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Audio Spillage DrumSpillage Review At Resident Advisor

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Beat-making is such an essential part of music production, irrespective of the genre you favour, that it is no surprise that the market is saturated with drum plug-ins of one type or other. Native Instruments' Maschine and Battery products, BFD and Superior Drummer's libraries of multi-sampled "real" kits and Spectrasonics' Stylus RMX represent the tip of the iceberg, as the list of options goes on long after the beats themselves have stopped.

The majority of drum libraries are precisely that; libraries which are stocked with sampled hits to allow you to configure your own construction kits. It's more rare to find a product whose sound sources are created entirely in the electronic domain. Roger Linn and Dave Smith's forthcoming Tempest drum machine is due in the summer and follows this path, but if anticipation is proving too much and you're running a Mac system hosting AU plug-ins, read on. DrumSpillage is a 64-bit plug-in made by AudioSpillage and while this name might be less familiar than some of those listed above, it certainly deserves to deflect some attention away from the big boys. The plug-in has been available for over a year but refinements have kept coming, with DrumSpillage becoming more appealing with each new set of developments.

The plug-in offers two views, the first of which is a rather dark, imposing set of 16 pads. From the off, these all generate their own sounds, which are mapped from C1 upwards. Each is untitled in this default kit and the initial visual impression isn't great, as the interface is dark and brooding. Each pad can be triggered directly from the interface and is flanked by four buttons to the left, volume and pan sliders to the left and right and hard-to-see solo and "function" buttons above. The blue on black livery isn't the most welcoming either but, if you can see beyond these first impressions, DrumSpillage quickly begins to offer its sonic personality.

The "function" button offers a drop-down menu, the two most important commands within which allow you to load a sound for each pad from DrumSpillage's own Factory library, or jump into Edit mode, of which more shortly. Staying on the "pad" page, the four buttons to the left of each pad offer general edit parameters. These include setting root note and key ranges for each pad (so sounds can overlap or remain limited to one key), changing envelope attack and release via an X-Y axis and switching on global modules for the synth engine which lies behind each pad.

This button offers the first clue to DrumSpillage's true synth engine, which can be explored in greater depth by clicking the pad edit button above the pads in the top-left hand corner. This shows the electronic heart of each pad sound, with a modular synth engine available to each. Firstly, you choose a "model" for each pad, which is the algorithm which controls the pad's behaviour. Some of these model the physical properties of real drums, while others are more electronic in nature and there are 13 in total from which to choose.

Once you've chosen a model, the second panel of DrumSpillage's editor provides you with its relevant sliders. Some models feature more regular oscillators with shape and blend dials, while others rely principally on noise generation, with the latter split between pink/white noise and two flavours of crunchy lo-fi. There isn't enough space here to describe each in depth but suffice to say that each model presents its own unique sound and, of course, you don't need to match each one's name to the instrument type you're making; the rewards here lie in experimentation.

Beneath this upper panel, three Envelopes and four LFOs share one part of the screen space in the middle bottom sector of DrumSpillage, so you click first to select one or the other, before using drop-down menus to pick the specific envelope or LFO you want. Both of these modulation sources are more flexible than they first appear as both can be set "free" values or clocked to tempo. This might be more common for LFOs, but the fact that the Attack, Decay and Release portions of each envelope can be independently switched and then assigned a value relevant to your track's BPM is wonderful. 

Similarly, the Filter and Distortion sections fill up the bottom right hand corner. There are four filter types, 12 or 24dB roll-off and variable Q for each and LFO-routing possibilities. Six distortion algorithms offer warm saturation through to various stages of full decimation, with parameter controls including Filtering and Damping. The Accent Editor allows you to set a MIDI threshold above which an accent strength of your choice can be applied to each note, which increases the sonic possibilities yet further. 

For those who take sound design as seriously as they do the other electronic aspects of their mix, I don't see how DrumSpillage can fail to impress you. True, you have to look a little more carefully than you might like, through an interface which doesn't do the powerful engine lurking behind each sound too many favours. Even the structure of the sound engine isn't as clear as it might be but patience is rewarded through an instrument which is capable of designing an almost infinite array of electronic drum sounds and more besides. Obviously, as synthesis is at the root of each sound, pitched, synth-like sounds can be constructed as readily as drum and percussive ones. 

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Original Source - Resident Advisor

 

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