UVI’s comprehensive drum instrument gets a major upgrade. Jonny Strinati puts it to the test.
Another new Anthology release from UVI, this time in the form of an update of their staple beat making instrument, offering a comprehensive collection of samples taken from 111 different machines, from the classic to the contemporary to the relatively unknown. Users of the Synth Anthology series will be familiar with the script here: a multitude of different hardware machines meticulously sampled via premium DI boxes and outboard processors, all presented within a slick and unified GUI. Owners of Beatbox Anthology 1 or Vintage Vault will be pleased to learn they can upgrade for $49/€49, while the full price is €99 until June 18th and €149 thereafter.
As we’ve come to expect from UVI, the extent of machines sampled for this release is incredible and – in the same way that set Synth Anthology 2 apart – there’s a real choice selection on offer. As you’d expect, all the vintage classics are present, like the Roland TR series, LinnDrum and Oberheim DMX, along with some real rarities such as the ETI Drum Synth and Ace Tone Rhythm Ace. Whilst a welcome collection of digital machines (including four incarnations of the Dr Rhythm), and contemporary analogue classics (such as the Vermona DRM1 and Arturia’s recently released Matrixbrute) provide a healthy variation across the release.
...a real beat maker's toolkit, allowing you to quickly dial up numerous kits taken from classic and revered hardware
The Edit page is where you can select, stack up or swap out samples. Each drum module offers a useful distortion for quickly adding some bite, along with envelope, tune, high- and low-pass filters and the option to offset each sample. The drums are presented in a three-layer architecture – the bass drum and two snare drums give you the option of loading two samples as well as a synth layer labelled Tone, whilst the rest of the drum cells give you the option of layering up to three samples together to create your hit. The Tone layer has an included tuning control, displaying both pitch and frequency, meaning you can quickly dial up your synth layer to the key of your project – great for adding some tuned weight to some of the less bottom-heavy hits.
Although there are 282 drum kits included which you can load up in an instant, the GUI really encourages you to create your own, swapping in and out samples, sculpting and layering. It’s all very quick and intuitive to craft unique and excellent sounds.
You can access the loaded pattern within the sequencer page. Adding or taking out hits and editing velocity is all very efficient; programming effective drum crescendos and the like with one simple mouse gesture was a breeze. You can set patterns up to 64 steps long, with all the rate options you would hope for. I can see some users longing for a TR-style sequencer here, given some of the content on offer, but I can understand why there isn’t – Beatbox Anthology isn’t about nostalgic interfaces. Besides, the intuitive MIDI mapping means you can easily trigger kits via a MIDI controller or keyboard.
In the effects section you’re presented with the two auxiliary delay and reverb effects, a bitcrusher and a three-band EQ for processing the whole kit. Only being able to add the bitcrusher to the whole kit seems slightly limiting – it would have been nice to add the effect to individual sounds. In some instances it works well on the group but often you’ll want more control. The same thing goes for only being able to add a compressor in the track section, as you’ll inevitably be wanting to compress the whole drum group at some stage. However, there’s also a separate multi-out version of the instrument included, configured to load with all 12 drum sounds automatically routed to individual stereo channels. This makes further processing and mixing within your DAW a doddle.
Beatbox Anthology 2 is a real beat maker’s toolkit, allowing you to quickly dial up numerous kits taken from classic and revered hardware, whilst leaving plenty of scope for sculpting and reshaping sounds to your liking. The quality of the samples is, as you’d expect given UVI’s reputation, excellent, but I think what sets this release apart is the wide selection of different drum machine sounds on offer. And I admire UVI’s all encompassing approach: old, new, digital, analogue… it’s all here, expertly captured and sounding as good as ever.
Purchase: UVI BeatBox Anthology 2
The Final Word
A real beat maker's toolkit.