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Steinberg Backbone

Drum Re-synthesizer Software By John Walden
Published March 2021

Steinberg Backbone

Drum re‑synthesizer instrument or sound designer’s new best friend?

Steinberg’s latest addition to their virtual instrument line, Backbone, launched with a tagline of ‘drum re‑synthesizer’ that would undoubtedly get the attention of electronic music makers. However, while the title suggests that the design and playback of drum sounds might have been the over‑arching intention is Backbone’s development, fundamentally, it is an environment within which multiple audio samples can be combined, layered, re‑synthesized, processed and then played. In short, exactly the kind of software instrument that might appeal to cinematic or game audio sound designers and not just beat creators. So, is there more to Backbone than creating drum sounds? Let’s find out...

Putting Flesh On

In essence, Backbone is a layer‑based sampler environment for creating new sounds. A Backbone preset is built from up to eight layers (samples) and the instrument is supplied with around 2GB of sample content, presets and layer presets to get you started. These include lots of drum and percussion‑based options but, equally, plenty of other possibilities that make it clear Backbone is about much more than drums. Playback can be monophonic or polyphonic and you get to define all the usual pitch‑bend, key‑range and glide parameters.

You can, of course, also import your own samples into Backbone and export your new sample creations for use elsewhere (for example, by dragging and dropping to an audio track) or play them directly from within Backbone. The playback engine provides plenty of opportunities to modulate properties in any/all layers via MIDI velocity, MIDI note (key follow), envelopes and parameter automation (there is a comprehensive MIDI Learn system) for adding performance expression to your sounds.

While obviously running...

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Published March 2021