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Shimmer Shake Strike by In Session Audio Review
Libraries that focus on shaker and tambourine percussion are always a bit awkward. The sounds are either delivered as loops – which aren’t very flexible – or samples that simply don’t have the same expression as a real shaker or tambourine. This is due to how shakers and tambourines are performed – there are pre-note sounds and accent expectations that are often simply cut out of samples to get straight to the transient. Today we’ll be looking at one of the very few available solutions to that problem – Shimmer Shake Strike from In Session Audio.
In Session Audio is a re-imagining of the long-gone Nine Volt Audio sample provider, and they create high quality rhythmic and percussive sample libraries. Shimmer Shake Strike is an overhauled re-release of its 2012 version from Nine Volt Audio and has been updated with new sounds, a new GUI, and intuitive groove sequencers. A large selection of useful percussive objects is supplied including shakers, tambourines, bottles, blocks and many more.
Download and installation is simple – extract the .zip to your folder of choice and register the library using Native Instruments’ product manager and you’re good to go.
Shimmer Shake Strike sounds fantastic – you can quite literally throw it on top of an already mixed track and it will fit snuggly most of the time.
The instruments have been expertly produced to sound natural yet polished, so it’s easy to just forget about the mix and have fun with this collection. The shakers provided have been meticulously selected to work perfectly for single, double or triple shaker parts, and can cover pop, rock, experimental, cinematic and ethnic styles with ease.
The tambourines (the “shimmer” part of the library) also come in a delicious variety of bright, silky and dark sounding tones. The percussive hits (the “strike” part of the library) are also very surprising – there’s a top-notch collection of useful percussive sources like hand claps and clicks, bells and triangles, claves and castanets, bottles, a wooden ticky-tocky drum (the kind you spin left to right to make a slapping sound) and more.
These sounds have been well chosen and sampled, and they make the library so much more than just a shaker or tambourine collection, so they’ll easily find their way into many different tracks and scores. You can have a listen to the sounds and their applications below:
User interface & Usability
The interface is elegant and simple. There are three slots where an instrument can be loaded – this allows the user to pan two of the instruments left and right, and leave the third centered to create a balanced wide sound, which is desirable with shakers and tambourines.
All of the instruments are contained in a single patch, and the loading times are fast. The instruments can be played separately across the keyboard, or can be linked and played at the same time – and each sampled dynamic is mapped to its own key, which is what more percussion libraries should be doing these days. This allows you to play and control every dynamic and accent of the instruments to get a truly natural performance that comes to life in the track. The multi-sampled aspect of this library trumps any other shaker and tambourine-based library by a long shot.
Then there’s the phrase based aspect of this library. Rather than providing sampled loops and phrases at different speeds and dynamics (which doesn’t work that well in practice), the developers have recorded a large variety of instrument performances including double strokes, triple strokes, forward and backward shaking both static and accented, and more – and spliced these performances into sample sets that are called up by the beat sequencer. There are three sequencers (for the three instruments) and a variety of different grooves can be made and set to a key on the keyboard.
The beat sequencer is dead easy to use, and allows you to create patterns with accents, double and triple strokes and change the time signature and swing of the beats, both straight and in triplets. There’s not a lot more you could ask for here – and when you’ve put your groove in and hit the groove key, the results are instantly gratifying. The samples are intelligently selected automatically and playback just like a live performer would. Yes – the phrase based aspect of this library also trumps any other shaker and tambourine library’s efforts by a long shot.
Also provided are a selection of rolls that can be set to three different keys and have attack and release shaping, so flourishes are a go – and just for measure, a massive collection of instrument and groove combination snapshots in different time signatures is provided.
Rating: Five out of five stars
Shimmer Shake Strike is so perfect it seems almost too good to be true – but don’t let that fool you. The library is priced at a reasonable and is beyond rock solid. With love and care, expert sampling and programming, and maybe a pinch of luck, this library has turned out to be one of those “must-have” collections that you’d be crazy to not have.
The bottom line is, Shimmer Shake Strike manages to pull off the almost impossible task of being an indispensable production tool and an insanely fun toy to play around with. The dollar goes a hell of a long way with this one.