A complete list of products reviewed on rekkerd.org is available here.

Review: eaReckon EARebound delay plugin

Related: , , , , , Posted in reviews on Jan 29, 2015 - comment 0 comments

Over the years I have collected a nice amount of delay plug-ins. My favorites include OhmBoyz, NastyDLA, ET-200, More Feedback Machine 2, Satin, ValhallaFreqEcho, RP-Delay, Sigmund, Timeless 2, Replika, … I’m probably forgetting some, but I guess it is clear I like my delays.

Some of these offer simple one-trick pony effects, others are capable of much more complex things.

The EARebound plug-in by eaReckon falls in the latter category.
It was originally designed to quickly create rhythm lines from percussive sounds recorded in various environments.

The idea behind EARebound was to create an effect featuring 15 delay lines and a workflow similar to the one provided by a good old drum machine. This tool had to offer 16 commutable and synchronized “steps”, with each of them being independently shaped and placed in space by a series of dedicated effects.

A confidential prototype was then born in 2011, offering 15 delay lines, a saturation module, two filters, a chorus and a positioning tool. This prototype was enough to create rhythm lines from any kind of recorded sounds within a couple of minutes. It was already lots of fun and saved time!

Further development of EARebound led to a solid multi-delay unit that excels in creating rhythm and spicing up your existing loops.

eaReckon EARebound

The interface of EARebound looks a bit like a groovebox/drum machine. The step sequencer in the bottom controls the input, 15 individual delay lines, and 1 global delay line.

The input can be muted and the fx applied to the source can be disabled as well. The steps in the sequencer have a solo button, and the global delay line can be set to either include or exclude the source input. The global line allows for looping the “sequencer pattern”. You can achieve some lovely creating special effects by using short delay times.

In the middle of the interface we find input & output controls on the left and right, with a handy section that lets you process low frequencies in various ways with stereo/multi-channel, split LF & pre/post parameters.

By clicking the edit button in the sequencer, you can set the effects for each of the delay lines (and the input). EARebound includes the following:

  • 7 saturation/distortion units
  • high-pass & low-pass filter
  • modulation line with 4 chorus/tremolo lines
  • level with feedback control
  • position X/Y pad for panning and multi-channel output control
  • and delay time with division multiplier (0-16x) and base division (up to 1/64 incl. dotted & triplet), and a knob to set the delay time manually.

All of these parameters can be adjusted from the main view, but if you want to see everything in one screen you can also use the mix view. This shows the effects applied to the input and 15 delay lines and you can modify parameters directly. In version 1.0.2 of EARebound, two Global Edit modes (same or relative value) were added, allowing you to edit parameters for all lines at the same time.

A third view shows a “Time Line” of delay times for the input and 15 delay lines. The circled points show output and feedback parameters, providing an intuitive overview of what’s going on exactly. Again, you can modify some parameters on the spot.

Other notable features include MIDI learn & control, a wonderful “Random” button (with optional parameter locks), and multiple stereo outputs, which allows the use of a 3rd party plug-in to process selected delay lines.

In the video below you can hear some of the presets on a simple melody done with u-he’s upcoming Hive synth.

So what do I think?

Product: EARebound by eaReckon
Format: VST/AU
Price: 99 EUR
Like: Deep & flexible, fun to use
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 9/10

Sometimes you want your delay effects quick and easy, other times you want to take it a step further and create something more deep and complex. EARebound does both, without ever getting complicated.

By including saturation & distortion models, filters and modulation options, EARebound is very flexible, offering much more than simple delay effects. The interface is very intuitive and a joy to work with.

Features like the alternate views, low frequency splitting and a “Random” knob that produces useful results show that some good thought was put into this plug-in.

In short, if you want a delay effect that offers both ease of use and extensive control, EARebound is definitely worth checking out.

More information: eaReckon / EARebound

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Review: ModeAudio Open Spaces soundset for Massive

ModeAudio’s Open Spaces is a soundset for the Massive synthesizer, featuring a collection of 50 presets and MIDI loops.

ModeAudio Open Spaces
I know it doesn’t make you produce better music, but I really like ModeAudio’s artwork so here’s the one for Open Spaces in its full glory.

Like many producers born in the age of digital sound, we’ve always been fascinated by the beautifully, warm, lush and unpredictable character of vintage analog synths and gear.

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to twist and warp cutting-edge tools to produce and, dare we say it, even improve upon these gorgeous synth tones and textures – Open Spaces – Massive Vintage R&B Presets represents the next level in this journey to woozy sonic heaven!

The pack includes bass (10), lead synth (10), keys/electric piano (5), melodic synth (10), percussion synth (4), pad (4), gated synth (2), and sfx presets (5). MIDI files are included as well so you can get an idea of how ModeAudio envisioned these patches.

Each preset has all 8 macro controls assigned with useful parameters for tweaking the sounds.

Check the demo below to get an idea of what sounds are included in the pack.

So what do I think?

Product: Open Spaces by ModeAudio
Format: Massive presets (.nmsv) + MIDI files
Price: £12 GBP
Like: Solid sounds, analog character
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 8/10

ModeAudio has managed to give this soundset that warm, lush flavor of the vintage analog type synth sound that Open Spaces was designed to bring.

Within the pack there is plenty variety with solid bass, interesting leads, some nice pads, useful percussion and sound fx, and some lovely keys.

The sound design isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but the patches have character and one can tell they were made with care.

In short, Open Spaces is another solid pack of inspiring Massive presets.

More information: ModeAudio / Open Spaces

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Review: Bass Music 2 by Sample Tools by Cr2

The Bass Music 2 pack by Sample Tools by Cr2 is the second volume of sound packs inspired by the sound of the UK underground.

Sample Tools by Cr2 Bass Music 2

There are HUGE rolling basslines, tight key-labelled kicks, expertly crafted bass hits, chord one-shots, groove-infused drum loops and striking FX sounds and fills. You also get 8 key-labelled songstarters comprising a mixed idea and all component stems.

The loops and samples are grouped in folders for bass, chords, drums, and synth. Massive presets are included for single shot samples made with this synth, and a few presets for Sylenth1, FM8, and an unspecified Togu Audio Line synth are also available.

The folder structure seems a bit odd to me. There’s a chord hits folder but no chord loops. The synth loops folder includes some chord loops, yet there is no synth hits folder. The files include bpm (mostly 124 bpm) and key info where applicable. Here’s a breakdown of the samples and patches:

  • 28 bass hits + 20 Massive patches, 3 FM8 patches, 2 Sylenth1 patches and 2 TAL patches (aupreset).
  • 39 bass loops.
  • 23 chord hits + 21 Massive patches.
  • 107 drum hits (23 claps & snares, 20 hats, 44 kicks, 20 perc).
  • 19 drum loops with full, kick free, perc, stripped and top loop version (93 loops in total).
  • 25 sound fx hits.
  • 40 synth loops.

For the melodic parts (bass & synth loops) MIDI files are available so you can use your own sounds and modify the melodies. Eight songstarters with loops & MIDI files show the potential of this pack.

The pack also includes 3 demo tracks, Logic Pro X and Ableton Live 9 templates, and 4 videos with tutorials on how to make groovy hi-hats, fm & 808 bass hits, reese basses, and studio productivity tips by Mike Monday.

Check out some of the sounds of this pack in the demo.

So what do I think?

Product: Bass Music 2 by Sample Tools by Cr2
Format: 24-bit samples + patches
Price: £15.99 GBP
Like: Quality sounds, especially loops
Don’t like: Folder structure
Verdict: 8/10

Bass Music 2 provides a nice batch of sounds for bass music like garage and underground house.

The bass loops and samples are solid, as are the chord and synth sections which include some lovely warm tones. The drum loops have plenty of shuffle and with the included drum hits you can add to the loops or create your own beats.

With access to Massive patches and MIDI loops the pack does justice to the production toolkit tag it carries.

In short, Bass Music 2 packs a lot of punch for a great price.

More information: Sample Tools by Cr2 / Bass Music 2

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Review: Dread Recordings Vol 1 – Titan sample pack

Loopmasters Dread Recordings Vol 1 - Titan

Dread Recordings has teamed up with Loopmasters for a series of drum and bass packs by artists signed on the label of DJ and producer Ray Keith.

For the first volume in the series, Titan brings a sample pack featuring over 460 MB of loops and samples.

Birmingham Born and bred Titan started his musical journey as a sound engineer and whilst experimenting with MC-ing he grew more interested towards the production side and slowly over time built up a solid and mostly self-taught production skillset fired up by an industrious work ethic which to this date has earned praise by his fans and fellow peers alike.

The pack includes 52 bass loops, 82 drum loops, 10 music loops and 41 synth loops (also in REX format). The one-shots comprise 104 drums, 27 sound fx, 9 stabs, 37 synth noises, and 74 bass samples. Sampler patches for Kontakt, HALion, etc. are also included. All loops and samples have bpm and key info where applicable.

The bass loops are sub heavy, with a nice gnarly distortion on quite a few of them. The drum loops have good variety in tone and style, with most of them being 8 beats in length. From the music loops section I particularly enjoyed the ninja & korus flutes; the other loops (piano, violin, organ, Rhodes) didn’t stand out too much to me. The synth loops offer good variety of sounds with interesting melodies and tones. Nice job on the Shadow Boxing type sound (Doc Scott), love that one.

The bass samples are really good, musical and full of character with lots of filter action. Drum one-shots are nothing too special but useful nonetheless and the sampler patches include 10 drum kits made with these sounds. The fx samples are quite nice and in the music section it’s the same as with the loops; the ninja flute sample scores. Lastly, the synth samples offer a nice selection of interesting, well designed sounds.

Check out the demo below to hear a selection of sounds from the pack in action.

So what do I think?

Product: Dread Recordings Vol 1 – Titan
Format: 24-bit samples + patches
Price: £24.95 GBP
Like: Great loops, quality synth & bass one-shots
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 8/10

Titan delivers an interesting mix of old and new. A lot of the material has that Jungle vibe from the mid 90’s but with a more modern touch.

On the whole the pack offers a good amount of quality loops and samples, with the bass and synth sections being my favorites.

Loopmasters has a free taster pack available to download so go check it and see how you like these sounds.

More information: Loopmasters / Dread Recordings Vol 1 – Titan

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Review: Tone2 Electra2 synthesizer plugin

Related: , , , , Posted in reviews on Oct 13, 2014 - comment 0 comments

Being a fan of the original ElectraX synthesizer, I was really looking forward to see how Tone2 would push forward with the successor, Electra2.

The award winning Electra2 is not only one of the most powerful synthesizers ever – it’s the complete synthesis solution! Explore the vast musical universe of multi-synthesis oscillators, analog modeled filters, chaotic fractals, samples, psychoacoustic processing, flexible modulation and an immense sonic range.

Tone2 Electra2
Electra2’s GUI is reminiscent of ElectraX, but with a more subdued color scheme.

On the surface Electra2 looks pretty much the same as ElectraX, so if you are familiar with ElectraX you’ll find all panels are in the exact same place. In fact, Electra2 is downward compatible so it completely replaces the previous version.

The update includes a new patch browser and over 700 additional patches, 16 new effects, a sample editor, physical modeling synthesis, 5 new filter types, enhanced sound quality, improved user interface and many more improvements.

On the whole the interface is just a little more refined, with a subdued color scheme that to me is easier on the eyes. Subtle coloring is used to indicate which layer is active and you get interactive feedback of modulations. If you are new to this synth, I think you will find the layout to be quite straightforward and easy to program.

One of the main features of this instrument is its layers. With 4 individual multi-timbral synths and a wide range of synthesis modes, Electra2 is great for creating complex sounds. Tone2 has made some improvements like “Multilayer edit”, which allows you to make changes to all layers in one go, which will speed up sound design considerably.

With the addition of physical modeling synthesis, Electra2 now has no less than 14 different synthesis models, including wavetable, PD & FM, subtractive, virtual analog, ultrasaw, and more.

Electra2’s new sample editor features a bunch of tools to make working with samples easier, including autotune and auto loop. I found it a bit surprising to see that Electra2 still only supports mono .wav samples, with up to 10 seconds in length at 44kHz. Stereo samples will be summed to create a mono sample.

Each layer in Electra2 has up to 2 filters with a wide range of filter types and a drive parameter to add pre-filter harmonics to the audio. One insert effect can be assigned from a 30 types, including delay, reverb, chorus, compressor, etc. Furthermore, we have 3 LFO’s and a step LFO, a 10-slot modulation matrix, arpeggiator, 4 envelopes (amp, filter & two free), and a master FX slot.

Electra2’s versatility shows when browsing the astounding amount of factory presets — well over 1,200 in total.

Check the demo track below to hear some of the sounds of Electra2.

So what do I think?

Product: Electra2 by Tone2
Format: VST/AU
Price: $189 USD
Like: Ease of use, multi-layer, versatile
Don’t like: no support for stereo samples
Verdict: 9/10

This new version includes a good amount of new features and improvements. Some can really speed up your workflow, others are under the hood. For instance, Tone2 made an effort to improve its Psychoacoustic processing, resulting in a more transparent sound. I have to admit I haven’t done any extensive A/B testing but Electra2 sounds great to my ears (as does ElectraX). The CPU usage is also quite low, even when using multiple layers.

Electra2 remains a formidable, easy to use synthesizer for both the beginner and the advanced user. With its 4 layers and more than a dozen synthesis methods, this plug-in is a proper workhorse instrument that excels in versatility.

Tone2 is offering a free trial version of Electra2, so check it out and see how you like it.

More information: Tone2 / Electra2

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