Hip Hop Producer bundles the Analog Factory Hip Hop soft synth, Ableton Live 8 Lite Arturia Edition, Applied Acoustic Systems'' Lounge Lizard Session, and the ModernBeats Hip Hop Drums sample/loop collection.
Hip Hop Producer ($99), the new urban-themed software bundle from Arturia, gathers four key production tools needed to build the necessary components of hip-hop together into a single box for a reasonably low price. It combines a streamlined version of the company''s Analog Factory Hip Hop soft synth with Ableton Live 8 Lite Arturia Edition, Applied Acoustic Systems'' Lounge Lizard Session, and the Hip Hop Drums sample/loop collection from ModernBeats. Between big analog synths, hot beat loops and construction kits, realistic electric piano, and the remixing capabilities of Ableton, this pack leaves few stones left unturned for the aspiring hip-hop creator.
IN THE FACTORY
Arturia''s Analog Factory is really the focus of the package, though getting an upgradeable entry into the Ableton world is also a big draw at this price point. As usual, the Arturia synths look and sound great. This Hip Hop edition is appropriately gold-tipped and comes preset with 250 patches from the full version''s arsenal, hand-picked to be relevant to a wide range of hip-hop styles. The synth tones are noticeably smoother and more alias-free than most soft synths, and they have a quality that somehow cuts right through the densest of mixes. The engine is a hybrid from Arturia''s collection of re-created vintage synthesizers (including its Minimoog V, ARP2600 V, Moog Modular V, and CS-80V). The interface is streamlined to include only Filter, LFO, FX, Envelope, and Volume, plus eight snapshot knobs, which I found to be immensely useful to mark cool tones for later use without stopping the knob twiddling. The preset system is surprisingly fast and convenient; filtering by CPU usage is something I didn''t expect to use, but now I wish all my plug-ins would offer.
Lounge Lizard Session is an electric piano simulator that does an impressive job in re-creating the nuances of real Rhodes and Wurlitzer EPs using modeling rather than sample banks. Although the Session version doesn''t offer the Fork/Tine/Mallet controls of the full version, the engine is the same and so are the sounds. It operates with a much lower hit to the host processor and greater polyphony/instances than sample-based methods. Also, dynamic shifts are smoother because there are no velocity layers. Both Lounge Lizard and Analog Factory also offer standalone versions for use in performances where the CPU power needed to run the host is unnecessary. Lounge Lizard is basically the same as Electric, the AAS-designed Ableton instrument that comes with the complete Live 8 Suite and is also sold separately as an add-on (not included in this version of Live Lite). It isn''t the real thing, but it certainly sounds convincing enough, especially in heavily limited hip-hop mixes.
WE GOT THE BEAT
The included beats library is relatively impressive considering the low price tag; it includes a wide array of preset drum kits ready for use inside Ableton—including detailed beatbox kits, vinyl scratch kits, clap kits, and specific drum kits in the styles of some of the most successful hip-hop producers (such as Dr. Dre, The Neptunes, Just Blaze, and the KeeMaster). There is also a wide array of sampled drum machines, and all the kits are set up using Ableton''s Drum Racks so it''s easy to surf through the well-made patches but just as quick to create your own mix-and-match kits. There are also more than 1,200 music loops, most of which sound great and can really help get a mix started quickly.
The package''s main production hub is Ableton Live 8 Lite (Arturia Edition), the all-in-one production/performance/remix/editor/sequencer software designed for creating and performing modern musical styles. The Lite version offers capped numbers of Scenes, Tracks, and Effects, and it is missing a few of the really great effects and software instruments compared to the full version. Otherwise, it contains all the advantages of working with Live''s Clip view and offers the creative tools needed to craft hip-hop of any variety. It''s easy to mix and match beats, kits, loops, and synths, and then create arrangements, sequence, automate, and mix songs down. Afterward, you can use Live again to perform the songs, either whole or in pieces. Though it isn''t the full version, it still offers all the advantages of how the software works. Once registered, users can choose to purchase a discounted upgrade from Ableton''s website to Live Intro (the medium level), regular Live, or the full Live Suite.
Together, the four ingredients bring all the necessary components to making great hip-hop—with the obvious exception of great talent, something that money cannot buy.
Overall rating (1 through 5): 3