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Wave Alchemy established a strong precedent with their Transistor Revolution MkII Kontakt instrument. It’s my go-to sample-based instrument for 808 and 909 sounds that approach (and in some cases exceed) the warmth of the real deal. They’ve completed the trilogy with their recent release of Revolution 606, a similarly styled Kontakt instrument based on the TR-606. This instrument convincingly captures the sizzle of the hats and the snap of the snare that made the original such an effective rhythm machine.
Exploring the Revolution
They’ve taken the successful elements of TRMkII (meticulous multi-sampling/round-robin mapping, sampling through quality outboard gear and converters, real-time MIDI controllable step sequencer, and tape saturation effects) and upped the ante with an improved sequencer (now 6 levels of velocity), and most importantly, the introduction of Character Styles. Character Styles use 12 different sets of samples that were processed through enviable outboard processing chains or classic digital samplers, rather than just applying some tepid Kontakt effects or bit reduction. Through these aggressive treatments they’ve created a 606 instrument with adjustable attitude for each sound. Want warm saturation on the toms, but crunchy SP-1200 edge on the hats? No problem. Since you can select a different Character Style on each sound, you can tailor the kit to your liking. If you prefer, you can select this parameter globally for quick auditioning of different flavors across the entire kit.
Adjust Character Styles and Voice Parameters
Grit and punch
Beyond the meticulous sampling and well-designed UI, the best thing about Revolution 606 is the Multi Track Tape Machine page of the Master Settings. Through controlling the balance between Input Drive and Tape Gain, I’ve finally managed to get the grit and punch that I get with my XOX drum machines into an analog console. This has been missing on all other sample sets I’ve used. Be careful though, there’s a sweet spot where you get the attitude and maintain the snap, but if you go overboard it can get muddy and indistinct.
The Multi Track Tape Machine
The original 606 was a great starting point but had some significant shortcomings, not the least of which was that your timbre shaping was limited to level and accent. By allowing adjustment of tuning, gate/decay, and noise, they’ve made the sounds orders of magnitude more useful.
The MIDI note controlled step sequencer is interesting, but operation is a bit clunky until you get used to it. It needs some MIDI commands to run and select sequences, so it’s awkward if you’re trying to write with just a mouse (though there are workarounds such as using an onscreen keyboard, or clicking on notes in your DAW.) It shines when controlled entirely by MIDI notes. Once you get familiar with the commands, you can quickly tap in, copy, and switch patterns, all while the sequencer is running. It’s similar to running an original TR machine in Tap mode.
Bass Drum Sequence
Sequencer Options indicate MIDI note functions
Unfortunately, it’s missing a global accent. The original hardware TR sequencer’s global accent is unique; it is different from just programming certain notes with different velocities. There are interactions between the sounds when a global accent is applied that open up another dimension to pattern creation. The ability to apply an accent pattern across all sounds, and perhaps slowly morph into that accent pattern, is one example of how this can be used creatively on the original machines.
The onboard reverbs and delays are passable but not terribly interesting. However, they can help when working quickly to generate ideas, especially when composing on the step sequencer in real time.
These shortcomings are relatively inconsequential compared to the quality of the instrument overall. Wave Alchemy is building a solid template for both capturing and improving upon classic drum machines, and I’m excited to put their latest installment into use.
Wave Alchemy provides a concise overview of the complete features here: http://www.wavealchemy.co.uk/revolution-606/pid156/
Wave Alchemy Revolution-606
Ease Of Use
It convincingly captures the sizzle of the hats and the snap of the snare that made the original such an effective rhythm machine.
Awesome sounding samples (& Tape Machine mode)
Solid Kontakt UI/scripting
Swing in the sequencer
Thoughtfully designed Live 9 Racks and Maschine Kits
Reverb and delay are nothing to write home about
No global accent
Sequencer timing chokes when adjusting eq or track mixer effects while it’s running
Deeper aspects can be a bit confusing at first.
Need full version of Kontakt 5