Rating: 5/5 Stars *****
Teletone Audio describe Tympo as a ‘performative drum instrument’, and this perhaps hints that it is something more than just another collection of drum samples. That said, if you are working in genres such as lounge, hip‑hop, downtempo or lo‑fi, the sample base will be right up your street: Tympo offers plenty of round‑robin and velocity layers, and has primarily been recorded very dry (although you can add room ambience and reverb to individual drums via the UI).
Some 30 kit presets are supplied, and the underlying samples were created from a carefully selected collection of vintage kicks, snares, hi‑hats, toms and cymbals, with percussive sounds such as tambourines, shakers, clave, snaps and claps also provided. You can, of course, build your own custom kits, and the lower‑half of the main screen provides a multitude of ways to tweak the individual drum sounds. You can also tweak global parameters such as Distress, Decade, Room, Effects and Noise to further customise the sound.
In addition, the pitch wheel can be used to adjust Stretch (sample time‑stretching), Focus (shifts the beat between the lower‑pitched and higher‑pitched sounds), Chaos (a stuttering effect) and Filter. Aimed at the above‑mentioned genres, the drum sounds are good and there is lots of sound‑design flexibility provided.
Flipping to the Beatmaker screen lets you access the ‘performative’ elements, and this is where things get really interesting. Each drum has an individual step sequencer, with variable step counts, up to 16 steps and, beyond that, the ability to divide each step into up to four sub‑divisions. It’s super‑easy to create simple beats but there is also plenty of potential for getting rhythmically complex if you wish.
While the individual drum sounds are mapped to MIDI notes (the pink keys on Kontakt’s mini‑keyboard display), you also get up to eight slots for different sequencer patterns. You can trigger these from the blue keys and, at the top of the Beatmaker screen, flip between them (1 to 8) for editing purposes. In addition, each sequencer lane offers four parameters — Velocity, Feel, Spread and Tune — and these can all be adjusted within your sequence. Velocity and Tune are self‑explanatory, while Feel allows you to push/pull notes ahead/behind the grid and Spread adjusts the stereo panning. However, even cooler, if you flip back to the Main screen, you can use the mod wheel to scale the sequencer settings for one or more of these four parameters. It’s incredibly effective on velocity (making good use of the velocity sample layers) but particularly interesting when used with Feel as it allows you to push and pull the beat in real time in some very creative ways.
Tympo is a bit of a gem. It’s pretty deep, so expect to have to invest some time to master the very intriguing performance tools it offers, but the effort will be rewarded.
The end result is that Tympo is a bit of a gem. It’s pretty deep, so expect to have to invest some time to master the very intriguing performance tools it offers, but the effort will be rewarded. It’s also competitively priced. Well worth auditioning as a source of beat‑making inspiration for lo‑fi, hip‑hop and related genres.