Loops, Samples, Kits!

It may be hard to believe now, but videogame consoles crashed and burned in 1983, when companies trying to cash in on the craze flooded the market with substandard games.
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The next generation of sound libraries has arrived

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It may be hard to believe now, but videogame consoles crashed and burned in 1983, when companies trying to cash in on the craze flooded the market with substandard games. But that was then, and this is now; these days, a new game in, say, the Mass Effect franchise gets the same kind of response that a new Beatles album received back in the ’60s.

Loop and sample libraries may be following the same kind of arc. When they first hit the world, people couldn’t snap them up fast enough. But frankly, quality wasn’t uniform, the bloom came off the rose, and a lot of companies went back to the drawing boards.

Now they’ve emerged with a new generation of sound libraries, and the timing is right. Part of it is the general downsizing in today’s economy—with a decent library, you really can produce a pretty good video soundtrack before the FedEx dropoff. But that’s not all. Dance music is (of course) a primary consumer of loops; however, as its various musical sub-genres mutate like drosophila on speed, there’s a constant quest for more exotic, boundary-pushing sounds. Even rock bands are getting into the act by adding a track of exotic percussion, or maybe some sampled parts to complement the “real” ones.

This roundup surveys the current soundscape, from traditional loop libraries and construction kits, to virtual instruments that think they’re loop libraries, to virtual “needledrop” music, to libraries that provide the sounds while you provide the playing—as well as some products that defy easy categorization.

The one bummer: We got more great stuff in for review than we had space to review it all in, and our publisher didn’t think it was such a hot idea to use 4-point type and include a magnifying glass with each issue. So we’ll be doing more coverage of sounds in the months ahead—while waiting eagerly to see what the sample librarians come up with next.

More from this Roundup:

Native Instruments Discovery Series: West Africa
Ueberschall Funk & Soul
Sony Charm
EastWest Ministry of Rock 2
Freshtone Samples Lost Tapes Vol. 1
Best Service K-Size Electro Edition
Big Fish Audio Pure Rock Hits
Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos
Sony Continental Drift Aftershocks
Yellow Tools Synth-Werk
Big Fish Audio RiG Urban Workstation