Three Hideaway Studio Libraries
Hideaway Studios is one of our absolute-favorite providers of Kontakt sound libraries. Here we look at three of Hideaway’s exceptional offerings.
by David Baer, Jan. 2015
Today we’ll be looking at three marvelous Hideaway Studio [link: https://hideawaystudio.wordpress.com/ ] sound sets. OK, “marvelous” is a redundant adjective when preceding the phrase “Hideaway Studio sound sets”, but we include it for anyone unfamiliar with the wizardry to be found in their offerings. The three sets are The Pentodian Resonator Choir, The String Collection and Synergenesis.
As is the case with pretty much everything coming out of Hideaway Studios (hereafter called “HS”), there’s an interesting story behind each of these sets involving vintage electronics and restoration of some gear of legend. We’ll start with Synergenisis, HS’s the most recent major offering. Then we’ll look at the two remaining sets in tandem, since there is much that can be said which is applicable to both.
The roots of this library go back to, of all places, Bell Labs in the 70s, the incubator from which emerged such technologies as the Unix operating system, the C programming language, and much more than has become integral to the many modern communications technologies from which we benefit on a daily basis early fifty years later. A scientist named Hal Alles discovered that an interesting application of a communication technology was the production of synthetic musical tones. He was actually allowed (and funded!) to create a side project to explore these possibilities. The result was a 300 lb processor nicknamed The Blue Monster. You can read the full account of this history and the technologies involved here:
Fast forward a few years and we find the direct descendant of The Blue Monster in the form of the Synergy DK-1, which was to be followed by the Synergy II+. The Synergy II+ hit the marketplace just shortly before the Yamaha DX7 made its appearance, which given its attractive cost, dominated the market and relegated the Synergy to commercial also-ran heap.
Dan Wilson, the man who is HS, got his hands on one of the rare surviving specimens of the Synergy II+ dating from 1983. It was in sad shape, but Dan managed to bring it back to life with his amazing wizardry. But that was only the start of the quest. The problem was that the instrument relied on a host application running on an ancient computer model called a Kaypro. And it was not just the computer that needed to be added to the picture. A home-built cable for connecting the Kaypro and the instrument was required. The challenge of replacing the 5.25 inch “floppy” disk with a modern equivalent emulation was probably the most arduous task. Long story short, Dan pulled it off and we have the deliciously rich sounds in the HS Synergy collection to enjoy as a result.
The first thing you might notice about the user interface (shown above) is the absence of what we’ve come to expect in Hideaway visual esthetics … a sad reminder that Steven Howell of Hollow Sun, who normally did the graphics for Hideaway creations, is no longer with us. But as delightful as a nice front end can be, we are obviously most interested in great sounds, and Synergy most definitely does not disappoint. You can hear an extremely nice demo track Dan put together (yes, he’s a wizard at more than just electronics) at the link above.
The collection includes just over 30 different multi-sampled pitched sounds and a large variety of electronic percussion samples, in all about 1 G of sound. The pitched sounds encompass a variety of “synthy” patches: pad, pluck, KB, etc. – there’s not a one that is less than engaging, to my ears. As always, the sampling is impeccable with respect to tuning and seamless looping. A variety of single and multi presets are included to get you started.
The user interface is almost entirely self-explanatory, and I won’t bother dwelling on the obvious. But I do want to focus one control “Tone”. This is something we see in many HS offerings and it’s worth a bit of scrutiny. What is going on under the covers is that a three-band equalizer is employed. When the Tone knob is fully to the left, the signal is unaltered. That is, all three gain settings are at zero. As we turn the dial, the nine parameters (three each of frequency, gain and Q) are altered in seemingly random fashion. It’s not truly random, because the behavior is always repeatable, but the EQ curve morphs through a series of contortions. Here’s a snapshot of five Tone settings:
Gently modulating the Tone setting can produce some exquisite animation. There is no on-board LFO for this purpose, but it can readily be done with automation or MIDI-learn. We’ll see the Tone control later in the Choir and String libraries.
The Pentodian Resonant Choir and the String Collection
The Pentodian Resonant Choir (hereafter “TPRC”) interface can be seen above. The String Collection (hereafter “TSC”) interface looks essentially identical with respect to controls on the UI panel. Both TPRC and TSC share much in common with another HS offering I’ve written about previously, The Orbitone Collection. That review can be read here:
TPRC and TSC were introduced around the same time in early 2014.
In both we have four independent instruments or slots, if you prefer, that can be employed in a stacked fashion. We can set each slot to play a different sample set, or can repeat a sample set in multiple slots. In that latter case, we can slightly detune and optional panning to create a very thick sound, or we can tune to multiple octaves for that kind of aural intensification.
The interface is a single tab that holds all the controls, and once again is probably so obvious that no study of the documentation will be needed (although documentation is provided and it’s more than adequate). For each slot we have independent level, tuning, panning, vibrato, and the aforementioned Tone controls.
We have four effects: convolution reverb, echo, phaser and chorus (which in the case of TPRC, may be as blatant a case of gilding the lily as was ever seen!). The presets have a tendency to have generous amounts of effect levels, which make them sound great in demo mode. I find these normally to be too high for practical mixing, but any corrections are readily accomplished.
TPRC has a selection of twelve electronic choir sounds to draw upon (listed to the right). They all have considerable and distinct character and can complement each other brilliantly when stacked. The full story of how these were created can be read here:
The sounds begin as a collection of input samples from a variety of sources (all certified vintage, to be sure). These were then fed into a custom-built triple resonator circuit (pictured right) inspired by circuitry in the 1938 Hammond Novachord (yet another fascinating HS story). The signal emerging from this was then sent through a series of tube gear (oscilloscope, drive unit and EQ). Top it off with a dusting of vintage analog chorus, and we’re good to go, as the demo tracks at the above link amply prove.
TSC differs from TPRC only in the samples backing it. The interface has identical controls and the instrument sports identical effects. In this case, there is a selection sixteen string multi-samples available (listed to the right). These were gathered from a variety of vintage sources and analog post-sampling processing. The results speak for themselves. Sound demos can be heard here:
If all the glowing words above weren’t enough to make you lust for these sounds, then maybe I should mention the prices to seal the deal. Synergenesis is priced at approximately $23 USD and TPRC and TSC are approximately $16 apiece. Given the quality of all of these sets, those prices mean a lot of value for the money. All require the full version of Kontakt (release 4.2.4 or later).
TPRC and TSC complement each other so magnificently, if you own one, it would be a considerable shame not to also own the other. Either can certainly provide magnificent, plush pads on their own. However, when stacked together, the resultant sound can be so opulent that using both together in this fashion may very well be illegal in certain localities.
For more information and purchases, go here: