Review – Gravity by Heavyocity
Heavyocity set a new cinematic standard with Gravity. Does anyone know how big impact all those hits, impacts, risers and all other out of this world sounds will have on cinematic market?
by A. Arsov, July 2015
A New Standard in our Cinematic World
This time I will not try to convince you that Gravity can be used for all genres and for all purposes. Heavyocity decided to make a niche product dedicated to one and only one purpose: it is strictly a cinematic tool. A very diverse, impressive sounding instrument / sound library, strengthened by a wide range of additional controllers offering various cinematic effects, atmospheres and textures that can be tweaked beyond recognizability. Maybe it seems a little pricey, but I’m sure it’ll become a bestseller anyway. I intend to go through some options and functions that Gravity offers, but to “hear and believe” you should definitely go through the demo songs and representation video to convince yourself how Gravity nails this dangerously trashy, morbid, but surprisingly clear and well-defined hi-fi sound that you hear in new Hollywood blockbusters. (OK, regarding all genres and all purposes, if you are brave enough you can still use those hits and risers in EDM productions, but EDM is supposed to be on the bright side, while Gravity is definitely on the dark side.)
What It Is and What It Is Not
The first thing that you notice is the outstanding sound quality – all the sounds and presets are extremely well-defined, punchy and kind of futuristic – those sorts of sounds that evolve from one basic sound source to a combination of a few different ones (for example: “Hit” that starts with a single rising sound and ends with a punchy hit underlaid with a human scream, explosion and “hell knows what else”), offering perfectly recorded samples that are already pre-produced for final use. A pleasing collection of distorted hell.
I presume the main advantage of this library is that it brings all those sorts of effects and atmospheres that used to be recorded, compiled and combined from various sources by skilled sound designers in big Hollywood studios into one package. But is has one big advantage: it also offers an abundance of additional tools, controllers and editing options, giving the media composer a huge amount of freedom, allowing him not just to adapt the desired sample to his needs, but also to make it unique by changing its speed or any other aspect of the sound. He can do this by changing some key sound parameters or even by putting the sample through some implemented sequencing tools that can be linked to any of a number of parameters, drastically changing the character of the chosen sample.
By starting at the main Gravity directory in Kontakt player it all looks pretty simple, as it seems that Gravity offers just a few basic groups of sounds. Hits, Pads, Risers and Stings, but then it starts to go deeper and deeper – while Hits contain just hits, you’ll realize that Pads has a few additional subgroups of sounds – Complex, Element Menu, Elements Shorts. The next one is Risers that are divided to 15 Second Risers, 30 Second Risers and Organic Risers while Stings are divided into Elements and Menus. Trust me, this is only the beginning, as most of these directories have subdirectories, like Aggressive, Ethereal, etc. The whole contents, the quality, quantity and structural organization reminds me of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Unique, well-organized, endlessly deep and with a recognizable style. Seems that Heavyocity just skipped the “Paradiso” part – everything else is there.
I will try to be brief here, otherwise I’d need a longer vacation to describe every detail of the Gravity interface, not to mention every detail inside all the sub windows that can be reached through the simple menu at the bottom of the main window. Step by step, further and further – I presume that the programming manager’s surname is Alighieri ( or “Dante Junior” for friends).
At the center of the Gravity interface we find a big Punish central tab. It originates from the Spanish Inquisition era and it gives us suffering, distortion, gain and compression. The Punish tab could be replaced by three other tabs: Pitch, Mix and Twist, which can be reached by the buttons arranged around the main central tab. With Pitch you can control pitch band range for any of three possible channels, or separately tune any of those channels. The Mix tab will allow you to set volume independently for any of three channels, while the Twist tab determines the relationship between equalizer and filters. Some groups of presets also bring a Sample tab, where you can set pan, level, tune, start or even randomization of a sample.
To the left of this central tab we find an array of controllers for up to four effects that can be used with every sound. The first one is Reverb, with an additional drop down menu where you can choose between a nice number of reverb spaces. The other three are chorus delay and distortion. All four effects are equipped with four basic controllers corresponding to each effect.
Going right from the central tab is an ADSR spot where you can set all four parameters along with velocity range for the current preset.
Actually, this is just the main window, an introductory part – Inferno. As we all know, the devil is in the detail – so ladies and gentleman, it is time for…
The content of the additional windows changes from category to category, but mainly every category has the EQ Filter window where master and channel EQ can be fine-tuned, as well as the central Filter window, bringing together generic controllers with a standard set of LFO curves. Actually, the main sound is already so fine-tuned that this part is reserved purely for control freak maniacs and ladies with very special wishes.
Next is a Trigger Effects window where some of the effects parameters presented on the main page can be triggered live, or even by setting them in advance. Of course it’s not just an ordinary set of parameters, as for every effect two basic parameters are chosen that can be changed dynamically through the additional Editing window that can be opened at the bottom of the Trigger Effects window (Dante, Dante!!), opening a sequencing window where we can draw a curve or use some of the preprogrammed lines. I hope that I don’t need to explain how drastically the sound can be changed by adding drive and brightness sequencing curves for the Distortion effect. Gravity looks like one of those Electro kits that we had as children, where the basic elements are presented with just a few tools allowing you to create all sorts of things just using the included material.
The last one is a Motion window where all sequencing gymnastics can be repeated for Pan, Level and Pitch. Of course, there are other controllers sprinkled around, for adding or changing or just fine-tuning the sequencing parameters, the numbers of steps (up to 64) or smoothness and so on. All those controllers are just an add-on for good measure, because, as we pointed out before, the main advantage is a really big number of pre-produced and pre-programmed samples that brings those “top studio, top audio engineer” combination of skills, equipment and sound sources which can’t be reproduced at home. Flexibility is another option if you really need to adapt anything directly to a picture.
It costs $449 USD, but if you are serious about your cinematic experience, then the main button for controlling your cinematic future is the one with the “Add To Chart” sign on it. I thought I wouldn’t do any cinematic music this summer, but this library is so appealing that I’ve changed my mind. It’s definitely a pro tool that’ll become standard in big studios. For a little less than 500 bucks you can emulate big Hollywood studios. Quality has its price. It’s up to you.