Big Fish Audio | Recording Magazine Michael Nickolas | Suite Grooves Product Review
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Suite Grooves | Recording Magazine

Reviewer: Michael Nickolas Back to Suite Grooves product details

In the world of loops, there is a plethora of hip-hop, dance and pop content to choose from. So it's refreshing to see something off the beaten path, Big Fish Audio's offering of a DVD centered on the Smooth Jazz style.

Suite Grooves comes in REX, Apple Loops and WAV format. Content is 24-bit, WAV files are not Acidized. An enclosed readme file informs that due to limitations of the REX2 file format, not all the material is presented in REX format. REX users can look to the Apple Loops or WAV folders for things like sustained pads and ambient fx, full mixes, etc..

What we get

Suite Grooves is presented in construction kit format. Copying the WAV files to hard disk took up 1.82 GB of space. The loops are sorted into 29 folders, the name of each folder contains the tempo and key of the groove contained within. Within each groove's folder you will find a complete mix, the performances used to construct the mix, a folder containing the individual drum tracks for the groove, and in most cases a folder of single percussion and drum hits. Having the individual drum tracks is a nice touch. They are provided for each groove, it doesn't matter if the drums were played live or sequenced. You can choose to use the pre-mixed stereo drum loop provided, or use the individual tracks for more control of your mix.

A groove's complete mix file serves as an example of what all the parts sound like together when professionally mixed and mastered. These mixes sound topnotch, which should attest to the quality of the performances and recordings used to create them. In isolated listening to individual loops I particularly liked the sound of the bass recordings. The Rhodes pianos are nice also, the ones I auditioned used a stereo tremolo effect. Saxes sounded good as well, dry and natural.

A fair amount of the loops caused Sound Forge to error-message either with "This file contained an illegal Sample Loop. The loop has been corrected", or "An unknown error occurred saving extra embedded information. The additional information will be ignored". These errors didn't seem to affect sound or use at all.

Off we go

Given that each groove's complete mix runs about 20 or 30 seconds, I wondered if enough content was provided to construct a three or four minute song of a least a few different sections. I picked a folder and gave it a shot-and yes, there was definitely enough.

The folder I chose had four different bass patterns and three different guitar parts. They were all based on a single chord progression, of course, but the variety gave a chance to change things up over the course of a full song. And, these weren't two-bar repetitive loops, most of what I checked out were performances in eight-bar sections, making for a more realistic sound. Also, the aforementioned individual drum tracks and hits can be used to construct breakdown sections.

In my work I usually use loops from many different libraries as a way to arrange and produce my own compositions. For example, using a click I will record an idea composed on guitar, then build on that idea using loops. I did a quick test using the Suite Jazz loops outside of their intended construction kit and did find them to play nicely with others. Producer Jeff Carruthers and his chosen musicians know the style, you won't be disappointed in these construction kits.

One final note

You should note before purchasing that Big Fish Audio's license agreement for construction kit products does not allow for music you create using any of the loops to be a part of any music library. So if you frequently submit your finished pieces for inclusion in music libraries, or if there is a chance a client you are working for will place their song with a music library, you'll have to pass on using Suite Grooves content.

But if that doesn't affect your work, then check these kits out, they're... suite!

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