Wobblophones are the sound artist duo Neon & Landa. They invent and hand build their very own instruments. Since they found it hard to sell large numbers of them in real life due to the high production & shipping costs, they started sampling their instruments and make them available as sample libraries for NI Kontakt 5 and Ableton Live 9. This is good for us. Because their brand new baby just arrived and it is called Tunelle.
Tunelle is a neologism. It combines the words Tunnel and Tune. This pretty much describes what this is about. They build a tunnel (in fact two tunnels, one out of wood and one out of metal) as body attached two octaves of tuned springs to the surface of each and started playing around.
The download is through their page and after you paid 89 EUR / 65 £ via credit card or paypal it downloads quickly and it was very easy (I was even guided through it in German (my native language, for those who didn’t recognize by now)). The sample pack contains approx. 825 MB of content. There is the samples of course as well as the Kontakt nki files and a couple of pdf’s with background information that help you very well with every question that might occur.
The kit includes the two instruments each with different articulations (f.e. pulling, vertical plucking, horizontal plucking, plectrum & striking with a rubber mallet) as well as a folder named Body Hits, which contains, well, hits against the bodies of the instruments and two more folders, Sound Fx & Arpreggiator which basically run the samples through a couple of effects. All samples (44kHz, 24biz) are recorded very well on a professional level and the 40 presets are spiked with up to eight velocity layers and three round-robin layers. So at any time playing I had a very organic feeling as if plucking the springs myself.
The design is very fitting, there is springs everywhere in the layout. When opening one of the four tabs: Settings, Main, Effects and Arpreggiator, you will see all faders are designed as springs. You’ll have to stretch and squeeze them in order to change the settings. This is not very accurate (especially as there are no values written down, but hey, use your ears) but it is a lot of fun and invites to play around with the settings.
But let us talk about the most important thing about a sample library, the sounds. The dry sounds cover a broad range already. From harp like plings to very harsh metallic splashs you will find everything. Sometimes the change comes with the articulation you choose, sometimes even within one articulation. My favourite preset for example, it is called Metal Tunelle – Horizontal Plucking Bright, sounds like a broken upright bass in the low register, while the high register sounds like some gamelan player is having a good time in the yard.
With most of the samples you will have this phenomena as there are many factors that influence the building of the tone. Each spring sounds in various pitches when played and with most keys you play you will get overtones. This sums up what this library is about very well. You get a big lot of interesting tones for plenty of possible operations, but be prepared it is a new instrument and it won’t fit in every song over the full two octaves as easy as a piano might.
So bringing up the question who could use this library and where, the answer is very simple. Nearly everyone and nearly everywhere.
Non-musically, most samples work very well as sound – effects and could be of great help for sounddesign. Everything which features metal and springs is covered by Metal Tunelle, while Wood Tunelle is more damped and could be used to sound design a lot of different material textures. The Sound Fx kit displays a couple of possibilities of what can be reached when using the built-in fx on the samples but is doesn’t stop there. While they already programmed and delivered some horror-movie hits and dark soundscapes, I started using the samples with my own fx settings on an animated short movie I am working on at the moment to design the movement of a robot. I used the library to design “realistic” sounds but it is also possible to get funny sounds out of it. The build in effect Wobbly Tape for example turns most of the samples into some kind of “Bibi Blocksberg” wand sound.
Depending on the amount you use and the filter settings, you might use it to create the audio for the whole movements of a cartoon figure. The SFX tab is very helpful and lets you turn the samples into all kind of sounds.
But not only sfx. This library is also very usable with music. In a way, most sounds are tonal-percussive. Some sound like exotic xylophones. They worked very well on classical scores, especially when mixed with electronic music. They could be used as epic drums or for an asian touch. But I also tried them with industrial rock, hiphop tracks (great unique lead-sounds here) and electronic music. It created added value on all of the tracks. Only with very clean pop productions I didn’t have any luck, but maybe if I had tried harder it might have worked with them as well.
So here is my conclusion. This library doesn’t only offer a very unique instrument it also offers very unique sounds. These sounds are not super easy to fit in, but sometimes require a bit of tweaking and trial & error. But it never happened to be exhausting or frustrating, it is so much fun to play around with the sounds, I didn’t mind there is no “suitable for everything” preset. I think sounddesigners and musicians and in particular people who consider themselves to be both or inbetween can profit a lot from these sounds.