|Recorded as a companion library to Mars (Soundiron’s all-male choir library), Venus Symphonic Women’s Choir features a full 33-voice female chorus with a set of extended choral articulations in both Latin and Russian. At 27GB it’s truly massive in size, which is a little inconvenient if, like us, you happen to opt for the download version. But who’s grumbling with goodies like pp/fff true legatos, some with speed control, standard vowel sustains, marcato words, staccato syllables and lyrical tempo-sync’ing? A full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or later is required (the Kontakt Player is not supported).
An important aspect of this library is the lyrical content, which includes liturgical material from the traditional Angelic Salutation. Otherwise known as Hail Mary or Ave Maria, two versions, Russian Orthodox and Latin, are provided as single words or phrases. There’s a choice of fast or slow presets, and time-stretching and tempo-sync’ing is supported in Kontakt 5. It’s a very effective system that works well, particularly for conjuring up atmospheric, liturgical-sounding material quickly. There’s a wide range of presets though, that provide plenty of scope for the contemporary composer.
For any serious choral library, true legato is a necessity, and Venus holds up well in this respect. Five vowels (ah, Eh, Oh, Oo and Mm) are proivded as true legato, all with dynamic layering and blending controls (except Mm, which was recorded softly). Most have two layers, for example, Ah ad Eh – with a control for blending between them. These true legato patches also feature a speed control to fine-tune the speed of legato transitions, which proved effective for faster passages. Legatos apart, basic articulations such as sustains, marcatos and staccatos are also available, which cover all the major vowel types.
Composers of cinematic-style music expect phrase-building these days, and the one here provides the means to sequence 16 phrases, each with 16 syllables. It’s easy to use and perfect for creating nonsensical chants for medieval games and suchlike. For the more advanced user there’s also a Marcato Builder for constructing custom-made marcatos and sustains from a variety of attack syllables, sustaining vowels and releases. While not as daunting as we expected, it does require some getting used to.
Solo performances from three altos and two sopranos are limited to melodic phrases, poly-sustains and long staccatos. Consequently, constructing a predetermined solo performance isn’t really possible. Some basic sustains and short staccatos might have been more useful. However, Soundiron told us that its choral catalogue will be expanded in the future with dedicated individual solo vocal libraries for soprano, alto, tenor and bass.
For sound-to-picture, sometimes all that’s needed are spooky vocal effects – and Venus has plenty of those, too. Designed using material sourced from the choral content, there’s a good range of pads, drones and soundscapes.
This is a truly professional library with an overall intimacy and warmth not always evident in grand choral samples. No doubt this is due, in part, to the recording location: a Californian chapel as opposed to a large church or cathedral. However, being an all-female choir, its use is somewhat limited unless you own a male choir library (like Mars) with which to use it. That said, it blends beautifully with libraries such as VOXOS, to which is added a new dimension and a heightened sense of realism.
Obviously developed with pro users in mind, Venus is a superb library that will not disappoint, but before you press the ‘buy now’ buton, be sure to check your system resources. Cinematic composers typically work with powerful computers and the very latest operating systems. Being RAM-intensive, for them, Venus won’t present any issues, but for those with modest systems it may be a different story. At least 4GB of RAM and a 64-it OS is highly recommended.
Verdict: A fine dedicated women’s choir that offers much more than the soprano and alto sections of most full choir libraries. Highlights include Latin or Slavonic lyrics, an easy-to-use Phrase Builder and advanced preset for designing custom sustains/marcatos.