Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Wave Alchemy's Electro House Underground & Electro House Progressions

Libraries: Wave Alchemy Electro House Underground & Electro House Progressions
Format: Electro House Underground: Download or CD/DVD. Electro House Progressions: Download
Genre: Electro House
Distributed by: Loopmasters
Price: Electro House Underground: Download £39.95, CD/DVD £44.95. Electro House Progressions : Download £34.95
Demo: Demo for Electro House Underground, Demo for Electro House Progressions

Today I’ll be taking a look at two sample libraries from British sound designers Wave Alchemy. The company’s founders Daniel Byers and Steve Heath met a few years at school. They decided after graduation to form a company aimed at providing high quality sample libraries. So have they succeeded at that goal? Let’s have a listen!

Electro House Underground

Electro House Underground
consists of 1.5 GB of 24-bit electro house samples in WAV and REX2 formats. These break down to nearly 255 drum loops, 50 filtered percussion loops, 95 tech bass loops, 92 electro synth loops, and 50 effects. Additionally, there are 56 ready-to-go multi-sampled instruments in Reason NNXT, Halion, Kontakt, EXS24, and other formats.

We start off with a selection of bass loops. Most of the loops are featured in several variations (usually different filter settings), making it easier to use the loops to build a full track. The basslines are all very catchy and the sounds used all have a great vintage vibe. (The liner notes indicate the synths used were a Minimoog, Nord Leads 2 & 3, Access Virus, Roland JP-8000, and Waldorf Pulse). The tempo and key of the basslines are listed in the file names, so it’s easy to find riffs that go together well instantly. The production is great and just right for the genre. Most loops are compressed and in your face (some are even sidechained) and among a lot of dry loops, are ones drenched in bitcrushing, filtering, and other typical electro house effects.

The next section consists of a ton of drum loops. Although these are totally in line with what you’d expect in electro house, most are flexible enough to work in just about any dance-oriented genre you’d care to use them in. The production quality is great and the tonal balance is near perfect meaning these will sound great in a track without needing to do a lot of further processing. Like the basslines, most of the drum loops are featured in multiple variations so you aren’t just stuck with a single loop to build your song with. The beats also vary in their complexity with some being minimal percussion only, some being basic kick, hat, snare constructions, and others containing quite complex percussion arrangements. The feel of all the loops is excellent and guaranteed to get butts shaking on the dancefloor.

In addition to the drum loops is a decent selection of live percussion loops. These are all constructed with real world percussion instruments and run the gamut from shaker and tambourine loops, to conga patterns, to full-fledged percussion arrangements. All are tasteful and perfect for adding to your own programmed drums to give them a bit more feel.

The loops round out with a bunch of synth riff loops. These were put together with the same gear as the basslines and are of similar quality. Once again, the production and EQing are stellar and genre-appropriate. If you wanted to, you could pretty much build a full track using only elements from the loop section of this library and not need to do much, if any additional mixing and production.

However, you probably don’t want to rely on nothing but loops. Lucky, then, that there’s a nice selection of pre-built sampler instruments in various formats. These consist of vintage synth bass sounds, some small drum kits (which annoyingly aren’t mapped to the GM standard), a hefty selection of claps, hats, synth percussion, kicks, snares, hits, and FX, and a small selection of synth lead sounds. Of these, the one shot drum hits were my favorite. The synth percussion is contemporary and interesting, the kicks have just the right combination of smack and oomph, the snares sound crisp and present, and the SFX and reverse hits make it easy to add a credible club feel to your tracks with a minimum of effort.

I did run into a problem with the synth bass and lead instruments in EXS-24. In almost all of them, there was a small key range that had the root key set incorrectly. This is a small annoyance, but something to be aware of.

Electro House Underground
essentially gives you everything you need to get started making electro house. It’s very nice when sample libraries offer a selection of sampler instruments and drum kits and not just loops, and this library has a very good balance of both. The sound quality throughout is uniformly excellent and the beats and riffs are all outstanding. Many sample libraries have good stuff, but you have to dig for it. This is one where no digging is required. It’s all good. (9/10)

Electro House Progressions

Electro House Progressions
is a bit like Electrro House Underground on a smaller scale (500 MB). Indeed, the two libraries are designed to compliment one another. The only slight stylistic difference between the two is that Electro House Progressions has a little bit of minimal and progressive flavor to it. Like Electro House Underground, this library consists of both loops and a selection of one shot samples and pre-built sampler instruments. All sounds are 24 bit and in WAV or REX2 format. These consist of 108 Minimal/Progressive Loops, 75 bass loops, 65 synth and stab parts, 37 Roland TB-303 loops, 55 SFX samples, 46 live percussion loops, & 210 drum hits and glitch percussion samples. Equipment used in making this collection consisted of Minimoog, Roland Jupiter 6, Juno 106, & TB-303, Dave Smith Prophet 08, Waldorf Pulse, Nord Lead 2 & 3, Sherman Filterbank, Big Muff Distortion Pedal, and the SPL Gainstation.

The first folder of loops consists of Roland TB-303 loops. A variety of different keys are represented and the loops are produced with everything from gentle overdrive to full on distortion to add extra bite. If you’ve heard a 303 before (and how could you NOT have at this point?!), you know what to expect here: lots of squelchy goodness with wild, sliding notes and plenty of attitude.

If it’s more standard electro house basslines you’re looking for, EHP has you covered there too. Like in the previous library, the loops all have plenty of analog grit and are pre-effected to perfection. These didn’t strike me as being quite as instantly usable as those In Electro House Underground. They’re skillfully done to be sure, but they didn’t strike me as being quite as ‘hooky’ as EHU. Taste is subjective, though, so your mileage may vary.

Next up are the drum loops. As good as the production on EHU was, I thought it was even better on the drum loops in this collection. Clear, present, well-defined, and punchy. The beats here have a more minimal/glitchy flavor to them and are a bit more restrained-sounding (not in a bad way). Many of the loops are featured in several different versions for a little variety in your arrangements. I guess the best way to describe the content here is to say that EHP is aimed a bit more at the techier, cerebral side of electro house,

Complimenting the drum loops is a selection of very simple percussion loops. These tend to be pretty minimal and as such, would probably work with a wider range of genres than the more busy EHU percussion loops. Not much to say here except that they’re well done and very useful.

The loops section rounds out with a number of synth loops. Again, the more minimal and progressive elements stand out here and there are some really nice sounding synth parts here. Again, I couldn’t help but feel the production sounds a little bit better on these than on EHU. (Don’t get me wrong, both are great… we’re talking minor differences here!) There are some very nice stabs, plucked riffs, and complex edits here.

Finally, for those of us who prefer to program their own beats, we have a half dozen kits of individual crashes, kicks, cymbals, snares, sound effects and glitchy percussion. The glitchy percussion section is definitely the most fun. The other kits sound great, although I do think they could stand a little more variety.

Overall, another very nice collection of everything you need to make electro house. The standard of quality is extremely high and the different feel to the loops here could make for some interesting results when used in conjunction with Electro House Underground. The price seems a little high to me given that this is a significantly smaller collection than EHU, so I’ll have to deduct a point there, but that still makes this collection a very respectable 8/10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice review.

The electro house progressions pack is one of the best libraries i have ever bought, the production quality is nothing short of amazing!