Rating: **** 4/5 Stars
Co‑developed by Berlin‑based Andre Abshagen of Soundtrax and UK sound designers Sub51, Drop Pad is a four‑layer, sample‑based Kontakt playback instrument (full version required) that comes with a sample library in excess of 900MB, but which also supports the drag‑and‑drop import of the user’s own WAV files. The samples are organised into Arps, Bass Loops, Drum Loops, Pads, Raw Textures, Rhythmic, Soundscape, Spoken Word (heavily processed speech) Strings and Synth waveforms, with over 140 ready‑made Snapshots.
A key feature is the use of modulation to dynamically vary the balance of the four parts and also to add movement to other parameters, such as the filters and effects. This allows for the creation of sounds that constantly evolve, shift or pulse in an organic way. Relevant modulation parameters can be sync’ed to DAW tempo as can rhythm loops, and there’s selected mapping for NI’s Komplete Kontrol.
Drop Pad’s GUI comprises separate Main, Edit, Mod and FX windows, Main’s four square pads each hosting a sample and showing a waveform display. Its Morph section modulates the balance of the four samples, either via LFO or by recording the X/Y cursor movement. Activating TM Pro mode preserves timing at different playback pitches. Edit hosts the four ADSR envelopes, playback speed, coarse and fine tuning, looping and sample start point controls. There’s also a sync’able arpeggiator.
Mod provides band‑pass, low‑pass and high‑pass filters, each of which may be assigned to any permutation of the four sample pads with functions to modulate the frequency and resonance of each filter. The FX section offers seven effects types and again comes with modulation capabilities, where two sets of effects parameters can be modulated at a time.
The included sound library, though small on drive space, includes many impressive textures and some excellent rhythmic loops that would be worth the price of admission alone. Drag and drop works smoothly and I soon found myself swapping out samples and tweaking the various parameters to create and save new Snapshots. I can confirm that Logic’s EXS‑format samples drag into Drop Pad smoothly along with their loop points.
In summary, Drop Pad enables the user to experiment with some seriously exotic sound-shaping using straightforward controls. The included snapshots show off Drop Pad’s capabilities especially well in the pad, abstract and rhythmic categories, though sounds can be created to fit any genre simply by dropping in suitable samples and then using the modulation facilities to add movement. This is one of those occasions where the end result appears to be rather more than the sum of its parts — and all at a beer money price.