I regularly try new audio software, plug-ins, sample libraries, etc. On this page I share some thoughts about these products.
A complete list of products reviewed on rekkerd.org is available here.
I regularly try new audio software, plug-ins, sample libraries, etc. On this page I share some thoughts about these products.
A complete list of products reviewed on rekkerd.org is available here.
Dennis Harms aka Bronto Scorpio has contributed many patches to various u-he plug-ins — including Zebra and Uhbik, and some of his sounds are also included in the third party patches that ship with Diva, the “Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analogue” synthesizer that takes virtual analog to a whole new level.
With Future Retro for Diva, Dennis releases his first commercial soundset.
Diva is famous for the ability to authentically recreate the great synthesizers of the past. However, I tried to go a different direction with this set. Many sounds are inspired by the past, and use Diva’s great sound design potential to go way beyond vintage sounds into the future!
Future Retro includes 64 presets, categorized as follows:
Most sounds within the set are pretty unique with very little overlap. The patches are well designed and include controller mappings of modwheel, aftertouch, velocity etc. linked to things like filter and LFO parameters.
Some patches require quite a lot of horsepower, since they are designed to run on Diva’s “divine” quality mode. Alas, this is life with Diva at the moment. Quality comes at a price and I am more than happy to work in draft mode and render audio until I upgrade my computer in the next few years.
Check out the Future Retro demo clip by Dennis below to get an idea of the kind of sounds included in this set.
If you want to get hands on with these sounds, there’s a free demo bank with 10 presets available to download here.
Diva already comes with a large number of impressive presets by seasoned sound designers. Nonetheless, Future Retro manages to bring a good collection of new sounds. Many of them don’t necessarily stand out all that much, but they do have a certain quality: musicality.
The soundset includes a wide variety of sounds, suitable for diverse electronic music styles — perhaps a result of Dennis’ personal taste in music. I can imagine some people might think the set as a whole is a bit confused, having modern sounding dubstep wobble basses and things like vintage pads and brass sounds in one and the same set, but to me everything seems to fit together quite nicely. The idea was to take vintage and bring that into the future and I think Dennis achieved his goal. Moreover, even if you only like half the sounds I reckon Future Retro is well worth the asking price. My favorite sounds are in the pads sections. The sound of “Beautiful Colours” just captivates me.
Check it out (and if nothing else get the free patches) at the Bronto Scorpio website. And if this is the first time you’ve heard of Diva make sure to visit u-he for some more detailed information about this amazing synth.
More information: Bronto Scorpio Music
Nick Moritz of Rado Records has just released his first commercial sample library: Epic Battle.
Epic Battle is a compact cinematic percussion sound library which is intended to add an epic spirit to any composition. This library will save you from long searches of the right samples and boring processing them or from buying expensive libraries just for several samples.
Moreover the library shows that the creation of the massive epic sound like legendary Japanese Taiko can be achieved by simple tom drum or even sound of plastic bottle. And this idea is in the concept of Epic Battle library.
The sample pack comes with a total of 250 samples:
The samples come in 24bit/48kHz Wav and REX2 formats, with tempos from 100bpm to 180bpm. The sounds of Epic Battle are processed to get that big cinematic sound. A demo project file is included for users of Cockos Reaper.
Check the audio demo below to hear Epic Battle in action (all percussion is Epic Battle).
I love the cover graphic for this sample pack. How clever! But, can you really get big cinematic percussion sounds from a bottle? Well yes, Nick shows that with the right type of processing you can indeed get some impressive results.
The loops in this pack sound stunning, especially considering the sound sources. The rhythms are great, authentic sounding, cinematic, and they have plenty of variety. You can also make your own rhythms by slicing and combining parts from different loops and single shot sounds. The REX format works very well across a wide tempo range.
Epic Battle is a relatively small library, yet it packs a lovely punch. At just 12 Euros it is also nicely priced, and unless you already have some more comprehensive quality cinematic percussion libraries you should probably pick this one up before Nick changes his mind and ups the price. Incredible value for money.
Professional musician and sound designer Rory Dow recently launched his new company Boxed Ear with the release of Mighty M5, a sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt.
Mighty M5 was made with samples from the Macbeth M5, a monophonic semi-modular analog synthesizer by Ken Macbeth.
The M5′s sound is characterised by its full, rich bass, crystal high end and distinctly analog tone. Even the raw waveforms sound gorgeous with no filtering or modulation.
Huge basses and leads, luscious pads, electric pianos, drums, one-shot effects, and crazy modular bleep and bloops are all included in this pack.
The library includes no less than 4,346 samples in 24-bit/44.1kHz audio quality, good for 1.5 GB content.
Well over 100 multi-sampled Kontakt instruments were made with these samples, nicely categorized in Raw (34 mono and 20 poly), Processed (13 mono and 19 poly), Drums (1) and FX (2), and Waveforms (18) categories.
The instruments are deep sampled, with many having well over 100 samples. With up to 16 velocity layers there’s a lot of detail in the sounds.
You can listen to some of the sounds in this library in the demo clips below.
Better yet, check out Rory’s recent “Nostalgia for Infinity”, in which the Mighty M5 takes center stage, providing the main melody for the performance.
“Full, rich bass, crystal high end and distinctly analog tone.” What more can I add?
Though I am not so familiar with the original M5, this sample library looks like a proper tribute to Macbeth’s synthesizer. I am well impressed with the quality of the samples and instruments, and it does not come as a surprise to me that Ken himself endorses this pack.
The collection is full of well-crafted instruments bursting with that vintage character, yet it has some sort of a modern/up-to-date feel about it as well. For many of the patches pressing a single note is all it takes for my inspiration to run wild. While I think every section of the library is exceptional, I would like to highlight the drum/percussion/fx hits in particular. So unique and versatile. Lovely!
With Mighty M5, Rory sets the bar pretty high for Boxed Ear. The library shows his passion for sound and music and I reckon it’s a true labor of love. Two thumbs up!
Dan Worall’s recent introduction video for More Feedback Machine 2 reminded me I never posted a review for this most excellent effect plug-in from u-he.
As the name hints, this plug-in is all about delay effects.
More Feedback Machine has always been a synonym for ultra-flexible delay effects ranging from bread & butter to weird rhythmic deconstruction. In the early days of native plugins, MFM1 was well ahead of its time. MFM2 carries on the tradition and extends it into the future.
The idea behind MFM was to give the musician as much control over 4 individual delay lines as possible, have them interact, and offer easy ways to modulate delay parameters in realtime.
At first you might feel a tad overwhelmed by MFM’s interface, which looks more like some kind of complex synth than a delay effect.
The larger part of the interface is taken up by the delay units, which are laid out in a circular design with a feedback matrix in the middle. In this matrix the delay lines are connected in various ways, either by using preset types like multi-tap or ping-pong, or by routing the delay lines in order to fashion the kind of delay network you want in the user matrix mode. Really flexible.
All four delays are identical, with options for setting the input signal, signal flow with regards to the filter, and the timebase for the delay, set in time (0 to 2,000 millisecond) or synced (1/64th to 1/2 dot). When in note mode, you can create a tuned comb filter effect and play the delay with MIDI notes, or set the tune control. Below the pan and output controls is the multi-mode filter section.
You might have noticed there’s a number of empty controls as well. These are user-definable modulation controls. You can assign standard modulation sources like modwheel, velocity, keyfollow, etc. as well as 4 full featured LFOs and 2 MSEGs (multi stage envelope generators). An additional modulation matrix is also available for assigning modulation sources to all targets within MFM 2.
To round things off we also get various effect units for the paired delays 1 & 2, and 3 & 4: A soft clip distortion, decimator (bit crusher), phaser, frequency shifter, and dual filter. Two compressors are also available to further process the sound (standard + RMS feedback compressor). You can even use one pair of delay channels to compress the other.
More Feedback Machine 2 comes with a good amount of presets, showcasing traditional types of delay effects as well as the more creative side of this plug-in.
I could write lot more, but to be honest Dan Worall’s intro video is a lot more entertaining and informational, so check it out below.
More Feedback Machine 2 is one amazing tool, a high quality delay unit does everything from the simple and subtle, to the complex and insane.
The amount of control you have over the delays is kind of mind boggling – a sure-fire way to get my creative juices flowing. This is the kind of effect that inspires me to experiment and sculpt something new or find unexpected sounds I did not set out to create.
In short, More Feedback Machine 2 will surely take care of most – if not all – your delay needs. If you just need a simple delay this one is probably a bit excessive, but for the adventurous and those who want in-depth control over their delay effects: you will not be disappointed with MFM 2!
No Dough’s fourth release in the NDS sample pack series is titled Underground House.
Simply put, this is the heart and soul of the underground house scene in a massive collection of over 7000 professionally crafted WAV sounds, designed to give you that authentic House music vibe you hear from your favorite artists but in a format that is useful for any style of music that requires a punchy analogue sound.
The sample pack features:
The drum and percussion hits include various classic sounds of drum machines and sampled sources, with three variations; Original recordings, driven, vinyl and Revox (Studer tape machine) versions. No Dough used some various outboard gear to get an authentic vibe. Everything is nicely categorized in folders by the type of drum hit. No drum kits are included though.
To record the multi-sampled instruments, No Dough used gear by Oberheim, Roland, some old EMU samplers and FM synthesizers. The sampler patches are split up in various sections. There’s bass, strings & pads, leads & synths and organs and misc. A good amount of sounds.
The bass and synth loops sound very authentic as well. Actually, playing them individually they almost sound kind of low quality, lo-fi. But in a good way.
Loops are ready to be chopped, smashed, distorted and resequenced, each loop features a Recycle version and we have also included a selection of Midi files so you can get at the notes themselves to twist, mash and create.
I’d say that is a good thing, because these loops are meant for chopping. You are not going to get much of a good result by simply tossing the loops together as there are some tuning issues and files have no mention of which key they’re in. This set of loops just isn’t a construction kit type set so unless you stick with using just a single loop and create additional melodies around that, you are supposed to do some of the work yourself. The sound is there though.
Check out the demo track to get an idea of what NDS-4 Underground House is about.
Even though No Dough prides itself in recording in high quality 96kHz/24bit, it’s still vintage synths, gritty sampler sounds, tape machines, and analog processing chains we’re talking about. NDS-4 is not about pristine quality, it is about the vibe of classic underground house music.
No Dough’s key description for the Underground House pack is “tone, warmth and musicality”. I hear that, and I would sum those up and call it authentic. Individually the samples and loops sound somewhat raw to me, lo-fi, perhaps slightly dated. And that’s how it is supposed to be, because once you start putting things together you quickly end up with something that sounds like the real deal. Go check it out.
More information: NDS-4 Underground House
When you need some solid electronic drum sounds, Goldbaby’s sample packs are always a good place to turn to. With Goldbaby’s Urban Cookbook Vol. 1, Hugo once again provides quality sounds to help you cook up some delicious dishes, urban style.
Want to cook up some delicious beats… well then you probably need my cookbook. The ingredients are full of saturated fat, MSG, a heap of sugar and are not suitable for a low cholesterol diet. The recipes are perfect for these dishes: Hip Hop, Dub Step, Drum & Bass, Breaks, Grime, Dance Hall, Electro… Although chefs making other dishes like: IDM, House and Techno will appreciate the varied high quality ingredients.
Punchy Kicks, Solid Snares, Hi Hats, Toms, Percussion, Claps, Cymbals, Layering tools, FX, Vinyl Hits, Chord Hits, Bass tools and Rex Loops… just over 1 GB of the freshest ingredients.
The sample pack includes various formats and comes with patches for most common samplers.
I checked out the Maschine version which also comes with the patches for Kontakt, Battery and EXS24. The Maschine kits are divided in folders – Combos (4), Drum Kits (52), FX (20), Hits & Chords (31), Percussion Kits (20), and Vox (15), and to help you find the right type of sound some of the kits are tagged in categories like analog, digital, sfx, etc.
The Kontakt instruments include bass, drum kits, FX, hits and chords, individual drums, layering tools, and vox. It may look like this is basically the same as the Maschine content but there are a bunch of different instruments in here (same for the EXS24 format which you can also load in Kontakt).
While browsing the different kits and instruments it struck me that Goldbaby’s samples always sound “fresh” and up-to-date. The Cookbook includes a fair share of sounds that are similar to the ones in other Goldbaby sample packs, but Hugo records all content for each sample library specifically for said library, which makes sense since Goldbaby’s studio equipment is regularly updated with new gear.
Besides all the kits and patches there is a lot more sample content than was used for the kits so there is a lot to explore, and swapping out sounds within kits is easy. In Maschine the kits come with some lovely patterns and the included projects are a nice bonus, as are the REX loops which feature various percussion loops, fx loops, grooves and more.
In all, this pack has lots of unique content with that vintage Goldbaby vibe. It’s kind of like crate digging without having to do all the hard work. Instant satisfaction!
Check below for an example of the type of thing you can cook up with Goldbaby’s ingredients. A few more demo mp3s can be found at the Urban Cookbook product page here.
With Urban Cookbook Vol 1, Goldbaby does what Goldbaby does best: deliver quality drum sounds with a vintage feel. I think Hugo did a fantastic job with the kits. The combination of sounds in each kit is inspiring and everything is really well produced to get that typical fat, punchy, deep sound. I know a lot of thought went into creating and processing the samples and making sure the kits work well musically, and it shows.
The additional sounds are fantastic. Beautiful chords, guitar strums, useful sound fx, string type sounds. Just love it. Now don’t think this is construction kit type stuff, but these are just a bunch of lovely sounds to compliment the drum/percussion content. Signature Goldbaby.
After spending some good time with this new pack (and already using it in some projects), I think the Urban Cookbook may well be my favorite Goldbaby library to date. Go check it out!
Applied Acoustics Systems’ latest effort in physical modeled software instruments is Chromaphone, a “creative percussion synthesizer”.
It is based on the combination of acoustic resonators to create drums, percussion, string and hybrid synth-like instruments. Membranes, bars, marimbas, plates, strings, and tubes form pairs that are excited by a mallet and a flexible noise source.
Access to different parameters such as the material of the resonators, their tuning and hit position allow for the creation of a vast range of realistic and creative instruments and sonic colors. Whether real, innovative, or with an ethnic touch, Chromaphone will fill your music with rich and organic tones.
Sound is generated with mallet and noise modules which excite the two resonators. The mallet has controls for volume, stiffness, noise and noise color; the noise module uses a white noise generator + multi-mode filter, with dedicated envelope. Both sources can be mixed.
Various resonator types are available: string, open and closed tube, plate, membrane, bar, and a marimba bar. A manual mode lets you adjust the frequency of up to four different partials.
The output of both resonators is mixed proportionally with the balance slider, with the “parallel mode” basically simply mixing the two outputs, and a “coupled mode” which features “bidirectional transfer of energy between the objects”. In simple terms this means that both resonators influence each other, which according to AAS results in tones and timbres that reproduce the richness of sounds from real acoustic instruments.
Chromaphone includes a dedicated vibrato effect (pitch modulating LFO), a LFO unit for modulating the Noise module, and a multi-fx section in which you can pick two effects (in series) from a selection of delays, chorus, flanger, phaser, (auto) wah wah, notch filter, 3-band equalizer, distortion, tremolo and reverbs.
The presets library includes over 300 sounds categorized in mallets, percussions, kits, chimes and bells, plucked strings, basses, keys, strings and pads, synths, organs and pipes, soundscapes and textures, and effects sections.
Check the audio demos below to get an impression of what Chromaphone is capable of.
If nothing else, Chromaphone is incredibly versatile. So much even, I feel like its tagline “creative percussion synthesizer” is kind of selling it short.
While it does an amazing job with percussion sounds – both the traditional and more creative variety – the types of sound you can get from this instrument are way beyond “creative percussion” to me. The pads, soundscapes, textures, effects etc. in the factory bank show that Chromaphone can do a lot more than percussion, and for even more adventurous sounds I can also highly recommend the expansion libraries by sound designers Martin Walker and Simon Stockhausen.
With its physical modeling, Chromaphone produces wonderfully dynamic, expressive sounds. Experimenting pays off, as just the turn of a knob or two can yield completely different, unique sounds.
Needless to say, Chromaphone is a fantastic synthesizer for cinematic, soundtrack type works. It will likely suit many electronic music producers as well, especially in the area of ambient, minimal, and idm genres.
I am truly excited about this synthesizer and I can’t wait to use it in some of my projects. Go check it out!
Huge sub-heavy kicks, chunky toms, sharp hi-hats, crisp percussion, warm bass tones and crystallized lead synth sounds – all processed with analog gear and MASCHINE’s internal FX – provide the building blocks for muscular techno, tech-house, and minimal tracks worthy of the world’s most respected clubs.
DARK PRESSURE focuses on percussive one-shot samples and a wealth of exclusive pre-programmed patterns – many created by Steve Lawler himself. Fine-tuned for powerful club sound systems, DARK PRESSURE puts an impressive array of four-on-the-floor rhythms at your fingertips – from full-on energy to hypnotic groove and triplet-driven swing.
The expansion includes five full Maschine projects, 40+ individual kits, some pre-sliced loops, 20+ instruments, and some fx chains.
The Maschine projects are basically full tracks with intros/outros/drops/etc. Not something I would consider using in my productions but they do a good job showcasing the type of tunes you can create with Dark Pressure. And perhaps you can learn some new composition/production skills from checking the way these projects are done.
The 42 kits are made up of 671 one shot samples of both drums and other sounds (like chords, sound fx, stabs, hits, vocals, ambiences, etc.) categorized in various types for easy browsing: Analog, digital, percussion, special, vinyl, and multi fx. Each kit also comes with a number of patterns, many of which are apparently done by Steve himself. I would not likely use these out of the box but they provide a good starting point if you need some inspiration. Over 200 patterns are included in total.
Besides the kits you get 64 sliced tribal and percussion loops in rx2 format grouped in 4 Maschine loop sets, plus 11 bass and 10 lead multi-sampled instruments with 4 or 8 samples each. Nothing deep or particularly unique really, but useful and good quality nonetheless. The included multi FX kits provide some interesting effects, including some lo-fi 8bit goodness and a nice space gate type thing.
If you are into minimal, tech or tribal type house sounds, there is a good chance that Dark Pressure is your type of Maschine expansion.
The sounds, kits and patterns are “ready for the club”, as Steve puts it. I agree, and I reckon this pack is especially useful for DJs who are looking to spice up their sets, and producers who don’t want to spend lots of time finding the right sounds and beats.
I am not really into house music production but I enjoyed pretty much all of the kits and sounds in this pack a lot. Steve definitely put a solid amount of personality in this expansion. For me – with the exception of the non-drum/perc single shot sounds used in the kits – there is not all that much content I would consider to be unique or exceptional. That said, there is hardly a dud to be found either.
In short, the Dark Pressure expansion is a well done toolkit for electronic music, with tons of ready to go quality sounds by accomplished producer Steve Lawler and Loopmasters.
Maschine users who would like to go a little deeper will want to check out Steve’s Dark Percussive House & Techno at Loopmasters as well, since this sample pack offers a larger amount of sounds, loops and patches at roughly the same price as the Dark Pressure Maschine expansion.