The XX-Large series contain some fifteen or so titles and have something of a reputation of providing good value packages, with a ton of samples, most of their drumloop CD's contain over a 1000 loops, but perhaps suffering a little in the quantity versus quality argument. Certainly in the quantity stakes this offering is up to scratch.
There is no indication of the producer of the sounds, or their source, and I suspect that by the lack of such phrases as "unique", "original", "fresh", "new", "raw" etc. type phrases anywhere that these loops have been culled from other XX Large series CD's. However I suspect that to the target audience this package is aimed at this won't be an issue, for most it will be the software that is the key attraction.
I'm unsure if I have a pre-release version of the package or not, I'm checking, but do have to say that documentation wise this has to be the CD/software package with the least ever. There is none at all !, well not strictly true, once you've installed the software there is a HTML user guide. (Which tells you how to install it !) You can view a copy here by the way as Best Service have it on their web site. But otherwise the inlay card is blank and upon inserting the CD there is just one visible file a setup.exe, no autorun, no readme, nothing at all. OK to be fair it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out double clicking on the setup file will do something useful, but certainly something should have been included to help the uninitiated.
On another note the online help indicates that http://www.reloop.de will offer some more help, information and so forth, but at the time of writing (October 1999), there is nothing there. Whilst we're on the subject of web based glitches the software on the CD is version 1.2, whilst on the Best Service web site the demo version on offer is version 1.4, but there is no indication of an upgrade to the 1.2 (or earlier versions). Perhaps the demo version is an upgrade to, but wasn't tempted to download the fairly hefty file to find out. Best Service please take note !
Anyway, gripe over. Installation is painless and the program only takes a few megabytes of space. Once done one can read the online help to find out how to use the program, but to be honest it is very straightforward and anyone with a little computer experience will be up and running in no time at all.
Loop RemixerThe colourful interface is basically divided up into three parts.
There are two "machines", each of which is exactly the same and is designed to manipulate a sample independently. The third section offers global controls for Start/Stop, bank switching, mix volumes and tempo.
To get going you simply load a loop in to either or both machines, hit play and away you go, the loop loops indefinitely while you play around with it, if you have two loops loaded you can play both and they will be combined at the tempo/BPM selected and you can alter the relative volumes of each in the mix section.
What happens when you load a loop is that the machine divides it up into 16 (or 32, though you can't mix two loops in 32 part mode) equal fixed length components, each then numbered from 1-16 and for each component you can control the Volume, Stereo Position and if it plays forwards or backwards. The fun part though comes in being easily able to alter the position too, so you can move the 1st beat to the 3rd position, repeat the second beat twice etc, To help you quickly and easily manipulate loops the sixteen components are grouped into fours and there are six variations, in each group of four, that you can quickly select from drop down menus.
In use it really does work surprisingly well, there is a distinct lack of clicks where the divisions of the loop occur and in no time you can produce a number of variations of a basic loop, which you can either export as one file or 16 individual samples. Depending on your basic loop it is very easy to produce fills and cross over loops, many variations won't work of course depending on the construction of your original loop, but with a little effort it's very straightforward to take a loop that "sounds like a good basis for a track" and produce the variations that can actually work to make it into a complete track.
For more creative possibilities you can mix two loops together, this works well with a main loop and a lighter loop that you can drop in an out, for example a conga or table loop. This can also can be used to tempo match loops. Though a word of warning that extreme tempo changes don't work particularly well where glitches start to occur.
Software wise that's about it, very straightforward and very usable. Probably the only thing I would have liked to see is being able to input an exact BPM rather than just integers, just in case your trying to match to something that isn't exact.
There is other software that does this kind of thing, ReCycle from Steinberg being the obvious and most well known one, but also programs like Wave Surgeon and XRazor. Though Loop remixer is somewhat different in that there is no analysis (or little) of the loop in question, just fixed length divisions. However the key benefit is the easy mixing up of the components of the loop, in ReCycle this can be a pain for example, though easier once you get the material in to a sequencer. However at this point your talking a fairly serious set up.
Re Loop retails for the standard full price sample CD price of UKP 60 or equivalent, ReCycle sells for around UKP 180, Wave Surgeon for around UKP 30. Whilst if you've the funds certainly ReCycle is more sophisticated, but around triple the price and you don't get the bundled sounds. So you pay your money and take your choice.
Before you look on the CD itself the contents of the sounds themselves will remain a mystery. However a quick look at the folder names gives you an idea and culled from the Best Service web site is this list.
As you'll see three of the most popular dance genres, hip hop, house and drum'n' bass are mainly catered for. Many of the loops are presented in several variations, so you don't get quite the number of unique loops that the numbers might indicate. I suppose its rather a contradiction to have loop variations with software that produces them ad infinitum.
I won't go into too much detail on the sounds, if the software is of some appeal then the sounds are a part of the package that will enable you to get started. If you think that the software isn't of interest then your probably better off going for a more specialist loops CD in the genre that your interested in, either from the XX Large range itself or elsewhere. The sounds are of a high standard technically if a little wide spread, uninspiring and straightforward compared to some specialist loops collections.
This is a very interesting release, for loops that fit the standard 4/4 time structure it works excellently and can produce loop variations from a basic loop quickly and seamlessly. This together with the ability to mix two loops together to produce an infinite variety of loops should keep people occupied for some time with the sounds provided. As the program works equally well with loops from other sources it doesn't become redundant as your sound collection expands.
This release will probably appeal mainly to people just beginning to get into music production on their computers, if you already have a comprehensive software and sound set up then this probably isn't the release for you. However if your just starting out and looking to expand your horizons then this could well be ideal, it'll provide a large pool of loops to start from plus a mechanism to take a loop to produce some variety to add interest to your tracks.
ReLoop is distributed by Time & Space, click here to visit their website.
Time & Space, PO Box 4, Okehampton, Devon,
EX20 2YL, England