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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Review: ModeAudio Hover drones & textures

ModeAudio Hover

With the Hover sample library, ModeAudio takes on the world of drones and textures.

Packed full of strange, floating tones, waves of noise, rasping, metallic textures, deep bass and circuit-bent synths, this release brings you 100 carefully prepared atmospheres to pour seamlessly over your mixes.

All the sounds move to their own internal rhythm, dancing and metamorphosing into exciting, unusual sonic forms.

The samples are categorized in 6 folders:

  • Ambiances (30)
  • Bass Drones (20)
  • Guitar Drones (10)
  • Metallic Drones & Textures (10)
  • Noise Drones & Textures (15)
  • Synth Drones (15)

The ambiance themes come with 3 samples each that can be layered. So you have something like a main bass or synth drone sound that you can layer with a texture, soundscape, some noise fx, etc. Other folders simply have a collection of individual 20 to 58 second recordings.

All files have descriptive titles including an indication of the type of sound, where applicable (noise, texture, bass, scape, etc).

The audio clip below demonstrates some of the sounds included in this pack.

So what do I think?

Product: Hover by ModeAudio
Format: Wav (44.1kHz/24 bit)
Price: £15 GBP
Like: Nice variety of sounds, well designed
Don’t like: some samples could be longer
Verdict: 8/10

Dark brooding bass, evocative melodic guitar scapes, sputtering noises, otherworldly synths, rhythmic crackles, reverb drenched goodness…

ModeAudio has recorded a nice variety of sounds using a diverse collection of sound sources. These drones and textures are on the more creative end of the genre, with lots of movement and dynamics. I personally like this a lot, but for some of the samples I really wish they were longer to allow a more elaborate development of the sound.

In short, the Hover pack includes a lovely bunch of well designed, quality samples that are great for cinematic/underscore works, game soundtracks, ambient music, and more.

More information: ModeAudio / Hover

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Review: Diva Ex Machina soundset by The Unfinished

Matt Bowdler is one of my favorite sound designers. As The Unfinished, Matt has established himself in the genre of film scoring with many top quality sounds for synths like Zebra, Omnisphere, Massive, Virus TI, and more.

I’m always excited to see a new title, and especially when it’s for one of my favorite plug-ins, like u-he’s Diva virtual analog synthesizer.

The Unfinished Diva Ex Machina

The Ex Machina soundset features a full bank of 128 sounds for Diva. The focus is on analogue type electronic sounds, suitable for film scoring and electronica.

Ex Machina is something of a special synth soundset as it includes all the patches I designed for the composer Nathan Furst to use in his score for Need For Speed. I have to thank Nathan and DreamWorks for very kindly giving me permission to share the sounds I designed for Nathan. Also in this soundset are a number of other sounds inspired by the work I was doing for Nathan.

The collection features a plethora of warm, punchy basses; ethereal, drifting pads; gentle, old skool sequences; deep, dynamic basslines; classic, spacey leads; and sinister, evocative soundscapes. All programmed with a little musical, kinetic energy in the modwheel, as you would expect.

As with many of Matt’s other soundsets, there’s a lovely walkthrough video showcasing the sounds in Diva Ex Machina. Check it out below to get an idea of what’s included in this set.

So what do I think?

Product: Diva Ex Machina
Format: .h2p for u-he Diva
Price: £19.99 GBP
Like: Superb sound design, flexible sounds
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 9/10

Well, I can be fairly short here. Absolutely. Stunning. Sounds.

There is such a high level of quality in these sounds, and they are so full of character, I deeply enjoy playing each and every one of them.
That said, the leads and pads are definitely my favorites. Some of these mesmerizing sounds just keep me noodling. So inspirational.
Also, I should mention the soundscapes are amazing. Hold a note and sit back. I know we’ll be hearing some of these sounds on the screen.

Anyway, I said I was going to be short, so just get this pack, it’s simply brilliant.

There are some more audio demos on The Unfinished website and you can download a free demo pack with 15 presets for this set so you can check it out for yourself.

More information: The Unfinished / Ex Machina

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Review: Lacuna Sound Vol.1 Landing for Spire

Lacuna Sound Vol.1 Landing Soundset

The Vol.1 Landing Soundset by Lacuna Sound offers a collection of patches for the Spire synthesizer by Reveal Sound.

Vol.1 LANDING – 64 arps sequences and rhythmic presets
Suitable for EDM house trance progressive and electronica production

The Landing soundset focuses on rhythmic sounds. The patches make use of Spire’s arpeggiator and step sequencers, to provide melodic sequences and for modulating various parameters to create moving sounds.

Here’s a quick run through the patches. One note was pressed for each preset.

So what do I think?

Product: Vol.1 Landing Soundset
Format: Reveal Sound Spire soundbank
Price: $16 USD
Like: Nice movement in sounds
Don’t like: Sounds are a bit fx heavy
Verdict: 7/10

Vol.1 Landing is a bit of a hit and miss for me. I like quite a lot of the patches, but I’m actually not so crazy about arp/seq type sounds. So what I usually do is turn off the arp and see what’s left. In this case I did not find many sounds that stood out, and they are quite fx heavy.

Perhaps Lacuna Sound has rushed into the sequencing and animating aspect of the patches, where more attention could have been given to the base sound design. That said, the soundset does deliver some tasty sequences and the movement in the sounds is nicely done. If you like using arp sounds then this pack has plenty to offer.

A free demo pack with 8 patches is available to download, so check it out and see what you think.

More information: Lacuna Sound

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