Big Fish Audio | Sound On Sound Magazine John Walden | Drum & Bass Masterclass Product Review
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Drum & Bass Masterclass | Sound On Sound Magazine

Reviewer: John Walden | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Back to Drum & Bass Masterclass product details

Davide Carbone's Drum & Bass Masterclass follows the format of other titles in the Loopmasters 'Origin' series. The bulk of the material is provided as Acidised WAV and REX2 loops, while some instrument patches for the NNXT, Halion, Kontakt, EXS24 and SFZ software samplers are also supplied. In total, the CD-ROM contains some nearly 600MB of sample data, and a separate audio CD is also included for auditioning purposes.

The samples themselves are organised into musical groups, rather than construction kits. As might be expected given the musical genre, over half the material is taken up by the Drums and Bass folders respectively. Over 100 drum loops are provided, all of which were recorded at original tempos of 165bpm or faster. There is some really good - and suitably manic - stuff here. The loops include one-, two-, four- and eight-bar examples, and the longer patterns offer some great variations. The sounds themselves are all right on the money for this style and, thankfully, there is also a good collection of single hits based on the same sounds. These can easily be used to create your own loops, and the included sampler patches (I looked at those for Halion) include plenty of ready-made kits for just this purpose. Given how good some of the loops are, the only down side is that there are not more of them.

The 50-plus bass loops are also right on target for this musical style. They therefore include examples that are quite musical and others that contain more spiky playing, the latter creating some interesting rhythmic tension when set against the drum loops. Again, the sampler patches provide a suitable means of adding your own variations based on the same sounds.

The remainder of the material is divided into four folders covering pads, keyboards, musical loops and various FX and hits. The dozen or so pads provide some nice (almost mellow) beds, and many feature filter-based processing. There are some more extreme filter-swept sounds within the Vox-FX-Hits-Swells folder, which also includes some useful hits and synth-based processed FX sounds - great for adding a little ornamentation to a composition. However, the highlights are within the keys and musical loops groups. These are all musical phrases, melodic and chord-based, and created from a range of keyboard or synth sources (plus a small number of brass phrases - think Grooverider's 'Time and Space'). Despite also being recorded at high tempos, many of these are actually quite mellow (with a half-time feel) and, when set alongside the high-energy drum and bass loops, they can turn the manic rhythm section into something much more laid-back - a very effective combination.

As with other titles in the Loopmasters 'Origin' series, this title strikes a decent balance between the amount of content and the sub-£40 price tag. The Masterclass is perhaps not revolutionary in terms of the musical genre but, for drum & bass producers, there are plenty of ideas here that would get the creativity moving.

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