Format: Reason Refill
Sometimes size does matter, and Zero-G's Creative Essentials Refill for Propellerhead's Reason software is a good example. Many SOS readers probably started out their sampling lives with some of the budget audio sample CDs from the 31-strong Creative Essentials series. Now Zero-G have reworked the entire contents of this extensive library into a single, three-CD Refill package for use with Reason, providing over 9000 individual samples. Considering that the original 31-CD set would have set you back about £600, the £99 price tag for this re-working of the collection looks like a real bargain.
The three CDs contain eight Refills. The five NN19 Refills are Dance Instruments (mostly based on single samples rather than multisamples), Live and Sequenced Riffs, Vocals (some single samples and some multi-phrase sets), Instruments (single-sample and multi-sample types here) and Percussion. Two Dr:rex Refills provide Drum Loops and Groove Loops, the latter a collection of ReCycle-d musical phrases using a huge range of different instrument types. The final Refill is a collection of ReDrum Kits and Samples.
Anyone familiar with the original Creative Essentials series will know it covers some diverse musical ground. With individual tiles such as Dance Vocals, Spices of India, Vintage Keyboards, Jungle Frenzy and String Textures, the complete series has something for almost every musical occasion — and all of that is presented here. In attempting the mammoth task of working through the collection, I was impressed with the overall quality of the sounds and I feel that the sampling technique behind both the single-sampled and multisampled instruments is of a very high standard. True, some of the multisampled instruments are perhaps not as technically sophisticated as a dedicated Reason library might be, but they are all usable in their own right.
What really impressed me was the Dr:rex loops, of which there are over 2000! The Drum Loops cover jungle, dance, hip-hop, techno, reggae, funk and various ethnic styles, amongst others, and everything I tried seemed to have been processed with considerable care through ReCycle. As a result, most of the loops worked well at a variety of tempos. While the sheer number of loops provided is already impressive, the ability to re-program them further via MIDI just makes the collection that much more versatile. The Groove Loops, while fewer in number (only a few hundred!), also work pretty well at a range of tempos. The various brass grooves are good fun, and there are also some excellent electric guitar loops.
The ReDrum Kits and Samples ought to form a good bread-and-butter collection for most Reason users. All the usual suspects are present, from 808 and 909 samples through to 'real' drums and percussion instruments. Some of the samples are dry, while others are processed in some way. I particularly liked some of the 'ambient cymbals', for example. As well as 26 full ReDrum Kits, there are also more snares, kicks and hi-hats than you could shake a rainstick at (although, sadly, I couldn't find a rainstick — but plenty of other ethnic percussion samples are included).
Most of the samples in the Creative Essentials series have been around for a while (and you may well recognise a number of the loops present here!), but there's still plenty of good stuff in this collection to get the muse working. The huge variety of styles covered ought to appeal to any Reason user who is looking to cover all the musical bases without digging too deeply into the pockets. At £99, the Creative Essentials Refill is simply excellent value for money.
£99 including VAT.
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