What is it?
The first deployment of erstwhile Kontakt developers Auddict’s new proprietary sample playback engine, PercX (VST/AU/AAX/ Standalone) is a multi-track percussion ROMpler currently aimed at soundtrack and media producers, with more pop/dance-orientated content in the pipeline, we’re told.
Combining conventional one-shot triggering and MIDI sequencing in a hybrid interface, its headline feature is the unification of programmed loops and real-time performance and recording.
First, let’s get the one big disappointment out of the way: PercX is a ROMpler in the truest sense, in that it can only work with its own bundled sample library and add-on expansion packs, with no way to import external sounds into it. Said expansions currently number four and are all included with the Pro version of the instrument, amounting to 9GB of (losslessly compressed) content. But for $100 less, the Core edition nets you the main library and any one expansion, with the rest available for $50 each.
Happily, the quality of these libraries is great – think huge taikos, booming bass drums, reverberant toms, punchy snare hits and shivery rolls, clattering woods and metalwork, tight congas and bongos, vibey shakers, evocative dhols and darbukas, and much more. So, while the lack of import is a downer, generally making adaptation of PercX beyond its cinematic, movie/game production focus tricky, there is a broad range within that openly stated remit.
PercX houses two identical playback engines – Players A and B – each one hosting a ‘kit’, which is loaded in the Mix A or B panel. A kit constitutes eight instrument tracks (so that’s 16 tracks maximum, using both engines), each one containing a single, multisampled percussion element, with up to eight velocity layers and a whopping 127 round robins (but averaging 50-60), plus a fully editable MIDI sequence, programmed as a layer within the context of the surrounding ensemble and accessed in the Edit A or B panel [see below].
Patterns and sounds are independently lockable on their tracks, though, so you can also change one without affecting the other. Individual tracks are also listed in the (searchable, filterable) browser, from where they can be dragged into the Mix area to create endless combinations.
Central to the PercX ‘thing’ is the ability to switch between MIDI-triggered playback of each track’s aforementioned sequence (Loop Mode) and ‘live’ triggering of its multisampled one-shot (Manual Mode), enabling a high degree of flexibility in combining prefab patterns with your own freeform hammerings.
In Loop mode, the kit is mapped to a series of MIDI keys for triggering the patterns on all eight tracks together, each one individually, only tracks 1-4 and only tracks 1-8, with the sequencers synced to host or PercX’s internal clock.
Switching a track to Manual Mode replaces its representative waveform in the Mix panel with a series of trigger pads, representing the velocity layers of the sample. These are played via the track’s assigned MIDI key, like a regular multisampled one-shot, and any preroll (the part of a sound prior to the actual ‘hit’, such as the initial movement of a shaker) can be shortened to tighten up playability if required.
Performance and verdict
For sound-shaping, each track has an AHDSR envelope with adjustable Attack level; a superb ‘graphical’ parametric EQ/filter with seemingly limitless bands (we ran out of space in the display at around the 100 mark!); your choice of three uneditable but depth-variable Shaper FX (pitchshifting, stereo widening, bass boost, low-mid boost, filtering, distortion and high-shelving boost); and a velocity offset knob for dialling in lifelike crescendos/decrescendos.
Further effects are available in the FX panel, where an array of wonderfully colourful one- or two-knob processors – resonators, delays, filters, distortions, reverbs, etc – are on hand for application to any combination of tracks in each Player, and the global output. Multiple outputs to the host mixer are supported, too.
Automation and modulation are handled via eight macro knobs, each one assignable to any number of parameters throughout PercX. These macros control the amount by which any one of a trio of mod sources modulate the assigned parameters, and are automatable in the host DAW.
The mod sources comprise a pair of multistage envelopes (one applied at note-on, the other at note-off for the release/tail stage of the sound; no limit to the number of breakpoints), an up-to-64-step sequencer (loopable, for LFOstyle action) or a user-selected MIDI CC. It’s a slick, easy, powerful setup, but the inability to use more than one mod source at a time for each macro is a negative.
Despite the absence of sample import and a few easily-fixable issues (half-baked MIDI export; the lack of actual presets – all the kits are presented 100% FX-less and unmodulated), we’re hugely impressed by PercX’s concept, workflow and sound.
The combination of sequencing and oneshot triggering is cleverly implemented, the MIDI editor is surprisingly powerful, and while the effects clearly prioritise instant creativity over detail, we didn’t find their parametric simplicity a problem. An incredibly flexible tool for the design of big, bombastic percussion lines, then, PercX is a triumph.
MusicRadar verdict: Taking a different tack to other percussion libraries, PercX’s ambitious hybrid approach succeeds on almost every level.
Sample Review Library
- Auddict PerX
- Type: ROMpler
- Key features: 500+ instruments w/ multiple Round Robin variations and up to eight dynamic layers, customisable loops, deep sampled library, percussion includes Taikos, Toms, Snares, Kicks, Hats, Bombos, Hybrid SFX, Chinese Toms, Dhols, Djuns, Frame Drums and more
- Compatibility: PC/Mac, standalone or VST/AU/AAX plugin