Toontrack Metal Machinery SDX
With the full install demanding a 20GB footprint (lighter 5GB and 12GB options are also available), Metal Machinery SDX expands on Toontrack’s superb 1GB Metal Machine EZX by presenting the same three kits (two Tamas and a Ludwig, plus a ton of cymbals and seven snares) in their raw recorded form, with more mixable mic channels.
With legendary metal producer Andy Sneap manning the desk, it should come as no surprise that it sounds absolutely incredible. Utterly essential for metal heads.
Loopmasters Ultimate Loopmasters 2014
The second of Loopmasters’ (now) annual compendiums culls a diverse range of material from 22 of their 2014 releases (see website for the list). Rather than being foldered by original pack title, the samples are thrown together in tempo- and sound- specific folders, with a three-letter identifier on each file name indicating its source library.
Somewhat confusing though it may be, UL2014 has to be considered quite a bargain - as long as you don’t own more than a couple of its constituent libraries, of course - boasting over 2000 loops and hits (3.6GB).
Realdrumsamples.com Ultimate Percussion Jungle
400+ one-shots from 39 ethnically diverse percussion instruments - bongo, cajon, tabla, vibraslap, udu, etc. The recordings are superb, and with a well considered range of articulations for each instrument, there’s enough detail here to enable fairly deep sampler patch design.
The 42 conga hits are the best bit, although without any sort of meaningful naming convention, keymapping could be easier. Similarly frustrating is the panning on the tablas - we’d rather sort their stereo positioning ourselves. It’s also a little expensive.
AudioThing Toy Bars
A multisampled key-operated glockenspiel toy, Toy Bars comprises 102 samples rolled into eight Kontakt instruments. The patches include condenser- and binaural-miked versions of the raw instrument, as well as timestretched and octave-doubled alternatives, and a set of not hugely useful ‘percussion’ hits from strikes to the back of the case.
The adjustable parameters are simple but effective: Attack and Release, delay, and a high-pass filter or key release noise. The realism of five round-robin samples per note makes it a solid buy for lovers of ‘naïve’ sounds.
Puremagentik loves its old-school electronics, as this multisampled take on the General Instruments AY-3- 8910 Programmable Sound Generator chip reaffirms. Supplied in Live Rack, Kontakt and Logic EXS24/ Channel Strip formats, the scripted Kontakt version is the most full featured, enabling to up to four of the 20 sampled source sounds to be mixed, modulated and processed.
Sonically, it’s bleepy, bloopy stuff, but with a surprising amount of power and weight. Obviously particularly relevant to chiptune production, but potentially applicable to electronica of all kinds.
Sample Loops Dark Modular Techno
The debut release from this brand new soundware label weighs in at 257 loops and 230 one-shots, created using Eurorack modular synths.
The drum loops are divided into separate kick, hat, percussion and tops categories, enabling custom grooves to be thrown together with ease, while the basses, synths, chords, drones and FX are dark, minimal and authentic.
The only downers are that it’s all a bit on the quiet side (particularly the bass loops), and that we’d have liked more in the way of Chord loops. That aside, a great start for Sample Loops!
DLR - Specimen Y Drum & Bass
DnB producer DLR’s second Labsamples outing delivers 1.3GB of tight, punchy drum loops, tearing basslines (for us, the highlight), atmospheric melodics, and handy one-shots. Many of the loops come in variation sets, and although the differences between some variations are pretty subtle, the consistent high quality and genre-relevance prevents it from ever feeling needlessly fleshed out.
Beautifully produced and packed with interesting, dynamic sounds, this is the best DnB library we’ve heard in quite a while.
Native Instruments Neon Drive
NI’s latest Maschine Expansion is described as a “synth pop” library, but don’t let the connotations mislead you. While Neon Drive’s eight Projects certainly fit that stylistic bill, its 45 Groups are packed with versatile, high-gloss sounds of all kinds.
The vast majority of the material is sample-based, but Massive is put to great use throughout, while Reaktor Prism gets some new presets and Maschine’s Drum Synths see plenty of action.
Big, bold and sparklingly retro-futuristic.
Si Begg’s latest opus for Zero-G is an “extreme atmospheres and FX” library for media and music production. Its 600 samples are sorted into perfectly descriptive categories - Drones and Tones, Abstract Events, Morphs and Transforms, etc - but all share the common trait of being unapologetically upfront and in-your-face.
For dance music producers, the massive Bass Effects, energy-building Risers and high-impact Hits are immediately ripe for plunder, but there’s endless sound design potential in the rest of this 2GB tour de force, too.
Sample Magic Sylenth Back To The 90s Patches
115 presets for LennarDigital’s much-loved synth, inspired by the old-school sounds of rave, hardcore, acid house and their associated genres.
In many cases, the sonic references are obvious, with names like ‘Overworld’ and ‘Voodoo Rage’, but while you’ll certainly recognise many of these arps, basses, leads, keys and pads, there are also some new (but retro- styled) ideas in there - all of them good.
Also included are 53 MIDI files, each intended for triggering a specific preset but generally useful in their own right, too. Well designed tones at a very fair price.
Sample Magic Berlin Techno Tracks
Five deep, dark techno projects for Ableton Live and NI Maschine, complete with MIDI/note clips, drum kits (the marketing blurb says each project comes with a 16-pad kit, but only between six and eight of those pads actually have sounds loaded onto them), and a handful of synth, bass and FX samples.
The real draw here, however, is the 15 separate Drum Racks/Groups, each offering a full complement of 16 moody, reverb- and delay- drenched one-shots.
We Sink: Future RnB 2
Athenian production outfit We Sink’s debut offered smooth, stripped-back sounds, and the sequel continues in very much the same vein, blending trap, garage and R&B flavours.
The music loops are sumptuous and suggestive, the drums swing and stomp with conviction, and the basses are of the cone-popping variety.
As a whole, it’s a qualitative improvement on last time, but once again, it just doesn’t feel like particularly good value for money, at just 277 samples and 21 MIDI clips.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Big Room Trap Drops
15 detailed trap track construction kits, including audio clips, synth presets (Reveal Sound Spire, mostly, with a couple for Sylenth and five for Massive) and MIDI files, plus 40 minutes of tutorial videos. The tracks are impressively varied in tone and style, and the production is first rate - every one is of release quality.
There are just about enough extractable sounds onboard to make the library worthwhile beyond just remixing the tracks, and the ten folders of chromatic kick drums are a nice touch.