We spent the weeks since the release of Acou6tics working on the 1.1 update, which adds quite a lot of new features and improvements to the playback engine. Today we want to give you a short overview on what’s new and what has changed.
• Playback: Picking mode:
If you turn the Strum Speed knob all the way to the left, the engine switches into picking mode.This means that chords are no longer automatically voiced as guitar chords and makes it very easy to switch between full chord strumming and picking.
• Legato: Quick controls added to the main page:
When switching to legato mode the strum settings knobs are replaced by legato settings knobs. This, for example, allows you to quickly change or automate the crossfade and sample start of the legato samples, which can help you to make a legato line fit perfectly and to achieve the best possible realism.
• Legato: Play Slide:
The new Play Slide keyswitch (G#0 in legato mode) allows you to connect two notes via slide on any string. To play a slide, press the Play Slide forced keyswitch and keep it pressed, play a note, also keep it pressed and play another note. As long as the slide is physically possible on the fretboard, the engine will now play a slide. The faster you play the notes the faster the slide will be.
• Legato: Engine and sample update:
The legato engine has been rewritten from scratch and most of the Legato Setup page settings have been changed as well. To get a full overview over all the new settings please refer to the updated manual, which covers all the changes. One especially nice feature of the new legato engine should be mentioned here: it’s now possible to mix polyphonic playing and legato lines. You now can, for example, play a chord, keep it pressed, play a trill and switch back to polyphonic playing. To switch to the new mode go to Advanced Setup → Legato Setup and disable Force Monophonic.
Additionally to the engine update, all legato samples have been recut and the best possible start for each sample has been set, which helped to improve the legato playing a lot.
• Realism: Hit next string noise:
This simulates a rest-stroke, where the finger rests on the next string after plucking the string, which produces an additional attack sound and more punch. This is especially useful for the finger picked instruments, especially when playing Flamenco for example, where this technique is used quite often. You can setup the volume, probability and at which velocity the additional noise is added by going to Advanced Setup → Noise Setup.
• Realism: Bad notes:
This allows note buzz to be added at the beginning of a note. To setup the volume, probability, and when the buzz occurs (only at a higher velocities, for example), go to Advanced Setup → Noise Setup.
• Sequencing: “By MIDI Channel” instruments update:
It’s now possible to mix by MIDI channel string positioning with auto detection. If the MIDI Channel is in the range of the strings, e.g. 1 to 6 or 11 to 16 (since the latter is how GuitarPro outputs the channels when exporting MIDIs) the engine places the note exactly on that string. If you set the MIDI Channel out of the range, e.g. 7 to 10, it uses auto positioning.
The way to work with this is the following:
1. Set your track MIDI Channel to any channel between 7 to 10 while working on your song,
that way the “By MIDI Channel” – Instrument behaves just like the normal one.
2. When finished with your piece, mark all events in your track and set the MIDI Channel to
any channel between 7 to 10.
3. Set your track MIDI Output to “omni”.
4. Now you can go through the track and tweak the string positioning whenever you feel like
a certain string should be played by simply changing the MIDI channel for those notes
to the string you want to play them on.
Note: There are two By MIDI Channel modes. One goes from 1 to 6 (MIDI channel 1 = lowest string, MIDI channel 6 = highest string) and one which goes from 6 to 1 (MIDI channel 6 = lowest string, MIDI channel 1 = highest string). The mode can be changed in Advanced Settings → String Setup.
Note: Obviously if using By MIDI Channel instruments, each instruments needs its own Kontakt instance (unless you want to double track, then you can use two instruments in one instance).
• Other features, improvements & bug fixes
➔ Fix: Various smaller mapping issues fixed accross all instruments
➔ Fix: When rotating the User Chord-knob while playing back a MIDI track in a sequencer or playing live, sometimes a “Array out of range” error was displayed in the status bar of Kontakt
➔ Fix: 12 String loaded up in legato mode
➔ Improvement: The strum noises have been adjusted. Strumming in general should sound quite a bit more realistic and better now
➔ Improvement: All noise volumes Advanced Setup → Noise Setup now are at 75% per default. The difference to 100%, which was the old default value, has been compensated. So there now is more headroom to adjust those settings
➔ Feature: Play On String 6 to Play On String 1 forced keyswitches (starting at C-2) added and included in the default mapping. This is especially useful when using Acou6tics in a sequencer since it allows you to quickly force the engine to play on certain strings via keyswitch
My Name is Benjamin Stelzer, I am the lead developer of Acou6tics and Electri6ity and I’d like to take you on a behind-the-scenes tour and give you some insight on the development of our newest virtual acoustic guitar library.
Maybe you’ve already heard of Electri6ity, which is our award winning electric guitar library. The reason why I’m also talking about Electri6ity in this blog – just in case you were wondering – is that Acou6tics is meant to follow in the footsteps of this critically acclaimed library, using the same advanced technologies only to re-imagining the acoustic guitar instead of an electric guitar this time.
After releasing Electri6ity, the library quickly became very popular and we’ve got so much feedback from customers on it and even more request to create an acoustic version of this library using the same technology. So when we started to plan Acou6tics we first sat down, took all the feedback, the feature request and read through almost all the discussions on the internet about Electri6ity to get a feeling on what would be the perfect acoustic guitar library. Doing this, it quickly became clear on what we had to lay our focus on:
1. Recording & Tone
3. Ease of use
4. Chords & Strumming
1. Recording & Tone
When we did the first recording tests we spent almost a month, only testing different microphones, micing techniques with various guitars. We tested traditional micing techniques like AB-stereo micing, XY-stereo micing, M/S-stereo micing, but we also tried mics inside the body of the guitars and various types of transducers. We tried different mic characteristics, (omni, cardioid, hyper-cardioid), different micing distances, different rooms and different room treatments – all to get the idea of an ideal acoustic guitar tone for a perfect acoustic guitar library.
You need to know, that this is something completely different compared to recording a live acoustic guitar part for a particular song, because in that case you only need to find a tone which fits this one song. An acoustic guitar library will be used in a lot of different songs and music styles later and ideally it needs to fit all of them all equally!
What we came up with in the end, was much simpler than our initial tests, but tone wise it was the most versatile recording setup, which perfectly captured the natural tone of all the guitars:
We recorded the guitars in Blumlein-stereo using two large condenser mics in a room which was treated in a way that is was almost completely dead, except for some carefully placed diffusers. This technique has a lot of benefits: it’s fully mono compatible, the mics used have figure 8 characteristics, which sounds much more natural than cardioid, the stereo image is excellent and the samples are very dry. Additionally we also recorded the piezo output of all instruments.
The realism of a virtual instruments depends on two factors: First of all, the important articulations, noises and nuances need to be captured in the recording process. And the second factor is an engine which plays back the samples in a way that resembles what a real player would do when playing that instrument. Our experience with Electri6ity, which also was samples extensively, already gave us a pretty good idea of what we had to record and how we had to record it.
But we also wanted to push the playback engine to a new level in terms of realism. So we spent weeks analyzing different playing techniques and nuances of a real guitar and figuring out ways, how to implement them into the engine. In the end we had a completely new sympathetic resonance engine, a physical modeling based approach for the pick position simulation, a completely new strum engine, a new chord detection engine – pretty much everything was completely rewritten from scratch.
3. Ease of use
Here the feedback we got on Electri6ity was very helpful. We went through all the critiques and all the improvement requests to figure out how it would be possible, to offer the same flexibility and control the Electri6ity engine offered, but much easier to use. The Acou6tics GUI is very easy to handle and easy to understand, the instruments load pretty fast and the memory usage is very reasonable.
4. Chords & Strumming
We are especially proud of our new chord & strumming engine. The chord library contains up to 25,000 guitar chords per instrument. This means that for almost every chord you are playing on your keyboard, the engine will instantly find the correct guitar voicing for that chord! But not only that, Acou6tics also allows you to learn user chords with only one knob. Whenever you play a certain chord on the keyboard, the guitar voicing you’ve learned for that chord is selected – and you can choose from up to 50 different guitar voicings for each chord.
The new strumming engine has a lot of humanization build and allows you to play realistic strum patterns in no time. We’ve even added transition strums, which are strums that often occur on a real guitar between two chords, since your finger will need time to finger the new chord on the fretboard. That added quite a bit of realism, since those transition strums are so audible and recognizable on a real guitar.
Acou6tics can be adjusted to exactly fit your needs! You don’t like the default keyswitch layout? No problem. You can simply customize it.
You don’t like the default setup of the instrument? No problem. You can customize it.
Almost every aspect of the playback engine can be customized and automated if necessary!
I hope you enjoyed this insight into the development of Acou6tics.
For more information and demos visit the Acou6tics page.
Vir2 Development Team
Following in the footsteps of Vir2 Instruments’ award-winning Electri6ity electric guitar virtual instrument, Acou6tics applies the same advanced technologies to re-imagine the virtual acoustic guitar. Vir2 has meticulously recorded six different acoustic instruments: a steel-string guitar, twelve-string, nylon string, ukulele, mandolin, and guitalele, and presents them in astonishing detail. It features both plectrum and finger picking, and Blumlein stereo recordings alongside the piezo pickup perspective. Thousands of samples across more than a dozen articulations were recorded for each instrument, including sustains, mutes, releases, legatos, hammer-ons and pull-offs, slides, harmonics, and effects. Acou6tics also features virtual room control with adjustable mic distance and sympathetic resonance.
Acou6tics is powered by the industry-leading Kontakt engine. It is compatible with VST, RTAS (Pro Tools 9 & 10), and AAX (Pro Tools 10 & 11) plug-in formats allowing it to work seamlessly within any major sequencer, in addition to standalone use.
The Acou6tics interface is very easy to navigate. There are four main pages: Playback, Keyswitches, Chords, and Mics & FX.