In part one of the Electri6ity review, we looked at the features available. In part two we’ll look at how Electri6ity works and how the virtual guitars sound.
Although the user interface in Elecri6ity is straightforward enough – with separate viewing and editing ‘pages’ for Performance, Settings, Effects and Fretboard – learning how to influence your recorded or real time ‘guitar’ part with all the articulations possible will involve putting aside some serious learning time. The Performance page displays information about which articulation is active, which keyswitch is pressed or which chord has been detected, as well as the options for altering pick-up selection and vibrato amount. The Effects Page is visible if you choose Amped Instruments only – if you want to use your own plug-ins for amps and effects, choose DI Instrument. The effects available include Reverb, Delay and Chorus plus an overdrive pedal and a very basic amp simulator. The virtual fretboard on the Fretboard page, obviously, displays which frets and strings are being played and also information about other playing techniques like the pick stroke direction. To enhance realism, notes can be assigned to different strings as a guitarist would naturally play.
Electri6ity can be used in three modes – polyphonic, solo and legato. Polyphonic mode allows strumming and chords while solo and legato modes are for single-note lines. The programme also includes ‘advanced artificial intelligence’ which takes some of the manual work out of switching between articulations like hammer-ons, pull-offs and sustained notes so that in legato mode, you simply play and let the engine choose the correct articulations. Some articulations that are difficult on a keyboard are included, like tremolo picking, trills and slides, and will have to be written manually.
Articulations are all controlled by key switching. Because there are more articulation options than available keys on an 88-note keyboard, Electri6ity uses a special key-switch system which has four options – forced, velocity sensitive, combined and standard – which determine how the switches operate. The key switching is really where the skill in using Electri6ity lies and mastering this to a seamless level is going to be the determining factor in whether the guitar part you create is going to be credible.
The guitars themselves are sampled clean but they are not meant to be used in untreated form as they sound rather thin. Using the DI version of the guitars is recommended if you have plug-ins such as Amplitube or Guitar Rig as the provided amp sim doesn’t sound that great and the effects board is rather limited. To test the guitar sounds I wrote a simple riff, applied some appropriate articulations to the individual notes and then loaded each sample guitar in turn to examine just how close Vir2 has managed to get to the real thing. The Telecaster through the Amplitube Fender’s Twin was believable and so was the Strat, although I couldn’t distinguish between the different pickup settings. The Les Paul – with both humbucker and P-90 samples – was credible enough, but the Lipstick and ES-335 less so. The Rickenbacker was typically jangly and the L-4 very mellow and jazzy but overall, not hugely impressive. I couldn’t help thinking that with so many samples of each guitar taken and so much time spent, the guitar sounds themselves would be better than they are.
As I mentioned in part one, this program is not for guitarists that can play and are recording-savvy – why would they want to try and create a guitar part or solo in Electri6ity when they can do it so much better by just playing? However, keyboard playing songwriters, producers and soundtrack composers will of course lap it up and although a few guitarists may lose work, the majority need not fear.
I’ve included a couple more clips to show what can be achieved with Electri6ity.