"Producer Loops Future Pop Vol 5,...
"Producer Loops Future Pop Vol 5, Experimental Dubstep Vol 6, Urban Minimal Vol 3 Test
Construction-Kits for DJ's and Producers, Soundfood for Urban Beats.
If you - like I do now - look back on some decades of technological development, then some discussions of early years look - in the retrospective - naive and laughable. At the time, there was, for example, a big buzz about the ensoniq mirage sampler, that was able to produce a steady female 'ha' -chorus (that changed with different notes to mickey mouse or evil borg). Lots of female background singers take a visit to me to check their new 'concurrence'.
No one of these female background singers of the time has lost their work because of that 1-second 8-Bit sample, and good background vocals are always a demanded element in every demanding production. The harsh wind of digitalisation blew into the faces of producers, that had to deal with shorter production times, tighter budgets, and had to deal with the whole studio machinery.
Nowadays music producers are happy, because their customers (publicity agencies or multimedia-production-companies) bring mostly a big budget and a sufficient timeframe in regards to the production. But that is not the case with every production. The normal case today is a customer who wants to get almost instantly a matching musical concept 'out of the box', sometimes without the need of an exclusive production. It has to be quick, matching and cheap. Some agencies are not sufficiently informed about rights-free music and their usage.
Construction-Kits have proven to be cost-effective and practical useable media, because their concept goes way beyond the classical sampling CD.
In opposition to Sampling CDs that contain loops and samples of different instruments that must be transformed to an arrangement by hand, the Construction Kit contains already all track stems (complete, poly-bar sequences) that forms the final mix. The Construction Kit can be used not only in production but also in realtime-arrangements like DJ-performances (for ex tractor pro with its remix decks).
The here tested sample packs from Producer Loops come in the form of Construction Kits. Following the actual time, they were not sold on a physical data medium, but only as downloadable zip file directly out of the online shop. The numbering of the packs shows that they are ongoing series that are constantly updated and often sold as bundle packs (i.e. 'Future Progressive Trance Bundle (Vols 1-3)').
For customers who are familiar with the system of the series, all is unproblematic, but for the randomly buying sample shopper these lots of numbers and editions could be disturbing. The main idea behind this is although intelligent: instead of waiting until a big track-bundle is ready, Producer Loops give out these 5-6 tracks containing track-packages in fast delivery, studio-fresh and with moderate pricing (20-50 euro). The factor releasing speed is critical in a business that deals with material for the dance floor.
Nobody knows, if that hacked sinus-tone-melody that is the burner in all discotheques from Ibiza to Berlin, will become dusty retro-fundus next month.
The Hierarchy of the files in all Samplepacks is principally identical.
A positive note about the packs is that they come in different formats without extra costs. You have the choice between Reason-Refills, REX-files, Apple Loops or Acid-WAVs plus MIDI files. MIDI-Files? Can someone get deeper into an arrangement?
In most of the times there are basic fragments like basslines or accord progressions. Because the packs do not contain sample instruments to play the MIDI files, you must setup your own sounds to play them. But it is not a disadvantage to have MIDI files on board, because who knows, the Construction Kit can become your very own song through your own transformations.
Helpful is that a subfolder with one-shot-samples of the essential drums (kick, snare, clap) exist mostly for every track. An exclusion to this is 'Expermental Dubstep Vol 6' where such a folder does not exist. Producer Loops seems to think (rightly) that a Dubstep producer is able to slice himself the samples out of the loops.
The other two libraries share the same hierarchy: The folder on-top contains ready demo-layouts of the tracks in uncompressed audio, where in the track-name, the BPM and the pitch is included. These quick-layouts of the tracks are pretty helpful for the dialogue with the customers. The gap between producer and audio consultant is not very large, especially when you deal with agencies.
The quick layouts help you to get quickly a general idea and if this sound fits to video material. The folder contains the multiple-bar audio loops of the different audio components with their subfolders, that are named: 'Dry Audio Files', 'FX Tails', 'MIDI Files' and 'One Shot Samples'.
'Dry Audio Files' contain certain elements of the song that do not include effects.'FX tails' contains loops with added length that include additional reverb time at sample end.
In the practical work the search for the matching loops in the different folders takes too much time. I would like all to be in one big folder or a ready-to-go DAW-arrangement.
All loops of the Construction Kits are highly end-produced. Means: the loops seems to have run through a classic 3-part of equalizer, dynamic and effects, were exported and looped (where i think all this was made inside of 1 DAW, what makes sense to me).
You can hear that drastically with 'Future Pop 5' where all parts have been treated with a modern-sounding sidechain-compressor.
From the view of a producer you could think: okay, these subgroups with sidechain-compressor, I could have setup this myself. On the other hand it fits fully the idea of the Construction Kit, that the demo sounds like the sum of its loops, and that you get the loops identically like in the demo of the final track.
Producer Loops does not alter the demo songs in a way that you can't rebuild them through the loops - which is very positive. Also the transients and the dynamics of the samples are very good.
In detail, the sound has (inside of the style of the music) a certain 'middle of the road' signature. Extremely dramatic, unsymmetrical or provocative sounds are mostly not to find. But that's no problem because 'that middle of the road' signature lets you start easily from zero your tracks. You can't get a producer legend with this material, because it lacks some extra material, but with some personal tweaking of the sound material you can give it a personal note and/or more boost.
Sometimes I would like to have gotten more 'dirt' and 'patina' on some samples, especially in the pack 'Urban Minimal' due to its vinyl style. It seems this is mostly new recorded material with electronic gear, so it sounds 'clear'. Some producers like equipped music, Big Fish Audio and Zero-G bring more character, signature and inspiration in the samples, but do mostly medium- and downtempo-material.
STYLE / CREATIVITY:
Principally you can say for all three Construction-Kits, that the 'stylistic corridor' has been 'hit' mostly. Depending how creative you work with the given loops, you can form two or more clearly different sounding song parts. The problem in electronic music is that from the beginning of the time that a sound has become 'style-secure', it became redundant or unimportant.
This can be heard especially with 'Future Pop'. The sidechain compressor together with the pulsewave-basses is the same way a remarkable sound, but also a well-heard sound. On the other hand, future dance hits the center of actual chart/dance-productions exactly.
'Urban Minimal Vol 3' has a larger tempo-scale (120–154 BPM). It seems the producer of this pack has tried to please dancefloor and EDM fans as well. This concept is to me a bit too fuzzy, or how we North German producers say: 'there are no balls'.
But not everything is bad in this pack. Some material is worth higher usage. The nice little bitcrushed formant filtered lead-sound with its table-stop effects of the first track pleased me together with the plastic-toy-clappery clap of the last track.
Way better than the unaesthetic cover (the same with the other packs), the musical inside of Experimental Dubstep 6 pleases me. You miss a bit the credible 'dirt' here and there, but producer Jeff Rhodes has brought lots of musical ideas, fresh, unconventional Dubstep material, that comes without placative 'formant-wobbling'.
So much audio food and one problem: where to place all of that? Of course, mostly in under five minutes you can drag and drop the mostly good indicated files in your DAW to create a fully-functional poly-bar loop arrangement. But when it comes that you want to drag in the 'FX tails' or to rebuild the b-parts of the demo-songs, you wish that ready-to-go arrangements for DAWs like Cubase, Logic and Live, that reference the existing audio files were present in the folders. The above quality of Construction Kits is work speed. I would have found it very good, if the audio loops contained a mapping for the remix decks of Traktor. That would have been an additional small amount of work but a way higher usability.
For the nonexistence of those mappings I cut a half point off the final points sum. That this is possible and the know-how is present at Producer Loops, is shown in the library "Late Night Jazz 1" where all audio loops have been integrated into multi-track-Cubase projects. But this is the only real negative critique.
Pretty good at the technical side is that all volumes inside the kits have been set in a very homogenous way. Some packs of other producers were post-treated in regards to volume or just normalised.
What is in a way good for the loop is bad for the end mix, because the relative volumes of all loops to each other don't work anymore and the end mix sounds false.
Here all loops fit together (with small amounts of decibel differences to fix). This brings a half point positive for final points.
Working with Traktor remix decks:
If you drag the loops directly into a Traktor remix deck, not much rows for advanced arrangements are present.
If DJ's want to include Producer Loops Construction Kits in the form of Traktor remix decks, they have to check some points: You should fusion the single tracks into matching sequential clips. For example, if you load kick, snare and hi-hat into the first 3 rows of the remix deck, you have only one more slot, which is way to less for a song.
Better is the technique to render parts in your DAW to load more easily in the remix deck. For example: Drums (Slot 1), Bass (Slot 2), Pads (Slot 3) and FX (Slot 4) are rendered in the DAW to logical sequentially parts that are loaded into the remix deck.
To write a fair conclusion in the realm of sampling libraries is way more difficult that for example writing one about a DJ controller.
For the controller, you can write objectively, if and what works or not. For audioware, it is a highly subjective task.
This is highly difficult when it comes to style. Who can say which beat or sound is hip today and garbage tomorrow?
So I began my check with the verifiable parts. The small, price-worthy sample packs have a high output-frequency, which is positive.
The fast online delivery and the free format choice (REX, ReFill, WAV/AIFF-Audio) fits perfectly the demands of the fast business of the commercial music producers and film music score producers. But this should fit also the needs of semi-professional bedroom-producers and DJ's that want to get them some sample material at a reasonable price.
All tracks of the packs can be pre-heard on the website and the demos can be rebuilt with the packs 1:1. The buyer gets what he has paid for and does not get tons of samples that he doesn’t need or want.
Technically or formally, there is nothing negative to say about the packs, with the exception that there are no demo-arrangements for DAWs and no Traktor remix sets present. The naming of the files, the hierarchies of the folders and the digital cut on the samples give no reason for bigger criticism.
Very good is the fact that the loops have volumes in relation to each other which is important for the end mix.
In regards to the musical and sound aspect, I can say that there is style-secure, good produced material delivered here, that does mostly in the arrangement, what it should.
Sometimes the material is really clever and inspirational. I would have heard more 'patina' on the sounds, but this can be done also afterwards with digital DAW magic.
In short, Producer Loops deliver with their own productions praxis-oriented, style-centered and mostly inspirational Construction Kits in good audio quality at an acceptable price. Whoever listens to the demos and feels that they could use the material in their productions in a profitable way, commits no error buying here.
Multiple format download without extra price
Solid Sound Quality
Dynamic headroom is sufficient
Separated, well-structured packs
Contemporary, style-secure sound design
No demo-arrangements included (Cubase, Live, Traktor)