Thursday, April 16, 2009
Library: Deadmau5 Xfer
Format: Available as download or DVD.
Genre: All flavors of house from electro to minimal and tech, techno
Distributed by: Loopmasters
Price: DVD (with instant download too, so you don't have to wait) £64.95, download £59.95
Demo: Audio demos on the product page.
In case you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, Deadmau5 is currently one of the most talked-about artists in the minimal house scene. It seems sometimes that not a day goes by on certain internet forums without someone asking, "How do I get a kick sound like "_________" by Deadmau5?" If you've found yourself among those ranks, here's your answer, Xfer, the new sampling library from Deadmau5 himself.
Xfer is available in both physical format and as a download. It's important to note that only the digital version features the loops in REX2 format. The physical version consists only of WAV files. There are no pre-made instruments for various softsamplers or drum machines here, these are just raw WAVs waiting for you to build into your own instruments. I do think it's a good thing for musicians to roll up their sleeves and map out their own instruments, but nowadays, I think most people expect mapped instrument files with their sample libraries. That said, let's see what this library offers.
We start out with a selection of 336 drum and percussion loops. All the loops are at 128 BPM and cover a pretty broad spectrum of styles, sounds, and complexity. Some loops are nothing more than shaker or hi-hat parts, some are kickless loops made for adding your own bottom end to, others are full-on drum loops containing the full spectrum. The styles of the loops varies nicely too with rhythms that would work well in electro house, tribal, minimal, techno, and really just about any contemporary dance style. The rhythms all have a really good feel, are very well-programmed, and are produced to the standard you would expect from DeadMau5. My one complaint here is that nothing is organized in a meaningful way. You just open the 'Loops' folder and are confronted with 336 files named XF_Loop 001 through XF_Loop 336. This means if you are looking for a specific loop, or specific type of loop, you basically have to search through each file until you find what you are looking for. Some sort of sub-categorization would have been really useful.
The rest of the library (ie the majority of it) consists of single, one-shot samples. This is a true raritiy in this day and age and made me real happy to see. I wish more sample libraries just gave me the individual sounds in addition to the loops for my own use. So big thumbs up for one shots!
We start out with 425 kick drum sounds divided into folders for Analog Kicks, Big Kicks, Huge Kicks, Hall Kicks, and Processed Kicks. Now THIS is the kind of organization I would've liked to have seen with the loops! The analog kicks have lots of sub energy, the big & huge kicks combine low end oomph with hard attacks great for electro, the hall kicks are well produced reverb kicks for breakdowns and intros, and the processed kicks are more unusual selections that would work great for techier styles. There's a great selection here, but there is also a lot of material the feels redundant and samey. This is a problem that a good number of the drum sounds in the library suffer from, but there is some really good material in here if you've got the time and inclination to dig for it.
The claps folder is divided into Classic Claps, Layered Claps, and Single Hand Claps (the sound of one hand clapping?). The single hand claps are the lightest-sounding and would be great for minimal and IDM style stuff. The classic claps would work for a wider range of dance styles, sporting a more typical 'generic' clap type sound. The Layered Claps consist of sounds made up from several different samples layered on top of each other for a bigger and more complex sound.
Next up is a whopping 1500 percussion sounds divided up by FFT percussion (techy, heavily processed percussion noises), Junk Percussion (think pots and pans), ShakersTambs (pretty much what you would expect), Synth Arp2600 Perc (a range of synthetic percussion created on the famous vintage synth), Synth Misc Perc (a mish-mash of different percussion sounds), and Synth Moog Perc (more synthy sounds, this time made on a vintage Moog). This is probably the widest variety of sounds in the library. Although most of them are synthetic sounding, there are all manner of bleeps, bloops, plips, thwunks, and doofs - all very contemporary sounding.
This is followed by 322 hihat sounds. These are divided into folders marked Amped, Analog, Misc, Open, Real, and Vinyl which are about as you'd expect. You'll find something for most dancey purposes here.
The selection of snare drums sounds (158) was a little bit on the thin side compared to the rest of the categories, but there's some good stuff here. Small, Classic, and Layered categories are similar to those in the claps folder. Some are synthetic, some are more realistic (relatively speaking), some are metallic, some are heavily processed. Despite this, like the kicks, a lot of the snares sound alike.
Just over 100 cymbal and cymbal effect sounds follow up giving you a pretty good line-up of various crashes and tranistional effects. The cymbal effect sounds in particular are well-crafted and the use of effects couldn't be better. These would all sound great in the breakdown or intro of your next club hit.
Everything rounds out with 227 synth and tonal sounds. There is some great stuff here. Unfortunately, the disorganization problem that plagued the loops section is present here. Some sounds are multi-sampled across several octaves, some are just single samples, but there is nothing in the file names to differentiate these. The library is divided into folders at least, which helps you separate the Moog Bass sounds from the Chords, for instance, but a better organizational system would be really helpful. Even just a meaningful file naming system would've been great. As for the sounds themselves... they're great. Lots of cool, buzzy analog synths and chunky sampled chords.
Chances are, if you're a music maker who is also a fan of Mr. Deadmau5, this item probably sells itself. But even if you're not, there is some very nice material here that would lend itself to a pretty wide range of genres. For the price they are asking, I think it is not unreasonable to expect more variety, a better sense of organization (at least non-generic file names), and pre-mapped instruments in popular file formats. But if you need these types of sounds and don't mind a little digging, the quality level here is very high. (8/10)