IK Multimedia Cinematic and Orchestral Percussion

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Here are two percussion instruments covering orchestral and cinematic ranges of application that also include a generous number of loops, hits and MIDI patterns.


by Alex Arsov, Jan. 2018


Every individual that composes any sort of cinematic music owns at least few different modern cinematic percussion libraries and instruments. Most of them are heavily processed, bringing big hits and rumbling Taikos, epic crashes and similar huge, epic-sounding kits. All these serve their purpose fantastically, but when you want to use slightly more traditional percussion, or even combine with some ethnic instruments, you are more or less in no-man’s land. There are plenty of normal percussion instruments for pop and rock production that can partly serve the cinematic purpose, but all those are far from being a perfect solution for that specific genre. Another option is that you take the time to find out if any are hidden by mistake somewhere in a deep corner of your ultra modern percussive instrument / library.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore those processed hits and bits, but it would be fine to combine them with all that ethno/traditional percussion that you hear in certain action movies, where composers still rely on traditional cinematic sounds. I simply adore it when various djembe, darbuka or any sort of bell percussion goes totally mad whenever a chase begins. Even if you have a library containing those specific percussive instruments, it’s quite tricky to recreate all those mad rhythms that can be heard in those movies. I suspect that all those heavily processed hybrid hits and bits are used in most modern production because it is quite easy to achieve impressive results – definitely easier than programming all those complex rhythms with more traditional or even ethnic drums.

Regarding the Orchestral Percussion library, there is not much to say. I’ve reviewed many cinematic libraries but this is the first one that offers classical orchestral sounds. As you know, cinematic does not mean orchestral, no matter that mostly the same instruments are used. So, I found this one ideal whenever you want to go by the more traditional route mimicking classical music approaches in your cinematic mock ups.

At this point, I’m really thankful to IK Multimedia for offering such instruments that perfectly fit into this empty niche. Cinematic Percussion for Sample Tank 3 collection brings a large number of all sorts of multi-sampled traditional ethnic percussive instruments from all around the globe along with a nice number of audio loops and a huge number of preprogrammed MIDI loops for some of the most prominent instruments in the library.

We have a similar story for Orchestral Percussion for Sample Track 3, which brings all classical percussion used in classical music. Loops and patterns take a different approach than in the Cinematic Percussion library, but we will talk about that a bit later.

Both instruments / libraries share the same price of €121 EUR and can work nicely in combination too, as there aren’t many duplicated instruments between them.



Both libraries are built around three different sections: Instrument, Loops and Patterns. The basic one is instrument section, where we can find lots of multi-sampled percussion.

Cinematic Percussion contains 40 different instruments compiled from more than 2,000 samples. Those instruments are:

32″ China Gong, 38″ Java Gong, Ashiko, Big Hits, Chan Chans, Cinematic Shakers, Cinematic Tambourines, Cinematic Toms, Darbuka 1, Darbuka 2, Darbuka 3, Djembe , Djembes and Darbukas, Frame Drums, Gankoguis, Gongs 1, Gongs 2, Harvested Hits, Kendang Drums, Kharkharbas, Madal Drums, Metal Percussion, Nagara Drums, Scuba Tank Bells, Suspended Cymbals, Taiko Drums, Taiko Large, Taiko Medium, Waterphone, Cinematic Perc 84bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 86bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 90bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 104bpm_LP , Cinematic Perc 110bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 120bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 128bpm_LP , Cinematic Perc 140bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 144bpm_LP, Cinematic Perc 160bpm_LP.

If you are not familiar with all those names, we can just say that the whole Iron Man, Godzilla and Matrix section is here. This doesn’t comes as surprise as the main man behind this library is Greg Ellis, the well-known Hollywood composer and percussionist that stands behind percussion parts for all the above named movies and many others. All instruments are from his private collection and also all loops and patterns (which, btw, sound fantastic) that can be exported as MIDI clips are his work.

Orchestral Percussion instrument comes with 23 playable instruments, compiled from more than 1,800 samples. Instruments that we can also find in Cinematic Percussion are not exactly the same, having a different sound and totally different patterns and loops. Also, there are numerous other classical orchestra instruments, that cannot be found on Cinematic Percussion. Maybe not so many different instruments as some appear in plenty of variations, like Timpani, but still quite a complete compilation of all sorts of classical orchestra instruments.

Included instruments are:

Timpani Med Mallet, Timpani Soft Mallet , Timpani Hard Mallet, Timpani Soft Stack, Timpani Hard Stack, Timpani Deep Stack , Timpani Rolls mp, Timpani Rolls f, Timpani Crescendos, Timpani Crescendos Release, Gran Cassa, Orchestral Snare Drums, Symphonic Gongs, Piatti 20-inch, Piatti 14-inch, Bell Tree Glisses, Orchestral Sleighbells, Orchestral Tambourines, Orchestral Castanets, Orchestral Ratchet , Triangles Keyed Release and Triangles Release+Mute

All instruments in both libraries are well programmed and superbly recorded, so quality is totally in line with today’s standards.



In this section we’ll focus upon loops. These are actually audio loops combined from many layers. In Cinematic Percussion every layer is recorded with a different instrument and a combination of layers, creating the whole loop. Every layer is triggered until you press the same key again. I found this solution to be ideal for building tension over the arrangement, starting with just some shakers and ending with the whole percussive orchestra. Orchestral Percussion layers bring variations inside the same instruments, like different tambourine rhythms or rolls in place of a snare and some timpani. Therefore, here the loop is played only as long as the key is pressed.

We can find ten different multi loops (compiled from 166 audio loops) in the Cinematic Percussion instrument, built from a many layers, creating very complex, impressive loops that have a powerful impact. Orchestra Percussion comes with 25 multi loops (compiled from 411 audio loops), not as intensive as those in Cinematic Percussion, but still they totally serve their purpose, being in style of classical music.

   A loop from Cinematic Percussion


MIDI Patterns

Cinematic Percussion comes with 400 MIDI patterns while Orchestral Percussion comes with 102. While of course those Orchestral ones are mainly for symphonic music, containing various snare and timpani rolls and some triangle and cymbal loops, Cinematic is of course in Cinematic style and cover many of those rhythmical patterns that would be almost impossible to recreate if you are not a skilled percussionist. In this area Greg’s skills totally shine and these MIDI loops really make the difference between this instrument and all the others on the market for the same purpose.

Due to the specific approach that Sample Tank 3 has, you need to load the instrument first and then load the appropriate MIDI loop for that instrument. As a great bonus all MIDI loops can be dragged directly to any MIDI track inside your DAW, making them ready for further manipulation. These patterns could help you build your arrangement in no time, especially if you combine some of them with some other, more processed, hybrid percussion libraries.


The Rest

Of course every element of any percussion could be further tweaked through controllers that are available inside Sample Tank 3.  After all, this is a full-featured sample player. So, adding additional effects or setting envelopes, filters and all other standard sampling trumpery is just a click away. Of course, I didn’t find any reason to try any of these additional options, as everything sounded as it should in the first place.

Every library / instrument takes up around 3 GB of your disk space, not so much compared to some other libraries. Secondly, all those MIDI patterns, loops and included instruments make both these instruments well worth the money. I found them to be a nice addition to my cinematic arsenal, bringing some fresh air between all those highly processed percussion instruments and libraries. It could be your one and only solution, but for me, they shine in combination with some other percussion instruments, offering a slightly different sound and approach.

More info about Cinematic Percussion at:


and Orchestral Percussion at:


Both are Sample Track 3 powered instruments (they work with Sample Tank 3 Lite, so you don’t need to own the full version of Sample Track 3).





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