「MORPHOLOGY」のレビュー

  • 媒体名:Music Tech誌(UK)
  • 更新日:04.03.01
Music Tech誌(UK)レビュー内容(英語)
Rate: 8 out of 10



Morphology is one of a new type of virtual instrument (or VSM - Virtual Sound Module - as Zero-G calls them). A VSM is a hybrid instrument combining a sample collection and a sample player. As its name suggests, this particular collection majors on morphing sounds. Both PC and Mac versions are included in the Morphology box, each with both plug-in and standalone applications. Every popular plug-in format is supported including VST, DXi2, ASIO, MME and DirectSound for the PC; and VST, ASIO, SoundManager and OMS for the Mac. RTAS, Audio Unit and Core Audio versions are promised as free downloads. (Note: The free downloadable Mac OSX update is now available via the NI website).



Installation is easy, but do note carefully the system requirements. You will need a DVD drive, and while this may not be a problem for modern Macs, PCs don't always include them as standard. Also note the memory requirements: the program wouldn't launch on a Mac with 256MB RAM without engaging virtual memory (or severely pruning the extensions). Certainly, the more RAM you have, the more efficiently Morphology and your sequencer will run (see the Related Technology box for more info on this). Finally, copy protection requires that you register the software within five days or it will stop working. This makes an internet connection more or less mandatory.



Related Technology:

The Full Multi

Samples are stored in RAM unless you activate the DFD (Direct from Disk) option which, for some obscure reason, has to be downloaded from the Native Instruments' website. The size of the samples in Morphology typically range from 5 - 15MB, so creating a full Multi of eight instruments may require 75 - 100MB of RAM - and that's on top of the RAM required to run the VSM software and your sequencer (if you're running Morphology as a plug-in). Using virtual memory can slow down applications, so the best option is to have lots of available RAM on board. The second best option is to use DFD, which streams the sample data from your hard disk. Although this works a little like virtual memory, a small portion of the beginning of each sample is loaded into a buffer (the size of which you can adjust) to ensure that there is no delay when triggering a sample.



Instrument players

The sample player is a special version of Native Instruments' Kompakt sampler (see the review in MTM issue 7). However, Zero-G is keen to point out that this is not merely a 'player' but an 'instrument'. And indeed, it does do rather more than simply play the samples. In fact, it's capable of playing 16 samples simultaneously, as well as offering a host of editing and processing functions. It's also 'special' in that it can only be used to play the supplied samples - so no freebie sample player here.



What you do get are many of Kompakt's instrument functions. (Note from Zero-G: Actually you get all of Kompakt's functions except the ability to import external samples, and the ability to open the 'Browser' pane). For example, there are eight slots which can each hold a sample, and collectively this is known as a Multi. The selection is fixed - limited to the samples supplied with the program - but you can edit and save the sounds and also create and save new Multis. However, it's not possible to save samples for use in another program or import your own samples into Morphology. In a Multi, each instrument can be assigned its own MIDI channel, enabling you to play eight sounds at once - although most of these sounds are so complex that playing three or four may be two or three too many! Each sample has Mute and Solo buttons and you can adjust their key range, transpose them, change their polyphony, and route each one to a different output if your sound card has multiple outputs.



There are several edit sections which will be familiar to most synth and sampler users, plus one or two not-so-common features. For example, the Instrument section contains a fascinating Microtuning section with almost 20 alternative tunings including Bagpipe, Ragga and Thailand. Other controls here include an adjustable Velocity Curve plus Glide. The filter offers 1-, 2- and 4-pole low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band-reject settings. The action of the Cutoff and Resonance controls is shown in a graphic of the filter curve, enabling you to see as well as hear how changes affect the sound.



The Modulation section incudes an ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release) envelope generator - also with a graphic display. A Curve button enables you to adjust the Attack stage from a slow swoop to a more immediate start. There are four LFOs, one each for Volume, Pan, Tuning and the Filter, and there are three LFO shapes - sine, sawtooth and square. Again, a nice graphic displays the LFO shapes as an aid to programming.



The effects section includes Reverb, Chorus, Delay and Master Filter (although strictly speaking this last one is actually a process, not an effect). The controls are minimal but effective and very easy to use. Each effect has a handful of presets to choose from, but it's not possible to create your own. The Master Filter is applied to the entire signal up to that point and can be set to low-pass, high-pass, band-pass or EQ, with settings made by dragging nodes around the filter curve.



Full of Boddy

The samples were created by veteran synthesist and electro-musician Ian Boddy, who has released over 20 albums and has been a stalwart live performer over many years. Ian's style makes much use of textures; he's a past master of analogue synthesis and seems to be able to wring the last ounce of potential out of a sample. The sounds are divided into eight categories: Atmospheres, Drones, FX, Harmonic Loops, Industrial, Pads & Synths, Virtual Synths, and Voices - each with several sub-categories. With well over 300 sounds, there's clearly not enough room to list them all, but a full list is included on the Zero-G website.



The samples are best described as evolving, morphing, multi-waveform sounds - full of interest and excitement. They range from the subtle, calm and inspirational to down and dirty, hard industrial tones and drones. There's also a good selection of pads and arpeggiations, bells, clusters, pitched and noise-based effects. The Harmonic Loops are particularly musical and (again) inspirational, while the Voices collection ranges from the angelic to the demonic. Ian Boddy has certainly brought all his skills and expertise to bear in the creation of these sounds.



One slight oddity is the Virtual Synth section, which comprises a collection of analogue synth waveforms such as sawtooth, all square, triangle and noise - all of which can be processed through the VSM engine. Whilst this isn't without potential, the VSM doesn't offer the kind of processing functions you'd expect to find in a traditional analogue synth and, in truth, you're unlikely to buy Morphology to create this kind of sound.



Morph for you?

For a sample collection, Morphology could be considered expensive, even though it's among the cheapest in the VSM range. Sure, it has its own front end for tweaking, but you can't use it for playing any other samples and if you're already a Kompakt owner you could be forgiven for thinking that you're paying for a front end that you don't need (there are actually a few more edit options with the full Kompakt software). It could also be argued that only the most dedicated of samplists are going to tweak these excellent sounds anyway (you'll know if you fall into that category). Sampler owners might have found it a better option if they'd been able to buy the samples on a conventional sample CD to get full control over the material. On the other hand, many would argue that Morphology is an 'instrument' and not a sample collection at all. The presets are superb, but there's no underlying architecture from which to build new sounds. In fact, you could say the presets are the underlying sonic architecture. You pays your money and takes your choice...



Semantics apart, there's no denying the quality of the material here. There are no drum loops or 'real' instruments, just a stunning collection of sounds suitable for use in a wide range of music, particularly styles with a synth or electronic foundation. Some textures would even fit well into a rock or pop context. Ian Boddy says that the collection was designed to "inspire you to make your own music" - and if you have a soul, that's what it will do. If the muse has left you, play these to encourage its return.



Method Spot:

Making More of Morphology

All the samples in the collection can be played 'as is' but you can extract even more mileage from them simply by applying some effects. A subtle delay, for example, can be very powerful as the repeats blend with the evolving texture of the sound, creating even more complex and subtle tonal changes.
シンセ・アンビエント&アトモスフィア専用モジュール
税込価格 ¥8,558
  • ジャンル:
  • フォーマット:KONTAKT 1.53
  • リリース時期:2010年1月
  • メーカー:ZERO-G

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