Sonic Reality Serafine FX Tron (Mac/Win) Review

Sonic Reality Serafine FX Tron Sound Effects Collection reviewed by EM author Len Sasso in EM October 2010 issue
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Serafine FX Tron delivers more than 10,000 top-quality special effects with a custom-tailored, flexible playback engine.

Serafine FX Tron ($995 DVD, $1,149 installed on a hard drive) is an enormous collection of sound effects from 30-year sound-design and scoring veteran Frank Serafine. As you would expect from someone whose credits include numerous Hollywood films and top videogame productions, the spectrum of sounds in this 19.2GB collection is broad and the quality is top-notch. Furthermore, the library is expandable with a variety of focused add-ons ($795 each) such as The Foley Collection, The Darwin Chamber Drone Collection, and The Serafine Ambience 5.1 Collection. The Platinum HD edition ($3,995) includes 10 add-ons (everything except the Ambience 5.1 Collection), which represents a sizable discount.

Sonic Reality distributes FX Tron as part of its Infinite Player Series of instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt 4 or Kontakt 4 Player (included). It comes on six DVDs (a download version is also available) or an external hard drive. Once you''ve installed FX Tron in your chosen version of Kontakt, you authorize it online with Native Instruments ServiceCenter application—a process that is simple and fast.

Each of FX Tron''s 10,775 24-bit, 48kHz samples is housed in its own Kontakt instrument. The Infinite Player template is used for each of the instruments, a system that offers great flexibility while requiring you to learn only one set of controls. Each instrument maps its sample across the entire MIDI key range. In addition to the instruments, you''ll find more than 200 Kontakt Multis. Each of those includes a dozen or so sounds on a similar theme, and each sound is mapped to a single key moving upward from C3 (Middle C).

The Infinite Player has four control panels: Mode, Amp, LFO, and FX. By itself, each is quite simple, but taken together they let you craft a surprising variety of sounds. On the Mode panel, you select from four playback modes—Forward, Reverse, Formant, and Time Stretch—the latter two of which use Kontakt''s Tone Machine and Time Machine playback engines. Formant mode typically delivers a playable, synthesized sound, and Time Stretch mode lets you adapt the sound effect to different tempos and apply granular processing.

In all modes, the mod wheel controls sample start, and there''s a Lock button that locks in the current start position and disables the mod wheel connection. You can detune the sample in semitones and cents, and you can turn keyboard tracking off so that all keys play the same sound. As a nice touch, you can set the sample to trigger on key release and specify a hold time. That makes it easy to set up event pairs, like cocking and firing a gun, and control the time between actions by when you release the key (see Web Clip 1).

The Amp panel provides access to volume, pan, and ADSR amplifier envelope parameters. The LFO section offers mixed-waveform LFOs for amplitude, pan, pitch, and filter cutoff. The FX section is where you manage 14 insert effects such as filtering, compression, chorus, flanging, delay, reverb, and so on.

FX Tron''s instruments are spread across 16 categories holding anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand sounds. The categories are divided almost evenly among natural sounds (Animals, Human FX, Nature, Water, and Fire), mechanical noises (Doors and Elevators, Vehicles, Industrial Clash, Domestic), and special effects (Science Fiction, Special FX), although many categories hold sounds of each type (Ambient FX, Weapons and Explosions, Electronics). Each of the categories is broken into subcategories containing the individual Kontakt instruments (.nki files). The Favorites folder, containing 189 instruments, is a good place to start.

All but one of the categories also has Multis. The Musical category is the exception; it features a cross-section of acoustic and electronic instruments with emphasis on percussion. Most of the instruments are multisampled, and you can manipulate them quite a bit with the aforementioned control panels.

For a library this size, finding what you want from Kontakt''s Library browser is fairly easy—nothing is nested more than two layers deep. Beyond that, you can use Kontakt''s Quick-Load feature to create your own favorites and project-specific collections without having to move any data on your hard drive.

If you''ve been piecing together sound effects for your projects from disparate collections, you''ll really appreciate Serafine FX Tron. You''ll find sounds here for almost any project requirement, and you have a lot of tools to customize them to your needs. The quality is consistently high, and owing to the common Kontakt instrument interface, everything fits together easily. It''s not a low-cost solution, but if you do much scoring for film, video, or games, the time you save will quickly cover the cost.

Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4
Sonic Reality Serafine FX Tron Product Page