Fluffy Audio TimeDrops
A joyfully mad Kontakt 5 library (1GB) that enables ‘freezing’ and manipulation of the loaded sample using a variety of granular playback modes and other controls. The movement of grains is visualised by the Waveform and Window displays, and modulation comes in the shape of an ADSR envelope and an LFO.
On the down side, while you can import your own samples, doing so is such a faff that you won’t really want to. With its 92 lengthy included samples, though, TimeDrops gives you a wealth of starting points, in a very powerful engine, for conjuring up all kinds of pads, drones, atmospheres and rhythm beds.
Goldbaby Unrealistic Vibrating Particles
A 2GB library (1427 samples) of “synthetic FX” made with Goldbaby’s extraordinary collection of vintage and modern gear. It’s a spectacular panoply of chiptune-style runs and burbles, picturesque drones and atmospheres, threatening sirens, energetic rises and drops, explosive impacts, delicious melodics and more, produced with the exquisite attention to detail we’ve come to expect from the ’baby.
Suitable for use in all styles of dance and electronic music, UVP is a library you may well find yourself calling on for every project, and the value for money is simply ridiculous.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Dark Tech House 2
Although 1.5GB of this 2.2GB follow-up to Dark Tech House comprises 50-odd minutes of (admittedly useful) tutorial videos, the 650MB of samples, MIDI files and synth presets (Massive and Sylenth1) that make up the rest of it are more than worth the price of admission on their own anyway.
You get drum, bass and synth loops, one-shot FX, drums and bass hits, and six inspiration-sparking “Songstarter” construction kits, merging that heavy, menacing ‘tech’ feel with the swing and bounce of house, and produced to Cr2’s usual high standard.
Niche Audio Sublime Techno
Niche Audio’s latest Maschine/Live project pack taps an unspecified roster of analogue synths and drum machines for “over 90%” of its sounds, resulting in a supremely phat, up-front library of 17 techno/tech-house Groups/Drum Racks (plus 51 Instrument Rack and Simpler presets for melodic play in Live), and 12 genuinely release-quality full projects (two of them Live-only).
There’s also a WAV version available for the same price, but we’d question its value, since the playability and convenience of the instruments and their effects chains are key.
Riemann Kollektion Best of Riemann 2015 Techno
Florian Meindl’s Riemann Kollektion sample label puts out its second annual “Best of” compilation - 260 techno loops, comprising drums (separate loops for kicks, hats/rides and snares/claps), basslines, drones, percussion and more.
There’s not a huge degree of sonic variation in evidence, but that’s techno for you, and Meindl certainly knows his genre, capturing the requisite basement club vibe to a tee. The filtering is dark, the synths are raw and funky, the beats are relentless, and the price is very much right.
Industrial Strength Records Dread - Drum & Bass production Bundle
Bringing all five of production duo Dread’s ISR libraries together in one package, this 3.6GB blockbuster gives you more beats, basslines, pads, strings, textures, music loops and FX than you’ll know what to do with.
The loops and lines are tough, crisp, atmospheric and surprisingly broad-ranging in terms of sonics, but it might actually be the one-shots that get the most usage, providing a cornucopia of sampler fodder. Exhaustive, impressive and well worth the price.
Zero-G Cinematic IDM
Fusing the glitchy instrumentation of IDM with the programmatic sensibilities of soundtrack composition and production, Cinematic IDM comprises 700 loops, 100 one-shots and 416 sampler instruments.
The 400 drumloops present about as wide a range of percussive moods as you could ask for, while the rest are all about ambience, texture and FX - you won’t find a ‘Basses’ folder here.
It’s a tightly focused library that succeeds in its genre-splicing mission admirably. We do wish Zero-G used descriptive file names, though, rather than just numbering.
Loopmasters Back to the 80s
Delivering exactly what it says on the tin, Back to the 80s is a 789MB smorgasbord of nostalgic electro- and pop-inspired synth (bass and lead) and drum machine loops, hits and multisamples, exuding the bouncy, optimistic character of the era. As well as the period instrumentation, the requisite old-school effects are in full force, too - ie, there’s a lot of reverb going on.
With plenty of very usable material to be plundered, and an impressive level of diversity, particularly in the drum loops, Back to the 80s is a retro trip worth taking.
Sample Magic Neon Disco
Taking influence from the full spectrum of disco, from the 70s to ‘nu’, and produced using a fabulous collection of vintage gear, Neon Disco’s 684 loops (at 115 and 120bpm), 410 one-shots and 209 MIDI files make for a truly knock-out library.
The four-square drum loops are phat and funky, the basses and synths are sonically simple (some might find them too simple, in fact) but effective, and the music loop construction kits (more synths!) are bright and catchy. Exceptional value for lovers of uplifting retro grooves.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Melbourne Bounce 2
The quirky house sub-genre gets its second dedicated sample library from Cr2, consisting of another 15 ‘drop’ construction kits (including MIDI files and presets for the Sylenth1, Massive and Spire synths), ten bass multisample sets, and ten kick drums sampled at every note of an octave. Each kit is 32 bars long at 128bpm, and includes dry and wet versions of all lead elements.
Bold, brash and bursting with enthusiasm, Melbourne Bounce 2 is even more inventive and bonkers than its predecessor - a bargain for any dance music producer.