EASTWEST’s Quantum Leap Goliath Virtual Instrument (VI) is big. But, you probably guessed that by the name. In fact, Goliath is even bigger than one of their last VIs, named Colossus. That sounds pretty big to me!
The general idea behind Goliath is to give you a comprehensive set of samples for almost any musical situation. You’ll find acoustic and electronic drums, ethnic and orchestral percussion, electric and acoustic guitars and many other stringed instruments. There are a number of piano samples, including the full version of EASTWEST’s PMI Bosendorfer 290, as well as Rhodes, B3, harpsichord, several accordians, and orchestral mallets. There’s a fairly complete orchestra, a pop brass section, some “New Age Ensembles” and a 3 gig collection of drones and atmospheres perfect for “one-finger film scoring.” The box claims over 180 instruments with 600 different patches.
The version of Goliath I received for this review is the version that runs on the proprietary EASTWEST PLAY software. It runs on Mac and PC in a variety of hosts and interfaces, including AU, VST, and RTAS on the Mac, and ASIO, VST and RTAS on the PC. Currently, I run Pro Tools HD and Logic Studio on a Dual 2.8 Quad-Core Intel MacPro, with 14 gigs of RAM. But, when I first got the software, I was still running an old Dual 2.0 G5, and the box claims a 1Ghz G4 will work, though I’d guess it’d be pretty limited.
So, now that we’ve got the prerequisite info out of the way, let’s load it up! Installing Goliath is a relatively long process, with 6 DVDs and 40 gigabytes to copy. I installed the sample data on an external hard drive with no problems, in this case a Firewire 800 drive I typically use for samples. The installer also drops the plug-ins into the correct folders for your system. For me, that’s the RTAS version in my Pro Tools plug-ins folder, and the Audio Units version in the System’s Components folder for Logic.
Once I had everything loaded and updated to the very latest version, it was time to see if this “giant” was all it was cracked up to be. I loaded up Pro Tools 8, and found the plug-in called “Play” in my instruments folder. That seemed oddly generic to me, as I know there are a number of EW VIs that run on the Play engine. Do they all show up as Play in the plug-ins folder? That could be confusing.
The PLAY interface is fairly straightforward, though without looking at the manual it took me a minute to figure out how to load a patch. The small “Browser” button opens a view of your drive hierarchy from which you select the patch. They’re arranged in clear instrument families, so finding what you’re looking for is a breeze. The PLAY window also allows you to add reverb and delay and some other “doubling” effects. It’s set up so that you use one instance of the plug-in for each sound, rather than a multi-output VI like Stylus RMX or Omnisphere.
To put Goliath through it’s paces I was planning to write a track using only Goliath in Pro Tools 8 and one in Logic Studio, but have since found that it and most of my other CPU intensive RTAS instruments aren’t very stable in Pro Tools. At this point in my troubleshooting, I don’t think it’s an issue with the VIs themselves as it is with the RTAS implementation in the Leopard System software. I’d like to try the Structure (Digidesign’s sampler VI) version of Goliath to see how that fares inside Pro Tools. But, once I moved into Logic with it’s Audio Units version of Goliath it ran flawlessly. The only time I ran into some glitches was with the largest Bosendorfer 290 sample, and I’m sure that’s a by-product of a too-slow hard drive and not an issue with Goliath. Fortunately in Logic, I can just hit the Freeze button, and let Logic render the track offline, and we’re back in business. I had 15 instances of Goliath playing no problem.
So, to give you the opportunity to hear some of the sounds from Goliath, I wrote a couple of quick sketches and posted them on a page on my website. Here’s the link: http://thestickhouse.com/TFWM.html. The first is a funky groove that features my favorite Rhodes sound in Goliath as well as drums, bass, B3, electric guitar, a marimba solo, and a little flute and violin in the “B” section. I really like the sound of the marimba. It’s not too perfect, which gives it depth and realism. The second track is orchestral, with a full compliment of strings, brass, winds, percussion, piano, and even a little boys choir. Again, these are quick sketches that I didn’t spend a lot of time on, but they’ll give you an idea of what you can achieve using only Goliath. I didn’t add any reverb, other effects or EQ. Drop me an email and tell me what you think.
Overall, I think the quality of the samples is quite good. I ran into a few patches that had a lot of noise that became apparent as the sound faded away, but generally the recordings are clean, and sampled with much of the inherent and desirable inconsistencies of the real instrument. It always sounds more “real” if it isn’t overly perfect. In general, I wasn’t blown away by the sounds, but I’m accustomed to using more individualized VIs for my building block sounds, like Ivory for piano, BFD2 for drums, and VSL Special Edition for orchestral sounds. And while they’re a little better than what’s included with Logic Studio, I’m not sure I’d recommend Goliath to someone that just bought Logic and was just getting into computer based music production because so many of the same instruments are included with Logic. That person would be better off spending the same money for some “specialist” VIs. But, for someone that’s lacking a set of basics, Goliath will give you that and a lot more.