The Cage Bundle is a combination of three 8dio products: Cage Strings, Cage Brass and Cage Woodwinds. All products are also available as separate libraries as well. There is no doubt in my mind, that 8dio named their products Cage in homage to the famous American composer John Cage (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) who pioneered the usage of extended playing techniques in his compositions. Although Cage is also an acronym for Custom Aleatoric Group Effects. 8dio promotes the Cage Bundle as »The most comprehensive collection of Orchestral Effects ever done«. This is no ordinary orchestral sample library, since it dives deep into the extended techniques and effects world of orchestral music.
Content and Sound
The whole Cage collection of 33000+ samples will set your disk space back by aprox. 66 GB and works inside Kontakt 4.2 or higher. All patches have been recorded at a very high sample rate of 96khz and in 9 microphone positions:
5 Ensemble Microphones
4 Divisi Microphones
Since the library is also highly aimed for sound design usage (more about this later) the very high sample rate is key, since it gives the user a lot more freedom when it comes to sound desinging and mangling the source material.
The overall sound of the library really impressed me, since it has a very rich and pure tone. The recording hall is also not very prominent so blending Cage with other sample libraries is an ease. The 9 microphone positions can also take the sound from close and personal to distant and wide very quickly. Usually I would think 9 microphone positions would be an overkill, but with this library it makes a lot of sense.
Let’s start with the best part of this bundle; The Brass! The brass section comes in three ensembles: Trumpets, Horns and Trombones.
Each ensemble has its own sub folder of patches and each patch has several different articulations which are triggered by key switches.
Although Cage is primarily an orchestral effects library, I was pleasantly surprised by the normal sustains and staccatos included with the brass. The »normal« shorts of all three instrument groups are absolutely brilliant and go from a very soft pianissimo to a brassy and loud fortissimo, that immediately reminds the listener of Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. The sustains come with a forte-piano-forte (soft-loud-soft), a forte piano and »power sustain« (fortissimo sustain) articulations.
Playing through the effects patches of the library is pure joy. Here you will find practically any common and uncommon brass effect you have ever wanted. Get ready to write an epic horror scene!
The strings are separated into two main categorize: High Strings and Low Strings
Both ensembles have separate patches and each patch has various articulations inside it. I have also giggled a bit when reading the naming of some of the articulations… Browsing through the articulations is a breeze and the way they are layed out on the keyboard makes a lot of sense although none of the patches are really tonal. What I do miss is, that you cannot loud up single articulations. You can of course deselect the unwanted articulations so they don’t eat up your RAM.
If you are writing a horror scene for a movie or if you want some nice string risers and atonal hits; look no further. The strings are a goldmine for this kind of writing. On the other hand, you cannot write any tonal music with only the use of the strings… I wish, that 8dio would have added some »normal« staccato and sustain patches with the strings, like they did with Cage brass. I think the versatility of the library would be massively improved this way.
As in the strings, the woodwinds come in high and low ensembles. Unfortunately no »normal« articulations have been added to the woodwinds as well. But as I have pointed out earlier, Cage is not meant to be a normal orchestral library.
Again, the woodwinds are just a treasure chest of different orchestral woodwind effects. I especially like the high wind pulses patch which deliver a sizzling variety of atonal runs. You also have some major runs up and down, which are always great to have in your orchestral arsenal.
The GUI is where the real magic happens with this library, since it offers the user so much options. In the main window you can select and deselect different articulations. Then you also have a mixer tab where you can play around with the different mic positions. There is also a options tab where you can offset the samples, set their attack and release or even stack differente articulations on top of each other (great for sound design). But the best part of the library is the effects window, which is intuitive design to help you easily mangle the sound to your own taste and make it completely your own. Here you can pitch shift, distort or gate the samples. You can also add delay, reverb and other effects. The effects window really makes the library usable in a lot of different scenarios, since with a little inginuity and luck you will be able to make some very interesting sounds right out of Kontakt itself.
Price performance and conclusion
Cage Bundle retails at 718$. Separately the Cage Strings are priced at 499$, Cage Brass at 399$ and Cage Woodwinds at 299$. For the amount of content and well produced sounds, I do think this is a fair price, but I can see, that the price will be high for non-professional users. If you want some orchestral effects in your arsenal I would primarily suggest you buy the Brass first, since I think they offer the most versatility.
All in all, I have to say I am quite impressed with the whole collection. Having so many orchestral effects at your fingertips is just great. The next time I will have to score a horror movie or game I am sure to loud up tones of Cage patches. I do also see myself using Cage in trailer and epic music for some risers and as a sound design tool. The question really is, how versatile is the library? I think the question cannot be answered easily, since the more time you will spend with the library and its effects, the more use you will find with it. But since most composer nowadays work on tight deadline, I see this library mostly used in horror or thriller type music or as an addition to epic and trailer music as a sound design tool.
8dio has really delivered “the most comprehensive collection of Orchestral Effects ever done«. Sure you have many sample developers, that have some kind of orchestral effects sample library, but the Cage Bundle is truly a unique gem on the market, since it offers effects in the strings, brass and woodwinds in an extent, that no other library currently on the market does. So if you are in search of some orchestral effects, look no further, since you will find it all in Cage.
- Most comprehensive orchestral effects library on the market today
- Great rich sound, 9 microphone positions, Great for sound desing
- Great “normal” staccato and sustains in Cage Brass
- No “normal” articulations in the strings or woodwinds (except the major runs in the woodwinds)
- Limited versatility in the genres you are able to compose in with this library
- Can be pricey for non-professionals