Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review: Prime Loops Sample Library Round-up





Library:
Dirty Electro Synth Loops

Format: Download in Ableton, Apple Loops, Reason Refill, REX2, Acidized WAV, and more…
Genre: Electro House
Distributed by:
Prime Loops

Price: £14.95
Demo:
Audio demos on the product page.


If there is an ‘it’ genre of the moment, one could argue that it’s Electro House. Sites like Beatport are positively brimming over with new tracks every week, and the genre seems to be absolutely dominating the sample library market. Typically, though, these sample libraries tend to focus on drum loops more than anything else, leaving the synth parts out. That’s where this library from Prime Loops comes in. True to the title, “Dirty Electro Synth Loops” consists of nothing but synth riffs appropriate for use in Electro House carefully produced with the requisite amount of in-your-face grit.


As is the standard these days, the loops come in a variety of different formats to accommodate a wide base of users. When you cut to the core, you get 137 actual loops, which isn’t bad at all for the asking price. Within those 137 loops, a nice variety of styles is represented with some more heavily weighted towards the ‘House’ side of things, and others putting more emphasis on the ‘Electro’ side – a few could even be useful for more aggressive Trance tracks. The complexity of the riffs varies a lot too, with some consisting of just a single synth line and others combining several riffs or even bits of percussion and complex edits. Most of the loops have 2 or more variations, giving them more mileage within an actual song setting.


The sound quality is excellent and the production and use of effects is spot-on in terms of the style they’re representing. The actual synth sounds themselves are very well programmed, and there really aren’t any riffs here that are clunkers – everything is quite catchy and usable. I tested the sounds in REX2 formats, and while they are put together well, the complexity and more sustained nature of the synth loops (as opposed to percussion or drum loop) means that you can’t go too far outside of the loops original tempo (125-130 BPM) before hearing artifacts. So long as you use them in the typical Electro House range of BPMs, they work great, though.


Although there are riffs in a number of different keys, the key of C clearly dominates this collection. It would be nice to see a wider selection of keys available for people looking to drop something into an existing arrangement. It would also be nice to have multi-samples of the actual synth sounds themselves for those of us who might like to program our own riffs. Then again, the library’s name clearly states what it is, and that’s loops, so you can’t really fault them there.


So who will this collection appeal to? I’d mainly say beginners looking to get started at making Electro House, but I could also see it appealing to those doing soundtrack and music for advertising who need to throw together a track in this style quickly. If that sounds like you, you would do well to check out this very reasonably priced collection! (8/10)


Library:
House Guitar Loops

Format: Download in Ableton, Apple Loops, Reason Refill, REX2, Acidized WAV, and more…
Genre: Anything that needs some guitars
Distributed by:
Prime Loops

Price: £12.95
Demo:
Audio demos on the product page.


I’ll start off by saying that I think the title of this collection is a bit misleading. There isn’t anything about the guitar loops contained in this collection that particularly suggests ‘House’, not does House strike me as a genre that has demand for lots of guitar riffs. If anything, I think the title may sell the collection short, as it could really be useful in a pretty wide variety of styles.


As one would expect, the loops come ready to go in a number of different file formats. All-in-all, you get 112 loops (most loops have several variations), with the bonus of 12 individual dry Major 7th chords and 12 dry Minor 7th chords should you want to create your own riffs. 2 different acoustic and 2 different electric guitars were used by 5 different guitarists to create these loops, so there is little danger of this collection being too homogenous. In fact, there is a pretty wide variety of styles represented with the one unifying factor being that most of them are rather light, clean, and ‘summery’ for lack of a better description.


Tempos range from 120 BPM to 137 BPM, well within the expected range for dance-oriented music. Most of the riffs can change tempo within a reasonable range without too much trouble, but you’re not going to be able to have the same range of possibilities as you would with drum loops. A very nice variety of different keys are available as well which means it should be easy to find something that you can drop into a track you’ve already started without too much trouble.


The musicianship is excellent, as is the sound quality. The addition of individual sampled chords is very nice, although I would argue that perhaps ‘straight’ chords versus 7ths might be more useful in the grand scheme of things. As it is, though, the included chords have a pleasant, jazzy sound to them that will sound right at home on your next summer anthem. I had a lot of fun playing around with the individual slices in the REX2 version of the library, too. This extends the usefulness of the library and lets you get into more artificial edits that can take the loops into more unique, techy directions.


So who will find this collection most useful? I’d say anyone who is not a guitarist who needs some well-played riffs in a variety of mostly light and clean styles. Users may find themselves wishing there were more riffs of each specific style available, but for the price, it’s very hard to fault. (9/10)


Library:
Lee Coombs Presents Tech Funk

Format:
Download in Ableton, Apple Loops, Reason Refill, REX2, Acidized WAV, and more…

Genre:
House, Techno, Breaks

Distributed by:
Prime Loops
Price: £12.95
Demo: Audio demos on the product page.

As with the House Guitar Loops collection, I would say this is another library whose name is a bit misleading. While you’ll find the odd squiggly chord or funky synth sound, overall the
collection leans much more towards straight-ahead house than anything else.


The bulk of the collection is made up of 12 construction kit style ‘grooves’. This is quite different from the type that can be used to create a whole song. What you get here is anywhere from 4 to over a dozen different parts that, when put together create an individual ‘part’ of a song.

Conceivably, by dropping elements in and out, you could create an entire track, but most of what is here is so repetitive that it would be difficult to pull off well. What you get in each of these groove kits is wildly inconsistent. Some feature drum parts, some just consist of synths and a bassline to which you can add your own. The quality of the riffs varies a lot too. On the whole, most of them were pretty uninspired and dull, but there are some very nice bits as well if you’re willing to dig for them.


Thankfully, there is more to the library than this. For one thing, you get 33 very nice drum sounds that should provide you with most of what you would need to put together a typical dance track. The kicks are solid with a nice oomph to them, the snares are punchy as can be, and the various percussion sounds are all crisp and clear sounding. There are also 21 synth and FX type sounds. These range from noises wooshes to rezzy Moog synths and grimey house chords. The quality of the sounds here are very good and I found myself wishing there were more of these than the groove kits. Finally, we have 15 ‘Extra Loops’, consisting mainly of 303 riffs, grooving basslines, and some very nice percussion loops. Ironically, the quality of these loops is actually much higher than those contained in the individual groove kits.


Overall, this collection feels unfocused and frankly, not that useful. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but I found most of the loops and grooves dull and uninspiring and simple enough that most anyone who isn’t a total beginner could probably come up with on their own without too much effort. The production is quite good and there are some really nice Moog type sounds used throughout, but I kept finding myself wishing that the library consisted of multi-samples of those sounds rather than used within loops of questionable usability. There are some very nice sounds and decent riffs to be sure, but you have to dig for them which, to me at least, sort of defeats to purpose of a sample library. The bonus loops and individual drum and synth samples are excellent and perhaps should’ve been the focus of the library rather than the groove kits. (5/10)

2 comments:

hapbt said...

i always prefer the loopmasters collections, they seem to have the best quality and variety of loops. i'd say like 90% of the sample cds i get are just total crap, some guy takes 1 riff does 30 variations on it with some fx, calls that a sample cd..awful

Anonymous said...

Yes i agree. I was unfortunate enough to buy this pack. It is so aweful it is unbelievable. Literally the worst pack i have ever bought!