The soundware label of James Wiltshire of the Freemasons, F9 Audio are promising a new range of soundware called Drumtrax that, rather than simply producing a range of loops and one-shots, takes a more unique approach to the distribution of drum content. Each Drumtrax library contains the drum tracks from eight songs. The songs are presented in two ways: a small and simple drum-stems project and a larger project that contains an entire arrangement of drum parts, mapped out like a finished track. Each volume comes pre-formatted for either Logic, Ableton or WAV. Volume 1 covers the 118-122 bpm tempo range whilst Volume 2 covers 124-128 bpm. The sample library is not only produced and mixed by James, the content has also been professionally mastered by WiredMasters with the same attention to detail usually found in commercial productions.
After opening the sample pack I couldn’t resist getting straight into loading the full arrangements of each of the eight bundled projects. Each project was quick to audition, taking approximately one second to load on my SSD-equipped MacBook Pro. The projects demonstrate a wonderful attention to detail and do literally contain an entire arrangement, complete with intros, breakdowns, builds and drops. Opening a Drumtrax project feels more like being given the drum stems from a commercial track than using any sample pack I am used to.
Sonically each of the eight Logic projects are a revelation, everything is beautifully mixed and lives up to the creator’s description. In one sense it feels like cheating having this much work done for you, but it’s also hugely liberating and inspiring to open a full arrangement and begin to write a song with it. James has also taken the time to structure and label everything clearly, so it is easy to navigate and copy and paste different sections within the arrangement. After playing with the larger projects, the smaller stem projects felt like a minor backward step. I can see why they may be useful, however, I can’t imagine myself opening anything other than the full-blown projects as they are just so much more exciting.
The sample packs also contain a useful selection of other content such as ESX24 sampler instruments that contain the individual drum samples. These are a carefully curated selection, rather than an exhaustive library of single hits. I found it a little strange that the drum samples aren’t set up to play as one-shots, but this is easily changed. To add further flexibility to the pack it also includes a collection of Apple Loops and REX files of the different drum parts.
The drum content is easily comparable to the best material out there, but it’s the large arrangements that really take F9 Audio to the next level. James’s arrangements are both useful and educational and any less experienced programmer could learn a lot from just going through these projects. These two libraries are so good that I still can’t quite believe that James is allowing people access to this quality for the price. Highly recommended! Geoff Smith