Following its impressive debut plugin, the ANA synth, and developed in conjunction with Dutch house DJ/producer Nicky Romero, Kick aims to be the ultimate kick drum generator - Sonic Academy describes it as a "game-changer".
With its independently handled click (sampled) and sub (synthesised) sections, Kick packages the age-old concept of treating your kick drum attack and sustain elements as separate entities into a friendly, straightforward plugin (VST/AU).
180 click samples are onboard, covering a wide range of categorised flavours (Hard, Noise, Live, etc), 32 of them from Romero's personal collection. You can load your own samples, which get rolled into saved preset files for portability. Static adjustment of the click sample is limited to volume and pitch, and it can be muted/soloed for easy auditioning.
Three multi-breakpoint envelopes (with no apparent limit to the number of breakpoints that can be added) enable shaping of the Click volume, sub Amp(litude) and sub Pitch over time. Handily, each breakpoint in the latter envelope is tagged with its pitch (both note name and frequency), and sections can be curved by dragging. Each envelope also has a Length slider that sets its duration (50-3000ms).
Kick is intended for generating raw kick drums rather than fully processed ones, so it's not exactly bursting with effects. You get a limiter, a single-band cut/boost EQ and a searing Distortion module to apply to just the sub or both the sub and click.
The Keytrack switch activates pitched playback, making the plugin good for sub-bass tones, too. The Gate switch forces Kick to acknowledge MIDI note length, keeping the sound's length constrained to your preference.
Kick definitely fulfils its brief of making electronic kick drum design fun and fruitful. With the synth being just a sine wave generator, it's also very easy to use. Even so, the lack of a manual needs addressing. It often feels like a bit more EQ wouldn't go amiss, either, although given the price, that's not a major omission.