Q: How did you come up with the idea for Swell?
A: We always had a need for a really top-shelf cymbal swell library to use both in our musical compositions and also just as a way to make transitions for video wipes, etc. During the process of making squelch, Evan Arnett developed some really cool ways to build more functionality into the Kontakt instruments we were making, so the Swell project seemed like a logical next step.
We were also very conscious of the existing market for drum libraries, all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to focus on doing this one basic thing better than anything else that is out there yet.
Q: How did you go about creating the library?
A: The first step was to prototype the instrument to be sure that the types of recordings we would make would work within the framework of what Kontakt is capable of. We performed some cymbal swells ourselves and implemented them into the Kontakt instrument in a few different ways until we came up with a combination of performances and implementation that gave us the most natural and realistic results.
Next we did a mic shootout, testing many different mics and mic positions in our primary recording space. We made judgements based on detail, imaging, and mono-compatibility during playback. In the end we chose a 4 mic setup that included a pair of Schoeps CMC6.MK4s in ORTF and a spaced pair of Neumanns set equidistantly from the main mark. Everything ran through a set of John Hardy M1 preamps.
After that we developed our spreadsheet of recording coverage that would be needed with each cymbal in order to get the most out of the Kontakt instrument. Each cymbal would get multiple mallets, performance intensities, and performance lengths.
We then hired one of the session drummers that we bring in for other music composition work and he came with a gigantic array of cymbals, splashes and gongs. Brad Dale engineered the recording session. Even though we were moving quickly, we got very good coverage on a wide variety of cymbals, and even did some bonus hits and scrapes with some of them.
Once everything was recorded, Brad went about editing and mastering them, while Evan began final implementation into the Kontakt instruments. Evan built some really cool effects into the main swell knob that allow end users to really warp the cymbals into deep, complex sounds quickly.
After that we all spent some time with the mastered files and built hundreds of designed swells from the source material. We did everything from sweet sounding layered and EQ’d swells to heavily processed metallic rises that are hard to identify as having come from cymbal recordings.
In my opinion the designed swells are worth the price of admission by themselves
In my opinion the designed swells are worth the price of admission by themselves.
The last step was metadata tagging and packaging. That process takes forever, but it adds a lot the final product.
Q: Any pointers on using the sounds in a sound design context?
A: Flip over to that design tab in the Kontakt instrument and use those effects that are built in. The integration is very complex and adds a lot of movement and depth very quickly.
Thanks to René Coronado for taking the time for this Q&A. Get the full – or lite – version of Swell below: