Yo yo what’s good – it’s your man DJD checking out the hot new UVI beat maker, groove creator and dance floor shaker – yes, it’s here, the brand new Beatbox Anthology 2 – I’ve been jamming on it and I’m far too pumped to sit down right now, but let’s get into it…
It’s been a loooong time since I’ve had this much fun beating on a PC groove machine. Straight out of the box there’s a lot of present sounds here I recognise, it’s a real walk through the history of electronic music – and talk about ‘Name that hit song’ – this isn’t a drum machine, it’s a TIME machine!
You’ve got everything here – the 707, 909 Linn, Alesis, a banging Wers Matic which I couldn’t get enough of, though I have no idea what it is. Some of the old Dr Rhythm handheld Boss machines I used to bash on as a kid. In fact – there are over 250 kits right here. I’m telling you man, its got everything! All the usual suspects, your Roland’s, Korgs, Linn etc, but a bunch of really unusual machines, really cool stuff like the Optigan which I also couldn’t stop jamming on.
And check this; you’ve got your individual sounds, like kick, snare, hats as you’d expect, but you can layer them right inside the software! Take the kick for instance, you can start with a 707, add a little distortion and maybe roll of the high end a touch, then layer over that another 707 if you like, or go for something different new like a fat Kawai R100 kick. You can then dial up a little reverb, some delay, add a little filtering with a 3-band EQ, plus you have an extra Tone bank to go on top of all that, with synth style envelope, tuning and pitch FX on the fly – and all that is just on the kick. Things can get crazy real fast. I’m loving this.
The snare channels get the same treatment, but the rest of the kit drops the synth Tone section in favour of another sample layer – so you hats, cymbals and toms – each can have up to three layers, from any machine in the list. Unbelievable.
There’s an FX page that has global two delays, two reverbs(!!), a bit crusher and EQ – the verb and delay are controlled by the individual sends on each drum. And finally a 64 note (!!) step sequencer to program up your beats. It simple to use, just bring up the level on the beat you want and hit play. You can even generate the MIDI notes and drag that onto your DAW for further editing, or to start building your song.
So what’s it SOUND like then? That’s the main thing – you can have all the tricks, but if the samples aren’t banging it’s dead in the water.
I can tell you – everything is top notch. I mean everything, even the lowest little cheapie drum machine sounds good. I keep mentioning the TR707, but man it’s got the best kick I’ve ever heard from a sample pack. A lot can be attributed to the sound engine and FX, but truly great sounds start with solid recordings, and that’s what UVI have done here.
What about the patches? Well, it’s a little different to normal synth, in that there are no sound patches, per se. You load different machines, each with a unique pattern that shows off the sounds. Once you’re happy with the machine, then you can cycle through a collection of 160+ patterns for inspiration. The machines are separated out by classic, analog and digital categories, then you’ve got your more specialist custom, recreation and BBA2 Add-On categories. What’s BBA2 Add-On you ask? That’s the 32 brand new machines you get with Beatbox Anthology 2, and some of the new machines are pretty out there – I’m talking to you, MatrixBrute!
I’ve got to tell you about the sequencer, very easy to construct beats, just bring up the level on the beat location and let it loop. You can change the length of the groove up to 64 steps, the speed from 1/2 to 1/32, throw some extra swing into the mix with the groove dial, all that good stuff. But what I like best is the pattern browser. You choose your kit, get the kick and snare set just right, everything how you like it – then click through the patterns to hear all kinds of grooves fit right in with your kit. From EDM to jazz, calypso to speed metal – it’s all there. Forget about browsing MIDI files, this is the bomb. Find your groove, export that right into your DAW and you’ll be knocking out beats faster than you know it.
There is a handy multiple output version included, so you can route each drum out to its own dedicated mix channel in your DAW, I like that for extra processing and a little parallel compression to sweeten things up. Not that the built in FXs aren’t enough, but sometimes you might like a little extra hot sauce from one of your 3rd party plugins.
UVI has done an outstanding job with Beatbox Anthology 2, no easy task when you’re talking about so many historic machines from nearly 50 years, they’ve really hit it right. They are a serious company worth following if you take your music seriously. I tried the Synth Anthology 2 last week – that was crazy too, but this is on a whole new level for me, finally, an amazing sounding drum machine that’s easy to use, looks good and hits hard.
Going through these presets brought back so many memories of my early days plugging in grooves to my old Dr Rhythm, trying to copy the big hits on the radio at the time. I can see so much potential right here, for not just keeping things old school, but heading forward into the future with new sounds and levels of creativity.
I admit I struggle sometimes with new software, some of the new synths are just mad. On first look, things were a little overwhelming for me with this too, but a little noodling around, a few ‘Oh yeah‘ moments, a few ‘oh wow, that’s cool‘ moments, everything fell into place in no time. It’s actually a lot easier to get around than it looks, even if you’re totally new to this kind of device or even beat making, don’t worry, it’s easy.
So that’s it, Beatbox Anthology 2 is here and its crazy. It’s on special right now for only $99, which just blows my mind – there ain’t nothing out there better value than this. If you’re making beats or producing anything that needs solid drums of the electric kind, this is it, the only thing you need in your rack.
Give it a go, get totally loops over the loops like I am, you can thank me later. Peace.
Full details on the UVI website www.uvi.net
Test Machine Specs
Core i5-6500 3.20 Ghz 16gig RAM. Library installed on secondary 7200 drive.
Windows 10, 64bit.
Focusrite Scarlett 214 Interface
Presonus Eris E44
Shure SRH940 monitors