Gothic Instruments have already caused a bit of a stir with their Dronar instruments. Dronar is built around a Kontakt-based engine and each ‘module’ in the series supplies a different collection of sample content that the engine can manipulate in various ways. What you essentially get are some rather interesting ways to blend together up to eight different samples, with some very flexible modulation options and real-time control upon how that blend works. Part of that comes from the options for mixing different frequency-based elements in each sound: Low, Mid, High and FX. You also get effects, an arpeggiator system and a rhythm sequencer. The concept is not a million miles away from Sample Logic’s titles such as Cinemorphx or Cinematic Guitars.
With previous Dronar releases such as Hybrid and Guitarscapes already well received, the subject of this review is Live Strings. As the name suggests, the underlying samples are predominantly based upon live recordings and, in this case, performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Some 10GB of sample data has then been organised into over 700 Dronar presets.
While the string origins of the sounds are generally pretty obvious, this is most certainly not just another orchestral string library. Indeed, what’s perhaps most impressive with Dronar is just how far the playback engine can take its original sample source and in how many directions. There are delicate pizzicato sounds if you want them and sounds suitable for light melodic passages but, equally, there are full-on bombastic options, creepy atmospheres, pulsing rhythms and super-scary screeches. In short, lots to keep the media composer happy for many a cue.
The other neat element of Dronar is that the front-end works on two levels. The Main screen provides a simplified set of six controls (with easy MIDI Learn) that can coax all kinds of variations out of a preset. However, if you want to go deep, the Expert, LFO/FX, Arp and Rhythm pages have more than enough options to keep even the most geeky occupied for hours. This combination of ‘easy plus comprehensive’ is an attractive option: get to work quickly but dive in when you need finer control or to wrench the last bit of sonic variation out of what is already a very varied sound set.
So, Dronar Live Strings (a) sounds great and (b) offers plenty of options for sound editing. And then there is the price; change from £70 and a further discount if you already happen to own another Dronar module. This represents very good value for money. Yes, it’s perhaps a niche virtual instrument aimed at those composing for picture, and there are other products out there that work on a similar basis, but I think almost anyone working in that field would be happy to have Dronar Live Strings at their disposal. A very cool product and a very competitive price.