Puremagnetik has staked out some
really cool territory in downloadable soundware.
Initially they focused exclusively on
Ableton Live, but newer releases over the
past year or so add versions compatible with
Native Instruments Kontakt and Apple Logic.
What’s most interesting about their model is
that, in addition to a la carte “Micropaks” for
$12, you can subscribe to the website for
$5.75 monthly or $60 yearly, and get unlimited
downloads of all current releases. This
is a remarkable value in light of the breadth
of material. An all-access pass to their extensive
back catalog is $198. We downloaded
a bunch of their latest, along with a few
older Micropaks for good measure. Here are
a few of our favorites.
This title contains five drum kits with a few
variations. The samples were taken from
modular synths sporting modules by
Doepfer, LiveWire, and MFB, and sound
much more complex and textural than your
usual TR-808-style fare. Overall, the vibe
here is quite experimental, with harder
sounds suited to electro and breaks tracks.
That’s not to say these sounds can’t also
be used in other genres, since each kit’s
macros deliver a lot of added customization.
Overall, this Micropak is a grab bag of
stabs, hits, and percussion that really
shows what a slammin’ analog modular rig
can do in the right hands.
B-System: Percussives and B-System:
Basses & Leads
A loaded Buchla 200e synth is so luxurious
that unless you’ve also got enough cash for
a Tesla roadster, you’ll have to settle for a
library. Fortunately, Puremagnetik makes
two great ones.
Percussives includes over 650 24-bit
sounds that, like Analog Drums, ably
demonstrate the sonic range of a killer
Buchla rig. You’re not going to find
anything run-of-the-mill here. Instead, you’ll
feast on modular insanity with all the trimmings.
With so many samples arranged
into ten kits, there’s something for every
hardcore electronica producer if you’re willing
to sift through the data. A bunch of Live
clips with macros and effects help speed
this process, as you can always edit these
clips into something that suits your needs.
Basses & Leads includes 24 nicely
designed patches that range from buttery,
warm basses to “WTF” leads impossible
to describe in words. Many patches
include essential synth macros like cutoff,
resonance, drive, and basic effects such as
echo and overdrive. After playing with this
collection with a good buddy of mine, we
were both solidly impressed with its usefulness
for a wide variety of musical applications.
It’s definitely a keeper.
The Casio CZ series was a dark horse of
the ’80s digital synth revolution. Coming on
the heels of Yamaha’s record-breaking success
with the DX7, the CZ-101 and its successors
instead relied on “phase
distortion” synthesis to deliver digital
approximations of analog-style sound
design — but wound up creating an enduring
Phazeform’s patches really cover the
possibilities here, with a decidedly retro
slant that’ll inspire either devotion or
loathing depending on your taste, as
they’re decidedly digital in that ever-so-
’80s way. There’s even a bank of sounds
from the legendary Casio VL-Tone calculator
— er, synthesizer. This synth appeared
on quite a few new wave cuts, most
notably Trio’s “Da Da Da.”
While PPG was first out of the gate with
wavetable synthesis, Ensoniq pushed the
envelope in the ’80s, culminating in their
final all-original synth, the Fizmo. Waveframe
goes beyond sampling various Fizmo
patches, adding 30 Instrument Rack-based
Fizmo emulations, each set up as a unique
patch. For some users, this approach can be
a trifle taxing on CPU resources. For others,
the flexibility will be a godsend. Waveframe
delivers the Fizmo sound quite nicely, and as
with the Phazeform Micropak, you’ll either
love it or hate it, as it’s extremely unique.
That said, $12 is a steal for a loving recreation
of a bit of synthesis history.
Upright (bass, not piano) was one of our
favorite Micropaks by far. If you’re into
classic ’90s hip-hop, jazzy house, or downtempo,
you’ll love it. Nine presets run the
gamut from fingered to bowed to heavily
processed and synthetic. The traditional
bass patches were right on the money, but
the bowed patches here are stunning and
worth much more than the $12. The
processed patches, however, weren’t really
my cup of tea. One of the nicest things
about Upright is that the bass was
recorded direct as well as close-miked. The
use of Brauner and Neumann mics also
show attention to detail. This is a beautiful
instrument, recorded with love.
Huge variety of electronic and vintage
synth sounds, including rare and underrepresented
synths. Subscription model
offers exceptional value.
Some back-catalog libraries work only
with Ableton Live.
$5.75 monthly or $60 yearly,