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MGR/Brian Johnston MGR/Brian Johnston

« The Most Impressive Pad Instrument »

Published on 11/27/20 at 04:08
Value For Money : Excellent
Audience: Anyone
LUNARIS is no ordinary collection of pad samples; it is a 4-layer pad instrument that will take your creative abilities to the next level. I’ve always been a fan of pads, since they work in so many genres, including atmospheric, country and pop songs and even modern music, from Rammstein to Dream Theatre. The demo below includes only a few dozen sound samples, out of the 500+, and they were randomly selected for the composition. The samples fall into different categories, including Sonic Underworld, Dark, Ambient, Sequenced, Original Luftrum Volumes and Drafts & Leftovers. It also requires Kontakt to operate, although the free Player version works just fine. Lunaris also operates as a standalone instrument for live playing, or within a DAW when recording (via the Kontakt platform in either instance).



What makes the sounds in Lunaris so breathtaking is that there are four layers working concurrently, making the sounds huge and complex – absolute ear-candy! Of course, you can isolate and play just one or two layers, if looking for something simple, but Lunaris really blossoms through its density. One of the key features behind Lunaris is the ability to change any of the layers, with 100 different sound sources (and an extra 100 source sources/field recordings/synth transients/synth soundscapes, e.g., ice crackling, ocean waves, bell-like harmonics, etc., for layers C & D). To help with experimentation is a Random button, which randomly selects different sounds for the layers, allowing you to experience and discover ‘blindly’ and quickly, which is quite fun, as you never know what sound and texture will suddenly appear. That function does not affect other settings, e.g., what envelopes, filters or modulation is assigned. When considering how many combinations can be produced – in the thousands – Lunaris extends far beyond those 500 presets.

There still are several other features. For example, each layer can be customized with the Amp Envelope (ADSR), which controls how a sound is shaped over time, and there’s also the Filter tool, to control the cut-off frequency and filter. An accompanying tool is the Filter Split button, which helps keep the mud out of pad creation by intelligently sorting all the active filters in different bands. This keeps the layers from fighting over the same frequencies, and if you don’t like the program’s recommendations, then clicking on the Reset button brings you back to the original frequency settings. Another feature that impresses is the Time Stop function, which allows you to stretch sound, from 0-100%... to the point of freezing it for some unusual and incredible outcomes. This feature can be applied to any one or all layers concurrently.

Each layer further has a set of controls that can be applied individually or globally, including various effects, e.g., distortion, chorus, delay, reverb, EQ and phaser. Now, be aware that Lunaris is a CPU hog, and once you start combining multiple patches (of four layers each), you can run into sound quality issues (e.g., popping and crackling). This can be rectified, as I did in the demo, by removing all the reverbs from the four layers of a preset, and then applying only one reverb globally, thereby saving on CPU processing. Part 2 of the Lunaris instructional video (see below) covers basic operation of the program, including setting a global command. And still there are a few more features worth mentioning. The Flux Motion tool is a modulation system that controls the filter cut-off, amplitude and panning of the layers – all of which affects sound motion. This works in conjunction with the MOD/SEQ, a step sequencer with two low-frequency oscillators, which allows for modulation of pitch, filter, panning or volume at synced rates.




Overall, even without all the tools to customize and create your own presets, Lunaris is utterly stunning and a fantastic buy at $159 USD (sign up for the Luftrum newsletter and get 20% off). The pads are so breathtaking that they are very much all-consuming – you can’t help but want to play and listen to them. Unfortunately, this makes the program a time vampire, due to its addictive nature and the difficulty in pulling yourself away from the piano/synth as you discover new sounds that are nothing short of extraordinary. And maybe that’s a fortunate thing.
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