5Pin Media, the latest label of Loopmasters, wants to offer something special: unique and professional sounds, alongside with midi files that give you the basics for groovy rhythm and melodies. So far, this is nothing new: midi collections are present everywhere nowadays – so does Loopmasters once more prove its dominant position on the sample market? This test will tell…
Define the expectations
Tribal music is a widely present genre; still, talking about the electronic dance music scene, other styles are definitely more popular – an issue you also come across when searching for good tribal samples. There are a few collections out there (e. g. Vipzone) offering some nice loops where you simply need to throw on a kick and you’re done – but once you want to get really creative, the products already available may not be enough.
Not surprisingly, Loopmasters tried to take care of this: “Tribal Percussion” is a huge 1.9 GB collection. You have to choose hard amongst loads of single samples (kicks, effects, percussion, cymbals…), multi-sampled instruments (african drums, cajons, djembes…), a variety of loops thereof – and finally midis that spice up your track’s groove or at least offer some creative input.
Okay, let’s start with numbers all over the place: what do you get?
Midi: 22 groove templates, 521 loops for tribal drums – get creative mixing, cutting, realigning them!
Single samples: 1223 files to choose from – you better reserve some time for that
Multi samples: 27 instruments from african drums to udus – all you need is the feeling to play them right
Loops (126 bpm): 750 single-instrument and mixed-instruments files to quickly arrange the basic groove of your track or to simply add more top or bottom to your drumming
Is there something that makes this collection special? YES. For all who are new to the music production business, the 5pin guys took care of a detailled and easy-to-understand manual that helps you to install and use the patches with your sequencer and/or sampler of choice. Nicely, sampler files for Battery 3, Kontakt 3, Reason plus a Rex version are attached. All samples, midis and other file types are sorted carefully into folders which makes browsing for the right sound quite easy. Furthermore, all samples having a certain pitch provide this in their respective filename – nice!
To be honest, we prefer using loops in productions, as it speeds everything up. Furthermore, you can cut them, reverse them or do other crazy things to them and get a whole chain of effects quickly – this is the reason why we’ll focus on the loop part. But don’t you worry – you’ll also get information about “the rest” ;)
Well, as mentioned in the beginning, other products out there are more or less complex mixtures of tribal drums which simply need the kick of your choice and then walk the groove through the whole track. This is of course very fast and easy – and Tribal Percussion offers these kind of loops as well. Still, you might want to work a bit more on your own – maybe not arranging single samples all over the place, but at least having single instrument loops at your fingertips. And guess what? That’s also included – in fact it’s the major part of the loop section: you can either use little loop kits which keep you flexible in terms of arrangement but are already selected for sounds that harmonize with each other – or you are completely free to combine out of several hundred single instrument loops.
It could be just pure fun to play around with those loop samples, maybe adding some crazy vocal atmos to spice up the production even more – if there wasn’t a very annoying issue: except for the complex loops (remember, the ones that only need a kick on top), none seems to be well-cut. Dragging any of these loops into Cubase 5 (set to 126 bpm, as the sample pack states), they don’t cover a whole 2 or 4 bars, but end earlier. Hence, analyzing each loop in a separate audio editor shows clearly that loop length is perfect – and Cubase SX3 or Ableton Live as a comparison don’t see this problem. Something must be wrong with the tempo readout of Cubase 5, suggesting this is a Cubase 5 specific bug and cannot be blamed on 5pin. Anyway, a workaround for all Cubase 5 users: drag the loop into a sampler. We used Kontakt for this – and then it worked nicely.
Programming own grooves from the scratch can be hard work: you have to find samples that fit to each other, you have to carefully arrange each element in the stereo field, add some effects and much more. However, real groove needs one important thing: swing and shuffle. It’s a little magic function many sequencers offer – but you have to know how to use it the right way. You may try hard and see what comes out – our you just start with cool basic groove midis this sample pack delivers. Besides, midis come in handy as you can quickly cut, edit and rearrange them and thereby get lots of different patterns – and then you can try manifold samples on those midis. That’s really some help in case you’re desperately searching for a good starting point.
Sound quality please…
Let’s take care of the well-educated ears of music producers – what sound quality delivers this sample pack? Well, we’re glad this part is quickly done: the sound is truely nice. Smooth compression and crisp samples. That’s it. Nothing to complain. Vocals are artificially bitcrushed to a certain extend which fits perfectly to the Tribal genre and harmonizes with the drum samples.
Loving Tribal, you can’t be wrong choosing this product. To our knowledge there is no other collection out there thoughtfully covering many producers’ needs regarding this music genre – and no sample pack supports beginners of music production the way this product does. By the way, there is a dedicated Ableton Live version available. Still, one bad impression stays for Cubase 5 users: the lack of loops ready for drag’n'drop into the sequencer. However, this does not seem to be the fault of 5pin Media, so Loopmasters proved their name once more anyway – we’re especially excited what 5pin Media will offer in the future.