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Orchestral Tools – TIME Bundle (Review)

What if you could play with time in your music – not just change tempo, but literally alter movement, rhythm, even slow down and reverse the orchestra as it plays? And what if you could do so in a way that sounds completely organic? That’s what Orchestral Tools set out to do with their innovative TIME macro and TIME micro libraries. These two orchestral collections give composers a unique and wide variety of dynamic, rhythmic, and unusual orchestral textures for underscoring and sound design. TIME macro features a mid-sized orchestra and choir while TIME micro is focused on a smaller chamber sound. While both were originally released in 2018 and 2019 respectively as Kontakt Instruments, they are now available as a bundle in the latest SINE player. Orchestral Tools kindly provided us with copies of both libraries for this review.

OVERVIEW

These two libraries are follow-ups to the highly successful Berlin Series and Metropolis Ark collections. Both were recorded without any processing at the famed Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin, Germany. TIME macro is a collection of mid-sized ensembles featuring strings, brass, woodwinds, and choirs branded as “Chrono symphonic structures”, while TIME micro is billed as “Chrono chamber structures”. Marketing lingo aside, these carefully curated sounds are very different from a typical orchestral library and work great for adding rhythmic interest, constant movement, and evolving textures to your music.

TIME macro and TIME micro are each separated into three types of articulations:

  • Long sustained textures that have a sense of subtle forward movement
  • Pendulum Swells – the movement of a pendulum transformed into dynamic swells
  • Rhythmic patterns, which are reminiscent of clockworks

Ensembles include:

  • 10 Individual Sections in TIME micro / 14 in TIME macro
  • Strings
  • Woodwinds
  • Brass
  • Choir
  • Harps & Vibes

What’s Inside?

Content
2 Collections
TIME macroTIME micro
NameTIME macro
Chrono symphonic structures
TIME micro
Chrono chamber structures
Instruments4859
StyleTemporal orchestral texturesTemporal orchestral textures
Price349 €349 €
CharacterLush sound, large and mid-sized ensemblesSoft, intimate sound: small ensembles and soloists
Size100 GB of samples (45 GB SINEarc compressed)114 GB of samples (45 GB SINEarc compressed)

Requirements

  • Works with Orchestral Tools’ SINE Player—NOTE: Very latest version required!
  • Mac OS 10.13, i5, 4 GB RAM (16+ GB recommended)
  • Windows 10, Intel Core i5, or similar
  • Interfaces: VST, AU, AAX
  • Size: 214 GB of samples (90 GB SINEarc compressed)
  • 24 bit / 48 kHz patches

TIME BUNDLE IN USE

You’ll need to download and install the latest version of Orchestral Tools’ SINE Player to use the TIME bundle. It can be used either as a standalone app or a plugin in most DAWs. Pro Tools users should note that SINE Player is not currently available as an AAX plugin, so a third-party host is required for those users.

While Time macro and micro are sold together as a bundle, within the SINE player they are available as two separate plugins. Luckily downloading the content is very straightforward. 
Go to the My Licenses tab where you’ll be presented with the option to download “Quickkits” or “ProSelect” for each. Quickkits include the Spot and Tree mics, which are most commonly used (see below). ProSelect allows you to download all available mic positions. Alternatively, you can choose only the mic positions that you want to download. This is great because it means you can save on CPU and maximize download speed at the same time.

Like all Orchestral Tools collections, every patch in Time macro and micro has fully adjustable mic positions, including Spot, Tree, Surround, AB, and Close AB mics. The Spot mics are positioned as close to the instrument as possible to give you the driest and most direct sound. The Tree mics enable you to add presence to the sound by blending some of Teldex’s lush room tone in. This mic position is activated by default. The A/B position provides a wide stereo image and is useful as a supporting microphone, while the Close AB is recorded in stereo as an AB configuration.

ADDING PATCHES

The SINE Player is a browser-based interface with several tabs, so adding sounds is pretty easy. The default view is the Library tab, where you can select sounds and add them to your track. 
While I prefer to have a dedicated track for each articulation, composers who prefer key switches can access multiple articulations through the Performance Tab. The Mixer tab allows you to customize the mic mix for each instrument, while the Options tab allows you to assign continuous controllers or use the available default assignments. 

TIME MACRO

TIME macro is organized into three folders, each of which works its way down from the general to the specific in terms of overall control and flexibility.

1. Chrono Structures 

This group consists of two subfolders with presets which serve as excellent starting points or inspiration. 
The “Time Orchestra” is a collection of varied and interesting textures throughout the orchestral range. These include patches such as sustained “Fifth Drops”, “Chatter”, and “Pendulum Echoes”, which accelerate/decelerate and echo the same note played, almost but not quite like a succession of swells. There are 15 presets in all, each of which has its own unique character.

The “Altered Time” folder is all about textures – it contains reverses, decelerations, slow-motion, and quick rhythmic elements. Most of these patches slow down the sample rate and reverse the sample playback, but don’t sound loopy at all. Orchestral Tools somehow managed to accomplish this in an organic, natural-sounding way. They are great for adding quick ambience or supplementing other sound design elements.

2. Combined

The next folder, called “Combined”, features pre-orchestrated Strings, Woodwind and Mixed Choirs. These have unusual articulations, such as a very slow tremolo, sustained random swells, and more pendulum echoes. The Woodwind group also features a staccato stutter articulation as well as a flutter tongue. Besides typical sustained “aahs”, the mixed choirs have some really interesting articulations, including sustained “zzh” and random “nanana” vocalizations and swells. These can all be used on their own for experimental sketching or layered within a more traditional orchestral mix.

3. Individual Sections

Last but not least, the individual sections folder offers the most flexibility in terms of control, and some of the most interesting articulations.

Individual Sections include: 

  • High Strings
  • Mid Strings
  • Low Strings
  • High Woodwinds
  • Low Woodwinds
  • Double Reeds
  • Brass
  • Harps & Vibes
  • Female Choir
  • Male Choir

All sections feature very similar articulations so they can be layered together. One of my favorites is “Clockwork Tonal”. These articulations are perfect for tension cues or anyone trying to channel their inner Hans Zimmer. Some instruments also have “Clockwork noises” to add some extra percussive ear candy to the sustained sounds. The Harps & Vibes patch is also quite useful for adding some unusual temporal sparkle to the orchestra.

TIME MICRO

The TIME micro library is laid out in a similar fashion to TIME macro and it features the same folder structure. 

1. Chrono Structures

This folder contains 20 presets, each featuring a chamber-sized Time Orchestra, with patches ranging from the pastoral “Wildlife Awakes” to the subtle and disturbing ambience of “Unsettling”. 
Within the Altered Time Folder, there are another 20 presets, some of which are downright scary, such as “The Deserts of Uranus”. It’s amazing how much punch can come from such a small instrument group. 

2. Combined

The TIME micro Combined folder offers a String Ensemble, String Quartet, Bass Ensemble, Mixed Choir, and a folder featuring Harp, Celeste, and Mandolin. Like its big brother, there are a variety of unusual and unique articulations, including random vibrato sustains, spiccato stutters and glissandi harmonics. In comparison to TIME macro, these ensembles provide a more focused, intimate sound. And of course, TIME micro makes excellent use of the Clockwork articulations, splitting them into 16th, 8th, and even some random notes as you use the mod wheel.

3. Individual Sections

There are 14 Individual sections within TIME micro including soloists. Each has a similar group of articulations that can be mixed, matched, and layered accordingly. These include:

  • High Strings
  • Low Strings
  • Flugelhorn
  • Bass Trumpet
  • Cornet
  • Tenor Trombone
  • Alto Flute
  • Bass Flute
  • Oboe
  • Bass Oboe
  • Basset Horn
  • Contrabass Clarinet
  • Male Choir
  • Female Choir

CONCLUSION

The TIME bundle is a unique collection that extends the boundaries of orchestral texture, rhythmic articulations, and dynamic gestures. While not quite appropriate for epic music, it’s a great addition for composers who like to experiment and venture out of the box. A great jumping-off point for inspiration, it also stands out from more hybrid-style libraries out there, since everything is based on organic orchestral recordings. TIME macro and TIME micro provide a very human way to add sparkle and life to any track.

Pros

  • Instant inspiration for film scoring and/or sound design
  • Recorded with the same setup as the Berlin Series and Metropolis Ark instruments
  • Light CPU footprint

Cons

  • These are specialty libraries (not necessarily a con if you already own standard orchestral libraries)
  • SINE player has a bit of a learning curve and does not work with NKS devices

RECOMMENDED: 9/10

The TIME macro & micro bundle is available as a download through the Orchestral Tools online shop for €499 plus VAT.

TIME BUNDLE VIDEO WALKTHROUGHS

TIME macro Official Walkthrough
TIME micro Official Walkthrough


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