Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
SOS have reviewed the growing range of virtual instruments offered by UJAM over the last few years and this included the three different flavours of the Virtual Bassist engine — Royal, Mellow and Rowdy — back in the July 2019 issue. UJAM have now updated all three to a ‘v.2’ status and, while the prices remain the same, and there are both attractive discount options for upgrades and bundles, there are also new features. So just how much more virtual bass player do you now get for your money?
As with the original versions, Royal, Mellow and Rowdy provide three style‑based variants in terms of bass tones and performances, and the three titles share the same engine. Each offers a selection of musical styles, within which a range of bass patterns are provided. These patterns can be triggered in sequence at different root notes or chord types to build a complete performance. Articulation options are included as well as control over dynamics and palm muting. In addition to this ‘Player’ mode, you can also switch to ‘Instrument’ mode and the VB engine then provides a fully playable, multisampled, virtual instrument. Within the obvious constraint of the style collections (each of the original titles offered around 40 different styles), the design makes it very easy to create a polished complete bass performance.
All of these features remain in the new v.2 releases. However, an additional 20 styles have been added to each title. These enhance the performance options considerably and are ably demonstrated in the 30 new presets highlighted with a ‘2.0’ tag in the preset browser. You also get more tonal options as all three instruments now include a macro‑style Finisher effect with a wide variety of conventional and creative bass treatments offered.
...for me at least, the highlight new feature is the inclusion of MIDI drag and drop.
However, for me at least, the highlight new feature is the inclusion of MIDI drag and drop. This allows you to play a particular pattern/chord combination and then export it to your VB MIDI track. You can repeat this process for each pattern/chord combination required. Then, if you flip to Instrument mode, the VB engine will play these clips back with all the performance details/articulations intact. And, of course, the really cool thing is that you can edit the performances with all the usual MIDI editing tools your DAW provides, giving you considerably more mileage out of the included style sets.
While there are lots of sophisticated multisampled bass guitar instruments available, there are fewer ‘virtual bassists’. However, by the time you read this, Toontrack’s hotly anticipated EZBass will be available. There are obvious differences in the design and concept, but it will make an interesting comparison with Royal, Mellow and Rowdy. That said, UJAM’s titles remain both competitively priced and incredibly easy to use; these v.2 releases simply reinforce that very creditable position. Free trials are available to download via the UJAM website.