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Heavyocity Gravity 2 – the Synth and Software Review

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Does the sequel live up to the hyperbole? (Hint: yes.)

[We had previously listed the wrong author of this review. My apologies to the great John Krogh! – NB]

Heavyocity’s Gravity 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the hugely popular Gravity, which was released in 2015 and quickly set the bar for modern scoring instruments. Fast-forward to the release of Gravity 2 (G2), and Heavyocity is once again seeking to define the current and next generation of cinematic soundware aimed at contemporary media composition. 

More than a narrowly focused specialty instrument for, say, trailers or “epic Viking” soundtracks, G2 offers an expansive collection of premium sound sources, expertly crafted presets, and a feature-packed sound engine/user interface brimming with a level of sonic control that should keep seasoned synthesists and sound designers busy for years. So does G2 live up to the hype? Read on and check out our videos to learn more.

  1. Gravity 2’s Designer instrument allows you to layer up to three sound sources (shown along the top). Key mapping is shown along the bottom of the window, with the Macro Control knob centrally positioned in the interface. 

Super sonics

Let’s be clear at the outset, G2’s sample content, which Heavyocity calls “sound sources,” is entirely new — there’s nothing carried over from the original Gravity, other than the aesthetic and creative intent to give composers the “most dynamic collection of modern film-scoring software ever assembled.” To this end, Heavyocity recorded more than 1,000 sources, amounting to 2,300+ distinct samples that were then meticulously sculpted and produced to form the core of G2’s sound. 

This raw material was then masterfully fashioned and crafted inside G2’s sound engine (more on this later), resulting in a vast array of sounds that cover the gamut from hits, stings and scoring elements, to cinematic pads, evolving tonal and atonal textures, rhythmic pulsing patterns, risers, transition effects, and more. In total, there are 600+ presets that serve as starting points for your exploration. 

A closer look into the snapshot menu reveals a variety of preset categories, including Rhythmic Moods, Tonal Textures and Transitions.

Whereas the original Gravity organized its presets into many different musically themed Kontakt instruments, G2 takes a decidedly streamlined approach. There are just three Kontakt instruments: Gravity Designer, Gravity Menu, and Gravity Menu XL.

Within these three main instruments, you can browse and load presets using Kontakt’s snapshot menu, where you’ll find a collection of musically descriptive categories such as Rhythmic Beds, Atonal Textures, Stings, Rhythmic Pedals, and more. This type of patch organization isn’t a new concept, of course, but I do appreciate the way G2’s presets are presented, as it makes it much faster to find the types of sounds I’m looking for when I’m chasing down ideas. 

Sticking with the comparison between Gravity and G2 for a moment, to my sensibilities, G2 seems more well-rounded and better suited for a wider range of musical applications. For example, there are loads of tonal drones and textures on board that have enough interest and character yet don’t go too far by introducing strident audio elements, which can often render a patch unusable in more subtle underscoring situations.

The Menu and Menu XL instruments provide an “instant gratification” approach with presets packed with either 36 or 72 (XL) individual sound sources. 

What’s more, the original didn’t include any rhythmic material, whereas G2 is chock-full of useful pulses and tonal loops that are perfect for adding motion, excitement, and adrenaline to the mix. 

Take a look and listen to the following videos for more details:

Designer Patch Walkthrough

Sound Engine Quick Look

Menu Patch Walkthrough

Menu XL Patch Walkthrough

Sound engine

Heavyocity refers to G2’s synthesis controls and user interface as a “sound engine,” which offers many familiar tools found in the developer’s other instruments. For example, G2 offers three-part layering with independent amp envelope, multi-mode filter, effects, volume gate, and pitch mod sequencer for each part, plus macro controls that can modulate multiple parameters simultaneously (e.g. allowing you to change the amount of distortion, filter cutoff, and reverb send with one macro), the now-famous Punish multi-effect, and more. 

However, while G2 brings together much of the sonic-shaping features from earlier products, G2’s sound design potential is taken to a whole new level thanks to its larger, clean look and updated creative controls.

According to Heavyocity co-founder Dave Fraser, “The biggest thing that we focused on with G2’s engine was streamlining what would be included. To that point, we eliminated the Trigger FX [from previous instruments] and replaced it with the Macro Control feature that was developed and refined in our orchestra products, beginning with Novo.

“We also revamped the 3-channel mixer with one that you can control and mix between the three channels (in the Designer) with automated, recordable patterns. We did away with the Twist feature, as it was underutilized from our perspective, and not all that interesting. Again, the Macro Control function makes many of the things we decided to remove still achievable.

“One of the biggest upgrades with the G2 engine is the source browsing. For example, allowing users to build their own presets from the ground up, and the ability to create both Designer- and Menu-style presets, with two playback options available (e.g. waveform, sequenced). Also, the Master FX were significantly refined to provide far more customization, from the types of effects to the single chain, etc.”

In practice, I found the engine’s interface to be informative and intuitive (though there is a bit of a learning curve, given all the sonic horsepower under the hood), and once I spent a bit of time reverse-engineering some of the presets, I had a good grasp of how to tweak and shape the included sounds for my needs as well as build new Designer and Menu patches from scratch.

Check out the video below to see and hear how the engine’s wealth of modulation and synthesis parameters can be used to add interest and movement to a sound.

Watch how the functions in Gravity 2’s sound engine can be put to good use to create evolving animation to the included presets — in this case, All Is Lost from the Cue Creators’ Rhythmic Moods subcategory.

I did, however, run into a couple of minor bugs during the course of my review. Notably, there were a few cases of graphics not rendering properly, and legato and pitch-bend not working as expected. Heavyocity confirmed they’re aware of the issues and were working on a fix for the near future. Given their track record with their other instruments, I’m confident they’ll iron out the kinks in short order.

Conclusion

Gravity 2 represents an outstanding and extensive collection of top-shelf cinematic textures, impacts, and rhythmic tonal loops ranging from aggressive, angelic, sinister, and sublime, to mysterious, haunting, hopeful, and beyond. Its breadth of evocative, dramatic, and inspiring textures is simply stunning. The combination of premium sampled sources, artfully designed presets, and powerful sound engine amounts to an instrument that stands head and shoulders above the competition. Gravity 2 is a veritable platinum mine of sonic treasure tailor-made to deliver top-shelf results.

Tech Specs & Requirements

9.55GB
Native Instruments Kontakt (or Player) 7.6
NKS 2.0 integrated

Price: $449, $100 off (crossgrade) for owners of Gravity or any Gravity Pack

Click here for more info

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