Saga by Red Room Audio Review
We all love a good cinematic percussion library, as long as it delivers the sounds, ease of use and is fun to play. Yet another one of these libraries has hit the shelves of late, and we’ll be taking a look at that today – Saga Acoustic Trailer Percussion from Red Room Audio.
Red Room Audio launched in 2018 as a sister company to Impact Soundworks, and was conceived by the talented Dickie Chapin who provides a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for Impact Soundworks’ libraries. While writing this article Red Room Audio has only released Palette (an orchestral and cinematic sketching tool) and Saga, so this provider is fairly new to the market.
The library comes with a bit more than your usual cinematic percussion library, offering orchestral ensemble drums, ethnic ensembles and solos, anvils and metals, trinkets, and cymbals and gongs. All recorded with 2 mic positions (except for the metals and trinkets) with plenty of velocities and round robins as we’ve come to expect.
Downloading and installing is simple – download the two .zips in your Red Room Audio account (it’s about 4 gigs), extract them to whatever folder you want and play. It’s a full Kontakt library so there’s no registration.
Straight up Saga sounds big, focused and energetic. The orchestral ensembles (low drums, snares on and off, low toms and high toms) are a refreshing thing to hear in a library of this kind, and it really rounds out the library’s applications should you require some more traditional classical percussion but larger and louder.
The ethnic ensembles (taikos, frame drums, tupans, surdos, hand drums, repiniques) sound great, with plenty of detail in the close mics and a controlled heaviness that fits in the mix. The taikos in particular sound clear rather than dull (which I like) so they can hold their own with brighter instruments. The solo ethnic instruments (taiko, frame drums, surdo, repinique, tupan) sound great with the close mics pulled up and are really handy for smaller or more exposed parts, which again expands the library’s use cases.
The cymbals and gongs have a great dry sound with the close mics, and don’t have the kind of harshness or ringing you might find in other libraries, which is a big relief.
Then we come to the metals and trinkets, which have their own ensemble and solo hits. The oil drum makes its return to sampled percussion (since libraries like Damage from Heavyocity) and with no surprise, it sounds tops. The anvils are clear and defined, the sheet metals are perfect for industrial percussion, and the trinkets and silo booms will happily cover plenty of other genres while sounding poignant and focused. The close mics are really the star of the show in this case, showing off a dry balanced texture that sounds polished but still has a genuine natural quality to it that doesn’t decide what your track is going to sound like when mixed. The detail is a breath of fresh air what with so many cinematic percussion libraries going for the expansive blooming textures and brown notes (drummers will be happily familiar with that term).
User interface & Usability
The GUI and patches are kept simple, which is great. There’s a patch for each style of a section, with the mic balance, EQ, and FX, “roll to hit” button for the roll articulations, and dynamics controls logically set out and easy to look at, with fast load times to boot. Exactly what we want in a library.
At a first glance, “Saga Acoustic Trailer Percussion” might appear to be another slamming, crashing, pounding collection of trailer-tailored fluff. That is simply not the case here. What Saga really contains is a highly balanced collection of drums we’re familiar with, some we’re not, and a surprisingly flexible variety of industrial percussion that makes this package a work-horse that composers can and should, by all means, invest in with comfort. It’s rock solid.
Rating: Five out of five stars
Normally I wouldn’t give a percussion library five stars unless it sported some game-changing features (See our Strikeforce from Laboratory Audio Review). But after I happily played through each patch and found no roadblocks or faults, I remembered the price I paid for Saga Acoustic Trailer Percussion. The base price is $149, which is below the norm for a collection that covers this much ground – but as a bonus, if you own Palette (which I do) the price comes down to a phenomenal $100 – which is sacrilege to some sample providers for such a “premium” percussion library.
All said and done, I think perhaps Palette’s initial lukewarm reception from buyers in regards to the idealistic pricing/packaging may very well have spurred Red Room Audio to do something really awesome this time around… and they certainly have.