Unusual Atmospheres and Rhythms for Kontakt 5
Weird Ambient Stuff 2 gives you a toolbox full of knobs and sliders that will mangle, morph, and manipulate ambient atmospheres into dynamic cinematic soundscapes! Try saying that three times fast. Or don’t, and get down to the fun of playing with sounds. Just a couple things to note before diving in:
- Installation: The archive with the files uses .rar compression, so extract it with WinRar (for Windows) or UnRarX (for Mac). Keep the folder structure intact, and drop it into your library.
- License: Use these sounds however you like in your personal projects, as instruments or sound effects. Don’t repackage them or resell them. Sound good? Easy enough.
WAS2 is built on an interface scripted by the awesome Adam Hanley (also of Icebreaker Audio) that ably arms you with a Swiss Army knife’s worth of ways to combine sound sources, add motion and mangle them up. Here’s a brief overview, which will be followed by a longer underview, explaining the modules:
- Morpher: Use CC1 to crossfade between three sample layers, all with individual control over their parameters.
- Tri-Delay: Add three delays that can either utilize the samples selected in the Morpher’s browser, or choose three different ones!
- Rhythmoid: This is a 16-step LFO sequencer with variable rate and LFO shapes
Module | Morpher
The Morpher presents you with three sample browsers, each with its own bank of controls that affect the sound in question. Let’s have a look at its constituent parts:
- Sample 1 – 3: This seemingly simple descriptive tag has an important function. By default, each sample has a position in the crossfade, so with CC1 at 0 only Sample 1 plays, and with CC1 at 127 only sample 3 is playing, with the rest crossfaded in between as you’d expect. However, if you click on the tag, you will see it light up, and the selected sample layer will be persistent regardless CC1’s value. That sounds way more confusing than it is. For instance, if you have all three sample tags ‘on’, then CC1 will have no effect and all three layers will play when a key is pressed.
- Sample Browser: Each of the three sample layers has a browser that lets you select from any of the 100 included sound sources. You can use the dropdown to select them from the whole list, or…
- Arrows and Bypass: browse samples with the arrow buttons. The little red X disables the sample layer, in case you only want to have one or two layers active.
- CC1 Indicator: This animated slider responds to CC1, or you can drag it in the interface. Perhaps counter-intuitively, CC1 value 0 is at the top, 127 at the bottom, so it’s kind of like flying an airplane in that if the mod wheel goes up, the CC1 slider goes down. You’ll figure it out within about two seconds of using it.
- Knobs: There are a bunch of knobs. In order, they are…
- Attack / Decay / Sustain / Release: You probably know how these work.
- Fuzz / Lo-Fi: Distortion and a bit-crusher to mess up the sounds with.
- LP / HP: Low Pass and High Pass filters, of an unremarkable but useful nature
- Vol: The loudness of the sound!
- Pitch: …and it’s pitch. Some of the sound sources are kind of atonal, so adjustment can be required… or make intervals or chords!
- NOTE that these are not assigned to any MIDI controllers by default, but you can assign any of them as you please by right-clicking and choosing the MIDI controller that suits you.
Module | Tri-Delay
Not one delay, not two delays, but three. THREE DELAYS! Ah-ha ha ha ha ha. (If you have never seen the Count on Sesame Street, you will think I am really weird. Or probably already do, anyway)
This may seem pretty simple and standard, but here’s the cool thing about the Tri-Delay: by default, it syncs with the samples chosen in the sample browser of the Morpher. BUT… if you click the little lock icon to the left of the sample name, it will unlock, and you can choose different samples for the delay. So, you could be using three completely different sound sources as delays from the three that you have chosen in the Morpher.
The Tri-Delay is completely independent of the position of CC1, so it doesn’t crossfade. You can bypass any or all of the delay layers with the red X.
I think you can figure out the rest of the knobs.
Module | Rhythmoid
This thing… ok, I admit that it is heavily influenced by Massive, but I wanted something similar for adding rhythm to the ambient sounds… so here it is!
There are a lot of knobs, but it’s simpler than it looks. Let’s examine each row of the interface:
- Step: You get sixteen of them! This will light up as it plays along.
- Shape: The up and down arrows will browse through various LFO shapes. Each step can have a different shape.
- Rate: Each step can have its own LFO rate, and the Master rate sets the overall speed that the steps cycle. It will loop at the the end of the sequence.
- Power: The bar represents the mix between the LFO gated signal and the original sound. If the bar fills to the top, you’ll get all LFO. If it’s all the way down, you’ll get purely the original signal.
- Sequence length: is pretty self-explanatory. 1-16
- Filter Strength: controls the strength of the LFO modulation to a lowpass filter. It gives a little tonal variation along with the volume changes.
- Reset: Unsurprisingly, this resets the whole thing to its default state.
- Bypass: Aaaaaaand, this turns it all off, if you want no rhythm to your patch.
Adding Your Own Samples
If you like messing around in the Kontakt editor and are comfortable digging into the guts of things man was not meant to understand, you can try adding your own samples. This process requires you to have some knowledge of how Kontakt’s instrument editor operates.
Here’s how it’s done…
NOTE: Before you start, pick a preset and re-save the instrument .nki under a new name, so the original preset remains intact. Mod your new preset.
Open the nki and look at the group list. You’ll notice each sample is copied over 6 groups. The first of the groups is given the name that appears in the drop down menu, the rest are just called “Group 1”
The best way to add a sample is:
- Navigate to the end of the group list.
- Select the last 6 groups in the list.
- Right click on them and select “Duplicate Groups”.
- Go to the Mapping View, and make sure the “Selected Groups Only” button is active.
- Select the 6 groups you just created, and then delete the samples that were copied over with them.
- Find the sample you want to add and map it in as normal, making sure it is added to the first of the new groups you created.
- Once you’re happy with the mapping, copy and paste this sample into the 5 other groups.
- At the end of the process, re-initialize the instrument by clicking on the ! button at the top of Kontakt.
- Now is a good time to save the nki as well.
To continue making new presets from the one you added your samples to, just re-save your modded preset under a new name for each permutation. The samples you’ve added will not be available in the original WAS2 presets, only in the ones you have newly created.
That covers pretty much all the basics. I hope you have a good time exploring the sound sources and creating your own patches! Don’t limit yourself to the presets, there are many possible combinations of the sounds and when you factor in the rhythms, delays, and effects… It should keep you busy for a while. Have fun!
– Joel Steudler