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December 2014
Issue: June 1, 2008

REVIEW: EAST WEST SOUND'S GOLIATH SAMPLE SET

By: Tom Phillips
PRODUCT: East West Sounds' Goliath

WEBSITE: www.soundsonline.com

PRICE: $695

- outstanding choirs
- great guitars
- quality acoustic pianos

Goliath from East West Sounds falls into the category of a high quality Swiss army knife sample set targeting composers. Included is an extensive 40GB collection of basic and not so basic instrumental sounds that can inspire and enable the composition of soundtracks in just about any genre. As with all sounds, perception of quality and degree of usability is largely a personal issue. Goliath comes on six DVDs and includes Play, the sample playback engine that hosts Goliath. Goliath is based on the earlier East West release Colossus, but includes many additional sounds as well as the Bosendorfer 290 piano.

THE SOUNDS

The electric guitars are among the best guitar samples I have ever used. The vast number of different guitars permits a wide range of diversity in composition, and if you are good at playing guitar parts on a keyboard, you can produce some very convincing tracks. The Anderson Strat is a particular favorite of mine. The velocity layering revealed a wide variety of tones, subtle buzzes and movement, which inspired me to create lines that otherwise might have remain untapped. Most of the other electrics are just as good, with a wide variety of clean guitars, distorted chords, echoed Pink Floyd lead guitars, chugs and effects, to name just a few. These electric guitars would be an asset in any composer's palette.

The acoustic guitar set includes a steel string Washburn (a rich and very playable standout), nylon string guitars, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and "2 guitars," which is a two steel guitars patch that is pleasingly unpredictable and quite good. There isn't quite the variety in the acoustic category as the electrics, but all are worthy of consideration when you're looking for a guitar sound to fit a specific kind of part. An example of that is the mandolin. It's a nice sounding instrument with a clean character, but because of that character it would not be appropriate for each and every time I needed a mandolin.

You can never have too many pianos, and the Bosendorfer 290 acoustic piano is a standout. It is round, full and even across 88 keys with a very neutral character. That makes it usable for a lot of different applications. In addition, there are two other quality acoustic pianos: a Steinway B and a Fazioli. There is also a pretty good honky-tonk piano, taps and all. The electric pianos are a little less appealing to me. They are not bad, just not great. For example, the Rhodes 88 lacks a pointed definition and character, the clavinets just don't sound like the real thing to me, and the other electrics seemed rather typical. There isn't a Wurlitzer piano, which would have been nice. Still, all are usable if that is the sound you're looking for.

All of the electric and acoustic basses will have a place in my scoring needs, but I have a few gripes. There isn't a soft subtle upright bass appropriate for an intimate jazz piece as the included uprights are edgy and trebly. The electric basses are pointed, edgy and distinctive, but there isn't one that is simply round, deep and smooth. The synth basses are unlooped, one-shot samples. They sound good, but since they are relatively short in length, their usefulness might be less than ideal.

The Choirs include 10 patches from the EWQL Choirs. "Wow" is the best description for these voices. Other choirs are included, but the EWQL Choirs are in a class by themselves. Simply, gorgeous. If you are scoring an orchestral cue, the orchestra instruments might fall a little short. There are some great sounds (French horn, concert harp, timpani to name a few), but I personally found the trumpet, solo strings, oboe, clarinet and a few others to be unconvincing. The Pop Brass includes a wide variety of instruments and articulations, and I discovered that the mod wheel as well as velocity controlled any number of tonal and instrumental variations that made using these sounds very effective.

Goliath also includes acoustic and electronic drum sets, vintage organs, synth pads and leads, new age ensembles, pitched ethnic instruments and ethnic percussion, keyboard mallet instruments, general MIDI instruments, and Stormdrone Mod (an interesting assortment of evolving, evocative soundscapes and beats). There are some sounds in each category that are superb, some that are average to fair but usable, and others that will always stay in the box.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, there are some anomalies. For example, the pitch bend both up and down for all the instruments in Goliath is inconsistently pre-set to weird tunings that render it somewhat useless (and can't be changed), some of the samples are clearly out of tune and some of the velocity layers trigger samples that aren't of the quality that you would expect from a professional-level software. But in my opinion, Goliath is a very useful tool. The guitars, the Bosendorfer piano, the EWQL Choirs, and other standouts help make up for the inconsistencies, and in general, there is an abundance of great sounds.

The Play sample playback engine that hosts Goliath deserves a quick mention. It's simple to use but it's also simple in what it can and cannot do. As mentioned, you can't change the default pitch bend intervals, and every action takes a lot of mouse moves. But included is a decent convolution reverb, a delay, ADT, an envelope, stereo doubling and a filter that is routed to the mod wheel for many of the patches. East West told me that they are committed to improving Play, which bodes well for the future.

Tom Phillips is a Principal and Composer at OBT Music in Westborough, MA. He can be reached at: tphillips@obtmusic.com.