Cinemamania – Maximo by Sonokinetic
We offer a highly intense library with orchestral phrases having plenty of variation and additional options to make them sound even more dangerous.
by Alex Arsov, Jan. 2017
This is an orchestral library that runs on Kontakt player and contains orchestral section loops and phrases that can be combined together in limitless possible combinations, ideal for all sorts of cinematic action purposes. All the phrases and loops sound very dramatic and intense – first class blockbuster material. Of course the first thing that might cross your mind is the fact that with some limited number of quite recognizable loops or phrases you can easily hit a limit, producing almost the same score as many other users of the same library do. That is partly true, and it is not a limitation of this specific library, it is a common problem with all similar libraries. Yes, this could happen if this is your one and only orchestral library, but I presume that all orchestral library users have at least one or even several other libraries. It is very easy to achieve some unique sounding material with Maximo just by adding a single string line or any other orchestra instruments from any other library. On the other hand, Maximo also allows some variations with quite a unique function called Harmonic Shift. When you apply a harmonic shift to a particular phrase, other phrases will play inside the chord that you are playing with the left hand inside the range of the so called “Chord recognition area” on the lower part of keyboard, allowing you to walk through the harmonics inside the key of a played chord for a selected phrase just by pressing on any key inside one octave of the harmonic shift area in the higher part of the keyboard. Every single note inside this area will trigger the phrase being played in a chord with the root of the played note relative to the selected chord in the lower part. So, even if your harmonic knowledge is limited to a few minor/major variations, you are saved with this harmonic shift option, allowing you to develop additional harmonies without thinking about scales and harmonies. Furthermore, Harmonic Shift has an additional editor where you can change the particular behavior for every step by manually selecting if a minor or major chord will be played on that note.
Every Maximo orchestra section is loaded separately, combining up to three different phrases in a common window that play simultaneously synced with the host tempo. With key-switches we can mute any separate phrase to build tension just with a few chords. This is actually just the beginning, as those three phrases come in four variations that can also be changed on the fly with key-switches. Adding or individually changing any phrase inside the single window is just a matter of one click, opening a Phrase Picker window, where you can preview and load one of many available phrases for any part – Low, Mid or High, that’s actually how those three simultaneously loaded phrases are ranked. On the right of some phrases in the Phrase Picker window is a sign showing if that phrase contains Minor / Major variations or if it is mapped to Parallel minor. (Not that you need to worry about that, as the script can automatically recognize appropriate variations as soon as you press the chord. Even chord inversions are properly recognized.)
Maximo comes with three different orchestra sections: Strings, Brass and Woodwinds, all of which can be loaded separately, sharing a very similar interface. The string section brings plenty of intense sounding phrases very similar to those that we hear in some of the best cinematic scores. As long as you use a melody over those phrases it won’t easily be recognized as a Maximo creation. Brass and Woodwinds sound fantastic, but the phrases are a bit more specific, having more determined, not so commonly used phrases. For that reason they are a bit more recognizable and maybe therefore should be used more deliberated as to not be so easily spotted as being a Maximo creation. Still, you can use just a part of a phrase or sprinkle it just here and there to spice up the arrangement. There is one more thing that I really like with Maximo: the fact that all those phrases, no matter which orchestra section is used, come with a MIDI file that can be dragged directly from the Score View window (available for every phrase) directly into a DAW, allowing you to double the phrase with any other orchestra instrument or even synthesizer. This opens up a whole new area of possibility. In the main, default window we can also find buttons for setting tempo relative to the host for every phrase, making it play at double or half speed along with an option to turn off or on volume control allowing you to control volume with the mod-wheel on your keyboard, ideally for building tension when one or two elements rise and disappear in a mix while a third carries the constant tension with the same unchanged level.
Along with those essential elements there are also a full set of other controllers that can help you tame the whole orchestra, from setting the volume, pan, X-fade, offset and microphone position to tuning. There’s even an option to purge samples from non-used sections to save RAM. As the main sound of all the orchestral elements sound just perfect as they are, I didn’t touch many of those controllers. It is especially nice to have the pan option, which is not just standard right and left position, this one comes with various positions for every orchestral part, making it possible to make additional space for other elements. Actually the whole library is uncompromising with regards to all the possible settings and yet very easy to operate once when you learn how to deal with quite a reasonable number of key-switches and controllers. Before I made my first arrangement with Maximo, I spent some quality time watching tutorials to try to figure out how all those things worked, and it proved to be time well spent, allowing me to build quite complex arrangements in no time.
Maximo orchestral phrases sound very realistic. The whole library has very intense and sincere sounding phrases – a bit Wagner-ish, especially in the strings and brass field, while woodwinds are more of a Mozart or even Tchaikovsky sort of style. Of course, you can use Maximo on its own, but it really does wonders when you combine it with some other libraries. One way or another, I can’t remember any other library that delivers such a versatile arsenal of woodwinds and brass phrases. Even better is the Strings section, which brings a huge array of essential phrases for score production, being so well recorded and produced that you will not need any additional programming or any additional effects to make it realistic. It is a very dramatic, intense sounding library, complete with tension and expectation. Maximo is a Batman “battering a bad guy” told in a musical language. On some aspect, it is such a specific library that its focus can almost come as an limitation. But using it in combination with other libraries makes it indispensable. A big intensive score story teller that is worth every penny spent. If you are in any stock, music licensing, score, or media music business, then this can save you a good amount of time, adding a highly intense orchestral experience to your score. Just use it wisely – it is easy to overdo it, especially with brass and woodwinds, making it a bit predictable. After all, Maximo is just a tool – if you know how to use it, it can give fantastic results.
More info and some tutorial video clips along with audio demos at:
It is a Kontakt based library that works with Kontakt Player. You will need 54 GB of space on your disk, 18 GB for the 16-bit version and 36 GB for the 24-bit version.
€249.90 EUR + VAT.