By | December 11th, 2015|review|

CinemorphX is the result of a combination of three of Sample Logic’s legacy libraries: AIR (Ambience, Impacts and Rhythms), The Elements, and Synergy. It is delivered through a 29.7GB download and takes about 30.5GB of free space in the hard drive after installed. From the 30.5 gigabytes, 30.1GB are samples. In one word: it’s big. And when I say big, I don’t mean only its size. CinemorphX has also an impressive engine that makes it possible to achieve a great level of control and/or randomization.

If you want a good picture of CinemorphX, you have to think on Sample Logic’s trademark or mission, as they put it: their motto has been to create and develop sample libraries that focus on “blurring the line between music and sound design”TM. This makes a good description of CinemorphX. It is a multi-faceted instrument that merges melodic, rhythmic and “sound designy” qualities to create beautifully complex results.

I’m going to go through its main features in this review, and in the end you’ll find my personal impressions about it. I hope it helps you to get to know this instrument a bit better.

CinemorphX main features

The main kernel of CinemorphX’s engine is the soundcore. There are 4 soundcores that can work simultaneously and be enabled/disabled as needed. Each soundcore can combine two different soundsources (CinemorphX’s basic patches or samples).

When you first load the instrument, this is the view that you get:

CinemorphX’s main window, with four active soundcores

CinemorphX’s main window, with four active soundcores

This window is called the Multi-Core window. Here you can select the soundsources through the soundsource browser and tweak the parameters in each of the 4 soundcores. Just to illustrate it better: in the image we see the 4 soundcores (numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4) and the two soundsources loaded in each soundcore (they are shown by its names – for instance, Cool Vibes and Vapor Haze are initially loaded in the soundcore 1).

The soundsource browser, accessed through the little magnifying glasses, is divided in five main categories: Atmospheres (non-tonal/non-pitched atmospheric drones); Instrumentals (pitched patches based on all kinds of sonic materials, including some traditional instruments); Loops (percussive loops, some of them with implicit harmonic content); Percussives (percussive instruments also based on all kinds of sonic sources); and Waveforms (melodic patches based on pure waveforms). All the main categories are divided in subcategories. The soundsources appear classified more or less accordingly to its general mood or characteristics.

Soundsource Browser

Soundsource Browser

One cool thing in this window is that it shows you if a soundsource is already in use, and in which soundcore slot it is currently loaded.

There is a Single-Core window as well, which is basically an expanded version of a single soundcore. In this window, the soundcore’s dedicated FX section is presented in the main screen (it is normally hidden in the Multi-Core window), so it is quite handy in case you want to work with a single soundcore only.

CinemorphX’ Single-Core window

CinemorphX’ Single-Core window

In the soundcores’ FX chain, there are 4 slots to which you can assign 20 different FX processors, and a velocity intensity knob to adjust the keyboard dynamics sensitivity. The parameters for each FX are found in their respective sub-window, which can be accessed through the small 4 arrows icon in the left bottom corner of each FX slot.

There are some more controls below the first 4 slots (Envelope, Convolution, Pitch and Filter), which affect the whole soundcore, and a general FX section in the lower part of the screen. This last FX section is the same one that appears in the Multi-Core window and it affects the whole instrument (i.e., all the active soundcores).

On the top of that, there are also more general controls that allow to create a sense of randomization to the final sound. See, for instance, the two small squares right below the main volume and pan knobs in the Single-Core window. They are automation controllers. The first one is a step sequencer and the second one is a LFO. Both can be used simultaneously.

CinemorphX’s Volume knob FX Animator

CinemorphX’s Volume knob FX Animator

CinemorphX’s Volume knob LFO

CinemorphX’s Volume knob LFO

Each soundcore has also a crossfade knob with which you can set how much of each timbre or soundsource you want in the final sound (the knob – well baptized as morph – is right in between both soundsources in both Single-Core of Multi-Core windows). The morph knob can also be automated through the Morphanimator button, which has its own dedicated step sequencer and a Rec function for recording an automation performance. When enabled, the Morphanimator will cause the morph knob to follow the information recorded in the Morphanimator step sequencer. You can also control the morph with the mod-wheel if you want.

Finally, there is a XY feature in the main FX preset section, which is called the Soundcore FX. It basically applies effects to the whole instrument following a pattern designed in a bi-dimensional graphic display. You can assign one effect per axis (there are 6 prearranged possibilities) and then automate the movement inside the graphic so that the combination of FXs will affect the sound accordingly. The XY graphic determines not only the FXs values, but also, to which soundcore the values are applied – the closer to the soundcore the cursor is, the more it will affect that particular soundcore.

Soundcore FX

Soundcore FX

There is also a 16 steps step sequencer with 4 different possible patterns in the Step Animator window, which you can use to create rhythmic loops with whatever sound you may have loaded in the CinemorphX’ soundcores. The configuration on this page is applied to the whole instrument.

Step sequencer with 4 different possible patterns

Step sequencer with 4 different possible patterns

There is one final great feature that I have to mention: if you observe the images of the CinemorphX’s main windows, you may have noticed the small R symbols all around. These are the random enable/disable switches. By enabling this function in a particular FX parameter or soundsource or even in a whole soundcore, you are preparing these elements to be randomized by the Random button, in the right top corner. What this button does is creating new instruments by randomly selecting a value for all the parameters that are random enabled. In other words, you can have a new rich and unpredictable sound combination at every single click. I had lots of fun experimenting with all kinds of combinations resulting from this button.

Evaluation

CinemorphX impressed me right from the beginning, and it didn’t stop to impress me after using it for quite a while. With a beautiful GUI, it is a great combination of great samples and a great engine; an extraordinaire tool for creating rich textures and great sounding loops with ease. The user has not only a great level of control over the sound, but also a great level of randomization can be achieved.

Despite its generally complex sound results, CinemorphX uses very little memory. A regular soundsource can take as little as 120kb of memory, the more complex sounds taking no more than 10mb. It is a very modest number considering the quality that you get in the end. The explanation for this can be found in part in CinemorphX’ sample pool, which is in general already made of complex sounds. As a result, it doesn’t take much memory nor process power to create beautiful and intriguing sound atmospheres.

I found a small bug in the Step Animator window that, I believe, is simple to correct. In this window, you can open sub-windows to draw automation lines for a bunch of parameters. If you select a different Pattern with any of these automation sub-windows opened, the sub-window won’t close and will stay sort of covering the controls in the new window. You have to click in the drawing icon yourself to close it. I believe Sample Logic may release an update to fix this sometime soon.

All in all, CinemorphX is great for creating evolving textures, loops and drones. I can see it being perfectly used alone or as a background for other instruments, including acoustic instruments or orchestral textures.

You can check out my demo below.

More info:

CinemorphX by Sample Logic