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Topic: Ra - First Impressions

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  1. #1

    Ra - First Impressions

    Quantum Leap Ra arrived yesterday. My first thought upon opening the box was that I had forgotten how expensive it is. Even with 30% off, it came to $770 with tax and shipping.

    The sounds are very good and this will now be my go to synth for a lot of ethnic instruments. But unlike many software synths that I load, none of the sounds inspired new songs out of me. This is probably because since most of the instruments are completely "foreign" to me, it's much more difficult to come up with riffs that work. Ra doesn't include riffs, by the way. Many other EastWest synths include an Intakt version for riffs or rhythms. Ra is Kompakt only.

    Bagpipes and Mid-Eastern Violin are a couple standouts. There is Key-Switching on some of the patches which is really nice. Probably my favorite sounds, strangely enough, are under the "Americas" section. The Washburn acoustic guitar, the banjo and the Dobro (with key-switched slides) are outstanding. Digeridoos are also very good, although I might have added a category for "Australia" to put them in, rather than putting them in "Americas."

    There are some disappointments. The African percussion did not blow me away. And under Middle Eastern percussion, there is only a single instrument, the Dumbek. Odd because another soft synth, Wizoo's Darbuka (excellent, by the way) is dedicated entirely to Middle Eastern percussion.

    Overall, I think Ra is a very good package. But at the price, it's not as dazzling as I'd hoped. And I hasten to add, I'm the FIRST guy to say soft synths in general are ridiculously cheap. EWQLSO Gold at $1,000? Worth every penny. Stylus RMX at $400? Waaayyy too cheap! But I don't think Ra is in the league of either.

    With that said, I don't regret buying it. As a composer who does a lot of international stuff, I'll get my money's worth. But for anyone on the fence about buying it, take this as one person's impressions. I know others bought it too, so I'm anxious to see other opinions, especially if there are gems I missed!

    - Mike Greene

  2. #2

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    There is a thread in the EW forum about RA. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=32222

    But anyway, RA is not a lick/loop library. You play it all yourself. It's also not a huge drum library. SD covers so much of that. Although I personally feel that the 2 African drum ensembles in RA are the best drum programs I have ever played. Keep in mind that what you get out of RA completely depends on your knowledge of the instruments, scales, tunings etc.

  3. #3

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Phoenix
    There is a thread in the EW forum about RA. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=32222

    But anyway, RA is not a lick/loop library. You play it all yourself. It's also not a huge drum library. SD covers so much of that. Although I personally feel that the 2 African drum ensembles in RA are the best drum programs I have ever played. Keep in mind that what you get out of RA completely depends on your knowledge of the instruments, scales, tunings etc.
    Yikes! I definitely posted in the wrong place, then!

    To those who don't read the other thread, I should point out that mine is a decidedly minority opinion. But my feelings are still the same. I would still buy it if I had it to do over again. But it's not the slam dunk some other libraries (including QL's) are.

    - Mike Greene

  4. #4

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    uhuh!!
    I don't know how you got 30% off because you don't seem to have ever heard about the Quantum Leap Rare Instruments.. lol?
    RA is like a second edition of Quantum Leap Rare Instruments that is 10% of RA, the whole 90% left being new material to work with.
    And it's multisampled instruments, meaning that YOU play all the instruments, you should have to kown that as a Rare Instruments owner, right??
    Ok, I go back to my music..

  5. #5

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    No, Mike may have bought RA at NAMM.

    Mike, you didn't post in the wrong place and you have a right to your opinion. But you may want to give it some time. Try recreating some real ethnic recordings with RA.

  6. #6

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Phoenix
    No, Mike may have bought RA at NAMM.

    Mike, you didn't post in the wrong place and you have a right to your opinion. But you may want to give it some time. Try recreating some real ethnic recordings with RA.
    Yep, NAMM it was. Also preordered Choir. Don't tell EastWest to cancel my order!!!

    You're right that I may fall in love with RA over time. My intention was mainly to get a conversation started and knowing others here bought it, I was surprised no one else posted yet.

    And I certainly don't dislike RA. It just didn't give me the same jaw drop that EWQLSO Gold, VSL, StylusRMX, or a few other soft synths have. JMO

    - Mike Greene

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    I think it is a bit hard to get that "jaw drop" feeling from any ethnic library, for the reasons you mention. There's nothing really "thick" in them which translates into fast, easy, blow-me-away kinds of tracks...but I don't think that's a reflection of library quality as much as just the way it is with those instrument classes. I always thought the original QLRI was excellent. They're the kind of instruments which are either percolating along with something else, or which are leading, but in either situation, their bandwidth in a whole mix is fairly small and doesn't take up a whole lot of room.

    I personally think African drums, like djembes, dunduns, etc., are among the most difficult to record. My own completely unbiased opinion is that I have done the best djembe sample ever, haha. But mine is only about seven layers, which makes it only good for short features. To really do a djembe right, you would need to do it at least 16 layers deep for each of the six articulations, plus enough round robin layers to avoid machine gunning. Each syllable (pa-ka, go-do, gun-dun) can climb the overtone series depending upon the player's capability. The best players can climb up five or six partials, and the actual playing of a djembe is never really "hits and slaps" like so many people try to play them. It's in the class of talking drums, which means that you can essentially order a beer and instruct someone to bring it to you, if you know the language, and if you have mastered the drum sufficiently to articulate the phrase.

    I have really good djembe technique (or so I've been told by my African pals who laugh at me but are encouraging nonetheless), but I don't know the language. So that makes me a white boy hack. Probably the best white djembe player in the world is my friend Greg Beck, who studied under Babatunde Olatunji, and has made many junkets to Senegal to study.

    It's also hard as hell to record these things because one djembe can be louder than a Pink Floyd concert. They're meant to be played outside. White boys tend to tune them way too low, so that they're too ringy. They're actually tuned up so high that they sound almost like bongos when playing pa-ka and go-do articulations. That also gives them a much stronger dun-gun, since you get a more pure tone with less slap the tighter the head is stretched.

    Good god. This is what happens when I post after cocktails. I'm shutting up now.

  8. #8

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Good god. This is what happens when I post after cocktails. I'm shutting up now.
    Oh, please do. You might end up giving away more valuable information.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    I'm sorta on the fence about it, and never read any other forum here... so thanks Mike!

    it seems to be the most full featured lib so I'll probably get it once I "need" it... price seems too high though. If it was $499 I would've already gotten it.


    KID

  10. #10

    Re: Ra - First Impressions

    I though that RI was pretty darn good, so I guess I will absolutly been blown away by RA no doubt about that.

    This is the definitive Ethnic Library and I'll doubt there will something better in the near future.

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