Music Software Review: Solo Dholak & Dholak Loops by Crypto Cipher

We met the Crypto Cypher in my last review about Tabla Tarrang and Solo Tabla. As Crypto Cypher specialise in traditional Indian instruments, they continue their manifesto with Solo Dholak and Dholak Loops.

What is Solo Dholak?

The Dholak instrument has two sides. The bigger side produces bass sounds and the smaller side produces treble pitches (which are tuned in F). The Dholak looks like a Punjabi Dhol, but is smaller in size and played with fingers/hands instead of sticks. The instrument shell is made of high quality sheesham wood. The Dholak is quite the popular percussion instrument in India, having been featured in the Indian Film Industry and Indian folk music since its inception. Its sampled counterpart in this review is based on 12,900 samples, recorded with high quality equipment, and boasts a massive set of features for tweaking and playing.

What is Dholak Loops?

Dholak Loops are recorded loops in various BPM, with each BPM range consisting of unique styles of playing, covering traditional, classical, and experimental style of playing the Dholak. All of the loops are available in 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, and 140 BPM, covering over 500 very fine and unique loops. Beside the Kontakt version, Crypto Cypher delivers all of the loops in .wav and .rex2 format as well – a very kind bonus, expanding upon the possibilities of these files.

All of the loops were peformed by Prasenjit Mitra, who is THE master multi-percussionist of India. He is an award winning solo tabla player who has frequently performed locally and internationally. He was initially a disciple of Farukhabad Gharana, and he later worked a lot with other gharana styles, making his style of playing very unique.

Key Features of Solo Dholak

  • Price Tag: $79
  • The instrument is based on 12,900 samples recorded with high quality equipment
  • Master Patch with intense conotrol features over the instrument
  • Left Drum, Right Drum, and Combo Drums alphabets mapped in proper order
  • Many articulations along with chromatic bass tones from E1-E2 (Real dholak players play a lot with different bass modulations)
  • Advanced scripting features and total control over individual sounds. Each drum can be tuned/panned separately and each sound can be fine tuned
  • Create a nice balance of Left hand drum and Right hand drum according to taste
  • 7 impulse response reverbs
  • Solo Dholak Sample Size – 1.03 NCW compressed
  • Bonus Midi Loops Included,which covers Indian traditional Dholak patterns and various complex patterns
  • Sample Resolution: 44.1khz/24 bit
  • Note: Full retail version of Kontakt 5.4.2 or higher is required.

Key Features of Dholak Loops

  • Price Tag: $49
  • Quantised without disturbing Indian Percussion Language
  • Fine tuned custom made dholak recorded
  • 500+ loops
  • Loops recorded at 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 BPM
  • Tempo synced loops
  • Custom Script for Kontakt
  • Special effects includes – Transient Control, Heat, Doubler, and Global Tune
  • Microtuning for each individual loop
  • 7 custom impulse response
  • Rex Kontakt Instruments , Wave Kontakt instruments, Rex Loops, Wave Loops
  • Sample Resolution : 44.1 Khz/24 bit Format
  • Note: Full retail version of Kontakt 5.4.2 or higher is required.

Installation of Solo Dholak & Dholak Loops

Installation files can be downloaded after purchase from the Crypto Cipher webshop. Unzip all files and copy them into a folder of your choice. As the library requires the full retail version of Kontakt, it will not appear in the libraries tab pane. It can be added, however, to the quick launch menu instead. Due to the high amount of samples, a batch resave is highly recommended.

The Interface of Solo Dholak & Dholak Loops

In contrast to Tabla Tarrang and Solo Tabla, the interface is more structured and less colorful (so “Western” musicians might get used to it a bit easier!). Again, a lot of features are implemented, but this time around, it feels better structured and quicker to navigate.

Crypto Cipher - Solo Dholak (Main GUI)

Crypto Cipher – Solo Dholak (Main GUI)

Crypto Cipher - Dholak Loops (Main GUI)

Crypto Cipher – Dholak Loops (Main GUI)

The Sound of Solo Dholak & Dholak Loops

Again, the sound is outstanding and well recorded. The lows are punchy and as present as the highs. Even the stereo image and is very present, and the sound is three-dimensional. You have the feeling of standing in the room where the instrument is being played. The loops are also well recorded and well set. There is nothing to bemoan here! Equally, it’s hard to bemoan the well-written demos of these two libraries, and how well the instruments contribute to the compositions:


Crypto Cypher have once again done a wonderful job! Like their previous libraries that I’ve experienced, the sound and possibilities of Solo Dholak and Dholak Loops are outstanding for price tags that I consider no-brainers. I feel that they are equally applicable in the contexts of traditional Indian music, cinematic music, and modern popular music. I am also happy that Crypto Cypher have reconsidered the colors of their user interface and made it more ordinary – which may well be a simple matter of preference.

Written by: Panos Kolias

Panos Kolias is a film, tv and concert music composer and musician. He regularly produces cues and other commercial music for major television programs like CSB ABC and others. He's a part of the electronic duo DubLion Project and works also as a musician, educator, orchestrator, and technical consultant. Besides composing for TV and film and composing concert music, he holds a lecturer position at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, teaching Music Technology and Film scoring courses.

Film and Game Composers offers a wide range of interviews, reviews, guides and tutorials for composers and musicians who are interested in writing music for film, TV and video games.

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