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Drumtrax 1 Sample Tape

If you're looking to expand your sampler's vocabulary of drum sounds or your D50 library, Patchworks' Drumtrax sample tape and PA Decoder's D50 Rom Volume III should be worth checking out - start here.

Old drum machines: love 'em or hate 'em, you can't avoid 'em in the current climate of recycled technology. What was a piece of junk one day becomes the hip machine to use a month later - as long as it's appeared on the right record, of course. The cost of a machine gaining "hip" status rockets accordingly, of course; great if you're selling, a bitch if you're buying. But why buy when you can sample? All you need is access to the machine in question - or a sample tape like Drumtrax, perhaps.

Patchworks' Drumtrax 1 features the sounds of a selection of yesterday's beat boxes - Boss DR110 Dr Rhythm, Roland TR606 Drumatix, Boss DR55 Dr Beat, Korg KPR77, Soundmaster SR88 and Dr Bohm - presented ready for sampling. But rather than present the sounds simply as they appeared on these machines, they've been recorded dry and effected with a variety of treatments including reverbs, phasing, flanging and echo. The idea is that your sampler provides the "produced" drum sounds you require rather than tying up your outboard gear in the process (sorry). So, what we got?

Well, each of the machines appears in turn and offers up a selection of its sounds in both the dry and effected forms mentioned above. The tapes make uninspiring listening, but quickly demonstrate that someone has put a lot of time into assembling Drumtrax 1.

On the plus side, this tape does offer you the opportunity to assemble a finished drum section from the (many) sounds in the collection. And obviously, this assembly of sounds can be as eclectic as you wish - each sound can come from a different machine and have a completely different treatment applied to it. On top of this, many of the treatments are already in stereo, so your "drum kit" can be a complex beast. Because of this, Drumtrax 1 is a very cheap way of summoning up considerable drum machine and effects resources.

On the down side, the cassette version of Drumtrax 1 carries the hiss associated with all Compact Cassettes (negligible on DAT) but this is largely masked by the sounds themselves. Where a reverb unit or DDL will allow you to adjust, say, the speed of a repeat echo to suit the music, a sample with echo already on it will not. Neither will it let you adjust the decay time of reverberation or the depth of a phase.

But there are hidden advantages to the situation. Taking those sounds with echo, it is possible to create rhythms that use the echos while the sampler treats the sample as simple sounds - and makes them very manageable, therefore. Pitch shifting a sound will alter repeat rates (and reverb decays) along with the drum pitch; this is not a good way of recreating the sound of the original machine, but does offer access to the most extraordinary rhythm sections you can imagine.

Finally, the review copy of Drumtrax 1 was pre-release and didn't have any of the details necessary to help you navigate your way through a C90 full of bangs and crashes. I'm assuming (trusting) that the documentation will come up to scratch, otherwise organising a drum kit from so many options could rapidly become a nightmare. Given this, Drumtrax 1 is a cost-effective way of gaining access not only to the sounds of classic drum boxes, but to some potentially unusual sounds too. And even on DAT, the cost is more in line with hiring one of these relics than buying its sounds.

Prices £12.50 cassette tape; £25.00 DAT tape.

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Dr T's Tiger

Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Jun 1990

Feature by Tim Goodyer

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