Review: Sample Logic CinemorphX

Take crossfading to a whole new level
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Take crossfading to a whole new level
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Recently I’ve been glad to see developers offer fresh techniques for composing music. CinemorphX is a sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt 5.5 or Kontakt Player 5 that lets you layer sounds and dynamically manipulate them in innovative ways. Its greatest strength is the multifaceted approach it takes to setting sounds in motion.

CinemorphX borrows its sample content from three previous Sample Logic products—A.I.R. (Ambiences, Impacts, Rhythms), The Elements, and Synergy. However, its custom user interface, effects chaining, and mixing and modulation features make it much more than just a trio of repackaged sample libraries.

Although CinemorphX runs as a sample library in Kontakt, it bypasses some of its host’s features in favor of its own user interface. Eschewing Kontakt’s usual browser for its own, CinemorphX divides presets into five categories: Atmospheres, Instrumentals, Loops, Percussives, and One Note Combos. Each instrument preset contains as many as eight multisamples and lets you control the balance between them using an x-y pad, LFOs, and onboard sequencers called Animators.

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An instrument holds up to four Soundcores; each contains one or two multisamples called Soundsources. Instruments are either Single Core or Multi Core. Multi Core instruments display four Soundcores surrounding the main page’s x-y pad, which lets you change the mix between them fluidly in real time. You can record and recall any movements you make on the pad, including 20 preset patterns.

Each Soundcore has knobs for volume, panning, velocity response, and to change the balance between its two Soundsources. A click reveals more controls for an ADSR generator, filters, a convolution processor (with 31 impulse responses), and four simultaneous effects to select from a list of 20. Effects can be saved in chains; you can change their order even while sounds are playing.

Additional motion comes from the Animators, the most sophisticated of which is the Step Animator. It controls arpeggiation patterns as long as 128 steps, with individual duration and panning for each step and the ability to stutter or glide individual steps. Morph Animators let you automate switching and crossfading between Soundsources, and FX Animators allow you to automate changes to volume, pitch, panning, and filter cutoff.

Every Soundcore’s volume, pitch, panning, and filter cutoff control has dedicated LFOs to add even more movement to sounds. Multiply that motion by four Soundcores and you have up to 16 independent LFOs modulating a single note. Apply FX Animators to the mix and things can get crazy quickly!

My first impression of CinemorphX was that it allows users to instantly produce shifting, evolving sounds that musically tell a story, simply by sustaining a single note. Press a key and use the x-y pad to summon up rhythms and moods that enhance onscreen action and dramatic scenes. But the more I used CinemorphX, the more its advanced capabilities were revealed. With independent LFOs and Animators routed to so many destinations, it can produce mood-altering sounds that never repeat until you want them to. It can be challenging to keep track of everything when you engage dozens of modulators at once, but it’s tremendous fun to build complex timbres and percussion tracks just to see where they’ll take you. I love instruments that can sound like nothing else and CinemorphX certainly accomplishes that. It isn’t for everyone, but if you like to compose music in new and unique ways, it may be just what you’re looking for.

STRENGTHS
Terrific sound design. Tons of diverse sample content. Versatile modulation control.

LIMITATIONS
Could be more affordable.

$599; $300–$500 for crossgrades
samplelogic.com

Former senior editor Geary Yelton has been reviewing synthesizers for Electronic Musician since its very first issue in 1985.