Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Wave Alchemy Tech House & Minimal

Library: Tech House & Minimal
Downloadable 24-bit WAVs & REX files (also available in Apple Loops, Reason, and Ableton Live formats)
Tech House, Minimal, Dance-oriented IDM
Developers Site:
Wave Alchemy
Distributed by:
On product page (A selection of free samples from the library are also available here)

"Tech House & Minimal" is the latest offering from UK sample developers Wave Alchemy. This collection contains not only the loops and drum sounds consistent with their previous offerings, but also features some outstanding multi-sampled synth sounds.

The drum loops in this collection are divided into tempo-based folders at 125, 127, and 130 BPM. If you're using the REX versions of these loops, this is less of a concern, as the loops are all sliced very well and translate over a broader range of tempos with very few artifacts. In addition to full drum loops, some "top only" loops without a kick drum are also available allowing you to customize the beats with your own kick parts. In addition to the drum-oriented loops, there's also a generous selection of bassline and synth part loops, allowing you to build full arrangements from the loops alone if that's your thing. As always, the melodic loops contain the key they are in as part of the file name, so finding compatible loops is quick and simple. The general style of the loops is very quirky, creative, and - dare I say it - light-hearted. Despite the minimal precision of the loops, I found a lot of them to have an almost cheerful tone to them. As you might expect from a Wave Alchemy collection, the sound choice and production is outstanding. While the loops trend to the lighter end of the spectrum, the sounds are all extremely clear, present, and punchy as hell.

Understanding that you'll probably want to augment these loops with some programming of your own, Wave Alchemy has included over 400 one-hit drum samples. These are separated into folders marked Glitch & FX Perc, Hats, Kicks, Snares & Claps, and Synth Perc. The sound palette here is unmistakably electronic, mixing expertly compressed and EQed electronic kicks and snares with bloops, sweeps, and tweaks consistent with the collection's quirky mood. The sounds are an interesting combination of retro analog funkiness with unmistakably modern production - tight compression, near perfect EQ, and nice stereo separation where relevant. Most of these sounds would be at home in just about any style of electronic dance music, but the percussive effects will be of particular interest to those looking to add an unusual flavor to their rhythms.

The collection would be a great value if this is all it contained, but Wave Alchemy has also included 23 multi-sampled synth sounds sourced from machines like the Korg MS-20, Moog Voyager, FutureRetro XS and more. These sounds are all great and sound as analog as you would expect from machines like these. Stylistically, they'd be useful in pretty much any style that favors vintage synths, not just tech house and minimal. I would LOVE to see Wave Alchemy release a collection of nothing but multi-sampled synths. The synth sounds share the same high production quality as the drum sounds, and I think it would be of great interest to musicians who love the sound of real analog, but can't afford the price of entry.

I keep waiting for Wave Alchemy to screw up with a sample library. Not because I expect them to be incompetent, but because their collections are so scarily consistent in their excellence. Not every library may be to your stylistic preferences, but you can be assured that what's there is going to sound great right out of the box, so you can spend your time making music instead of trying to tweak sounds to perfection. Highly recommended. [10/10]

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