Symphonic Destruction Review (By Heavyocity)

In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

Test the boundaries of modern cinematic scoring with the all-new Symphonic Destruction, built around Heavyocity’s philosophy of combining synths and an orchestra to deliver power and aggression.

Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction is a collection of epic orchestral and synthetic instruments that add aggressive energy and terror. It features a variety of presets, from one-note orchestral backings to a range of performing instruments. Many of the patches use more than one instrument, often hybridizing traditional instruments with synths, to create a new sound.

Category
Rating
Summary
GUI
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Despite having a moderately detailed workflow, Symphonic Destruction features an intuitive GUI that should prove easy to learn and quite attractive.
Features
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The library comes with three designer engines and a performer engine. You can sequence and create multi-instrumental designer presets, create custom braams with the provided array of samples, create sets of loops and phrases, and manually play instruments in the library without any sequencing.
Sound
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The library is built for epic trailers and unsettling scores. I was impressed with the quality of the samples and how varied the sounds are from the get-go. If you have a library of orchestral percussions, this library can easily get you started with creating modern epic scores.
Value For Money
⭐⭐⭐⭐
As excellent as the sounds and the features are in the library, some aspects of the library, like loop editing, the lack of custom samples, etc., feel like missed opportunities. Still, the composers constrained by deadlines will find fast workflow and plenty of readymade sounds in this library.

NOTE: Heavyocity Symphony Orchestra is available for Kontakt 6.6.1 or higher and Kontakt Player 6.6.1 or higher.

Installation

The minute I received this instrument, I was itching to get started with it. So, I decided to download it as soon as I got the time. The first step was installing the Heavyocity Download Manager, which conveniently showed me the products I had yet to download. And a couple of hours later, I found myself staring at a download progress bar filled halfway through.

Now, this was my first time using a Heavyocity product. So, bear with me as I went a little bonkers and cut the power off on my testing PC to see what happens. When the PC was back on, the download manager resumed from where it left off. So far, so good. However, when it was halfway through extracting the downloaded files (RAR with multiple parts), it said it failed, unsurprisingly. Then, I restarted the download; lo and behold, the “integrity check” feature found the corrupt file and completed the download in less than a minute. And the installation was done in about ten. Well done on the excellent installer, Heavyocity!

Once that was done, all I had to do was register the library in the Native Access app using the serial number kindly provided by Heavyocity for reviewing. And the library showed up inside Kontakt, ready to make some music.

User Interface

In any preset, the most consistent thing you’ll find on this library’s user interface is a big, round knob in the middle. It either controls macro parameters or the dynamics of the sound. Above the knob, you’ll find options, channel controls, key switches, etc., depending on the type of instrument you have opened. Similarly, on the left and right of the knob, you’ll find various buttons to open different editors and modulators—all of these open at the bottom of the user interface.

On the left of the round knob, you’ll find the Envelope, EQ, and Filter buttons. Similarly, you’ll find either Mix, Performance, and Space on the right or Drive, Gat, and Space. The former is in Designer instruments, whereas the latter is in Performer presets. We’ll go into all of these in a moment, but for now, let’s think of Designers as sequenced multi-channel instruments and Performers as single instruments.

The awesome thing about the macro control knob is that you can change the range of each parameter by intuitively dragging a slider. Similarly, you can toggle the parameters on/off by clicking on a button next to each parameter. These let you change a preset sound and create something new without spending a lot of time. The result gets even more exciting when you delve into the library’s macro modulating sequencer.

The Designers

When you first explore the library in Kontakt, you’ll find two folders. The first is called Designers, and the second is called Performers. In this section, I’ll talk about the Designers. There are three Designer instruments, and each of them has a specialty. In essence, these instruments are meant for creating dynamic, often sequenced backings or for manipulating samples to create braam sounds ideal for epic film or game trailers.

In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

Let’s have a look at each of the engines in the Designers folder:

Designer Engine

The SD Designer instrument loads the main Designer Engine, which is the essence of Symphonic Destruction. It features three sources or channels. Each channel can load all the sounds in the library from eight categories: Traditional, Hybrid, Damaged, Soundscapes, Damaged Guitars, Braam, Motifs Straight, and Motifs Triplet.

Here, the Traditional category features orchestral instruments without much processing, whereas Hybrid introduces synth elements to processed orchestral sounds. Similarly, Damaged uses a lot of audio mangling and distortion to create new and unusual sounds. Furthermore, the Soundscapes category is full of ambient clusters of orchestral instruments, synth pads, etc. Next, we have the self-explanatory Damaged Guitars and Braams, followed by Motifs with tempo-synced loops or phrases.

So, this Engine is best suited for mixing multiple kinds of sounds to create a backing pattern. And you’ll find over a hundred excellent presets (snapshots) that demonstrate its capabilities. Of course, if you enjoy making custom patches, you’ll want to explore all of its features. So, we’ll go over the six buttons at the upper sides of the user interface:

  • Main
    The Main page is the default view of the interface, and this page is where you’ll find the big macro knob I described earlier. On the sides of the knob, you’ll find buttons to open the following:

    • Envelope
      In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

      The volume envelope editor has the standard ADSR controls for each channel of the Engine. Further, you can sync the Attack with the host tempo to effortlessly make effects like side-chained ducking.
    • EQ
      In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com
      The EQ page features a simple three-band EQ on each channel. All of the bands are peak filters. And you can copy-paste the EQ shape of one channel to another.
    • Filter
      In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

      The filter page features one filter per channel. The filter has the following types: Low-Pass 2-pole, Low-Pass 4-pole, High-Pass 2-pole, High-Pass 4-pole, Band Pass 2-pole, Band Pass 4-pole, Peak, Notch, Formant 1, and Formant 2. If you’re not familiar with the terms, 1 pole means 6 dB/oct. So, a 2-pole filter has a slope of 12 dB/oct., whereas a 4-pole filter has a 24 dB/oct. steepness.
    • Drive
      In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

      This page features a saturation and a distortion module. There are three kinds of each: tube, tape 1, and tape 2 saturations, and stomp, amp, and Lo-Fi distortions.
    • Gate
      The Gate is a 64-step gate sequencer. You can change the channel’s volume in each step, and the typical uses for this sequencer would be in creating glitchy effects or continuous, synced ducking effects.
    • Space
      The Space panel has a delay and a reverb module per channel. The delay is a ping-pong delay with a Width control that changes how much the ping-pong effect is applied.
  • Source
    As you probably guessed, this page is where you select the sound you want in each of the three channels. You can also change the range of each channel so that you can either play one instrument in a range of notes on your keyboard or play multiple instruments together. Similarly, a fade option allows you to fade the volume towards each end of a range. It’s an excellent feature that will help you smoothly transition from one instrument to another.
  • Options
    The Options page allows you to change each channel’s pitch bend range and velocity range. Similarly, you can activate Dynamics Control, which lets you change the instrument’s dynamics with your modulation wheel. And finally, you can change the sustain pedal input status, mono/polyphonic mode, and glide.
  • Cycle
    In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

    The cycle page is a sequencer. You can enable arpeggio at the top right of the panel, and you can modulate the start time, velocity, and panning with the sequencer. The sequencer features eight patterns, each with 64 steps. You can either use the patterns separately and trigger them as needed or chain them together as a single pattern.
  • Macro Sequencer
    Like Cycle, this page is also a 64-step sequencer, but it modulates the macro knob. So, you can modulate up to six parameters at once with this sequencer. You can smoothen the sequencing effect, change the range, and choose whether you want the sequence to play once or loop endlessly.
  • Master FXIn-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com
    This page has five effect modules: filter, distortion, chorus, delay, and reverb. These apply to the master output. Furthermore, a Punish knob on the left lets you add Heavyocity’s proprietary saturation and compression spice to your sound alongside a Twist knob on the right that adds mesmerizing modulation.

Braam Designer Engine

The Braam Designer Engine features three channels or sources. However, each braam source comes with twelve sounds. So, you’ll find three kinds of braam sources: Sub, Mid, and Tails. Sub features low-frequency power, whereas the Mid adds vigor with higher-pitched stabs, brass, synths, and strings. And Tails include softer, slower pad-like sounds that provide a “tail” to the braam. And since there are three Sub, Mid, and Tails sets, you’ll get a total of 36 sounds per category.

Using the Braam Designer is super easy. Once you’ve loaded a source set in the three channels, you’ll find five sections on your Kontakt’s virtual keyboard. The first section is the tuning section, which selects the note of the braam. Next, the second section plays all three channels simultaneously, whereas the last three sections play each channel per octave.

Loop Designer Engine

The Loop Designer Engine looks almost the same as the Braam Designer. However, the difference is that instead of loading a braam source in each of the three channels, you’ll load a loop or a motif. There are two kinds of loops: Straight and Triplet. Each type features fifteen source sets, totaling thirty. And each source set features twelve loops.

As with the Braam Designer, when you load loops in the channels, they are distributed across your keyboard. The first section of the keyboard selects the key of the loop, whereas the second octave plays all three channels simultaneously. And the last three octaves play each channel individually.

The Performers

The Performers are a collection of instruments that let you play notes and chords as a regular instrument without any sequencing, at least not at the level that the Designers provide. There are eight instrument-presets in the Performers folder. These include Traditional, Hybrid, Damaged, Soundscapes, Traditional Pedals, Hybrid Pedals, Damaged Pedals, and Damaged Guitars. Here, the pedals are rhythmic phrases of various instruments.

When you open one of the instrument presets, you’ll come across a user interface very similar to the Designer Engines. However, the most noticeable difference is that instead of a large macro knob, you’ll find a dynamics knob. It controls the dynamics or the expression of the instrument you’re playing. Note that it’s different from a volume control because this dynamics knob “plays” the instrument softer or louder as a real performer would.

As in the Designers, the left part from the big dynamics knob features a volume envelope, a three-band EQ, and a filter. However, the right part is a little different. It features the following pages:

  • Mix
    The Mix page allows you to control three sounds of all the instruments you’ve selected. These include the Main mic, the Hall mic, and the Reverse FX. The Reverse FX is a reverberated and reversed sample of the instrument. You can change each sound’s volume and panning and enable solo, mute, and purge (remove from RAM). Furthermore, you can route the output of each sound to another channel (you will need a multi-channel track or a send first).
  • Performance
    The Performance Effects page features a Gate and Dynamics Sequencer. The Gate Sequencer works the same way as the one in the Designer, whereas the Dynamics Sequencer is the same as a Macro Sequencer. The difference is that instead of modulating the macro knob (which doesn’t exist in Performers), it modulates the dynamics knob.
  • Space
    In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.com

    You’ll find a ping-pong delay and a reverb on this page as in the Designers. Note that if you change the audio output channels in the Mix page, the delay and reverb will no longer work for that sound.

Now that we’re familiar with the editors let’s talk about articulations. You’ll find eight slots to load sounds on the upper part of the interface. Each instrument preset (like Traditional, Hybrid, Damaged, etc.) comes with a collection of sounds that you can load in these slots. So, each Performer instance will have eight instruments that you can select using key switches. However, the Performer doesn’t allow you to simultaneously play more than one instrument.

Each instrument preset comes with many snapshots that let you explore the various sounds in the Performer. These include shorts (staccato, spiccato, pizzicato, etc.), sustains, swells, etc. However, you’ll generally mix up multiple categories so that you can play ‘sustains’ and switch to a spiccato sound, for example.

In-Depth Review: Heavyocity Symphonic Destruction | integraudio.comFurthermore, when you switch to a ‘shorts’ sound, a new module at the top of the interface shows up. This module features round-robin controls (off to 6x), Intelivoice, and a Repeater. Here, the Intelivoice uses round-robin samples when playing multiple notes simultaneously. And the Repeater is a MIDI sequencer that plays repeated notes for a set number of times or infinitely. Moreover, you can accent the 3rd, 4th, first, or last notes to improve the rhythm. I found it handy for playing ostinato patterns. Similarly, you can play crescendos and diminuendos, although you can only do these with a limited number of repeats.

Sound

After exploring only a few presets in the library, I could tell how much curating and work must have gone into developing this instrument. If you have a good library of epic percussions, you practically don’t need any other instrument to produce epic trailer music. The instruments are diverse, from soft strings and woodwinds ideal for breaks to aggressive braams and action-packed phrases that bring up the heat of a breathtaking trailer score.

You can probably tell by now what kind of sound the library has. Most of the instruments are suited for aggressive styles of music, and even the softer sounds feature some processing to make them richer and brighter compared to a traditional orchestra. So, I would recommend the sounds for making epic trailer music, horror scores, and adding a fresh style to pop music. Furthermore, thanks to Heavyocity’s excellent engines and sound design tools, you can customize pre-existing presets or build new braams and phrases using the provided samples.

Symphonic Destruction - Preset Playthrough | Heavyocity

Value For Money

If you are often on the lookout for sounds that would fit a trailer score, you might find the library for you with Symphonic Destruction. It is overflowing with a variety of sounds, and the engines help you create some more without having to learn too many technical details. However, as a sound designer, I would have liked to see a few features like loading custom samples and modifying them. So, it offers an excellent amount of value if you are looking to save time and effort. Conversely, if you are after a sound designing tool that offers freedom, this may not be the wisest purchase.

If you are ready to buy Symphonic Destruction, you can do so here.

Verdict

Heavyocity’s Symphonic Destruction is a vast library comprehensive enough to single-handedly take care of all the needs of trailer music other than percussions. From delicate, traditional orchestral sounds brightened just enough to help them pop out in a mix to belligerent brass and explosive loops, you’ll find an array of modern sounds. Furthermore, while the user interface isn’t the easiest to figure out, you should have no trouble figuring it out regardless of your experience. Overall, it’s a library that every trailer score composer should check out. 

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