Modern House Beats is a slightly different take on the usual downloadable sample packs I'm asked to review, as it is as focused on MIDI files as it is on sounds. What 5Pin Media have done, rather than just give finished beat loops, is include all the MIDI data and individual hits allowing much more freedom over tempo, patterns and editing within your DAW.
Each of the 12 kits within the pack contains eight different MIDI grooves and a soft sampler patch with all the appropriate samples for use with all the main software/drum sampler suspects: Battery, Kontakt, Live 8 Drum Racks, Maschine, NNXT, EXS24 and SFZ. In addition Maschine and Live 8 users get the full spread of kits in project form.
Each MIDI file contains a two bar drum loop set out in its own MIDI map which ties into the accompanying sampler patch and samples. A quick look at the MIDI files shows some pleasingly solid drum programming. Patterns are tightly written, containing layering of hits and some effective use of velocity to inject some groove, especially in the hi-hats/shakers. Style wise everything is authentic sounding, tending to cover a broad overview of house basics rather than straying into one of the many sub-genres. If I had to nit-pick I would possibly like a few more of the minor percussive elements to have just a little more swing and groove to them, but really the patterns are bang on genre.
As well as good patterns, a collection like this lives or dies on the quality of its drum hits. I was happy to find that each kit's selection of 10-14 drum samples is also very good. The kicks are deep but punchy with the right amount of weight whilst the snares and claps are crisp and clear. Hi-hats, shakers and the usual dance percussion elements are all present and correct, as well as some more unusual percussive elements and some excellent bass tones and chord stabs. The quality of sounds is top notch and bang on the modern house style.
To finish the collection off there is a selection of 20 melodic WAV loops (with full bpm and key info) that were taken from the pack's demo and some bonus MIDI groove templates.
The one element of this whole collection I'm still slightly unsure about is the question of value for money. Does 12 kits (plus one bonus downloadable kit) containing a total of 156 samples and 96 MIDI files for a shade under 20 quidthis price constitute good value? I guess you'll have to answer that one yourself, but be assured the 12 kits of sounds and patterns that are included here are very well put together.
I liked the merging of MIDI files and drum kits that this pack brings to the table, what it loses in the immediacy of sampled loops it gains in the flexibility of being able to change the tempo or tweak/chop and change parts of each rhythm track to tailor it to your own needs.
If you need beats in the current house style and want a bit more control than dealing with fixed audio loops, Modern House Styles is well worth checking out. Oli Bell