Smart Loops

This set provides the tools to construct very realistic drum parts for a variety of common musical styles (including some fine reggae). Construct is the key word, because virtually all loops are one measure long; you won’t find long loops that “breathe.” What you will find is three thousand variations and fills, along
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This set provides the tools to construct very realistic drum parts for a variety of common musical styles (including some fine reggae). Construct is the key word, because virtually all loops are one measure long; you won’t find long loops that “breathe.” What you will find is three thousand variations and fills, along with one shots, spread over two CDs and repeated for three different kits — hence the six CDs. The kits are Acoustic (slight EQ/compression), Trap (“small/tight” with minimal processing), and Thunder (processed for a large, present sound). Recording quality is clean, acidization is great, and the timing is tight: Frank Basile is the kind of drummer who puts drum machines out of a job.

However, the details-oriented approach demands patience when putting together a completed part. An intelligent naming scheme helps sort through the loops, but even so, expect to do a lot of auditioning and dragging. Your reward is a very realistic part, with a human vibe that belies its sample CD origins . . . give this set to two different people, and they’ll likely come up with parts you might not think came from the same CD.

Bottom line: Pro Drum Works is not for casual, plug-and-play loopers, but for those willing to expend the effort to get a studio musician-quality part.

In addition to Pro Drum Works, Smart Loops offers several single CD-ROM loop collections: Dry Studio Kit, Bass Guitars, Electric Guitars, Phat to Phreaky (hip-hop/dance grooves), and Percussion Kit. Each comes in two versions — boxed with Acidized WAV, Apple Loops, and REX files ($59), or with the same files played at different tempos for non-stretching hosts ($39, order online). Both also have individual hits.

It seemed logical to review Percussion Kit as an adjunct to Pro Drum Works. The non-stretched version includes 306 one-measure loops (all offered at 95, 100, 115, 110, 115, and 120 BPM), along with 73 one-shot hits. However, the 100 BPM files are acidized, so this CD is really all you need for acid file-friendly programs.

There’s a good mix of “standard” and fill patterns so you can construct pretty complete parts. Instruments include agogo, tabla, bata, cabasa, timbales, guiro, wood block, bongos, clave, and many more.

The files aren’t normalized and recorded fairly low (and dry); they slide right into a mix, as percussion usually isn’t mixed too hot anyway. Overall, for percussion loops that do the job and play well with others, Percussion Kit is both very useful and cost-effective.