Review – Shreddage 2X by Impact Soundworks

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Impact Soundworks claims Shreddage 2X is the “Absolute Electric Guitar”.  Those words are a lot to live up to, and our reviewer thinks they might have actually delivered on that claim.

 

by Rob Mitchell, Sept. 2014 

 

Impact Soundworks are the producers of many fine sampled instrument libraries, including Vocalisa, Juggernaut, Celestia, and many more.  For this issue of SoundBytes, I will be reviewing another product of theirs that is called Shreddage 2X.  The original version was released in 2010, and later on it received many improvements for v2.  With Shreddage 2X, they’ve added even more useful features.

What exactly is Shreddage 2X? It is a sampled electric guitar that can be loaded into either Kontakt or the free Kontakt Player.  It has built-in effects, many articulation controls, and is very easy to use. The first time I heard the demos for it, I thought there was a real guitar player going at it in the studio, as there is just so much realism in its sound. 

So how was it recorded? The guitar they used was a Musicman JP12 (seven-string guitar) going through an Avalon U5, then in to a RME HDSPE interface, and recorded in 24-bit audio.

Shreddage 2X is priced at $139 USD, and there is an upgrade price of $99 USD if you own the original Shreddage.

It does take a while to download Shreddage 2, and when you install it, it will take about four gigabytes of hard drive space. It uses a serial number for copy protection, and you will have to enter that number in the Service Center that Kontakt uses.

Besides the hard drive space, the requirements that you need are Kontakt 5.3 or Kontakt Player 5.3, a PC with Windows 7 or 8 (32-bit or 64-bit), four gigabytes of RAM is recommended, and at least a Core 2 Duo processor. For the Mac, you’ll need an Intel-based Mac with OSX 10.7 or higher, and four gigabytes of RAM is recommended. Peavey’s ReValver HPse is included, and requires a VST or AU compatible host to use it with Shreddage 2X.

For my review, I used the free Kontakt player which can be downloaded from the Native Instruments website. You can also use the full version of Kontakt. I used SONAR X3 Producer as my DAW for this review.  Alternately, you can use Shreddage 2X as a standalone plugin using the Kontakt player.  

After you get it running, you then have a choice of three different instrument files to load into either Kontakt or Kontakt Player. Most of the time, you will probably be using the Shreddage IIX file, as it has the main guitar sounds that you’d use in your songs. It has all the strings sampled on every fret, and in all sorts of ways; including staccato notes, power chords, unison bends, the list goes on!

There is another one called Shreddage II FX which has many pick slides, muted rakes, various whammy bar sounds, and more.  They’ve also included the older version called Shreddage v2i.

Without even changing anything in the settings, you can get a great sound right away from Shreddage 2X. Many of the defaults are fine the way they are, but you can go in and change nearly anything to your liking. 

One feature which is very cool is its ability to do double-tracking or even quad-tracking. It is easy to set this up with the outputs going to separate tracks. One way to use this is to have two guitars panned to the left and right, and use different effects on each of them. When you play any notes on your MIDI keyboard, it will trigger both guitars at the same time.

The Perform screen has many buttons to switch articulations on or off. These include sustain, mute, staccato, hammer-on/pull off, portamento, tremolo, and pinch. You can also fine tune them to your liking by clicking on the label below the corresponding button. On the right side of the Perform screen, the Quick Edit area will show you some parameters you can adjust for the selected type of articulation.


The effects work the same way, where you can turn them on or off, and clicking the label below the buttons will let you adjust the settings for them.

If you prefer to use your own effects, just turn them all off, and use the plugin of your choice to add distortion or whatever you’d like.  The guitar in Shreddage 2X was actually sampled with a clean sound, so it works well this way.


There are some nice sounding effects built-in, and you can also use the Peavey ReValver HPse plugin, but you must have Shreddage 2X and Revalver loaded into a DAW for this to work.

 

Fret Board Screen


This is where you can see the how the fingering is working in relation to the fret board itself. The controls on this screen can change hand size, minimum/maximum fret preference, chord time, and fret reset.

The “Hand size” control enables you to set a larger hand setting, and then causes it to reach across more strings and frets to get to the notes. If it is set to a smaller hand size, it just doesn’t reach as far to get to as many places on the frets to hit the same notes. On a guitar, (unlike a piano) it is possible play the same note in two or more places on the fret board. They will not sound exactly the same, but it gives the sound more color and variation.

The minimum/maximum fret preference is similar to the Hand size control, but it’s more geared towards the frets themselves. It will set the range of how far Shreddage 2X will go up and down the fret board’s range of frets to play the notes.

“Chord time” detects if a chord is played, and changes the way it will it play it back using up strokes, down strokes, or it can use different fingering. The range for the setting is from 0-1000 ms.  If you set it to 190 ms, for instance, it will figure it is a chord being played if each of the notes are within 190 ms of each other. “Fret reset” will delay the reset of the finger/fret positioning after the all of the notes have been released.

 

Articulations Screen


The Articulations screen is basically the same as what is on the main page, but all the controls are in view at once. You can set minimum/maximum velocity values for each of the included articulations. For an example, if you hit the note on the keyboard softly, but if the range isn’t set low enough for the “PINCH” setting, it won’t play with a pinched “squeal” type of sound. You could also force that type of sound to occur using key switching. This gives you a lot of control over the sound and realism of the notes being played.

I really love how easy it is to set it up the way I like, and the sounds blasting out of Shreddage 2X are phenomenal. If you have a MIDI keyboard with 49 keys or more, you could get a lot more out of the key switch feature, as you could use the lower keys to trigger muted or pinched notes, or even tremolo picking. Even if you have a smaller keyboard, you could automate the key switching in your DAW.

When you play live, you can activate a certain articulation for a few notes using your left hand, and play the guitar part with the right hand. Even if you have smaller keyboard (25 keys for instance) you can still set velocity ranges to control the articulations instead of using the keyboard to switch them.  Also, if you need to save some memory, you can turn off any articulations you might not need.

The Portamento control section is very cool, and lets you blend from note to another. It sounds just like if you were sliding up or down to the next note. They’ve also included this as a feature that will work with the built-in power chords. When you play one of those, and then play another one, it slides up or down to that next power chord that is played. They’ve included controls for the portamento transition and sustain volume settings, as well as a speed control.  

In addition to the power chord portamento feature, there is a power chord staccato sound which gives it a great, grungy, metal-type of quality. This can also be turned on or off with a key switch.

 

The Engine Screen


The Engine screen has many controls for the overall sound, including settings for velocity, pitch, and different types of realism settings.

The Velocity to Volume control is exactly what you’d think: If it is turned up, the harder or softer you hit the note, the louder the sound is. It isn’t just a louder volume however, as the string also sounds like you’re really picking with more strength. Release noises are adjustable too, adding a little bit of noise after a note has ended. It’s the same sound you’d hear when you have let the strings go on a real-life guitar. 

The Extra Pick settings add a certain amount of that edgy pick sound at the beginning of the note that’s played. It has controls for the extra pick’s time (basically a delay setting) and the variation of the samples that are used for it.

They seem to have thought of everything, as they’ve added additional controls to adjust hammer-on and pull-off realism. When these are enabled, the volume and amount of hammer-ons/pull-offs will decrease over time until a new a new note is played.

 

Conclusion

One thing I wanted to mention right away is the vendor’s support. I had asked a few questions here and there during this review, and they were always quick to get back with an answer for me. A manual is great, until you get stuck, and you wonder how to proceed. Kudos goes out to the Impact Soundworks support, thanks guys!

A few other features in Shreddage 2X that I want to mention are the round robin (RR), the presets, and the keyswitch latch.

Round Robin is a feature that automatically cycles through slightly different samples of whatever note you’re on. This can steer it away from sounding like a robotic/repetitive type of a sound, where all the notes are exactly alike.

If you have set it up a certain way with the articulations and effects, you can save that as a preset to load up again at a later time.

The key switch latch is very handy, as you can just tap a key switch and it will stay on. That way, you don’t have to manually hold down that key to make it trigger a certain articulation.  It will stay on till you hit a different key.

Impact Soundworks have really outdone themselves with Shreddage 2X. You’ll have a tough time if you’re trying to find a competing product with this much realism, especially at this low of a price. It is definitely a must-have for producers who need some realistic electric guitar in their compositions.

The clean direct-in recordings they have produced can work with basically any style, as you could add just a few effects or an amp simulation, and you’re ready to go. Nearly all the demos I have heard of it are heavier rock/metal oriented, but it can do anything actually: jazz, country, classic rock, pop rock … you name it.  For certain types of styles, you may just want to adjust your effects a certain way, and then save them as presets. You could always use some EQ to get more of a twangy type of sound, or even a gentle/mellow jazz-guitar type of sound.

The library has a huge amount of great samples covering every nook and cranny of the electric guitar, and it really is of the highest quality. Once I started to use it, I could tell that they must have put in a gigantic effort into the scripting, sampling, and design of Shreddage 2X.

What more can I say? I’d sum it up by saying it’s easy to use, has extensive options for articulations, sounds even better with its effects, and yet it can have a pristine, clean sound as well. I highly recommend it. When they say “Absolute Electric Guitar” on their website, those words are a lot to live up to. They have achieved this with a brilliant product, great support, and an awesome sound.

You can get more information and hear demos of Shreddage 2X on their website here:

 

http://impactsoundworks.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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