Review: Sample Logic Xosphere

Atmospheric instrument for Kontact 5
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Atmospheric instrument for Kontact 5

Sample Logic is known for creating high-quality, cinematically themed sound-library instruments. Although Xosphere is no exception, the focus here is strictly on atmospheres—pad-like soundscapes that have a slow attack and provide tonal and non-tonal components designed to convey a particular mood.

Native Instruments Kontakt 5.3 (or Kontakt Player) is used to host the library. Partly because of its single theme, Xosphere departs from the typical Kontakt organizational protocol by putting only a single Xosphere instrument in the browser. Load it, and you are presented with a four-oscillator patch.

Creating moody atmospheres is what Sample Logic Xosphere is all about. At left, oscillator 1 is being animated using a step sequencer. There are no multis—patches cover as much sonic territory as anything you could assemble in a multi. The single-instrument layout allows quick and easy customization. Patches are organized into banks by category: Bizarre, Dark N Scary, Electronic Effectual, Euphoric-Spiritual, Mixed Emotions, Mysterious, and World-Organic (see screen shot).

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An oscillator, here, is comprised of a pair of samples, each with its own signal path (an atmosphere, in Sample Logic’s terminology). A Morph button crossfades between the pair, and presents you with various ways to animate the process; use the Record button to capture manual moves made with the Morph knob, draw a graph in a step-sequencer-style window, or simply audition and select a preset.

Tools to seed countless variations abound at many levels of the instrument. From each oscillator’s menu, you can change its preset or alter any of its constituent atmospheres. Randomization works in a similar way. Clicking on small screws on the virtual rack gives you access to another set of sound-design tools for each atmosphere, including individual convolution engines, envelope generators, sample start, and high- and lowcut filters, each with a choice of an LFO or a step sequencer. Attaching the step sequencer to oscillator pitch creates micro-motifs within the patch.

Everything feeds through a Master Effects section, which includes a knob to widen the stereo image; EQ with sweepable high, low, and midrange; distortion/ saturation; phaser; delay; and a convolution reverb with a handful of impulse responses, topped off with simple high- and lowcut filters. Step sequencers can pan the delay or modulate the output of the distortion, which is great for adding crunchy rhythmic patterns.



The sounds here are complex, evolving, and powerful—so much so, that they often dominate the sound stage (as this type of element is generally meant to do). I suggest running through the patches and isolating each atmosphere; it’s a great way to learn what makes Xosphere tick, and will give you a sense of how easily scalable the sounds are.

If you just need a simple pad, each oscillator has a button to switch it on or off (in addition to each oscillator’s solo button). Even single atmospheres, which you can isolate by moving the morph knob hard right or left, were emotive and beautifully suited for a variety of electronic styles. Consequently, if your needs are on a more modest scale than the average film score, there’s a tremendous amount to work with here, too.

Sample Logic has managed to pull off a versatile instrument that will serve film and game composers as well as electronic musicians of all stripes. Just about everyone will find inspiration in Xosphere!

Huge, attentiongrabbing atmospheres, scalable to smaller, animated pad-type sounds. Plenty of sound-design tools to create individualized sounds.

Nothing significant.


Former Electronic Musician editor Marty Cutler manages to squeeze his expertise as a 5-string banjoist, electronic musician, writer, and teacher into one skull. He is gathering his notes together for a book on electronic and digital guitar applications.