UVI World Suite – Travelling to parts unknown
Welcome to Music Nation StudioWise, we’re looking a UVI‘s ambitious World Suite this time, a collective of over 320 traditional instruments from around the globe in which promises to be, at the very least, an interesting education. Let’s jump right in.
So as per all UVI instrument, you need to install either the freebie UVI Workstation or purchase the upmarket Falcon alternative to install. If you’re unfamiliar with the UVI platform, we have full reviews on both UVI Workstation and Falcon right here. Either of the UVI Engine platforms are players for hosting any number of the quickly expanding UVI expansion libraries, such as World Suite. Along the same lines as Kontakt and SampleTank, you can layer instruments and use the sandbox environment for synthesis and effects.
World Suite is the first multi-instrument collection since the old Ultimate Sound Bank days of Plug Sound Pro back in 2005, though it differs greatly due to its focus on traditional and ancient instruments. Though a sizable download, World Suite is surprisingly frugal for such a massive collection of instruments. Somehow packing 320+ instruments with more than 8,000 loops and phrases into a 28GB library is quite frankly amazing. A testament to the solid UVI Engine platform providing a lot of the heavy lifting DSP and processing.
At $300 USD it is a sizable monetary investment, and call me Mr Cautious, but I have been stung in the past by multi-instrument libraries delivering plenty of content and very little quality, so I’m hoping for something pretty special for the price.
Downloading and installation is mostly painless, though you will need to set up an iLok account and go through all the installing and updating gauntlet to get that working. Fortunately, its nowhere near as horrible as it used to be in the days when you needed to further purchase a $80 dongle, everything is local or cloud-based now, hallelujah for that.
All aboard! Tickets, please!
Fortunately for such a massive library collection the browsing menu is extremely well organised and mostly easy to navigate. The root directory contains region and type, loops and phrases, travellers and vocals.
The main instrument patches are sorted into 12 region or type groups, both containing the same patches making searching easier. The loops and phrases category has every sample categorised, which in itself is pretty impressive as you browse through them all. A vocal samples category contains regional and ambient options, again sharing all of the samples into two easier to navigate sections. And finally, the traveller’s category which holds the amazing multi-sample player patches.
World Suit offers three ways to use the library, either as a single playable instrument with expression controls, as the individual samples you can drag and drop into your DAW, or as a traveller multi-sample player, but more on that in a second.
In typical UVI manor, all of the single instrument patches share a global workflow interface, once you learn the structure of one, you’re ok with the rest. Though some of the controls change depending on the instrument, the same similar performance, expression and effect controls are always there retain the same basic workflow. It’s a fairly basic interface on the most part, but better to be simple than overwhelming complexity, over so many instruments you would lose the will to live. Each patch features a number of articulations you can select with keystrokes or mouse click. There is a nice graphic for each instrument, but unfortunately no background information on the instrument, which is a shame.
Oddly the sound control which affects timbre is not sweepable, which does make sense, but I think there should be an option to enable this as its often something a player can modulate on a real instrument why blowing or playing harder.
Though I’m no expert on many of the included instruments, pretty much every patch sounds amazing. There are a lot of fairly obvious instruments choices for regions, and quite a few surprises. Australia, for instance, has the didgeridoo and jaw harp – about as Aussie as you can get. The Indian choices are a lot more diverse, with unusual morsing harp, sarod and pungi – all instruments I recognise but have never played in a digital library before. I am particularly interested in the middle eastern selections, all of course sound very authentic and atmospheric. Quickly dropping a few lines into one of my pop song projects I had sitting around added instance mojo and took the track in a totally new direction I hadn’t thought of before. Very inspirational stuff.
The occidental category contains some really interesting alternatives for western mainstays, such as the Finnish kantele harp, Nordic whistle and a very cool Parisian accordion I can’t stop playing.
Moving on to the loops and phrase category, you have an overwhelming collection of well played and recorded grooves from the majority of the single instruments above. The loops can be dragged directly into your DAW for cutting and processing, and as far as I saw responded well to time pitching and layering.
The Traveller categories are the real showstoppers of the library, as it’s one of the best implementations of sampled elements I’ve seen for some time. There are two types, regional travellers and vocal travellers.
With the regional variant you get a 6 channel multi patch which are played single-finger style, each sample includes its own rudimentary controls for volume, pan, filter, pitch and global reverb. Each part is a regionalised mix of drums, percussion, bass and some type of melodic instrument. There are 7 traveller patches from different world regions, each containing a very cleverly curated selection of samples to best represent the region of the world they focus on. Each channel traveller then has a number of presets you can page through, separated mainly by tempo, though the whole thing syncs to your DAW tempo, this is more an indication of the original intended speed.
Swapping out default samples to any of the like samples from the region is easy, and everything just seems to fit nicely and play well together. No matter how weird the combination, I never heard anything that sounded weird or disjointed (as usual for me trying to mix and match samples in my sequencer). There is a handy randomise dice button for doing precisely that, lots of fun and a brilliant way to create some instant grooves. The only bummer is you can’t lock elements from the random button, it just randomises everything whether you want it or not.
Along the same lines is the equally awesome vocal traveller. This time you get 5 channels, one being an ominous drone of some type, then 4 voice sections. This is again a very cool way to create some quick and effective atmosphere foundations for your projects. I immediately found the Gladiator soundtrack, then about a dozen documentary background scores right away. Randomising the samples always brings great results, everything sounds otherworldy and immersive.
A fantastic collection with an equally amazing interface – a true tour de force! I can see so many uses for this in my music I can’t wait to get cracking. I’m so pleased UVI have included the traveller multi’s which brings out so much more from the included samples, which easily could be looked over as not many people like to use samples in their arrangements.
Playing through the individual instruments is a real joy. The vast majority of I have never seen in a virtual instrument before, though I recognise the sounds, so I certainly feel 2% smarter now thanks to my new education is world music. The playability of pretty much all of the instruments is excellent, the feel is very predictable in immediate.
It’s hard to find any real faults with World Suite, though if I had to pick holes, I’m not crazy about the reverb intensity – it’s very subtle most of the time, even on max cathedral it more an ambience than a lush verb. No big deal to insert an extra reverb, but I have to try to find some blemishes here somewhere.
This is again an excellent product from UVI, who don’t seem to be capable of doing any wrong recently. I hope they expand on this collection again soon with a Mk2 – not that there’s any chance of getting bored with the current library, but the world is a big place, and there are so many more journeys for this brilliant series to explore, I’m sure.
Full details and purchasing options over on UVI main site right here www.uvi.net