The This Thing Rules blogs are going to be coming one after another over the next couple months, and today I’m excited to be checking out Lethal, a brand new rompler from Lethal Audio.
Before we jump into the review, make sure to listen to the demo, “The Monster,” which I made entirely in Lethal.
So if you’re not a musician you’re probably asking right now what a rompler is. A rompler is like a sampler that you don’t load your own samples into. It just comes with tons of sounds already built in… 5GB worth to be exact in the case of Lethal. You can still do some tweaking like a synth, so if you want you can take the library that it comes with and build upon it yourself to create all kinds of new sounds. One of my most used pieces of software is reFX’s Nexus 2, which is a rompler. Some might argue that Omnisphere is one too, although Omnisphere is sort of in a league of its own, but definitely a comparison between Lethal and Nexus 2 can be made.
Lethal has a nice flat, modern UI that doesn’t pretend to be some classic piece of gear at the expense of PC-based usability. Everything is layed out in an easy, simple fashion and I like that a lot. After selecting a sound from the library, the main screen has knobs and controls to play with the Amp, Pitch, Noise, Unison, Vibrato, Drive, Shine, Chord Type and more. There’s quite a lot of options for dialing in the sound you need, and the huge built in library gives you a lot of great starting points.
The most important thing for a piece of software like this is the simple question… How does it sound? The good news is it generally sounds great. Everything has a really high quality to it, and it’s very usable. However, while the sound quality is generally excellent, I wouldn’t say that things really jumped out at me as being overly new or exciting. Granted, I have TONS of sounds I play with in all my other music software, so for someone like me, there’s bound to be a moment where you get a little bit of preset fatigue from hearing the same things over and over. But like I said, it’s all very usable, high quality stuff. You’re not going to find weird or repetitive or overly experimental sounds here.
After selecting a sound from the library and doing any of the initial tweaking you might want to do, you can then move into the tabs for the ARP, TG, FX and Source. These let you further edit what you’re getting in really great, simple ways. The ARP engine is really well done and the ability to load and save preset ARP patterns is always a great addition. There are some great FX built in too which all lead to really good results.
Going back to the demo track, “The Monster,” I decided to go with a sort of rap style track mainly because of the very mainstream synth heavy nature of the default library. In most of my This Thing Rules reviews, this would be the part where I tell you about the specific sounds I’m using, but this is actually where we come to another negative I found with Lethal. While there are two totally different ends of the spectrum when it comes to sound naming (there’s no real way to know what a sound in some other program called “The Earth Crashes Into The Moon” is going to sound like, haha), the names here are extremely undetailed. For example, I used Big Room Synth 009, Commercial Strings 003, Fretless Bass 010, Guitar Pluck 004, and my personal favorite, Pad 001 in “The Monster.” The difference between Pad 001 and Pad 002? You’ll just have to load them and find out. It’s fine when you’re just playing around and trying out sounds, but if Lethal becomes a real go-to in my arsenal it would be nice to have some slightly more memorable names so I can remember some of my favorites.
Expansion packs are a big deal to anyone who likes to browse through presets looking for what they want, and the amount of preset packages I’ve purchased for other romplers/samplers/synths is proof that I am a total expansion pack slut… So the fact that Lethal Audio is offering free expansion packs every month until June 2017 is a HUGE selling point here. That means the library is going to grow and grow, and with each pack, the software will become more and more useful. I actually held off on posting this review to wait for the first pack, which just came out last week. It’s a Hip-Hop pack, and instantly adds a ton of new content. The new stuff has the same positives (great quality, highly usable sounds) and the same negatives (all the Expansion Pack 1 sounds have the prefix X01 so now we have, X01-Bass 001, X01-Bass 002, etc etc).
All things said, Lethal is a great program with room to grow. I’d like to see a little more variety in the sounds, and some better naming conventions. It would also be great to see Drum Kits rather than just collections of Kicks, Snares, etc on separate presets. But otherwise there’s a lot to love about it. Especially if you don’t already have something like Nexus 2 which it clearly is competing with.
Lethal is available from Lethal Audio for $199.00, and includes free expansion packs every month until June 2017. There is also a free demo available to download from their website that will let you try out Lethal with 100 select sounds.
David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on theABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.