ESSENTIALS: Ethno World 6 Complete by Best Service
A traditionally big package of ethnic musical sounds becomes even bigger: 80 new instruments and voices from all over the world to enhance your clean digital EDM creations.
by Alex Arsov, Mar. 2017
I can’t remember if I started with Ethno World 3 or 4, upgrading to every new version whenever it appeared. From version to version I had grumbled about the same thing, that there was no additional information about the key used in specific phrases and loops, but at the same time, no matter how much I had complained regarding this issue, the Ethno World library remained as one of the most used libraries in my sound arsenal. Yes, I’m also doing some world music production, but I never use this library for that purpose. Actually, no matter that there is no key information for all those loops and phrases, it is a fact that almost all major DAWs have some sort of pitch recognition and correction plug in that allows you to adapt the melody to your needs. Most of the phrases are monophonic anyway, so all you needed to do was to find one that fit your song, maybe correcting a note or two, and that was it. The new reincarnation of this library brings a new “Info box”. Truth be told, most of the vocal phrases had, and still have, key info for loop groups. In the new version I found that even some instruments have key information – not all of them, but still, it’s a good start. I hope Marcel will find time to put that information also on some of the older content that is included with this new version.
The other thing that I miss is basic scale information for every specific instrument. There is range info, but nothing about which traditional scale is used inside the loops and phrases. It would be nice to get at least numerical info ( I, II minIII etc… ) allowing us to recreate similar melodies with “key” versions of instruments that come as separate presets along with most of the loops and phrases (a normal, playable version of an instrument). We are all masters in minor, major, and the various variations between the two, but I’m aware that some more exotic nations use some scales that are not the same as our standard western scales. OK, end of complaining. Except for that small issue I’m big fan of this library. It is a life-saver for all sorts of Pop, Electro, EDM, Rock, or any similar sort of production. In short, EW6 fits everywhere. Adding an ethno voice phrase or some exotic instrument to any of the named productions automatically adds some unique touch to that track, making it a bit special. EW6 is a great collection of exotic real instruments and voices. Some time ago I did a production for a TV station, spending some quality time building the whole song, adding just one vocal phrase as a fill at the last moment, just to glue two different parts, and the lady in charge of that production told me that she really liked the song, especially the vocal part. Every such live instrumental or vocal phrase or loop can be a great hook for your arrangement. In any ethno world track those sorts of sounds could sound like just another overlay, but in any other musical genres EW6 can hit like a brick, adding an unexpected and fresh aspect to your production.
Brick In Details
Ethno World 6 Complete contains both the packs that used to be sold separately – Instruments and Voices – providing 80 new instruments or voices to this united package along with some new menus and controllers. Instruments are divided into a few big groups. There’s Bowed instruments, then Construction sets, which combines melodic instrument loops with some appropriate rhythmical loops that fit well together. Next is a Gamelan Orchestra directory, then a group called Gongs, Bells and Metals. The last five groups are Key instruments, Stringed instruments, Woodwind and Brass, World Drums and World percussion. Some of those groups contain a huge number of subdirectories containing loops and key instruments. This is definitely not one of those libraries with limited content. Even in the previous versions I was never able to go through all the instruments, and it becomes a bit more impossible in this one. You simply need to start with an approximate idea of which sort of instrument could fit your production, trying various exotic names inside this group. In the Vocal part you can find voices ranked into the next big groups: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, West Asia and East Asia. Each of those contain subdirectories with some particular countries or nationalities. All instruments come in looped versions where loops are synced with the host tempo, then loops with the original tempo and “key”, sampled instruments that allow us to play our own melodies with the instrument. A lot of these instruments come with some additional articulations, like pizzicato or staccato, triggered through different key-switches.
At first I thought those 80 instruments were the only novelty, but I noticed the graphical interface has been renewed, adding a few nice new details, quite a welcome refreshment. I already mentioned the Info tab where we can find basic range information for that instrument along with some additional info about the instrument itself or voice origin with some other interesting facts. There is also additional information about different content inside some specific keyboard range, as some tempo-synced phrases can contain different groups of sounds with different characteristics, be that a drone loop alongside solo licks, or rhythmical phrases versus chords phrases and similar combinations.
Controllers and Menus
A great aspect of this library is that it also provides a large number of controllers for every instrument or voice, not just a licks, keys and info combination. The first sub-window inside the graphical interface is reserved for Quick Edit. Here we can tune, speed up or slow down the loop, setting the start range with a slider connected to a sample preview. I would like to see an option to click inside the sample preview window to set sample start directly, and not just doing that with the slider. This section is not the same for key instrument patches sharing a similar sample window and tune function where there is an option to switch on or off legato mode or add a glide function to legato notes through the sustain pedal. There is also one small window showing the currently chosen articulation. On the right inside the same window are additional options common to all loops and keys. A slider for pan, another one for applying a pitch change in semitones, then sliders for setting the velocity response, the same for overall volume of the preset, attack and release sliders and finally two sliders for high and low pass filters.
Next, the Effects window brings six standard effects with some additional controllers. Those effects are: Compressor, Saturator, Equalizer, Delay Chorus and Phaser. I never use these as I prefer to use the effects I have inside my DAW, knowing exactly what I will get as a result, but nevertheless, it is nice to have them anyway.
The Group edit window contains some common controllers like for Velocity and Volume, along with the whole ADSR section and LFO section containing Frequency and intensity knobs. I’m not sure why I should need this LFO feature for sampled live instruments, but I presume Marcus, the man behind Ethno World 6, knows why. The last one in this window, improved from previous versions, is Reverb. We have a slider for setting the amount of reverb along with separate drop down menu for applying one of the included convolution reverb spaces, choosing between various Halls, Spaces, Ambiance, Chambers, Rooms or Plate presets. With these new convolution reverb spaces all instruments sound very natural, being positioned nicely in real space.
A Micro tuning window brings a drop down menu containing some of the exotic scales used in this library, and it allows you to make and save your own.
The last window is a Performance window where we can set some additional settings for legato mode like X-fade and Glide time with start offset. There are also Humanize and Harmonize options. At least for me, the only interesting part of these two is an option to add EQ amount, setting the small color changes from tone to tone. Not that I needed this one, but it’s a cool option.
I spent some quality time writing about controllers, but the main thing about this library is its extensive number of instruments – 320, to be precise, which come with 800 patches. While in some early versions certain “key” instruments were not so playable, now most of those issues are sorted and it is a real joy to use any sampled “key” instrument or loop inside this library. In some future update I would like to see an option to directly drag loops and phrases into a DAW, as in most cases I render chosen loops, changing pitch of some notes directly, using the audio editor inside my DAW rather than wasting my time playing with various MIDI notes to combine some loops or parts.
All in all there is 33.4 GB containing almost 30,000 samples. With a new reverb everything sounds as it should and all you need is a decent amount of time to glance through the endless number of instruments, voices, loops and phrases. They are exotic, inspirational and very useful. Ethno World library has been my secret weapon for many years. Endless number of wind and string instruments along with all the others can keep you happy for a long time. Not that you will use it constantly, but Ethno World 6 is like one of those mystical life-saver cures that come in small bottles (OK, this one is far from being small). A drop here and a drop there and your life (songs) will become better. Ethno World 6 sounds exotic, and yes, this is a fact – it really is exotic. In the best possible way.
ESSENTIAL for: A soup without salt is just water, and a song without small addition of Ethno World 6 element is just a song. Having just a song is definitely not enough for success.