Wave Alchemy Revolution Review – The Ultimate Act Of Drum Machine Fetishism

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For those producers in the know, bespoke, British sample tailers Wave Alchemy are considered to be amongst the very best. They have been dabbling for some time with the NI Kontakt platform as a way to deliver their excellent samples in the form of virtual instruments.

Revolution is basically a ‘best of’ Wave Alchemy’s drum machine-inspired catalog, putting together classic analog and digital units under one roof.

It has an allure that is impossible to resist. It blends perfectly with the updated Kontakt GUI  to create a sleek, post-modern blend of 80’s pulp consumerism and ultra high stakes nerd-math – 2017 style.

You see, it’s always a risk to revisit the past in the world of software. Especially when the past was done perfectly. But this is why you have to love Wave Alchemy.
It begins with an aesthetic proclamation of respect towards the subject matter. Revolution is gorgeous. A simple yet heavily featured GUI that offers surprises and layers at every turn yet never confuses with over complexity. It doffs it’s hat to the gaudy logo’s, colorways and functions of fourteen, classic drum machines yet stands tall as a unique and exciting instrument unto itself.

What drum machines are on board?

I’ll keep it simple – here’s the list: 808, 909, 606, 707, 727, 505, CR-78, CR-8000, Linndrum, Drumtraks, Drumulator, OB-DX, SP-12. Boom. It doesn’t get much more vital that that.

These are the game-changing units and they’re all here. The 1000’s of samples that comprise this instrument were recorded in the usual Wave Alchemy fashion – through Neve and API preamps using ‘mastering grade’ converters in order to imbue them with a little of that extra analog magic.

When using deeply sampled drums within a fully-featured sampler like Kontakt you are able to really explore the nuances of an instrument. Revolution features full round-robin capability which ensures diversity in the sound by never repeating the same sample twice in a row. This makes for extreme realism.

So, what does it sound like?

Revolution is one of the few virtual instruments that actually lives up to its promise. Every sample-set is perfectly recorded and mixed and I honestly don’t think it would be possible to tell Revolution apart from the original boxes. But that’s not really the point.

The FX

Each of the fourteen separate drum lanes features four, individual sends, with DLY2 and RVB2 available by clicking on the name DLY1 and REV1 directly under the respective knobs.

BB Revolution Sends

with 160 carefully chosen reverb impulses recorded from classic gear so easily piped through to the mixer it’s incredibly easy to create the perfect ambience for your kit. I say carefully chosen because Wave Alchemy are using impulse responses that they recorded in studios and from classic verb units.

This means that you can maintain the level of realism throughout your effects chain by using gear that would normally be associated with the time period. My favorite here is the revered AMS RMX16 which sounds incredible. You can use it in non-linear mode for a really stylized, 80’s wetness (very savage indeed) or, in Ambience mode for just that. Either way the results are stunning, occasionally luring you into over-use.

BB Revolution RMX 16 Verb

The insert effects 

This part of Revolution truly holds the key to both its versatility but also the ease with which you create a wall of character sound design that is perfectly suited to your track.

The SHAPER is the module that will make a kit or sound your own. It has to be said that the TAPE DRV and TAPE HEAT are truly capable of shaping the sound in a way that might take you an entire chain of saturators, compressors and EQs to get right. This is how it’s done. Simple. Effective. Mind blowing.

Sequencing

The primary use of Revolution is its 32-step multi-track sequencer, accessible through the SEQ button on the bottom left of the interface.

BB Revolution Global SQ

though there is also a very easy, Roland TR-style step-sequencer in pride of place on the GUI

BB Revolution SQ

with full accent control, host sync, swing/shuffle and MIDI input.

BB Revolution Swing

The main sequencer is a lot of fun to use and as with all the features on Revolution really utilizes a computer’s modifier keys to great effect. You can input note and adjust their velocity with a simple mouse click and/or drag. How ever if you just click on the drum lane with OPTION held down you can cycle through voice-consistent patterns for that drum with SHIFT OPTION randomizing that lane completely – a seriously fast way to gain traction when building a drum track!

With a multitude of copy/paste options, intelligent choke groups, sequencer slop/flamming control and the ability to drag MIDI into your DAW directly from Revolution’s interface, 100’s of presets and multiple versions of each drum kit including tape and analog versions, Wave Alchemy have a genre busting tool on their hands.

BB Revolution MIDI Drop

Conclusion

This is one of the most functional and creative software drum machines we’ve ever reviewed here at ANR and it remains to be seen whether WA will embroider upon it in the future – perhaps adding extra drum machine expansions?
I love using Revolution and I would hate to think that this exciting and creative machine wouldn’t be able to grow with me –  as to really get the best from it does demand a certain degree of commitment from the user, thanks to the steep learning curve and extensive implementation of key commands.

Price and Availability

Revolution is currently on sale (20% off!)- £119.96 (reg. price £149.95)
The introductory offer ends 19 Jan 2017.

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