Soundiron Shimmer is a sample library available for Kontakt (full version required) and in WAV format, with a GUI that features a smiling ice cream cone wearing a crown on its head and riding a gopher unicorn*. Typically, I’d introduce a library by talking about the sounds, not the GUI, but in this case, the imagery gives you a very good idea of what sort of sounds to expect.
In a world full of epic orchestral libraries and hard-hitting EDM loops, Shimmer takes the path less traveled by. It’s all about the happy, shiny, bouncy and silly. Technically, it contains five basic categories of sounds. Pads, drums, and risers are fairly self-explanatory. There are also “charms”, which are more or less small sparkly impacts, and “interface FX” which are basically video game sound effects.
All These Shiny Things
The pads are probably the most conventional part of the library – 35 ambient sounds ranging from warm and gentle to sparkly and full of ringing bells. Some of them produce a clearly discernible pitch, and others are more metallic, but they never get harsh or aggressive. All are quite complex and take some to evolve before looping, as even the smallest files are still over 15 seconds at their original pitch. Still, they’re pretty much long evolving pads, and most of them could be used for anything that needs pads. Several of them make me think of Tinashe’s mixtapes**.
The drums are all one-shots, with 90 sounds arranged into 9 kits. While they’re categorized into bass drums, snares, cymbals, toms and FX hits, they’re pretty much all FX hits – it’s just that some are FX hits which sound close enough to a bass drum to perhaps be used as one. Nothing here sounds like a real bass drum or a classic drum machine kick, but some sounds are – sort of – close to machine drum kick territory. It’s not really possible to produce a traditional sounding track using these as your only drum sounds, but they can be layered with “regular” drums to add quirky character, used as idiosyncratic percussion layers, or pitched up until they become short glitches.
The risers number 86 and are considerably more unusual. All include some kind of rising sound, but they aren’t all just a typical riser which starts off quiet, builds brightness and volume, then has a short tail. In some cases, the tail is much longer than the riser itself, and might even include what sounds like synthetic harp glissandi. In many cases, the samples start off with some kind of percussive sound or impact, before the riser itself takes off. Many are also quite short, sometimes even less than one second, though a few do crack the 10-second mark. Generally, the sounds here range from bright and sparkly takes on a typical EDM or pop riser to sounds that you’d expect to hear when a video game character receives a power-up.
With the 162 charms, things get even less clear. Some of the shorter ones are basically similar to the drum sounds, but have longer tails, often featuring sparkly reverb. The longer charms get more complex sometimes and range from gong-like sounds to full-blown impacts. Unlike epic Hollywood style impacts, though, all have a sparkly high end and most sound like something out of a video game.
Finally, we come to the 90 interface FX. These are generally short, dry sounds which one might expect to hear when clicking something or taking an action in (again) a video game or perhaps in some other software which includes auditory feedback for user actions. They range from what are really percussion sounds (more “normal” than anything in the drums folder) to short metallic arpeggios which are very far from the sounds one would expect to use in any kind of music.
Warp And Jitter
Everything here is available as an unlocked WAV file so it can be used in any sampler. There are no velocity layers or round robins which would require sophisticated mapping or scripting. So, do the Kontakt instruments add much value, other than looks? Sure. Aside from providing convenient access to entire categories of sounds, basic controls such as attack and release, there’s also a very well-stocked FX rack, a selection of filters (especially useful for the pads) and a surprisingly full-featured arpeggiator. Some of the features have to be used carefully – the Edge control changes the point from which the sample is played, and with the shortest samples has to be used carefully or the result will be complete silence. Most useful, however, are the most unusual controls. The drums and effects instruments have a warp control, which adds a pitch sweep (upwards or downwards, up to an octave) to all sounds. The pads instead have a jitter knob, which seems to emulate the wobbliness of a poorly maintained Mellotron, and at high settings actually gets surprisingly creepy.
On the other hand, some things are more convenient to do in another simpler sampler, such as using one percussion sound at various pitches (for pitched rolls, or for playing pseudo-melodies) or quickly loading a single riser. So, having the unlocked WAV files available is extremely useful.
Where To Use This Stuff?
If you produce music and sound effects for video games aimed at children, you should be able to use every single sample included here. For more “serious” fantasy or sci-fi games, or music for children’s television, there’s also a lot here. Most BPB readers, however, probably don’t produce music for use in any kind of media. If you produce music which needs unusual textures or quirky sounds, the pads alone can be worth it and a lot of the rest can be used in a lot of tracks as well. A lot of the sounds seem very useful for music which is dark, but not too aggressive. Sure, some sounds could be good for aggressive music such as dubstep, but the genres I think the largest percentage of Shimmer could be used for are trap-soul, synthpop, alt-R&B, and indie dance.
Soundiron Shimmer ($29 intro price, $39 regular) is a library of sparkly, bouncy and happy one-shot samples. It’s a very unusual and unique offering in the world of samples, straddling the worlds of video games and quirky music. And it has the best Kontakt GUI ever.
* How do we know it’s a gopher and not a guinea pig or a hamster but a gopher? Simple. One of the official demos is titled “King Icecream’s Quest For The Shimmerhorn Gopher”. So, it’s a gopher.
** The same Tinashe who’s featured on the current Britney Spears single. Her mixtapes are amazing alt-R&B and bear little resemblance to her pop singles.
Soundiron Shimmer Review
Soundiron Shimmer ($29 intro price, $39 regular) is a library of sparkly, bouncy and happy one-shot samples. It's a very unusual and unique offering in the world of samples, straddling the worlds of video games and quirky music. And it has the best Kontat GUI ever.