Billed as "Abbey Road In A Box" (say, that phrase rings a tubular bell somewhere ...), in a nutshell, these are all beautiful recorded instruments, which Propellerhead wisely includes in both 24 and 16-bit samples. The instructions included with the two DVD set suggest using the more traditional 16-bit samples for laying down tracks, and then switch to the larger, more detailed 24-bit versions for the final mixdown. That’s a wise plan, as these 24-bit samples can load slowly and clog the RAM of even a fast PC. But boy, do they sound good.
Vital Drums: Musical Building Blocks
Propellerhead’s Abbey Road Keyboards will obviously appeal to those who wish to add a touch of the Fab Four to their recordings, and to add the final gloss to their productions with a variety of beautiful, and occasionally exotic traditional keyboards. In contrast, the loops contained within Sony’s new Vital Drums: The Vitale Collection are the building blocks of rock music.
Traditionally, drums have been amongst the most important instruments in all forms of modern pop music, and simultaneously have long been the weak link of home recording. Most songwriters play guitar or keyboards-or both-so one way or another, they can also play bass, whether it’s a Fender electric bass or synthesized on a keyboard. But drumming requires its own skills — it takes years of practice to serviceably coordinate all four limbs in time. And while guitarists and keyboardists can record their instruments quietly with headphones and practice amps, recording a full drum kit at three or four in the morning rarely makes your neighbors happy!
Beginning in the early 1980s, drum machines proved to be one solution. But the first drum machines were thin and pathetic sounding compared to a traditional acoustic kit. Used deliberately as an effect, as Phil Collins famously did at the start of "In The Air Tonight", they could be extremely effective, especially in contrast to well-recorded real drums. And while drum machines have made remarkable strides, it’s still tough to avoid a mechanical-sounding rhythm track.
While Sonic Foundry’s Acid Loops, a brand now owned by Sony, have recorded collections containing just about every key rock, pop and jazz instrument, some of their best collections have focused on drums and percussion.
To record these CD-ROMs (and lately, DVD-ROMs), a professional drummer is brought into the recording studio, and perform a variety of patterns and styles. His recordings are then cut into one or two bar patterns as Acid loops, the tempos of which will sync perfectly to any recording program compatible with Acid loops.