Together with the launch of their new AizerX line of products, Keepforest released two collections of cutting-edge cinematic sound design toolkits powered by a sample engine that is built around layering and randomization. The AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit was designed to spice up modern music genres like EDM, Trap and Hip Hop with impressive custom sound effects.
After releasing their first two very successful trailer sound design libraries Evolution: Dragon and Evolution: Atlantica, Keepforest decided to open up new sonic possibilites by designing their own, brand-new sample layering engine: AizerX.
While AizerX Trailer SFX Designer Toolkit focuses on powerful, earth-shaking sound design you can hear all over today’s movie and video game trailers, AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit specializes on modern music genres like EDM, Hybrid Rock and Hip Hop. Apart from 30 playable sound designed drum kits and pulses, the library contains a broad collection of hybrid sound design elements like impacts, whooshes, risers and transitions. Centerpiece of the product is the brand’s newly designed AizerX engine, which allows for comprehensive layering and customization options. The large amount of samples paired with Keepforest’s new layering engine leads to literally endless combinations of expressive sound effects.
We were given a review copy of Keepforest’s AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit and want to check out together with you which sonic possibilites the library has to offer.
AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit is a sample library for Native Instruments’ KONTAKT sampler. The product weighs in at 4GB and features over 400 sound design elements as well as 30 hybrid drum kits. All the samples can be layered and randomized Keepforest’s new AizerX engine. Here’s a quick rundown of the library’s most important facts:
- Modern music production toolkit
- Powerful 6-layer sound design engine “AizerX”
- Over 400 individual sound design elements
- 30 drum kits (EDM, Rock, Hip Hop, Hybrid)
- Over 60 hybrid loops
- 4 GB of samples
- 13 categories of cinematic sound effects (Hits, Signals, Benders, Transitions, etc.)
- 37 pre-configured preset banks
- Comprehensive customization possibilites
- Literally unlimited randomization options
- Full version of KONTAKT 5.7.3 and above required
At the core of the Modern Designer Toolkit lies Keepforest’s sophisticated AizerX engine. In essence, this engine offers 6 sample slots that can be loaded with any of the library’s 400 sound design elements. By layering, filtering and modulating the samples, you can generate unique and complex sound effects with just a few clicks. Let’s have a more detailed look at Keepforest’s new AizerX engine:
The 6 sample slots can be found on the left and right side of the interface. Although you can load any of the sound pool’s samples into any slot desired, there’s a certain structure the engine was designed for. The bottom left and bottom right represent the core parts of any sound. They are used to load up a pre-whoosh/lead-in sample (left side) and a hit/impact sample (right side). To spice up and customize this whoosh-hit combo, you can load more sounds into the four upper slots (labeled A,B,C & D). This allows you to create not only complex Whoosh Hits, but also interesting transitions and motions. Most of the library’s preset banks are configured this exact way.
Sounds you create are linked to a pair of keys in the range between C3-B4. One of the keys plays back the whole Whoosh-Hit while the other one triggers just the impact portion of the sound, without the lead-in. The key switches located at the lower range of the keyboard allow you to change the root key of the tonal samples you loaded.
Each sample slot has its own controls for volume, tuning and filtering of the sample loaded. To further customize and modulate a sound, the sample slots also offer individual access to their own LFOs and ADSR envelopes.
X(Y) GON’ GIVE IT TO YA
The big square in the middle of the interface represents AizerX’s XY pad. Its corners represent the four sample slots A, B, C and D. By moving the XY pad’s cursor towards any of the four edges, you increase the volume of that sample slot and turn down the other three modules respectively. Moving the cursor around therefore fades between the four sound layers which can add a sense of movement and interest to an otherwise static sound. Many of the libaries presets come with an automated XY control. You can however record and play back your own XY movements if you want to.
At the bottom of the interface, you can find AizerX’s Global Menu which shows you a timeline of your samples. Here you can change the start points of the samples you loaded into slots A-D, allowing you to create cascading sound effects.
MIXING & FX
By clicking on the Mixer tab just below the interface’s XY Pad you are directed to the engines 6-channel mixer, which lets you adjust the volume of each sample module. Every slot can also be processed with up to 8 slots of internal FX like EQ, compression, distortion, reverb, etc.
There’s also a dedicated FX Rack providing the same kind of FX but on a global level. These effects can be modulated and animated on the same tab by four dedicated LFOs and sequencers each.
DRUM KITS & HYBRID PULSES
Apart from the comprehensive AizerX sample layering engine, Keepforest’s Modern Designer Toolkit comes with two extra patches to help speeding up your creative process.
The Drum Kits patch offers 30 pre-designed drum kits in a hybrid acoustic/electronic fashion, perfectly suiting both modern electronic music and trailer music. Each of the kits offers a different collection of one-shot drum samples and effect sounds as well as looping guitar, bass and percussion stems. These allow you to quickly lay down a powerful foundation for your cue.
The second patch contains 54 looping pulses that sync to your host tempo. These loops are categorized into low, mid and high pulses with an additional percussion and noises collection at the top of the keyboard range. With exception to the latter two, all the pulses can be tuned by using the root note keys at the bottom end of the key range.
Both the drum kits and hybrid pulses are hosted in the same AizerX engine like the main patch but you can’t make use of any additional layering functions.
AIZERX ENGINE IN USE
As you may have seen, Keepforest’s AizerX engine provides you with a plethora of layering and customization options, which might as well be the wet dream of every sound designer. However, in reality there are two sides of the same coin. The huge amount of controls and features leads to a rather steep learning curve and a somewhat cluttered interface. I found it a bit hard to get my head around all the available routes and functions and I can’t say I’ve discovered them all yet. To be honest, I’m also notoriously ignorant to manuals, so if you take the time to have a look at it, you might even get along quicker than I did. For someone who is in the midst of a pressing project however, getting to know the engine quickly might turn out quite frustrating.
A real advantage of the AizerX products is that you are by no means bound to use the engine. All of the samples are also available as individual WAV files. So if you’re more into working with audio files, this is probably your way to go. As far as I understand, the engine is designed more as a tool to help you design your sounds more quickly and in one place. If you take the time and effort to learn the interface’s most important functions, you’re able to create oustanding sound effects very quickly.
THE SOUND OF AIZERX TRAILER SFX DESIGNER TOOLKIT
The Modern Designer Toolkit successfully picks up the sonic trends that emerged with current trends in pop music. Its samples also fit perfectly well with those increasingly demanded pop music influenced trailer cues.
Just as with the Trailer SFX Designer Toolkit, AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit puts a huge collection of well-produced and versatile sounding samples at yout fingertips. You get everything from insanely punchy impacts to gigantic bends and braaam sound. Most of the sounds are drop-in ready, with little to no additional processing need (except for an occasional Low Cut Filter to reign in those super lows).
I’d also like to mention the generous collection of great sounding preset banks designed by Keepforest that come with the Modern Designer Toolkit. Here you can find meticulously crafted Transitions, Motions, Risers and Sequences, all made by expert sound designers. Those presets alone should keep you busy for a long time.
Although Keepforest’s AizerX Modern Designer Toolkit is primarily marketed towards current music trends like EDM, Trap and Hip Hop, the library still carries a distinctive cinematic flavor. This is why it turns out very useful for both pop music producers and trailer music composers alike.
Making use of the AizerX engine’s layering capabilites, its various modulation options and FX processors, leads you to a literally endless amount of sound options you can generate from this library. If you’re willing to make the effort to learn how to use the feature-packed engine, you’re able to create unique and recognizable sounds with just a few clicks. If you prefer working with audio files instead, Keepforest included all samples in a WAV format for you, too.
Whether you are a pop music producer or trailer music composer looking for a way to quickly incorporate cinematic sound design into your cue, you can’t go wrong with the sonic quality and versatility of this library.
INTERVIEW WITH KEEPFOREST CO-FOUNDER EVGENY EMELYANOV
On occasion of Keepforest’s last product release, we had the chance to talk to Evgeny Emelyanov: co-founder and lead sound designer at Keepforest. In our 2017 interview, we had a chat about sound design, sampling and how to create your own, cutting-edge trailer sound effects.