EastWest has really made a name for itself in producing great sounds. Its Symphonic Orchestra libraries have set a high standard and are considered a must-have by an enormous number of composers around the globe. With Goliath, they've taken a stab at entering the world of the "one-stop" sampler. The actual sampler application, dubbed Play, has EastWest stepping into the ring with established heavyweights like Native Instruments Kontakt 3 and MOTU's MachFive 2. They've put out a substantially-sized offering-a hefty 40 GB covering all the basics (synths, piano, orchestral, percussion, drum kits, etc.) and then some. As stated, they've created a 64-bit (also fully 32-bit compatible) sampler designed to "eliminate clutter". The interface is large and sparse, with generously-proportioned, outboard-gear-looking dials that shine with a nice graphic representation of chrome. It sports a large, graphic envelope editor (attack, hold, decay, sustain, release); an ADT (artificial double tracking) effect; on/off and some tweaking for both delay and reverbs; a bit of computer load measures; and pan, volume and input parameters. It was super easy to get up-and-running and tweaking these basic parameters right out of the box. For those used to some of the other samplers on the market, the sparseness may not really fit your idea of what a sampler should be able to do, but it certainly gets the job done and doesn't come with a steep learning curve.
The sounds definitely have the trademark EastWest fatness and thickness that's evident in the Symphonic Orchestra libraries and in the Quantum Leap Storm Drum sets. The acoustic piano offering (PMI Bosendorfer 290) had a nice, realistic sound, fuller and more expressively accurate in my opinion than Kontakt 3's Grand and Upright. There's a nice variety of percussion from Congas to Tablas to a Taiko drum set and a unique selection of ethnic instruments like the Shamisen, Koto, Kora (a beautiful harp/lute-type instrument from West Africa), a Didgeridoo, and roughly twenty "New Age Ensembles" that really have some great unique textures (think sitar mixed with flute or piano, with strings backing each note). The instruments included aren't quite as deep as Kontakt 3 or MachFive, and Kontakt 3's orchestral samples have a noticeably more dynamic feel (though if orchestral was your main goal, EastWest's Symphonic libraries would be the better comparison). Goliath via Play is also a little more awkward to navigate through-most samplers having some sort of "next preset" button, where Play requires at least two clicks of the mouse. The price point is on the high side ($625 street) when compared to Kontakt 3 ($399) and MachFive 2 ($459). Patch loads take a little bit longer, and it seemed to tax the system just a bit more than Kontakt 3. In Logic Pro 8 on a Mac Pro dual quad-core with 2 GB of RAM, the system registered roughly 46-55% of the CPU resources while running six instances of Goliath and roughly 30-35% with six instances of Kontakt 3. Not a truly scientific test, but b----oth samplers were running with two acoustic pianos, an acoustic drum kit, a trumpet, a synth lead, and an organ.
All in all, the bundle comes with an enormous library of some unique instruments, great percussive sounds, a 64-bit engine, iLok portability, and a nice clean interface that doesn't take a manual to figure out. On the other hand, fine tuning of sounds isn't as user-controllable as with other samplers, and therefore, Play may not be quite as expressive. If you're looking for a great variety of good sounds in one package, it's definitely worth a look. ($695 MSRP; www.soundsonline.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.