Toontrack Hip-Hop! EZX
Toontrack’s most extensive EZX yet wants to be your go-to percussion resource for hip-hop and related genres - and man, does it hit the mark.
A huge number of larger-than-life acoustic and electronic kicks, snares, toms, hats, cymbals, percussion and FX sounds enable endless kit construction possibilities, although the 22 excellent preset kits - each with its own mixer and effects setup and library of grooves - could be all you’ll ever actually need.
An essential add-on for all EZdrummers of a non-rock bent.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Drum Hits
Eschewing its usual loops-and-construction-kits approach, Cr2’s latest comprises 615 one-shot drum samples (and a 21-minute tutorial video on designing the perfect “Big Room Kick”) aimed primarily at house and EDM producers.
It’s a superb collection at an equally superb price, including the expected kicks, snares, claps, hats and cymbals, plus snaps, percussion (the only weak spot, really - they could be more interesting and varied) and subby kick tails.
A comprehensive library of bread-and-butter electronic drum sounds.
Realdrumsamples.com Line of Legends
More one-shot drums and cymbals - 389 of them, to be specific - at an ‘old-school’ price, Line of Legends is more versatile than Cr2’s Drum Hits, mixing acoustic and electronic sounds, the latter centring on a dedicated folder of 808 kicks, snares, hats and toms.
The recordings are well processed and punchy, and despite a few very minor glitches and curtailed sustains, all is well sonically - but we’re just not down with that price. There’s nothing remarkable or ‘different’ enough here to justify such a premium tag.
Raw Cutz Turf Smoke
A “golden era” hip-hop library for NI Maschine and Ableton Live (also available in a WAV/AIF pack for £20), featuring 30 Maschine Groups and 26 Live Drum Racks, plus ten (very small) projects for both.
The sounds and grooves are laid-back, with a vinylistic, jazzy vibe (Cypress Hill and Blue Note are cited as influences), the instrumentation is diverse (drums, basses and a wide range of melodics) and the consistent production style gives the whole thing a real air of authenticity. Funky, classy stuff.
Sample Magic Disco & Funk Guitars 2
The follow-up to Disco & Funk Guitars serves up a further 195 two-bar riffs and licks, played on Fender Stratocaster and Epiphone ES-175 guitars, through a range of amps, pedals and mics.
Samples are divided into three tempo-categorised folders - 115, 120 and 125bpm - and each includes its key in the file name. As with its predecessor, an impressive range of sounds and rhythms is coaxed from the instruments and gear involved. Whether owners of the original need this one, too, though, is debatable.
Samplephonics AMIT: Dub Evolution
Bass music don AMIT knocks it out of the park with his first sample library - what Dub Evolution’s 236 loops and 152 one-shots lack in sheer numbers, they more than make up for in quality and originality.
The dark and dirty drum and percussion loops, and spooky atmosphere FX are the main attractions, but the evil basslines and compelling music loops certainly don’t disappoint, either.
AMIT’s fusion of dubstep with Asian and Middle Eastern influences works brilliantly, making Dub Evolution a must-plunder.
Dream Audio Tools LFO Piano
A Fender Rhodes MkII has been multisampled at three velocity layers, with and without analogue tremolo pedal, for this 1.3GB Kontakt 4+ library.
The Rhodes sounds lush, but you can’t adjust the modulation speed or depth in the tremolo version, so if you don’t like the exact timing (about 1.3Hz) and level of the baked-in effect, you’re out of luck. The scripted effects are also too limited for serious use - you can’t even change the delay time. For the raw quality of the Basic unmodulated patch, though, this is worth a look.
Earmark Audio DNB Edition 01
One of three debut releases from soundware newcomers Earmark Audio, DNB is a characterful, confident and well-presented library of 172bpm drum ’n’ bass loops and shots.
Highlights include the 20 drum loop construction kits, the bass and music loops and one-shots, and the quirky FX. Stylistically, it’s on the cleaner, more spacious side of the DnB fence, but that’s not to say that filth is off the agenda.
On the downside, the Pads folder is decidedly anaemic, but otherwise, this is a compelling first outing for Earmark.
Mode Audio Beat Voltage
Capturing an unspecified but familiar-sounding range of “analogue drum machines and hardware”, Mode’s latest turns 247 synthesised drum, cymbal and percussion samples into 12 kits for Live, Logic, Reason and FL Studio, and throws in five powerful effects chains for all but FL.
The sounds are warm and retro rather than in-your-face and bleeding edge - more techno than EDM, you could say - but these days that’s actually quite refreshing.
A quality source of old-school electronic riddims, Beat Voltage feels like good value.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Deep House 2
It really is amazing just how much quality soundware you get in the average 16-quid library from Cr2, and Deep House 2 is one of its most satisfying, action-packed yet.
From brooding, kick-heavy drum loops and wall-wobbling basslines, through evocative synth lines and twisted vocal cut-ups, to sampler-ready one-shots, melodic MIDI sequences, well-programmed Sylenth1 patches and handy song starter kits, it’s a perfectly pitched package that nails its genre perfectly.
Niche Audio Planet 808
13 sampled TR-808 kits for Maschine and Live, four of them in their natural state, the other nine heavily processed, and each coming with four increasingly dense MIDI patterns, plus two extra ancillary kits (subs and percussion).
There’s hardly anything going on in the way of host effects processing, so what you hear is what you get, but fortunately, the samples themselves are punchy, frequency-rich and generally gorgeous.
Even if you have a ton of 808 samples already, you should still check out this genuinely unique collection.
Sample Magic Low End Theory
Comprising just shy of 800 sampled 140bpm loops and hits, plus MIDI files and sampler patches, in the ‘LA beat’ multi-genre, Low End Theory lays down a wealth of wonky, trap-tinged (stemmed) beats, articulated, subby basses, warped synth lines, dosed- up melodic construction kits, glitchy FX and much more, with something new to surprise you at every turn.
It’s a production and compositional tour de force that we can’t recommend highly enough to anyone working in electronica.
Zero-G Sensual Grooves
35 extensive construction kits taking the media producer on a trip through the history of contemporary soul and RnB, from the '80s to the early '00s, plus a side collection of drum, electric piano and guitar loops.
There’s certainly enough material here to enable anyone to put together convincing tracks in no time at all, but whether you perceive these generic but exceptionally well-produced numbers as smooth and sumptuous or cheesy and toothless will depend on your point of view... and possibly your age.