Quick Pick: Vir2 Instruments Basis 1.1 (Mac/Win) - EMusician

Quick Pick: Vir2 Instruments Basis 1.1 (Mac/Win)

Read the EM February 2009 review on Vir2 Instruments Basis 1.1, which delivers a representative handful of electric bass instruments, an upright acoustic bass, and a side order of synthesizer bass sounds
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Vir2 Instruments Basis uses Kontakt Player 2 to gather a collection of bass instruments and a variety of performance- and tone-shaping tools.

After drums, basses are the instruments that I most often need to update and expand. Slap bass doesn't always work in ballads; a plaintive, vibrato-drenched fretless bass is probably too nuanced for an up-tempo rocker, and picked bass might have too much attack for a jazz standard. Additionally, sampling's snapshot nature doesn't always convey the instrument's tonal dynamism.

Hosted by the Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2 (KP2) engine, Vir2 Instruments Basis 1.1 ($299.95 [MSRP]) delivers a representative handful of electric bass instruments, an upright acoustic bass, and a side order of synthesizer bass sounds. A terrific set of sound- and performance-shaping tools exact an impressive amount of adaptability from the samples.

As with all KP2-hosted instruments, Basis offers AU, RTAS, and VST versions for Mac, RTAS and VST for Windows, and standalone instruments for both of these platforms.

ALL YOUR BASS

The Basis library gathers about 7.5 GB of samples, including multisampled acoustic and electric bass instruments with release samples, scrapes, harmonics, and other artifacts. In addition, a large number of synth basses deriving from a variety of source instruments cover a lot of sonic territory, although they are hampered by the lack of filter and envelope controls.

In contrast, the electric bass patches have a good complement of features for expressive performances, and they include sound-shaping tools appropriate to bass instruments. Foremost among these is the Sustain Legato keyswitch, which suppresses envelope-attack retriggering when you hold down one note while triggering another. That lets you re-create typical hammer-on and pull-off maneuvers. The keyswitch a whole step below returns the patch to polyphonic performance. Sustain Legato proved particularly effective with a Multi I created for my Axon MIDI guitar rig, in which each string has its own MIDI channel.

Basis provides no Multi presets, and it would have been nice to have a few. For example, I would have liked a Multi combining a Velocity-crossfaded fingered bass with a slap bass with Velocity control. On the other hand, after a few minutes of futzing with the Velocity curves, I was able to cobble together a reasonable simulation on my own.

The electric basses have both amped and direct-injected (DI) samples; you adjust the balance between them with the DI/Amp knob. More DI provides a brighter, more detailed instrument, whereas more amp provides warmer, beefier tones. Other knobs set Pitch Bend range, adjust pick and fret noise, and control the release-samples level. Amplifying the noise artifacts adds realism to the instrument, as do having Velocity-initiated string and fret rattle and having alternating samples for each note.

BASIS LOADED

A series of vertically arrayed buttons on the right side of the panel reveal settings for effects and a few unique performance features. You get a nice-sounding set of effects, including compression, chorus, delay, Octaver, saturation, Lo-Fi, and more. Given the minimal real estate on the front panel, it's great that these effects are tucked out of the way and inactive until you need them.

Basis lets you handle vibrato in a very realistic, human way. It holds models of human vibrato as waveforms for its LFO, and you modulate vibrato depth, rate, and type with MIDI continuous controller messages. It does require a steady hand as well as a judicious touch with the Mod Wheel to regulate depth, as a little bit goes a long way.

The oddly named Gospel bass is among my favorites. It is enlivened by plenty of low-end growl, lots of detail, and a real three-dimensional presence. Upright, an acoustic bass, delivers a nice Ron Carter-type groan when you dig into the keys. Motown has a terrifically warm tone with a blooming low end (see Web Clip 1). Macca's Hoffner delivered an authentic Beatles-era bass sound, especially with the Amp controls set way up. I'm always skeptical of any fretless bass with Jaco's name attached, but I'll cut Fretless Jaco a bit of slack because of its aggressive front end coupled with the very human vibrato programming. You also get three Fender Jazz Bass patches played with different pickup settings — a Precision, a Musicman, and a Rickenbacker — and each has a distinctive tone. Clearly, the programmers lavished their attention on the electric bass.

Few recent sample collections I have heard place such a thoroughly voiced collection of electric basses at your fingertips. Although I might look to other sources for synth bass, the sets included are useful and varied. Basis delivers a solid collection of electric bass sounds in an expressive, ready-to-play package. Check them out.

Value (1 through 5): 3
Vir2 Instruments
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