With up to eight players and some very effective Groove Offset features for complex polyrhythms, Percussion Agent is an excellent addition to the team. Each groove offers five variations with increasing complexity, and you can fine-tune their sound with shuffle, tune, ambience, pan and volume controls. However, far more creative possibilities are offered by the Groove Offset controls, which let you shift the start time of individual instruments in eighth-note increments to create polyrhythms. Changing the groove offsets in real time creates all sorts of shifting rhythms, and the sounds are all well recorded. However, there are no accents or fills available (although sometimes these happened accidentally with the random buttons activated), and it would be handy to have an option to automatically mute the percussion parts when fills are triggered in the other Agents. I was also a little disappointed at the lack of more Classical percussion, such as timpani and orchestral drums, plus Eastern percussion such as Japanese Taiko drums, Chinese gongs, and so on, and since the Sample Import options only apply to Classic Agent there's no way to incorporate your own new percussion sounds.
Steinberg's Groove Agent 3 is an ambitious upgrade containing more styles than you can shake a stick at, plus an impressive new 'live' drummer and percussion grooves, but it does have a few teething troubles, and there are question marks over compatibility with some host applications.
BFD 3 contains seven new kits, a streamlined user interface, a faster audio engine, mix-ready presets, an improved groove engine, a rudiment tool, and tons of grooves played by famous drummers Steve Ferrone, Brooks Wackerman, Bobby Jarzombek, Peter Erskine & Stanton Moore.
In the Beats tab on the top right of the window you will find a variety of grooves where you can search stylized beats with their own set of variations. You can even place what drum part goes on what beat to get finely tuned results according to your composition. This is done in the grid search.
The Browser tab filters grooves into song structure formats, making it quick and easy to find grooves that are best suited for a verse, or for a chorus. The user is even able to create a folder and place their favorite grooves in there.
The sounds of the various drum kits are high-quality and can fit perfectly into your song, regardless of style. I find that the focus is on the grooves rather than building a custom kit sound, which works well for creating songs on the fly.
The Grooves tab has been enhanced for Super Drummer 3. It keeps all the features from EZdrummer 2 and improves the workflow by allowing multiple song tracks to audition several different grooves at once; combining the browser and search function in the same window; introducing a tempo and time signature editor within the song tracker; and also establishes the grid editor which works like a MIDI editor and allows you to move rhythms, quantize, adjust velocities, and edit CC data.
Native Instruments Studio Drummer features samples recorded on premium drum kits. The library focuses on incorporating an acoustic drum kit into your track along with mixing options and a large library of grooves with fills complementing styles including funk, rock, blues, indie and country.
The Stadium Kit brings the roomy sound of a premium recording room, the Studio Kit creates grooves with a smaller, dry studio sound and the Garage Kit boasts a dirtier, aggressive sound.
In the bottom of the interface window, you will see a tab called Grooves. Here you can sort and find the perfect groove for your session. The grooves are categorized in 11 different styles including pop, funk, jazz, hard rock, metal, blues & country, indie rock, and others. Selecting one of the styles will bring up a new window of grooves in various tempos and variations.
The swing parameter creates a simple and quick way of adding a jazzy or compound meter to your groove. The tempo parameter allows you to double and half the speed of your groove.
The drum samples were performed by professional drummer Derico Watson and produced by Grammy-winning producer, Kenny Barto. The library contains 5.26GB of content featuring 60 sound presets, 90 grooves with 10 variations each, with 58 acoustic samples and 80 electronic layering sounds.
It should be noted that grooves, beats and loops are terms used interchangeably within different drum libraries and refer to a pre-recorded drum groove that is usually editable in MIDI. The Groove Browser is where you can find and filter a drum groove that suits your music. You can audition the groove alongside your current recordings before easily dragging and dropping it into a MIDI file within your session.
In the Groove Browser window, you can select grooves that are categorized as smooth, tight, fat, dirty, special, or raw. You can select a tempo and double or half its speed, and also change the swing parameter if you need your beat to swing rather than be straight.
Groove Agent 4 is the ultimate drum studio and virtual drumming instrument for producers and songwriters working in any modern musical style. This unique instrument combines three specialist rhythm modules in one: craft dazzlingly authentic drum tracks, produce dancefloor-filling beats and design slinky percussive grooves with a dedicated Agent for each task; combine up to four Agents for a new experience in rhythm creation. Groove Agent 4 includes a huge sound library of over 22,000 samples and more than 3,800 patterns, a vast array of specialist editing tools, Style Player, the handy Jam mode, full integrated mixing board and much, much more.
Also on offer are a range of clever sonic tools, such as the Vintage and Turntable modes, which faithfully emulate the sound of 12-bit drum machines and give your sounds the gritty crunch of early hip hop samples. Combine this kind of intuitive music technology with the awe-inspiring library of over 100 kits and grooves for a full-on beat production system worthy of being a stand-alone application in its own right.
If you need to add extra flavor to drum tracks or beats created in the Acoustic or Beat Agents, or are composing music in genres which feature percussion as an integral part of their structure, look no further than the Percussion Agent. As its name suggests, this Agent is specialized in generating those percussive elements that can make a standard groove sound exceptional.
Percussion Agent includes a range of first-class percussion content and grooves with an extensive library of percussion instruments such as bongos, shakers, tambourines and congas. The library was recorded in pristine quality that captures the finest detail of every instrument, regardless of how fine or subtle its sound. Each sound is available in 16-bit and 24-bit versions.
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