Luftrum Lunaris by CoolGuitarGear
If you’ve never had a ‘padgasm,’ then the Lunaris pad instrument, by Luftrum Sound Design, will blow your mind. The instrument can be played solo and in a live context, or within a DAW when recording. What I like about pads (good sounding ones) is that they work in just about any musical environment, whether ethereal, needing a ‘string section’ for a romantic song, or even hammering out a Rammstein classic. Lunaris has such an incredible selection, with over 500 sound samples, that you will find dozens of useful sounds for different instances, with categories in the areas of Dark, Sequenced, Ambient, Sonic Underworld, Original Luftrum Volumes and Drafts & Leftovers. The accompanying demo integrates a few dozen samples into a somewhat randomized soundscape composition, and the breadth, detail and quality of Lunaris truly is awe inspiring.
Now, Lunaris is not simply a large number of samples, but a pad instrument. Each ‘sample’ or sound integrates four different layers (A, B, C & D) that make up that sound. You then can substitute any one of the layers (or all layers) with one of 100 different 24-bit pad sources. Layers C & D further contains 100 other sound sources in the areas of Field Recordings (e.g., ocean waves, ice cracking, etc.), Synth Transients (e.g., harmonics such as bell-like timbres) and Synth Soundscapes (e.g., synth-based textures). Suddenly those 500 Lunaris sound samples has become thousands of potential sounds awaiting your experimentation and discovery. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Each patch creation, and each layer of a creation can be customized, via the Amp Envelope (ADSR), which controls how the sound is shaped over time, and also through the Filter, which controls the cutoff frequency and filter. And if things get a bit muddy as you stack layers, there’s the Filter Split button that intelligently sorts all the active filters in different bands, to prevent rumbling or layers from fighting over the same frequencies (if you get too far astray as you click through all the selections, the Reset button resets the filters to their original state). Another creation tool is the Random button, which randomly selects different sound sources for the layers, although without affecting other settings (e.g., envelopes, filters or modulation), which is incredibly fun to use as the program develops new and unique pads and with very little effort on your part. Finally, the Time Stop function allows you to stretch sound, from 0% to 100%, and to the point of freezing it; this can be applied to any or all layers.
So far, there is a lot at your fingertips, and be aware that almost no editing was done in all the sounds included on the demo – merely a random selection from the 500 as I improvised and layered my soundscape. The one editing that I did do was to remove all the reverbs from some sounds and then applied only one reverb to all layers with the Global Setting, since Lunaris is a CPU hog and I had to cut back on some processing elements (it doesn’t help when you have 3-4 Lunaris pads playing concurrently, whereas this would not be the case in a live instance when using only 1-2 pads at any one time).
On that note, Lunaris offers a lot more editing features that can be applied globally, but which can be customized for each layer, including various effects (chorus, distortion, delay, reverb, phaser and EQ). And then there’s the Flux Motion, a modulation system that works with the MOD/SEQ tool – the former of which controls the filter cutoff, the amplitude and panning of the layers, which affects the motion of the sound. The MOD/SEQ tool is a step sequencer with two low frequency oscillators, allowing you to modulate the pitch, filter, volume or panning at synced rates. Below is a short instructional video by Luftrum that demoes how these aspects function and sound in real time.
The scope and quality of Lunaris is an exceptional buy at $159 USD (and there is a 20% off coupon when signing up for Luftrum’s newsletter). I’m flabbergasted by the creations that come prepackaged with this pad instrument, and I look forward to what I’m able to create, which is both an exciting adventure and somewhat intimidating since it’s easy to invest hours experimenting. It’s likely best to record short segments as you come up with new sounds and to make comparisons, since the variations can be so varied with only a few selections or knob turning that you easily can forget what was created only minutes ago as new sounds emerge and are discovered.