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Red Room Audio – SAGA (Review)

Upcoming virtual instrument developer Red Room Audio just came up with a brand-new release: SAGA – Acoustic Trailer Percussion. After launching their very first, well-received product Palette – Symphonic Sketchpad just a couple of months ago, this time, the brand is back with a cinematic percussion library that’s geared toward a cutting-edge, organic trailer sound.

SAGA features a broad collection of thunderous traditional and exotic drum ensembles as well as world percussion solo performances, smashing metal sounds and organic impacts. Deeply sampled on the same Bulgarian scoring stage “Palette” was captured, SAGA Acoustic Trailer Percussion offers over 30 different instruments playable in a large variety of different articulations.

SAGA is a virtual instrument for KONTAKT 5.6.8 and above and requires the full version of Native Instrument’s sample engine in order to run.

We had the chance to give SAGA – Acoustic Trailer Percussion a proper test run and will share our experiences with the library in the upcoming review.

SAGA – ACOUSTIC TRAILER PERCUSSION TRAILER

OVERVIEW

SAGA Acoustic Trailer Percussion has a size of roughly 4.2GB and is sectioned into 10 master patches that feature a selection of similar instruments each. Red Room Audio also included a collection of oil drums, anvils, tools, machinery, metal doors, tanks and giant silo impacts. These are the patches found in SAGA:

  • Orchestral Ensembles (Large Drums, Snares, Toms)

  • World Ensembles (Taikos, Tupans, Surdos, Frame Drums, Repiniques, Hand Drums)

  • World Soloists (Taiko, Tupan, Surdo, Repinique, Frame Drum)

  • Cymbals (16″, 18″ & 20″ Crash Cymbals)

  • Gongs (Tam Tam, Low Gong, High Gong)

  • Oil Drums

  • Anvils

  • Metal Sheets

  • Silo Booms

  • Various Metals (Small Metals, Containers, Tools, Pipes, Globes, Doors, Large Metals)

With the exception of the metal sheets, silo booms and various metals, the instruments captured for SAGA were sampled with up to 10 Round Robins and 7 dynamic layers. The latter three patches mostly contain one-shot samples of different playing techniques like hits, rubs, scrapes or bows.

SAGA was recorded in the fairly dry, somewhat neutral sounding recording hall of the Sofia Session Studio in Bulgaria. The developers used two individual microphone positions to capture the individual sections. Both, the close and far mic positions, can be accessed and mixed from within SAGA’s interface.

THE INTERFACE

The first thing that jumps out at you when loading up the first patch of SAGA is the interface’s giant size as it makes use of KONTAKT’s wide-screen GUI option. If you’re working on a smaller monitor or laptop, you can easily collapse the interface to a smaller size by clicking on the double-arrows located at the lower left side of the GUI.

red room audio saga acoustic-trailer percussion interface

The interface is structured pretty clearly, with all the important controls arranged on one single page. The GUI features a display of the currently selected instrument as well as an Instrument Edit section which includes controls for level, tuning, microphone blend and a parametric EQ. Below, you’ll find 4 slots for inserting global effects like compressors, modulation FX, saturation, reverb and delay. On the lower right side, you get a couple more specialized controls that also have a global effect on the whole patch. Some features to point out here are the useful Roll To Hit function that adds a final hit to every drum roll as well as the sample stacking function labeled with “2x”. This control switches on a neat double-tracking feature that makes the drum rolls sound wider and more powerful.

All in all, SAGA’s interface makes a well tidied up and very functional expression that doesn’t require much time to get used to. The library also comes with a brief but well-written manual for reference.

THE SOUND OF SAGA

The instruments recorded for SAGA are playable in various different techniques or articulations such as sticks, mallets, muted hits or rolls. Especially the modwheel-controlled rolls sound great and are very responsive. Turning on the “Roll To Hit” function makes performing dynamic transitions a breeze. Speaking of rolls: unfortunately, neither the Taiko ensembles nor the Solo Taiko includes roll articulations at the moment and I’m not sure if this is just a technical bug or a performing issue.

Both the ensemble and solo patches sound beautifully detailed and clear. Although the close mic position offers a bit more focus, thankfully Red Room Audio didn’t go the super-dry route and kept some air and tail in the close mic samples. The far mics sound a tad more round and distant, but also capture the meat and body of the instruments which only unfolds when sound waves get the chance bounce across the room.

Although the three different-sized cymbals provided with SAGA sound punchy and crisp, I think a set of proper orchestral Piatti Cymbals would have been a great addition to the palette.

Lastly, SAGA’s neat collection of oil drums, giant silo booms, metals and tools really rounds out the package. These one-shot samples are great for accents, low booms and effects, especially if you make good use of the interface’s FX section. I would have loved to see a couple of Round Robins on these patches but I guess they’re designed for punctual use anyway.

Overall, the instruments featured in SAGA offer a sound that’s quite unique in that it’s powerful, punchy and big but at the same time not too overpowering. Although the library’s sound fits epic trailer music very well, it’s absolutely no problem to blend the instruments in with a more traditional, orchestral arrangement.

CONCLUSION

The release of SAGA Acoustic Trailer Percussion came as a nice surprise as the library features a remarkably punchy and powerful, yet very flexible sound that leaves room for custom processing if needed. The sound of the recording hall SAGA was recorded in is rather unobtrusive and doesn’t color the samples too much while still providing a nice sense of depth. SAGA’s neatly arranged interface allows for instant usability and presents every important feature at first sight.

You can really feel the knowledge in sampling and user experience Red Room Audio founder Dickie Chapin has gathered through his long-standing work as a creative director at Impact Soundworks. This, together with the amazing performances of the sampled percussion players makes SAGA a top-line sample library in my opinion.

SAGA Acoustic Trailer Percussion comes at a very reasonable price of $149 and is available as  download via Time+Space or Red Room Audio‘s online store.

RED ROOM AUDIO – SAGA WALKTHROUGH

 

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