, making it easy to add whatever special sauce you might need. Though there are quite a few Distorted Reality-type selections in the FX category, I'd sure love to hear more - perhaps even an entire Bizarre Vocals volume.
The European section includes some lovely Celtic, Gaelic, Welsh, and Scandinavian phrases with both male and female vocalists. The vocal percussion loops and effects are ripe for dance tracks and would make great additions to any basic rhythm track. Though well conceived, my least favorites were the spoken phrases in the Blues, R&B, and Soul categories, which - for me at least - will be hard to find a place for. Then again, a few of them may actually get me to try composing in some new directions. In contrast, the Jazz samples are out of this world, moving from haunting, free-form phrasing and scats to group multi-samples that swing and sway with such class they just beg you to use them. The Gospel samples are so full of passion they made me wish I'd gone to a church like this when I was growing up. The Combo Grooves section bops and bounces so hard that it has "play me now" burned into each and every one of them.