Things you'd like to know [software]

How to install the Presets from our Kontakt instruments

When you download one of our Kontakt instruments, it usually comes with presets. 

Open the main folder containing all the files for the instrument. You will find a sub-folder called PRESETS.
Open it and copy all its contents into the directory below.

For Windows: \Users\\My Documents\Native Instruments\User Content\Kontakt

For Mac OS: Macintosh HD/Users//Documents/Native Instruments/User Content/Kontakt

Dealing with CPU load in Kontakt instruments

Some Kontakt instruments are more demanding than others. There are a few reasons for this:

1- the complexity of the instrument itself, i.e. the number of internal sources, the way these sources are used (sample or wavetable playback mode), etc.
2- the quantity of active modulations for each note played, multiplied by the number of notes at the same time
3- internal processing, some of which can be much more demanding than others

To this must be added various other factors:

4- the CPU power of the host computer
5- the performance of the audio driver
6- the power used by the DAW itself 

You can mitigate the overload a little by making a few adjustments in Kontakt, starting by reducing the use of the most power-hungry processes during the composition phase and reactivating them at mixdown.

It may also be useful to increase the size of the buffers in the audio interface driver.

In any case, no solution is really perfect: some instruments need CPU power because they use several sources simultaneously and very high quality internal processing. Other instruments, on the other hand, will use more RAM and less CPU.

Some of our instruments have already received several optimisations during the updates. Stigmata and SubliminalKeys are probably our two most CPU-hungry instruments. In exchange for this power consumption, they produce rich, complex sounds that can sometimes stand on their own. 

In the case of these two instruments, you have 4 sound generation sources at your disposal. Don't hesitate to deactivate some of these sources rather than reducing their volume to 0, as resource consumption will drop instantly. 

Similarly, these two instruments have 2 reverbs to place the sources in space, as well as a Diffuser effect (DIFF) and a main reverb based on IRs. If you don't think the two additional reverbs are essential, don't hesitate to deactivate them. Similarly, if you don't think the Diffuser is necessary, bypass it. Remember that processing set to 0 always consumes resources.

Our instruments are tested on a wide range of systems to ensure maximum compatibility. However, we cannot guarantee that a large number of polyphony voices will be available on all computer configurations. 

If you find that one of our instruments requires a lot of resources, please do not hesitate to contact our support team. Try to be as specific as possible and describe your configuration and the problem you are experiencing (name of instrument and preset).

Sound Identity : Unconventional Instruments

It is often more efficient to make valid proposals in a field or genre that you are familiar with.

This leads to the creation of a recognisable identity, and this exists at FluidShell Design: we like to create complex textures. This is the case with STIGMATA, our first commercial instrument. 

It quickly became clear to us that this instrument needed company and we decided to offer SubliminalKeys, retaining most of the functions and logic of STIGMATA.

As this was not enough, a third instrument was born: SERAPHIM. It occupies more of a soloist position in the soundscape we imagined. 

There will of course be new instruments (they will even be available very soon), always continuing in this direction: thinking of music as a landscape. 

This approach allows us to offer you instruments that are complementary, but also and above all capable of bringing their own unique touch to a wide range of situations. 

You don't need to own all our instruments to be able to add a rich, distinctive nuance to your compositions - you just need to choose the one that seems most appropriate to you. To help you do this, we've posted a number of videos on Youtube, so you can hear (without any post-production) what they have to offer.

Our range of instruments

Two distinct approaches coexist: highly specific instruments and instruments with a more standard approach.

The very specific instruments are recognisable by their large-format interfaces, with a "realistic" design. These include Stigmata, Subliminal Keys and Seraphim. These instruments have been designed as true hardware machines, both visually and in terms of handling. They each have a precise role to play, and require a little taming. 

In contrast, the more 'standard' instruments are designed for immediate use, with much more familiar controls.
This is the case with the 4MBIENCE Collection, whose overall role is to add a subtle touch to your musical production. 

These instruments aren't 'less good', they're just easier to get to grips with.

Think of our very specific instruments as soloists in an orchestra. They have a special presence and can seamlessly alternate between foreground and background in a composition, so capable are they of occupying the sound space. This is even more obvious with Seraphim, which was conceived as a monophonic instrument, just like a viola or clarinet.

The difference between our ranges of instruments lies solely in their role and handling, certainly not in their quality.

Where do the sounds in your Kontakt instruments come from?

In our Kontakt instruments, we use two types of sources: samples and wavetables.

The samples come from recordings of acoustic instruments (some of which are home-made), sounds generated by mathematical algorithms in computers and sounds recorded on location. Sometimes friends offer to record interesting material for us, sometimes we borrow the machines to record them in the quiet of our little studio. 

The wavetables are also created by us. They are either the result of a search for new sounds, or created with the aim of recalling a particular, familiar sound.

In all cases, we do not use commercially available sounds. This includes presets in synthesizers, for example. 

As far as the recording phase is concerned, we prefer to take the shortest route possible: the instrument is plugged directly into a digital audio converter. If it is necessary to amplify the gain, we use a preamplifier that is as neutral as possible. The recorded sound is then processed in an audio editor and becomes a sample in an instrument. 

How do you design the user interface?

It's our first speciality.

Our virtual instruments are entirely 'home-made'. The graphical user interface (GUI) is an evocation of the instrument's sonic artistic direction. 

If we take the example of STIGMATA, it's a retro-futuristic design entirely in 3D. What you see on your screen is flat, of course, but the instrument has been designed in 3D CAD, then rendered in specific software. Most of the time, we imagine the instruments as if they were real, as our core business is the industrial design of audio equipment.

We have decided not to use an exaggerated perspective in our interfaces. For two main reasons: it looks weird and it's less easy to read.

Why Kontakt instruments rather than VSTi?

Initially, we specialised in the design of audio hardware. The production of virtual instruments came about following the consequences of the COVID19 pandemic: it became more difficult and more expensive to produce prototypes and many companies chose to postpone their hardware development. We went back to the drawing board and re-launched the GUI part of our business, which had become secondary.

Using Kontakt offers two interesting advantages: it's software that's used in many professional studios and it's extremely powerful despite its sometimes irritating limitations.

Since we're still taking a hardware approach, we see Kontakt as a prototyping tool. Each of our instruments is a software prototype. The most obvious example is Seraphim, the hardware version of which is currently being researched and developed. Sales of the virtual instrument help to finance the hardware version, but it is the feedback from users that is of particular interest. Before you know whether you'll like the hardware, try out the software version for a relatively small fee.

For the moment, we don't produce VST/VSTi ourselves. We often team up with specialist developers, contributing our GUI know-how and/or suggesting new products to be developed with them.

This is the case with Belles Ondes' EQ1979, for which we offered our GUI design services. You can download it for free here.

Who is FluidShell Design and how can you contact us?

We are an industrial design studio based in France. A studio because we have multiple skills, but most of the time it's just one person at the helm (Stef). However, there's a small team comprising a Senior Scripter and three beta-testers, all forming a happy group of buddies who met on the same music forum (Audiofanzine). 

FluidShell Design works on a freelance basis for the industrial design part. The administrative side is handled by FreeCadres, which means we can concentrate solely on our assignments.