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02 June 2014

8DIO HYBRID TOOLS 3 Review | $249

If you've spent time auditioning the rapidly growing range of sample-based instruments created by 8Dio, you'll be in no doubt there's an emphasis on the cinematic. From deep-sampled orchestral instruments to the atmospheric, edgy timbres of modern devices, sampling stuff for soundtrackery appears to be the company's calling. And Hybrid Tools 3 is a 4.5GB Native Instruments Kontakt 4.2+ (full) collection of what the company does best.

It's the latest in a series of tools aimed at film-scoring professionals which, along with Hybrid Aura rhythm collections, is to be found at large in numerous screen-drama productions. However, the series is also a temptation for those engaged in composing cinematica - songs taking in progressive, modern metal and heavy-duty dance genres. And if you're wondering why MuzoBlog has not yet reported on HT1&2, patience is a virtue. But not when it comes to absorbing a small-screen taster of what to expect from HT3...

19 May 2014

TOONTRACK EZDRUMMER 2 Review | £99 / €139

Toontrack's newbie EZdrummer 2 has been looming large in the music-tech media for more than a month now, but then we did get our fingers on this latest incarnation of the Swedish dev’s leading, nay legendary, percussion suite in March. And has it ever encouraged a fest of finger-to-keyboard since.

Such pre-launch prestidigitation is a relatively common phenomenon known as 'Toontrack offers pre-release copies to the media on the understanding that reviews will appear at launch'. It certainly freshens the blood of tech journos as we clamber over each other trying to deliver a product review first.

Of course, the benefit of holding back from publication means one can to assess what it is that others have digested which, as it turns out, appears a satisfying concoction of meaty, beaty, skin-on plug-in (and yes, it’ll run stand-alone in the gratis Toontrack Solo).

Here's video of Toontrack's take on what wordsmiths have been rattling on about, offering some clue as to the consistency of their passages...

25 March 2014

ROB PAPEN BLUE-II Review | £109 / €137 / $179

Rob Papen's soft synth Blue-II comes nine years after its predecessor, which is a long time in polysynths. Stroll down the page for the instant thrill of audio demos, or stick around for sagacity, the least gaseous of which is a claim right here on MuzoBlog, which you are now reading, with your eyes, that Muneer Papen has coded a synth that will set cinematica alight. Or, at least, make it squirm inappropriately, as did the original Blue, but now with more digital stimulation thanks to enhanced hands-on control.

Sound-wise, Blue-II is more than capable of producing the sizzles, pungent flarps and bubbling bloops of EDM (if you can bear the term) in its many guises. Amid the more than 3,000 patches of the factory banks, there’s a wealth of techno/complextro/dubstep, brostep, naughtystep/blah - you name it. However, the synth looks set to become a must-have for movie soundtrackery, ambient weavings, new-age atmospheres and, oxymoronically, progressive.

06 March 2014

IZOTOPE BREAKTWEAKER Review | £165 / $249

Boston MA developer iZotope has forged quite a reputation for hitting the nail squarely on the head. On launch, its Ozone mastering suite received praise left and right for the wealth and quality of audio-enhancing modules presented, while audio-repair tool RX is an essential part of many a production pro's arsenal. However, the company also appears adept at devising shiny new hammers.

More elegant than a Birmingham screwdriver is Stutter Edit, a sample-stammering signal processor designed in association with 'name' DJ BT. And this 2014, hyped to the hilt prior to its unveiling at Winter NAMM, we've the latest BT collaboration, the aptly named BreakTweaker. Yep, it's for tweaking breaks, and does it ever.

06 December 2013


'Know Thy Tools'? Why would I want to know my tools when there's a lifetime's worth of instant gratification to be had from VST preset flipping? You don't have to learn what all those knobs on a plug-in do, yet end up with an aural aesthete's appreciation of sound. Well just hold on there.

One of the latest kids on the Minimoog emulation block is Native Instruments Monark and Al Swettenham over at Groove 3 has made it his mission to force your fingers onto aforementioned knobs until you've learned 'em good. Al is from the Union Jack side of the pond, but has a clear voice so I doubt Americans will have difficulty understanding the accompanying audio.

I recognise his voice from other Groove 3 videos and the training company is right to ask him back since, after a couple of vids, it's clear he's going to make the effort to explain things clearly.

One thing I do like is that Al is not afraid to grumble about things he finds exasperating, so this series doesn't sound like a slick product ad - you get a feeling that there's honest advice here.