The Edit panel lets you control individual aspects of the active drum kit, such as volume, pan, and ambience (featuring Steinberg's RealAmbience technology). It also lets you swap out parts of different kits to build your own.DOUBLE AGENTGroove Agent 3 introduces Dual mode, which integrates Groove Agent with the new Special Agent and Percussion Agent modules. In Dual mode, the interface is split in two, and any of the three modules can occupy the upper and lower slots. A control strip runs between the two, allowing you to start and stop either module (together or separately) and balance the mix between the two (see Web Clip 2).Special Agent shares many features with Groove Agent, such as the Complexity Slider, Auto Fill, and Random buttons, but all patterns — as opposed to individual hits — are recorded live, and they have the unmistakable expressiveness of live performances. The samples are sliced so that the tempo and many other properties can be altered in the same way as with Groove Agent (within a reasonable threshold). You can even load your own sounds into Special Agent.Percussion Agent lets you orchestrate up to eight voices of shakers, bells, sticks, cajóns, and other hand-held acoustic instruments into rich arrangements. In Percussion Agent, complexity is reduced to five levels, but that's per voice, for a generous range of textures. A Groove Offset feature changes the accented beat for each voice, further increasing the possibilities. Finally, a per-voice Random button enhances the “happy accident” factor.SEIZE THE MOMENTThe Groove Agent module can produce audio or editable MIDI tracks, but for the latter you'll need a host that can receive MIDI input from a plug-in, such as Steinberg Cubase SX or later or Cakewalk Sonar. Special Agent and Percussion Agent can output audio only. All three modules' parameters can also be controlled by external MIDI control messages.Overall, Groove Agent 3 offers some significant improvements over past versions and is a very useful tool for drum track creation.Value (1 through 5): 4
Web Clips: Hear audio examples from Groove Agent 3.01.
Steinberg''s Groove Agent 3.01 is a VST instrument that triggers countless rhythms with uncanny versatility.
Unless you have the luxury of bringing in a session drummer every time you need a drum track recorded, you might want to consider a more practical alternative: virtual drummer software. A prime example is Steinberg's Groove Agent 3 ($249.99, upgrade pricing also available), a VST plug-in instrument that generates drum grooves that can be output through a choice of sampled kits or as MIDI files.
Groove Agent 3 also supports DXi and AU formats and can run standalone or as a ReWire slave. The latest version adds 27 new styles (for a total of 123), the ability to import user-created sounds, 2 new audio-only modules dubbed Special Agent (featuring recorded drum performances from Rasmus Kihlberg) and Percussion Agent (containing recorded percussion grooves), a built-in compressor and EQ, and a few new features that enhance the spontaneity, if not the soul, of this versatile virtual drummer.
GETTING THE GROOVE
The main screen of Groove Agent 3 has an uncluttered, intuitive interface. If you need to access its deeper editing features, you can do so with a single click. In previous versions, styles were organized chronologically, which could be daunting for the nonhistorian. In version 3, styles are organized into 15 genres, accessible with a slider that controls both style and kit (you can use any kit with any style). Alternatively, you can select styles and kits from a menu, which can sometimes be faster. Settings can be stored as Memories and recalled with the click of a button, even mid-measure. The first time Groove Agent loads a kit or style, it takes a few seconds, but after that, it's much faster because it's loaded into RAM.
You can choose from a wide range of variations on the same style using a 25-level Complexity Slider, which controls the intricacy of both the main pattern as well as the fill, together or separately. The first five levels of complexity provide basic grooves that are perfect for intros or vamps. The middle 15 offer a range of increasingly intricate patterns, and the last five sound a bit out of control. Because you can use any type of fill with any type of pattern, you can generate a good variety of grooves, from the straight-ahead to the downright zany. The Random button picks a different complexity level every measure (within four steps of your current level), and combined with the new Auto Fill function (which plays a fill every 2, 4, 8, 12, or 16 measures), it makes for some very fluid, interesting, and sometimes surprising patterns. Because Groove Agent 3 supports alternating (about three or four alternate samples per hit), patterns have a more natural sound than if each hit called up the exact same sound (see Web Clip 1).