Review: does UVI Asteroid strike movie composers and sound designers?

UVI Asteroid reviewWhen it comes to soundware, the definitive UVI experience is about lightweight instruments with huge “instant gratification” factor and tweaking potential firmly capped at “intermediate”. The French developer does have its fair share of heady creations, such as Relayer, Share, and the mighty Falcon 2. But for the most part, it’s big sounds and non-complicated interfaces. Asteroid, the newest UVI release, fits the bill perfectly. It throws cinema/game composers and sound designers a respectable amount of production-ready drum and percussion hits with plentiful, but non-excessive, creative headroom.

UVI Asteroid

Like most UVI soundware, Asteroid runs inside the developer’s free Workstation host plug-in. That’s not any sort of hassle – it’s like loading a leaner version of Kontakt.

Once you get to Asteroid, its soothing cosmic graphics make an excellent first impression. The Main tab has the presets browser and three adjustable controls – Thrust (basically an oomph knob), Velocity (also controlled from the mod wheel), and Volume (output level). Below are the 7 audio tracks with Bypass, Solo, Volume, and Instrument choice controls. You can shuffle and randomize the latter, as well as adjust dynamics. The Main tab is great for firing up some of the pre-made sounds and sequences to get a feel for Asteroid’s punch and impact. Drum hits is its business, and business is good! Asteroid makes me lust after a real cinema sound system to hear its full glory, and I don’t even like theaters…

The Edit tab is next in line, homing in on customizing the 7 audio tracks with additional controls. These include Reverb, Delay, Width, and Pan for each track. The latter lets you pan left and right, as well as closer or farther – psychoacoustics for the win!

UVI Asteroid - Main tab
UVI Asteroid - Edit

Below is a varied effects section with abridged versions of transient shaping, pitch editing, EQ (LP/HP filters, sub, air band), modules (Drive, Bit-crusher, Frequency shifter, Phaser, Flanger), and Note repeat. The latter can loop or repeat several bars of note values with a single key press – stuff that’s become commonplace and hard to live without nowdays.

The next tab is, logically, FX. It contains five of the effects we saw thus far, but their control sets are expanded. The Reverb lets you choose different spaces and adjust Size, Time, Bands (Low, Mid, High), and Level parameters. The Delay has High and Low Pass controls as well as Time, Feedback, Width, and Level parameters. The Equalizer has Low, Mid, and High bands with adjustable crossover frequencies, the latter a clever way of providing some wiggle room without making EQ adjustments needlessly cluttered.

The Compressor is useful for glueing things together using the standard set of controls – Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Release, and Gain. The final touch is the Limiter with only a single threshold control. It’s helpful for preventing things from getting out of hand, level-wise. All these effects sound convincing enough on their own. I imagine most will use them for initial processing before grabbing onto their favorite 3rd-party plug-ins, but it’s good to have them in there.

UVI Asteroid - SEQ

The final tab is SEQ, and it’s the most interesting one by far. In addition to precise step-sequencing of hits (up to 64 steps), it enables per-step adjustments for velocity, pan, pitch, decay, reverb, and delay. These aren’t parameter locks, but they do let you make each hit different every time, adding much welcome liveness and unpredictability to patterns. Step editing is a breeze using the Event Link option, which mirrors the changes made to one bar in the next ones. You can also add swing and export MIDI to your DAW.

UVI Asteroid – Our Verdict

If you are bored with your current Kontakt libraries or starting out with movie and game audio, EUR 149 is not a lot to spend for a high-quality percussion instrument that caters to busy schedules. The factory sounds are big and impressive and the user experience is quite pleasant. The effects and sequencing options can bring additional life and twists to the existing sounds. You will surely get your money’s worth out of Asteroid before you have to start looking elsewhere.

UVI Asteroid – More information

UVI Asteroid – Videos

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