Today’s audio sample pack review is featuring two of Zero-G’s latest releases. One is Total Bass Drum (exclusively kick samples) and the other is Sensual Grooves (R&B construction kits). These two packs are on very different ends of the sample pack spectrum considering content, but are united in imminent musical usability. Bass Drums is for the micro variation level of sound design, featuring 10,750 different single-hit drum samples. Sensual Grooves is all about the macro creativity: the real power from this pack comes from the included 35 construction kits.
Total Bass Drums
Wait: What? is that correct? 10,750 different single-hit kick drum samples sounds like 100 times more kick samples than what comes in a standard kick drum pack. Well yes, it is correct. There is a heck of a lot of kick samples, and all of the samples I previewed were well-crafted kick drums! Zero-G provides copies in either .wav and .aiff files with the added bonus of providing instrument presets for REX2, Kontakt (requires 5.4.2+), EXS24, HALion, NNXT; the main reason for using a sampling instrument in this context is for using piano roll/midi keyboard for quickly auditioning and sculpting kicks to suit the sound you are looking for. If you already use those instruments, great, but these are raw audio files so no sampling instrument is necessary when the browser in your DAW previews the files. The raw audio files are organized by genre, which is, I think the best way to describe a kick sound and therefore the best way to organize kicks (or any sample/preset for that matter). Let’s look at the what this sample pack contains, by genre:
500 kicks each, in the following folders.
Club, Dance, Electro, Dub[step] Analog, Deep, Punchy & Deep, House, Tech House(just 250 kicks) Pop, Trance Hip Hop, Real [acoustic] Hard
…Plus a mega grab bag of layered and varied kicks labeled as ‘Mixed Kicks,’ 500 each from A-H. (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H) Because they are unlabeled, they don’t carry a stigma of a certain genre and therefore can be a spark of inspiration for those occasions when a producer is low on ideas and just needs to rummage around in a random collection of good sounds. These Mixed Kicks folders contain everything from minimal clicks to long trap kicks to ‘acousticy’ (‘acoustich?’), or even fx kicks.
Ok, so that’s a lot of content, but how is the quality of the samples? The kicks within a genre type have a similar pitchdrop and amp profile. So, they are both sorted appropriately and are usable in modern dance music. The samples showed their differences when I plugged in my SubPac and gave attention to the bass and sub bass frequencies. I found that kicks that had sounded nearly identical in the click and nock regions could be really different when sub bass is taken into account. I felt that the sub-bass for the kick samples correctly matched the genre types: the club type kicks were short and abrasive, the house style kicks were smooth.
Experienced producers will be correct in thinking that many options (10 000 kicks) is too many many options to effectively make music. The solution, in my opinion, is to frame a purchase of something like this, as an asset with a long life: you don’t need to use all those kicks right away. So instead, after downloading and going through some previews of the different folders you are going to select just 100 kicks to use in your productions, and archiving the rest. Take a random block of 60 from your primary genre, a random block of 20 from your secondary genre, and a random block of 20 from one of the Mixed Kicks folders. Archive the remaining files, and focus on learning and organizing the 100 kicks you have available. Once you have a good handle on that, dig into those archives and pull out another 100 kicks.
Although I often prefer the tweak and tunability of soft-synth kick instruments, sample packs like this one from Zero-G contain kicks that I would not ever make. This is how most modern producers collaborate and jam with other creative minds:..Although the author may be anonymous and the work is not directed to a specific project, accessing quality sample packs is a great way to use creative ideas from other producers. On that note, the samples contained in this pack are varied enough that it is evident that there were several minds creating content on this product: It does not sound like all the samples were made by the same person. This is a good thing.
This is a RnB sample pack of drums and instrumentation but without vocals. I have never had as much fun playing with construction kits as the ones contained in this product. They sound good and it’s fast and easy to get jams together. This sample pack is suitable for any vocalist, instrumentalist, or producer interested in creating or learning about R&B. Listening to the construction kits in Sensual Grooves gives the impression that the producers at Zero-G carefully referenced contemporary R&B with the intention of making engaging full-length tracks before refining them into a this simple and easy-to-use format.
Included for each of the 35 construction kits is a ‘Full Mix,’ which is essentially an instrumental mix that serves double-duty as a 30-45 second sample of the sounds contained in the kit (a real time-saver, trust me) and a loopable backing track. I enjoyed the ‘Full Mix’(s) enough to just let them loop for awhile and I can see how they might be a great starting point vocalists, or instrumentalists to riff over the track. Later, when it’s time to flush out your song, use the construction kit to get the exact parts you want for your track.
So what kinda R&B are we talking here? I feel like this pack focuses on the most timeless types of contemporary R&B: 70’s and 90’s soulful styles but with production techniques that are fully modernized to 2015 audio clarity standards. Besides drums, the main instrumentation comes from electric piano and guitar recordings, which sound like they were recorded by R&B specialists because all the nuances seem to be right on the money. I don’t know which electric piano(s) was used in making this sample pack, but it sure does sound good! I noted that the instrumentation is full-sounding and well layered, but there is still plenty of room to EQ in any voice over the mix (the samples are robust, but flexible). So…
Got an ‘I love you,’ song you wanna make? How about an ‘I love you but it hurts,’ or an ‘I’m gonna lay you down,’ or ‘Ooo when I lay you down,’ ‘ I think he/she’s the one’? Maybe even ‘You did me wrong,’ or even ‘Things are good today’? then there is construction kit for you in this sample pack.