This has been thirty years coming.
Back in the mid-80s, the sampling keyboard that took the synth world by storm was the Emulator II. Far more pervasive in its influence than the Synclavier or the Fairlight, the Emulator II brought 8-bit sampling to a price point that took it into studios and onto hit records at a rate that helped to define the sound of a generation.
There were several secrets to the EII's success, and central to these was the sound. At a time when sample memory was worth its weight in platinum, the EII managed a clever collaboration of 8-bit sample depth (keeping the memory footprint manageable) and very advanced, musical-sounding convertors which companded those 8 bits of data into the equivalent of a 12-bit output. This nifty bit of digital trickery made the EII more responsive and better-sounding than should have been possible given the limitations of the bit depth. Moreover, that combo of 8-bit grain and companding output lent the sound a heft and authority that punched sounds right into the thick of a mix. Although the aim was to emulate 'real' instruments - often acoustic ones - the EII's fort? was larger-than-life sounds that sounded simultaneously convincing and massive.
Part of the explanation for this is the fact that the established workflow of the time was to record sounds to tape first, and then into the EII, in order to allow for precise level-setting. This two-stage process stamped the soundset with both analogue punch from the tape saturation and digital weight from the sampling conversion. It's pretty magical, and that alchemy got a further mojo injection when the EII's pure analogue filters came into play. This instrument was a real beast.
Though the EII shipped with an excellent set of factory sound disks, many of the standout patches that graced the tracks of the time came courtesy of one particular third-party library. That library was the OMI Universe of Sounds - a massive, multi-disk-spanning collection of orchestral stabs, soaring strings, funky basses, thick, punchy drums, classic synths, searing brass solos, chunky keys and loads, loads more. It's this library that we've spent over six months resampling for Kontakt in all its glory - every note of every patch, in meticulous detail, yielding a total of over 31,700 individual samples spanning 21 Gigabytes of uncompressed data. Here are the actual statistics of the library, just for kicks:
31,700 individual samples
33Gb original 24-bit
21Gb uncompressed 16-bit
11.33Gb compressed .ncw format
541 individual instruments, consisting of.
.14 Bass / 18 Bells & Chimes / 52 Brass / 51 Drums / 59 Ethnic & Folk / 8 FX / 36 Guitar / 38 Piano & Keys / 77 Orchestral / 41 Percussion / 61 Strings / 76 Synth / 12 Vocal
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