The 8Dio team is breaking new ground with Soundpaint, a new platform for deep sample-based, realistic-sounding virtual instruments.
Kontakt sampler plugin from Native Instruments is an industry-standard. It’s so popular among composers mainly because of the huge selection of third-party libraries available in every price category. From free to hundreds of Euros or Dollars. Tip: check out Loot Audio, a website full of Kontakt Library gems for very little money.
There are powerful alternatives or, seen in this way, competitors like Steinberg HALion, UVI Falcon… But nobody has been able to throw it off the throne so far. It would be a different story if the community weren’t so huge. Just recently, 8Dio also entered the sampler plugin competition with the Soundpaint engine.
So far, the 8Dio developers have relied on the Kontakt sampler. With Soundpaint, they developed their own sampler plugin that is free for every user. Out of the box, you get a free piano virtual instrument, but more on that later. Soundpaint is not a fully-featured sampler, more a sample player. Thus there is no option to load your own samples. It’s a playback engine with plenty of room to tweak sounds. And it’s a pretty solid one.
According to the developers, the “Soundpaint engine renders all instruments, dynamically in real-time. This results in a more realistic feel, playability, and behavior compared to conventional sample technologies.” A big highlight of this engine is its approach to velocity layers. Instead of offering the classic 128 layers of velocity (limit of MIDI), it supports up to 65.536 layers of 16-bit velocity thanks to the MIDI 2.0 ready core. That’s definitely an innovation.
They achieve this using velocity morphing where new velocity samples are derived from morphed between layers. This is where the promised real-time rendering comes into play. The engine has 4 parts, each one can load an instrument. From these, you can create programs with effects, and other modifications made via the two “racks”.
The developers put a great focus on performance, which is very noticeable. This can also be seen in the very slim interface, which is kept very simple.
Morphing & Effects
In addition to classic parameters such as pitch, volume, tone … Soundpaint has a unique morphing function. With it, you can morph two parts between each other. Plus, it gives you the option to select the direction of travel and more. So you can craft your own piano timbre from two presets. Or as the plugin tells us: you paint the sound.
No savings are made on effects. Good, not only the classic bread and butter algorithms are included. It features versatile vintage and modern modulations, delays (BBD…), reverbs including granular verbs, distortions, bit-crusher, filter, and more. For many of these algorithms, 8Dio has captured the character of vintage effect devices using analog-modeling technologies. It’s an impressive set of effects that do a lot on the dry sounds.
Free 1928 Vintage Steinway Grand Piano
Oh yes, almost forgotten. Soundpaint ships with a free 1928 vintage Steinway Grand piano library. It has 32 ready-to-explore preset programs that free for everyone. No subscription, no demo, … just free. And it sounds damn good. Don’t miss it.
There is additional content for the release of the plugin. Along with the free Piano, they offer a sampled Roland Jupiter-8, a TR-808 drum machine, some Brass, 1975 Gibson guitar… You can find also classic sound effect libraries (hybrid emotions…) that Soundtrack composer likes to use. These are not free, you have to buy them.
At the moment, SP will not be able to take off Kontakt from the throne. The Native Instruments sampler is too widespread for that. But wait and see what 8Dio does with the plugin. If they keep what they promise (new instruments, every week, never on sale, no subscription) a lot of sounds will be released in the coming months.
The plugin looks very solid, the piano appetizer is also excellent, and gives a promising outlook on what is to come. The lack of sample import functions could put many people off, especially those who want to build their own virtual instruments. You have to see that over the next few months how it evolves.
Soundpaint plugin is available as a free download and comes with a free Piano library. Individual libraries start at $20 USD and the all bundle with all sampled instruments is available for $300 USD.
More information here: SP