STEVEN SLATE STEVEN SLATE DRUMS PLATINUM V3.5
I met Steven Slate at Sweetwater’s Gear Fest, where after finding out what kind of drum sounds I liked, he said I had to check out his drum library. Sure, uh-huh, more drum samples . . . (stifles yawn). Well, he was right. Using Native Instruments’ Kontakt 3 player engine, Slate’s 53 kits combine “you-are-there” multisamples with room ambience and intelligent processing within Kontakt. Far from being neutral, these drums make a statement: From drums so dry/tight they could be from the Kalahari to Zep-type sounds saturated with ambience, you get full, muscular sounds that need no extra processing to be ready for prime time.
And that might be the only complaint you could level: The kits are so filled with personality they have a definite stamp. You can reel them in, though; I edited one set into sounding almost like a TR-808 by killing the ambience, bringing the decay down to almost nothing, and tuning the pitch up. The editing flexibility is welcome.
We can only scratch the surface here—there are also Roland V-Drum kits, different snares and kicks loaded on adjacent keys to minimize “machine gun” triggering, humanization options, WAV/Drumagog files for drum replacement, and more. Bottom line: If you want drums that are locked and loaded as soon as you open them, look no further than this inspiring collection.
Contact: Steven Slate Drums, www.stevenslatedrums.com
Format: DVD-ROM with 4.39GB of drum content; 24-bit, 44.1kHz; two additional DVDs with WAV/Drumagog files
List price: $325
BIG FISH AUDIO BOLLYHOOD BEATS
Urban music is incorporating more world elements, but this sample library is full-on Dr. Dre meets Dr. Desai. 92 folders each have individual percussion loops, a hip-hop-type drum loop, some partial mixes (e.g., percussion track[s] with and without duff—a deep, tonal drum), and a full mix with all tracks. Tempos range from 57 to 110BPM, but the Acidization/REX/Apple Loops editing is excellent; I had no problem jacking the tempos up into the trance range, and some even work with drum ’n’ bass. And yes, the beats fit in amazingly well.
The recording is clean and natural—so you can use as is, or hype it up. There’s fine use of stereo; you can almost see the two hands working the tabla. Other instruments include shaker, clay pot, manjira, dholak, and other things you won’t find at your local Guitar Center (unless it’s in New Delhi).
I’m a big fan of spicing up conventional tracks with world loops. While the full mixes definitely shout “India,” the individual loops have a kind of chameleonic quality that allows them to work in many different contexts. If you’re scoring a Bollywood movie, you’ll need more as this has no melodic components. But as you’re paying only about 11 cents a loop, that’s a good deal if you want above-average percussion. And notwithstanding the title, BollyHood Beats works in many different contexts.
Contact: Big Fish Audio, www.bigfishaudio.com
Format: DVD-ROM with almost 4GB (930 files) of unique 24-bit/44.1kHz Acidized WAV files, duplicated for Apple Loops/REX2/Stylus RMX
List price: $99.95
FUTURE LOOPS NUCLEAR DNB
The popularity of Drum ’n’ Bass has waned a bit over the years, but it remains a vital subculture. Nuclear DNB is almost a “granular” library, as it contains thousands of short files—it’s up to you to assemble them into full parts. Tempos are 160, 165, 170, and 175BPM; WAV files are not Acidized, but REX versions are available for stretching.
Note that these files are beats only—no bass or synth. The raw materials include 407 full mixes, 303 fills, 620 “loop elements” (individual kick, snare, hat, and percussion loops), 2,127 slices for building beats from scratch, 192 processed patterns, and 99 FX loops. The same files are also sorted into 25 “construction kits” per tempo, with related fills, full mix with variation mixes, loop elements, and slices. The sorted versions simplify putting together beats, due to the more limited palette.
As it’s harder to slow down files than speed them up, don’t expect to use these at slower tempos. The four tempo sets are close enough, though, that the REX files provide reasonable mix and match options.
These are solid, well-recorded files, but using Nuclear DNB is labor-intensive; if you’re rushing to beat a deadline, previouslyreviewed DNB libraries from Sony and Big Fish are a better choice. But if you need a parts kit that’s loaded with suitable files, Nuclear DNB gives value for money.
Contact: Future Loops, www.futureloops.com
Format: DVD-ROM with 1GB of unique WAV files (approx. 3,755 files), sorted two different ways, and duplicated as REX files where possible; 16-bit, 44.1kHz
List price: $59.97