Product Type: EWQL in Multimedia
Newest Review: ... every area of the basic trio of bass, guitar and drums (with the exception of lead electric guitar), Independence Free is markedly superi... more
A mixed bag
Author Name: Noiseboy
Advantages: Great choirs, keys, ethnic instruments, brass
Disadvantages: Some very poor guitar and bass patches, very limited feature-set
Goliath is a standalone program and VST plugin that falls into the camp of "General workhorse" - it covers an awful lot of ground. East West Quantum Leap, the makers, claim it is "the only HIGH QUALITY complete sound set in one package ever created". It covers all the basics and several more besides - drums, bass, guitar, horns, keys, orchestral, ethnic instruments and some oddments. It is driven by EWQL's proprietary Play engine.
Following some great reviews and even greater demos, I bought Goliath in the latter part of 2008. I've now lived with EWQL Goliath for several months. My first impressions were not very favourable, however - I found the quality of samples to be a very mixed bag. Having now lived with the program for a few months and used it in anger (in both senses of the phrase), I've now had a chance to really put it through its paces, and discovered that it is considerably more usable than I originally gave it credit for - on more than one occasion it has really surprised me and got me out of a fix. But while this is true, it still most definitely has areas which are in urgent need of attention.
First of all, the sample player - Play. This attracted a lot of criticism in its early incarnations. From my perspective, it has improved a great deal over the first few months, and the latest version (1.2.0 at the time of writing) is really pretty slick at this point. It is resource heavy (2GB ram is an absolute minimum, but 4GB is the more realistic baseline). It is also pretty light on features, something that's best illustrated by going through each sample area.
There's a good variety of kits here - electronic and acoustic, multisampled, some with brushes. They sound consistently great. However, this is almost irrelevant since their practical use is extremely limited. It is not possible to route individual instruments through individual outputs, so, for example, putting a basic reverb, EQ or compressor on the snare only is not possible. This is a very serious omission. Users would get more mileage out of Independence Free (which really is free!), which has a smaller but very useful and very high quality multi-velocity-sampled range of kits, and allows both internal and external routing. It also has a slew of onboard effects of every conceivable variety, against Goliath's Play which as only reverb, ADT, a very basic echo (with gradations in a very crude 0.1 of a second, so little chance of tempo syncing), one pole filter and stereo-width adjustment.
Some nice instruments here, which also offer a few articulations within velocity layers (such as little slide up to notes). Some are wonderful - Stingray has a gorgeous bright, but full sound. However, there are two main issues. Quite a few do not multisample enough - for example, Fat Rock Pick seems to have one sample across around 5 notes or so, which sounds cheap, and rather belies the high quality claim. The other more serious issue is that there is an absence of a big, fat, round, bass - every one has a distinctive, in-your-face tone, which isn't always right in a mix. This applies to the upright bass, which is extremely lively. Again, here I'd generally plump for Independence Free, whose basic electric bass is outstanding, and has a large variety of slides etc to add life to the performance. Kore Player, meanwhile, has a strong upright bass.
If drums and bass were found wanting, then guitars are - on occasions - borderline horrific. This is the section which needs urgent surgery. While there is a dizzying selection of guitars on display, the quality is often extremely poor (although the latest Play update has eliminated some of the clicking horrors). Blues Rhythm 567 is one of a number of instruments which have clipped distortion even when reducing the articulation level (the first part of the signal chain) - the low velocity B2 sample (for example) sounds unlistenable. This is a shame, because this patch offers some chord possibilites on the classic blues / rock and roll riff by playing a progression in octaves - each octave has a different variant. The catchily-named Fender Buzz Chug Sus whole low velocities A1-C2 truncate with a click; Hawaiian strum's mid velocity F#2 to A2 clicks unuseably. Others are simply of a general very poor quality - Grunge Sus4 has the same problem of not enough multisampling that plagues some of the basses, and takes it to new heights (or depths, perhaps). It harsh, cheap effect sounds rather like a toy from the 1980s, with that distinctive filtering sweeping up and down the keyboard. High quality, eh?
The chord patches are pretty basic - only one patch (Ska Rhythm) has even minor variations. Once again, it is Independence Free which wins for acoustic and power chords (it has a stunning power chord patch, which while being major only is far beefier, better quality, has more articulations and has a wide choice of cab simulation). Or if you have Kontakt, Pettinhouse provides some excellent quality guitars for free (and of course there is Kontakt's bundled library).
But before leaving the highly variable guitar section on such a sour note, an acknowledgement of the plusses. There IS a lot of variety here, and some of the leads are great, with some really good get-out-of-jail-free cards - the 56s Surf Spy lead is great for Monty Norman's James Bond theme emulation, there is a terrific lapsteel (and a moody effects patch) and so on - worthy additions. Despite being very disappointed by the guitars overall, they've come to my aid several times.
So far - not very good. In every area of the basic trio of bass, guitar and drums (with the exception of lead electric guitar), Independence Free is markedly superior to Goliath, and costs nothing more than an hour's download time, as opposed to 500 bucks. However, all is not entirely lost, as things begin to pick up in other areas...
The choir bank perhaps gives the nod to the direction Goliath should have gone in. It has a small selection of EWQL choirs - Altos, Basses, Boys, Sopranos and Tenors, all on "ooooh"s only, and all making use of the modwheel to cross betweeen quiet and loud. Although limited in scope, the quality is absolutely superb, and highly usable in compositions. There are also some other male, female and solo choirs with more variations. However, the quality of these is more variable, though the solo female has some good articulations (ooh err).
Who needs Stormdrum?! Well, I do as it happens because of the loops (my percussion abilities are rather limited...) But if it's pure sounds you are after, there is excellent variety in the percussion section, and excellent quality - most will head straight for the 88-key variety mix. Some huge Terminator 2 style drums here, alongside more traditional Indian and African drums - if your playing is up to it, instant film soundtrack time! One quirk - this patch has only one voice polyphony which is of course utterly useless, but this can be manually changed in the advanced properties of the patch each time. There are other good patches in this section too, such as Tibet, with gorgeous bells and smaller chimes.
In the tuned section, there's also an extremely handy selection of good quality instruments such as the Duduk for those instant Gladiator soundtrack moments - this also comes with several articulation variations, with or without reverb. This does give rise to an issue - Goliath uses no keyswitching at all, so switching between articulations on the fly is impossible. It's a case of recording one, then jigging it around different midi channels set to different articulations - pretty messy, but possible to create a great final effect if you have the time and patience.
Other instruments include Bagpipes, Fiddles, Cora, Kalimba, Ney Flute and Shamisen - most of these sound fantastic, although only a couple have articulation variations.
This is a complete GM set, however the vast majority of instruments are included elsewhere.
Keyboard Mallet instruments
Another good selection of good quality instruments, although some seem strangely placed in this category - perhaps think of it as keyboard OR mallet instruments. Church Organ (amazing), celeste, muisc box and accordians therefore sit alongside the more expected xylophones, marimbas and vibes.
New Age Ensembles
These sound like combinations of other patches (such as acoustic guitar and strings), which will be invaluable if you are up against tight deadlines for that relaxation tape project, but perhaps less useful otherwise.
This is a very stripped down subset of the company's own Symphonic Orchestra (which, since I own, means I haven't gone into it much). It is pretty basic - no release trails which make the SO collection so authentic, for example. The ensembles are not very good either - again, this is a section where you don't really get a sense of the quality that the bigger SO has to offer, never mind the range. That said, there are some great instruments here too that might work well in a pop mix, for example.
A good selection of pianos, electric, vintage and acoustic. The biggest of the latter is the gargantuan PMI Bosendorfer 290 which is so huge it has a category all to itself, and has wet and dry variations of 16 layers each. Superb. There are two other acoustic pianos (a 1 or 2 gig Fazioli and a Steinway B), plus honky tonk etc, 2 clavinets and some electric variations including the distinctive Yamaha CP-80. It would have been nice to have had acoustic loud / soft pedal variations (especially on a keyswitch), but nevertheless a strong section.
Seems a bizarre if well-used name, as of course this applies to Jazz and Big Band also. Some fantastic stuff here - all the instruments you'd expect, and some ensembles, with plenty of articulation variations including falls, shakes, rips, the works. Again, this is let down by a lack of keyswitches, which makes programming them a real pain, although a few have velocity and / or scripting variations. But given enough time and patience, you can some great results out of this section.
A curious and enormous selection of atmospheric drones which use the mod wheel to cross between 2 different patches in a kind of startling and often scary way. Perfect for horror soundtracks and sound design, but of limited use otherwise, so you'll either come here a lot or not at all depending on what you do. Nice to have them though, and they sound quite arresting and of uniformly good quality. There's also 4 "lost" Stormdrum patches - they sound brilliant, but you can't adjust the tempo so if you intend using them, you need to start with the patch itself.
Synth Bass / Leads / Pads
A fairly uninspiring bunch sadly - not too much variety, and not especially good. Again, between Independence Free - whose limited selection is amazingly useable - and Kore Player (to name but two excellent free offerings), this is pretty much redundant.
Here you get variations of the Hammond B3, a Farfisa and a Vox. The Hammond of course has the classic rotating Leslie cab controllable via the modwheel - you'll be playing "Why Can't We Live Together" before you can stop yourself. One note - the modwheel fades between a very subtle slow rotator and a fast, which works well enough, but isn't a match for Kontakt's true Leslie slow / fast switch, which you can hear speed up and slow down in real time.
So - a mixed bag indeed. To be honest I'm at a loss to understand the rave reviews - Future Music says that "Pounding through the patches rapidly reveals a wealth of well-recorded and cunningly processed sounds equipped with useful, velocity switched variations". While this is true of some sections, the quality of others are highly disappointing - bass, and guitar specifically, and it is the lack of consistent quality that hurts the EWQL brand here, who - at their best - are capable of blowing away all comers. But, as noted, even here you'll find some patches of use, and augmented by free programs such as Independence Free, Proteus EX, Kore Player and UVI Workstation, you'll not be wanting for much. That doesn't excuse the lacklustre offerings here, but it does mean you can work round them.
Goliath excels in other areas, and you get a real taste of what this beast could have been. I'd throw out 75% of the guitars to have the best of these in far higher quality - which, after all, is the selling point. Play needs a few more features - top of the list are the ability to make up your own keyswitching and the ability to route individual instruments out of individual outputs (essential for the drum kits), and these omissions are really quite unforgiveable when Independence Free has them and far more besides (say it again, for free). Play Pro is about to be released which should allow for customisation, but at an extra three hundred bucks, it almost adds insult to injury.
The pricing of Goliath puts it up against Kontakt 3, which has a similar sized broad library in terms of gb size. But while Goliath has 600 patches, Kontakt has 1000... and an entire sampler behind it with every element customisable. And given the variable quality of Goliath, despite its frankly dubious claim to be the only "high quality" solution, to be honest, there is no competition for Kontakt at current price points (those already with a 3rd party library using Kontakt player can get Kontakt 3 for one or two hundred bucks less than the replay-only Goliath).
EWQL have proved, with the development of Play, that they can address problems and respond to users needs. They now need to address the quality issues in Goliath urgently, with a major instrument update. Someone needs to painstakingly go through the bass and guitar patches with a fine toothcomb, and fix the clicks, clipping and truncated notes as a priority. Less likely but equally welcome would be some improvements in the poorest instruments and increased functionality (adding articulations in groups for the drums, for example, so kick, snare, toms etc can be fed to individual outputs).
Another intriguing option for the future of Goliath is to bundle it with the upcoming Play Pro, to really put it head to head with Kontakt 3. Native Instruments have almost total domination of the sampler market at the moment. EWQL won't worry it all the while a mute sampler is $300, but putting it as a head-to-head could really shake things up...
Summary: Good if you've got guitar, bass and drums already covered!
|Variety of features:|