Top 10 New Sound Design Tools And Instruments Pick for 2020

Sound design has become so mainstream these days, and there is not a single media today that doesn’t include at least some aspects of synthetic or designed organic sounds. The offer is quite substantial when it comes to both plugins and virtual instruments, and this is our top pick of new sound design tools and instruments for this year so far. In no particular order:

1. Sound Yeti – Ambition

The title you see when you visit the official page of this instrument is: “Score your world”. And this instrument truly offers a world of sonic creations at your fingertips.

Developers from Sound Yeti have described ‘Ambition’ as an instrument for pioneering new sympathies between sound and picture and we couldn’t agree more. Ambition features a dual layer engine which enables you to create loads of variations and unique sounds. Modulation options are easy to understand and most of all they give fast and strong results. There is also an X-Y control for performance effects.

‘Ambition’ features well over 5GBs of content divided into 252 sample sources and 221 snapshots (presets), using the power of Kontakt 6.

2. Type Writer Audio – X Dynamic Imager

‘X’ was created with the goal of achieving the biggest sound perceivable within two channels. This is your X factor, if a sound is not where you want it put your secret weapon on it, or at least that is what the description of this tool says.

After testing this imager, we completely agree with the description.

By combining working knowledge of haas effect and doppler effect, Type Writer Audio have perfectly combined these physco-acoustic effects into one incredible piece of technology. There are 95 presets included, boasting well over 857,375 combinations. There are 4 tools in this collection called Engine, Hyperdrive, Warpdrive and Sensor.

Engine contains a Preset Manager where you can load, save and delete presets, as well as scroll through 90 default presets. Hyperdrive is designed to give you swift, powerful control over two haas effected delays. Warpdrive is sort of a reverb or the “Warp Field”. The glue of the plugin. Sensor uses goniometer built into the plugin, and it enables you to monitor phase correlation.

3. Vienna Symphonic Library – Smart Spheres & Smart Hits

The first thing that pops into your mind when hearing about ‘Vienna Symphonic Library’ is that it is a great orchestral sample library, now featuring amazing sampled content at Synchron stage. But what if we told you that VSL has stepped up their game and introduced their own sound-designed library based on recordings of their orchestral samples? You don’t believe us? Well, go and check out their Smart Spheres and Smart Hits collection of instruments featuring the powerful Synchron Player.

These are two separate products. Spheres contains recordings of various atmospheric sounds like pads, drones, basses, plucks, leads and pulses, whereas Smart Hits contains all the hits, impacts, swells, swooshes and BRAAAM you will ever need for trailer production.

VSL are truly stepping out of their orchestral “comfort zone” into new frontiers with this instrument. collections.

4. Keepforest – Evolution: Devastator

Keepforest are well-known amongst trailer composers and sound designers, and their sample libraries are talked about with utmost respect and awe. Their latest entry in trailer music libraries comes in the form of ‘Devastator’, a dark industrial action library filled with hits, percussion, trailer fx, tonal fx, pulses, synths and many other goodies.

With nearly 200 original industrial samples, from the sounds of working massive factory machines, to the sounds of passing trains and every machine driven sound in between. Then each sound went through a detailed, high-quality processing, which allows users to get amazing and unique modern sounds. 

There is also an expansion library in the form of ‘Devastator Deathmatch’, which features a collection of pads, drones, cinematic loops and artist-created stems for editing.

5. Krotos Audio – Concept

Krotos Audio are well-known amongst game and film sound designers for their high-quality products such as Dehumanizer and Weaponizer. Most of their products have been a standard when it comes to sound design in a traditional sense of creating monster, weapon and vehicle sounds, but now they have decided to step into the world of software synths with their latest product called ‘Concept’.

‘Concept’ is an intuitive and creative soft-synth, that makes the process of creating your own patches fast and inspiring, and its flexible synth engine will enable you to create every possible sound, ranging from traditional synth sounds to more complex evolving textures and custom sound design elements.

A fresh approach to modulation allows any parameter to be mapped to one of four highly editable multi-mode modulators in the center of Concept’s UI. ‘Concept’ also features a great set of effects and an IR loader for your own reverbs, which is a really neat feature.

6. Slate & Ash – Cycles

 

Cycles is the second library from Slate & Ash – known for their sound design work on a range of films such as Arrival, Annihilation etc. Cycles is a granular synth engine with a step based loop slicer at its core, but once you dive into the library you start to see just how much has been packed into it.

The granular engine (“Grains”) can transform any sound using a variety of granular presets in five main grain states – Basic, Ambient, Textural, Rhythmic and Gestural – creating beautiful, evocative soundscapes. The loop engine allows you to take a loop, slice it then mangle each individual block of the loop to create your own new sounds. Additionally you can choose from a range of loop splice playback modes such as Poly (loop stretched across the keyboard), Arp (play slice corresponding to note held down in sequence), Hold (play each slice assigned to a key as long as key is held down) or One (play each slice only once when key is held down).

Cycles features stunning visuals, a unique layout and workflow and incredible loop sources and presets to get you started. Woth 400 loop sources in six categories, 100 preset engine states to get you started and simple drag and drop functionality to easily add your own sounds to the engine, Cycles is a library you don’t want to miss out on!

7. Eventide – Crystals

Eventide is a well-known company with decades of experience in creating interesting industry-standard products. Lately they have been bringing amazing effects from their H9 plugin series. This time they are treating us with ‘Crystals’, an iconic H3000 harmonizer effect with out-of-this-world pitch, delay & reverb, all packed in one plugin. It features two reverse granular delays that can be manipulated by length and pitch. Crystals is excellent for adding new dimensions to synths, guitar, and vocals making them sound huge and majestic.

The guys from Eventide have said that ‘Crystals’ is not a one-trick pony, as it is also capable of creating huge sounding reverbs with pitch-shifting options.

The innovative RIBBON control allows you to modulate many parameters at once. You can manipulate the pitches to play it like an instrument or slowly increase feedback to make your signal explode into infinity. Hold down the FLEX button to shift one octave up from the current pitch. Highly recommended for all of you sound explorers out there.

8. Valhalla – Supermassive

Valhalla is that kind of developer who always manages to surprise us with something completely new and fun to work with. Their latest product ‘Supermassive’ is a reverb/delay unit capable of creating some really otherworldly sounds, that will surely blow your mind.

‘Supermassive’ uses a variety of feedback delays, with each delay being up to 2 seconds in length. All of these delays can be combined by tweaking the Warp control which gives you some really long echoes that can decay over a few minutes or so.

It’s a must-have for any sound designer and ambient music composer out there. And get this: IT’S TOTALY FREE!

9. Native Instruments – Pharlight

‘Pharlight’ is another great sound design library for Kontakt featuring loads of human voice recordings, tweaked and mangled into outerworldly sounds which will satisfy the demands of many sound designers and composers alike.

Native Instruments have called upon beat-boxers, singers, choirs and others in order to create a formidable collection of over 300 sample sources divided into 375 original presets. But the fun doesn’t stop here. You can combine up to two sound sources and tweak them into something completely different in order to have your own soundscapes.

‘Pharlight’ is designed to work with an already established audio engine also created by Native Instruments.

10. FabFilter – Saturn 2

FabFilter needs no introduction. The creators of the amazing ProQ 3 and ProC 2 plugins are treating us with an updated and revamped version of their flagship saturation and distortion unit in the form of ‘Saturn 2’.

‘Saturn 2’ has doubled the number of distortion types to 28 with Subtle, Transformer, and four British and American Amp models to name a few. You can process up to six bands with mix, feedback, dynamics, tone and level for each band individually. Aside from that, ‘Saturn 2’ comes with 16-step XLFOs, XY controllers and sliders, so you have endless modulation options.

Speaking of visual interface, it is pretty straight-forward and visually appealing like all the other FabFilter products. Very easy to navigate and to work with. If you are in need of a new distortion unit for your mixes and instruments, don’t miss out on this one!

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