Review: eDNA Earth by Spitfire Audio
Spitfire Audio seems to only be capable of pure greatness. Call me a fan-boy, but i'm consistently blown away by the quality to cost ratio that Spitfire creates with their Kontakt Libraries. eDNA Earth is a new Kontakt sample library by Spitifre Audio with an innovative twist - its a synthesizer made of orchestras. They went through their vast catalog of world-class orchestral samples and warped, manipulated, and twisted the sounds until they took on a life of their own. Powered by their incredibly detailed eDNA engine, for only $149 they have released a truly innovative instrument that sounds like nothing else.
eDNA Earth Introduction
I'll try to tame my excitement for the rest of this post, since i'm sure you can already tell I love eDNA Earth. Lets dive into the black and white details of this vast Kontakt library.
44.8 GB across 8048 samples
Runs off the Free Kontakt Player
1900+ sound sources
Over 1000 presets
Synth-head friendly GUI with ADSR's, Filters, Sequencers, LFO's, and more
This is not a 'purist' library that tries to emulate a natural acoustic instrument or the details of any particular synth as Spitfire typically creates. eDNA Earth is more akin to something you'd see from the software company Output (reminds me of Output's Substance, or Signal). The raw sound sources are vast, and the preset list is long, but the true power of this library comes from the engine.
The sounds eDNA Earth is capable of producing varies between a heavily effected orchestral sound (think violins with saturation and reverb), to something that sounds straight from a Jupiter-8 or Moog Model-D. Organic violin samples turn into electronic pads, brass turns into dirty synth-bass, and everything in between. On one hand this is a one-size-fits-all preset library, and on the other hand its a sound designers dream with the most niche of applications.
I have created a walkthrough video to give you a gist of the sound design capabilities of eDNA Earth. In the video I show some of the patches, the basic control and interface, and how you can sculpt your own sounds using the GUI.
The eDNA Earth GUI
For those who are familiar with the standard Spitfire Audio Kontakt GUI, you will not feel safe; however, if you're a synth junkie you'll feel quite at home. Every patch breaks down into two sides (A and B), each with their own ADSR, Filter, Tuning, Panning, LFO's, and more. These two sound sources can be very tightly manipulated and blended, and almost every control can be modulated over time or with the mod-wheel. Take a look at the main mixer and sequencer page below:
There is a pretty powerful gate sequencer that itself can be modulated. The sequencer is split so that you can control sound sources A and B separately. Also near the bottom there is an FX Dash view that will give you quick control of any effects you have loaded in the FX page. Speaking of the FX page...
Spitfire has included most of the available Kontakt effects into the GUI. These can be applied on a global level, or applied to just each of the A and B sound sources. There is also a unique 'motor FX' tab that allows auto-modulation of the sounds. Again there is a limitless potential for mapping and modulation across the engine.
Check out the following videos for sound demonstrations of eDNA Earth.
As usual we'll break the library down into terms everyone can relate to based on the following parameters:
Sample Quality - How I feel about the sounds
Versatility - This is a broad scope library, how well does it accomplish that?
Functionality and GUI - Are there enough controls, and are they laid out well?
Cost - How I feel about the price, Cost/GB and Cost/Preset
My usual thoughts about this are twofold: do the samples suffer any weird glitches, and how nice do they sound? So far I haven't noticed any weird issues with the samples. The sounds themselves are overall incredible. As is with a library of this magnitude and broad scope, its hard to say that every sample is definitively great sounding. However I can state that there are hundreds of patches that are absolutely beautiful, and every sound i've played with sounds like it would have its place in some type of composition (even if its not my cup of tea). Also, the level of sound design present in the raw sounds is incredible for such a big library.
Sample Quality: 5/5 Stars
Spitfire EDNA Earth has 1001 sound sources and 1900+ patches, but how diverse are they? Very. There are plenty of sounds that can be used as standard synth patches, plenty of sounds that blur the lines between orchestral and synth, and plenty of huge soundscapes. Most of the sounds stay in the synthesizer ballpark, but this is an 'orchestral synthesizer' after all.
I firmly believe that almost everyone could buy this library and find a couple hundred patches they love. The power of the engine allows you to sculpt pretty much any sound you have in your head, but we'll get to that in the next section.
Versatility: 5/5 Stars
Functionality and GUI
This is where I think EDNA Earth earns its value. The amount of control you have is almost absurd. Of course the library features standard controls like ADSR, filters, sound blending, panning, and FX, but Spitfire takes it to a new level with the way that these controls can be modulated. The 'motors' as they call them can be used to drive many effects, and there is even a gate sequencer that can be used on a layer by layer basis. Everything is designed so that sound sources A and B can be sculpted independently which allows for some massively detailed sound design.
Personally I think the GUI is laid out in a pretty logical manner. The main page is incredibly straight forward and you shouldn't need to do any research to figure out how to use it (the hallmarks of great design). The FX and motor page is a little more complicated, and to be honest I did need to look up how to use it and spend some time on it. However I think this complication is negligible for this library, as the remainder of the GUI is incredibly clean and straightforward.
Functionality and GUI: 5/5 Stars
I think this library is an absolute steal. For only $149 you're getting an incredibly diverse library that is truly a first of its kind (to my knowledge). If you're looking for a one-size-fits-all library to fill many of your sample library needs, this would be a great library to look at. You can't deny that 1900+ presets of 1001 sound sources for only $149 is a bargain. However lets take a look at some numbers to see how it stacks up.
The Cost/GB is $3.33/GB ($149 for 44.8GB of samples).
The Cost/Preset is $0.08/Preset ($149 for 1900 presets)
The Cost/GB metrics falls in line with other Spitfire Audio's products (Spitfire Studio Strings was $2.38/GB). The Cost/Preset metric is crazy cheap - usually preset packs for Serum or Massive are at least $0.10 / Preset, and commonly $0.50 / Preset. No matter how you break it down EDNA Earth is an absolute bargain.
Cost: 5/5 Stars
Time will tell if this library becomes common usage in my Kontakt arsenal, but in the few weeks i've had it i've really loved playing with it. In every possible metric I can think of it gets a perfect 5/5 star rating. The main downside I can think of for eDNA Earth is the lack of an integrated .nki with a preset browser, however there are typically performance and loading considerations that come into play when such a .nki is created. Separating the patches makes loading your favorite and creating templates a much less RAM and CPU hungry experience.