Byline: Dave Hill Jr.
VST LOOP-AUDITIONING PLUG-IN
These days, buying loops online means more than simply pointing your browser toward your favorite vendor and filling your virtual shopping cart with titles. A case in point is PowerFX’s new SoundShuttle VST plug-in. For just $19, you receive the plug-in and 10 sound “credits.” Once downloaded and installed, the SoundShuttle VST (and soon Audio Units) plug-in enables Mac and PC users to mine the PowerFX sample database for loops, one-shots or sound effects. You can then preview the sounds inside your track before you buy them; then, purchase only the loops you use. Once SoundShuttle displays the samples, simply click on a sound and then preview the loop in your project – you will need to adjust the tempo of your project to match the loop audition. If you like what you hear, mark the sample for later retrieval or check the box labeled Buy to purchase. Once you have applied your credits and downloaded the loop, PowerFX’s Web server will permanently store your purchased loop or loops in a folder for quick retrieval. That way, you can download the loop anytime you wish by logging on to the PowerFX Website and clicking on Personal Page to download the loop. I tested SoundShuttle in Ableton Live 2 and Live 3, as well as Image-Line Fruityloops, with good results. Other compatible software hosts include Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo DAWs and, soon, Cakewalk’s Sonar and Project5 applications. In terms of content, virtually all of the PowerFX library will soon be uploaded. As long as you have a high-speed connection, you now have instant auditory gratification 24 hours a day.
SOUND SHUTTLE > $19
At a glance: VST sample- and loop-auditioning plug-in
Contact: e-mail email@example.com; Web www.powerfx.com
VST DRUM INSTRUMENT/SOUND MODULE
“BFD can mean whatever you want it to mean,” muses FXpansion technical director Angus Hewlett. “But for me, B is for big, and D is for drums.” Okay, how about friggin’, fat or freakin’ amazing? Regardless of how you decode BFD, this virtual drum instrument is huge in both size and wow factor. More than 9 GB of drum samples, spread between seven distinct kits (and bonus percussion sounds), are included. The sounds can be played with a MIDI keyboard or electronic drum triggers or sequenced like a drum machine through BFD’s included MIDI groove and fill files. You can also assign MIDI grooves and fills to keys and then perform your own drum track in real time.
Although the quest for realistic acoustic drum modules appears to be never-ending, BFD should be lauded for its depth, detail and possible applications. The only shortcoming I could find is BFD’s intense CPU demand. All samples stream directly from your hard drive but require robust calculation to deliver your customized tuning, dynamics, quantization and microphone settings. BFD also offers two separate random factor controls so that you can create the bombastic punk-rock drummer of your dreams or, if you like, approach pure robotic perfection. Sonically, you can shape any kick, snare, tom or cymbal by twirling BFD’s Trim and Tune knobs or by adjusting the overall microphone distances and mix levels. Kits can be mixed and matched in terms of their components, but you cannot add your own drum sounds due to the complexity of BFD’s sample banks. Although many of these sounds default to large arena-rock boom, reigning in the reverb is as simple as ducking the room-mic fader. Also, FXpansion is planning to release additional kits in 2004. You can fill in the F word, but I attest that BFD should satiate even the snootiest of skin-slappers.
BFD > $299
At a glance: VST drum instrument with included sample library
Contact: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Web www.fxpansion.com
M-AUDIO PROSESSIONS, VOL. 17: ADRENALINN GUITARS
Although many know Craig Anderton as the music gear and software guru who espouses his sonic wisdom in various industry magazines, Anderton has recently unveiled a string of loop CDs: Technoid Guitars; Turbulent Filth Monsters; and the subject of this review, AdrenaLinn Guitars. Within this title, Anderton routes his trusty six-string through instrument inventor Roger Linn’s latest bending-edge musical contraption, the AdrenaLinn effects pedal. The results are a barrage of freakily filtered rhythmic and subtle harmonic explorations grouped according to timbre and textural quality. On the single CD, you’ll find Acidized WAV, AIFF and REX2 versions of each loop group, including Arpeggiation, Beat Filters, Filter Sweep, Funky Chords, Muted Rhythms, Pads, Power Chords, Tremolo, Unpitched Rhythm and Weird Effects. You may not always recognize these sounds as emanating from a guitar, but that is entirely the point. Anderton, who often plays in Europe as an electronica artist, has made some creative yet practical sounds that could work in a wide variety of musical compositions. Although the overall sound quality of the CD is a bit muted due to the effect pedal’s proclivity to filtering, Anderton’s Arpeggiation, Muted Rhythms and Pads make excellent rhythm beds and harmonic accompaniments. Naked, these samples do sound a little funny, but once they’re bedded next to a crisp drum loop, they are indeed quite musical.
PROSESSIONS, VOL. 17: ADRENALINN GUITARS > $49
At a glance: WAV, AIFF and REX2 sample CD
Contact: tel. (626) 445-2842; e-mail email@example.com; Web www.m-audio.com
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