Oceania by Performance Samples Review
Every year another sampled choir walks to the stage and shows off its “next-gen” features. But what if the realism and playability of such next-gen offerings could be supplied with old-gen simplicity? We’ll discuss this concept by looking at Oceania – an effectively simple choir library from Performance Samples. For more on Performance Samples see also your review of Fluid Shorts and Caspian.
Performance Samples offers stripped down and highly functional orchestral libraries for composers who want the sounds of more mainstream libraries but without the immense loading times, complex patches and key-switching fiascos that often come with detailed orchestral libraries. Oceania is supplied with a male choral section and a female choral section with close, decca and wide mic positions, with bonus risers and shouts for the male singers.
The library is easily downloaded via Connect and auto-installed to your folder of choice, and being a full Kontakt library, there’s no registration needed.
Oceania sounds like an expert recording of a choir recorded in a concert hall – exactly what you’d expect to hear in a soundtrack or a classical piece, which is perfect. There’s no guile in the way this library (and others from Performance Samples) is presented. The samples sound clear and genuine and far from processed, which is a good thing by all means. The men and women perform long notes with aggressive, but focused, vibrato and intensity.
This is great for any style of composition, as even when the dynamics control is pulled down, you get intensity in the note. Various staccato attacks and releases were recorded for creating natural sounding lyrical-style performances – and I must state here that of all the choral libraries I’ve played, both new and old, Oceania is the only library I’ve played that provides such an authentic lyrical choir sound with next to absolute zero effort – that’s not an exaggeration by any means.
What would usually require key-switching (or the dreaded word-building) in so many other libraries is tossed aside as if it were never needed here. If you want syllables, hit the keys and perform your melody. If you want melodic lines, softly play and ride the mod wheel. If you want accented staccatos and marcatos, hit the keys quickly and the appropriate attack and release samples are activated under the hood to give you the feeling that you’re conducting a live chorus.
User interface & Usability
Of course, all of this great sounding material isn’t just what’s on the top. The GUI for Oceania is dead-basic, with the ability to choose which syllable style you want to hear by hitting a key-switch – sure, that seems like key-switching (well, it is) but it’s only for composers who require certain syllables.
The upshot of this is that you don’t have to rely on “reset” key-switches for phrase building that are commonly supplied in choral libraries. If you’re choosing what syllable you want, and you’re activating the key for that syllable, your performance will always render with the right syllables being performed. Simple, and time-saving – which seems to be a hallmark of Performance Samples libraries.
If you’re after gliding legato lines or fashionable phrases, you’re in the wrong place with Oceania – this library is for all-use, fast composing needs – but with a level of polish and natural sounding liveliness that many other quick-compose tools simply don’t offer. The library does however offer a very useful selection of risers and quick shouts for the male choir though, which is great.
Rating: Five out of five stars
It was difficult for me to find a reason not to give this library the full five stars. There are many things that Oceania doesn’t offer, but those things are barely ever needed. The simple fact is, there’s no other library at the moment that can compete with Oceania’s usability. It’s as simple as that.
You will have to shell out slightly more than you’d be used to for such a simple library, but that money goes a long way if you remember that Oceania is a replacement – if not an alternative – for most premium priced large choral libraries on the market. This library is what choral composing should be all about when it comes to samples, in my opinion.