Review: Soundiron Olympus Elements

Soundiron has released Olympus Elements, a choir library for Kontakt edited down from their full version. But this isn’t just a demo, this is a full, professional symphonic choir with legato samples and much more for just $99.

First let’s review the previous choir lineup from Soundiron. Their top of the line choirs are the Mercury boys choir, reviewed here previously, Mars male choir, and Venus women’s choir. Mars and Venus are bundled together to make the Olympus bundle ($549). This 45GB library is edited down to create the 2.7GB Olympus Elements. (Another edited down version is Olympus Micro for $19, this version has a few pads and phrases.)

The instruments in Olympus Elements are arranged in the following folders:

  • Ambiences
  • Choral Effects
  • Marcatos
  • Phrase Master
  • Staccatos
  • Sustains
  • True Legato
  • Vowel Master

 

Shown in the screenshot at the top of this article is one of the True Legato programs. Legato is available for men, women, or both (ensemble). There are two layers in most patches, mixed using the Blend control. In the example above the Men are on the bottom layer and the Women are on top. Other programs allow you to crossfade two different vowels. Two syllables are included in legato, Ah and Oh.

Notice the color-coded keyboard range below. From bottom to top, this is what each of the ranges show:

  • Pink: keyswitch for the lower section (Ah and Oh in this instrument)
  • Blue: men only play in this range
  • Orange: both men and women
  • Teal: women only in this range
  • Green: keyswitch for the top layer

 

The keyswtches for the top and bottom don’t line up on octaves. Ah is selected by the low C and the high E, making it more difficult to memorize. These keyswitches can be reprogrammed if that confuses you.

Playing legato doesn’t span zones. For instance, if you play from C4 to C5, the women will play legato but the men will continue singing C4. There isn’t a joined men/women sample like their Requiem Light. For this reason it’s probably better to record male and female legato sections on different MIDI tracks, which offers better control anyway.

Controls in the interface can all be assigned to MIDI controllers by command- or control-clicking the knob. Swell, their dynamics control, is preset to CC72 and 73, unlike most libraries who assign this to the mod wheel (CC1). These can both be reassigned to the Mod wheel by command-clicking and re-saved. CC11 does not control expression volume, and we did not see a master volume control to assign it to. (You could assign CC11 to the Kontakt volume fader, but many use these controls for different purposes.)

Aside from these minor quirks, the choirs sound amazing. There are many controls to dial in the legato speed, attack, release, sample start, and other factors.

Marcatos, Stacattos, and Sustains have eight syllables to choose from: Ah, Ee, Eh, Ei, Mm, Oh, Oo. Staccatos have 4x round robin recording, and all of the instruments have several dynamic crossfade samples. Syllables are keyswitched from the top and bottom of the keyboard for the top and bottom layers. Both zones can be reassigned to the same keys if you prefer.

 

The Phrasemaster presets, shown above, allow you to chain together a group of syllables, stepping through each one as you play a chord. The first note or chord you play will be the first syllable, the second moves on to the second syllable. Each step can be staccato or marcatto, and trigger the male, female or both sections. Up to 16 phrases can be programmed and keyswitched between. Steps can also be selected using keyswitches.

Clicking on the Phrasemaster syllable controls presents swell, release, and other controls individually for the marcato and staccato samples. All keyswitches can be reassigned.

The Phrasemaster is a lot of fun for an Orff/movie trailer chanting choir, although mostly vowels makes it a bit soft for this use. Oh well, they need to give you some reasons to upgrade. Another version of this program is Vowelmaster, which switches between staccato and sustain patches.

Ambiences and Effects are bonus instruments. Effects include risers, murmurs, and other 20th century techniques popular in scoring and effects. Ambiences are processed choral samples for use as a synthetic pad.

All together, Olympus Elements is an amazing, professional choir library, especially for the price. You can always upgrade to the full version of Olympus later on. So what do you get for the extra $500?

  • Two microphone positions for alternate mixes or surround
  • Over 45GB of samples
  • More syllables of legato
  • Sustaining instruments with round robin and more dynamic layers
  • Poly sustains: hold the key to play one of over 50 tempo-synced phrases in Latin or Russian
  • Eight solo vocalists
  • More effects and atmospheres
  • Bonus Percussion samples

 

We think that Olympus Elements is an incredible choir library, whether it’s your first choir or if you just want another sound for your palette. The sound quality is fantastic, the programming state-of-the-art, and the value is astonishing. Grab it before they come to their senses and triple the price.

Olympus Elements is available as a direct download from Soundiron. Two versions are available: an unlocked version requiring Kontakt for $99 and a version that runs in Kontakt Player and shows in your library rack for $119. They are available as direct downloads, and a DVD can be mailed to you for an additional charge. 

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