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Nerve is a software drum machine that brings powerful beat creation and manipulation to your host sequencer - it runs as a VST instrument or AudioUnit plug-in. Nerve was designed and coded by veteran dance music producers, with a diverse sample library included from many of today's top sound designers. Create your own beats entirely from scratch using sounds you already have (AIF/WAV/REX/RX2/AKAI.SND), or utilize the factory-included Drum Kits, Presets, Patterns, and Sounds.
- Powerful Internal Step Sequencer: Nerve has an ergonomic mouse-driven Step Sequencer which allows you to program beats visually or by clicking rhythmically, with minimal mousing.
- Compact, hassle-free interface: Everything you frequently want to control is instantly accessible in Nerve - no fumbling and excessive paging around to get things sounding how you want, in a window which won't consume your entire screen real-estate.
- Thousands of Original Sounds Included: Nerve contains a large, comprehensive 2-Gigabyte library containing full presets, drumkits, patterns, one-shots, and loops made by a variety of world-class sound designers, including SampleMagic, PowerFX, Richard Devine, Dom Kane, SampleSquad, Bitword, Noise Inc., and many others, catering to a wide variety of musical genres.
- Sculpt your own original sounds: you can drag-and-drop soundfiles you already have on your hard disk (WAV/AIF/REX/RX2/AKAI SND format) and audition different samples instantly using navigation buttons. Random sample selection from the current folder (for one or all pads) is possible with hotkeys, for exploration of new sound combinations effortlessly. On-board editing with 22 simultaneous pre-calculated DSP types allows you to slice/trim, sculpt, stretch, and bend and re-synthesize sounds into completely new sounds, with no play-time CPU expense.
- Slice and Re-arrange loops: Nerve allows for a single pad to contain up to 16 slices of a loop, with adjustable slice points, which will automatically get read from REX/RX2 files. For traditional WAV/AIF loops, three different user-selectable time-stretching options are available (slice+fill, granular stretch, resample) to get your loop to match your host sequencer BPM.
- Let your Rhythms Groove + Gel: Nerve allows you to extract the timing + level information from a REX/RX2 loops, and have this apply to all of the rhythms with a single mouse gesture. You can store swing presets for future use.
- Performance-Oriented features: Nerve features a unique Repeater control which allows you to re-trigger one or more pads on-the-fly to create fills and variations on-the-fly. Trigger / Re-trigger patterns with the mouse or MIDI notes. Re-triggered portions can be automatically 'sent' to a different output pair for additional external processing on those specific moments. Unlike audio-based buffer-repeating effects, Nerve's Repeater will follow swing/groove feel on a global level, maintaining your groove. Furthermore, re-triggered steps will also generate new MIDI-out notes, if using Nerve for controlling external samplers, etc.
- Realtime Sculpting Control: Each pad contains a unique 'fat' 2x-oversampled State Variable Filter. Flexible LFOs allowing you to make parts vary over time (pan/level/cutoff/reso/sample start), allowing for parts to sound more fluid. MultiStage Envelopes with tension curves allow for dynamic sculpting with high precision. A unique GATE parameter allows the envelope length to rescale, sequenced per-step and/or controlled/automated externally.
- Internal Sidechain-input Compressor: Get your beats to pump without all of the in-host bussing hassle.
- Pad Independence: Each pad can optionally run its own pattern chain, length, and randomize, making it very easy to create polyrhythms / polymetric beats giving your music productions interesting, unique flair.
- Multiple Output capability: (8 stereo pairs) allow you to separate various parts of the beat for external mixing/processing.
- MIDI support (both input and output): control Nerve from a MIDI controller using assignable MIDI notes. Control Nerve parameters from MIDI CC messages. MIDI Out control allows you to use Nerve as a "sequence engine" to generate notes/CC's in unique ways / control or layer other synths and samplers.
Reviewed By moonchunk
March 14, 2018
I'm still giving Xfer Nerve 5 stars - even at the $200 price point, but technically its probably only a little above 4.8.
Particularly the customer support is not to be beaten. (I own every plugin by Xfer Records except Serum, which hopefully will change soon.)
It has great sounds (Although Chris Cowie's pack on Loopmaster is great as well - really gives the polish in terms of matching sample and pad levels, EQ and dynamics.)
I spent this past week digging back into the drum-machine-related vsts I own, or those that I have demos of. Nerve is near the top of the heap in terms of dance music. I recently picked up Spark 2, and I also compared Nerve to Fxpansion Geist 2, and Izotope Breaktweaker. Regarding Spark 2, I'm waiting to hear back from Arturia on why so many of the sounds seem stuck in 2-state velocity (64 or 127)... Regarding Breaktweaker, I watched the interesting Plugin Guru video on it that shows how one can achieve Swing (strange that a swing knob functionality isn't included in Breaktweaker).
Nerve has not only a late graph (use the SHIFT key along with your left mouse button to drag on it, or you will be forced into a 16 division resolution.)
Nerve has extremely good sounds.
Nerve has quite, quite a bit more in its arsenal of EDM-modding of playback and filter properties than does Spark 2. Its slicer function is better as well.
Nerve sounds fantastic and its sound exports sound great.
While dragging individual pads and full mixes is a breeze and works flawlessly, I would rather have a GUI location where the full mix is dragged from (as programs like Spark 2 allow) - because pressing CTRL ALT SHIFT at the same time one is dragging is tricky.
Nerve has a per pad side chain compression - This is the main reason I decided to give it 5 starts. This is such a cool feature. actually you can take the side chain "detection" signal from multiple pads and apply different amounts of side chaining compression, simultaneously, from that pad or pads to other pads. This means that from right within Nerve you can hear a mix-ready rhythm track (after all you can load any wave file you want into the pads, bass, guitar, whatever). This is a tremendous and brilliant feature and more percussion plugins should implement things this way, because things like perc and hats in electronic music really need to be reduced at critical down beats - its just the way things are now for the modern musician and its so helpful that Steve understood this.
On the negative side, the screen size of NERVE is fixed and relatively small by today's standards (although I like the optional horizontal mode). Its also hard to see the name of your loaded preset and drum kits, at least for me in Reaper and FL studio it is...I need to mouse over the place where these would normally be - where the current folder is listed instead of the preset name... I get why the current folder is important to know. But I would like to also see the name of the preset and the name of the currently loaded drum kit! For me occasionally looking up to see a kit name like that always helps to jog my memory into remembering a source of good sounds in the future... While auditioning, you'll be changing among several kits every few minutes if you're like me, and after hearing some "reasonably good sounds" and moving on, you'll realize maybe those were actually very good. Now what were they called? It just makes it more likely that you'll remember the names if there's a name written on the GUI. Same idea with the preset, it helps to see its name.
Also on the down side, I feel that although the pattern methodology is interesting and useful, relative to Geist 2's Scene and Song modes it leaves a little to be desired (even though it has an interesting plus which I'll get to. Geist 2 lets you organize a complete sequence that can play back for you automatically. It lets you record a complete song as well. So I think Nerve could really use a refined song mode on a separate page. One good thing in Nerve is the global mode off switch. When you turn the global mode off, your chains of patterns play back independently based on the pad row length, which can be independently adjusted. (Playing patterns in Geist 2, Breaktweaker, and Nerve can all be done with independent pad row lengths. However, Nerve pushes the envelope by literally allowing their to be an independent chain of sequences for each pad.. Wow.
One thing I need to recommend, is to be sure to get the latest manual if you purchase Nerve. I had trouble finding it and Steve pointed it out where it was. Some of the hotkeys in the 2010 manual included in my installation were not up to date and this left me wondering about certain of the features. For example, the SHIFT key.
Lastly, (and this is complicated - unless, especially, you are a Geist user and have become familiar with this..) NERVE allows triplets but they are accessible in an unusual way that takes a little getting used to. Basically its Alt right click while dragging horizontally over the "late" graph. This creates triplet timing. If you have 16 hi hats you'll think you've lost your mind, because this will turn them into 12 triplet sixteenths. Steve explained to me that the pads are not polyphonic, so even though the late graph for the last sixteenth of a quarter note position (one in each set of 4) is pushing the beat over onto the next quarter note, because this creates two quarter notes at an identical "tick" only one can play. Geist 2 has a similarly tricky method of handling triplets - well 2 methods actually. You can use engines and set one as the triplets engine, and play patterns from both engines simultaneously. A little strange, but it works. A second method available in Geist 2 allows the triplets to reside in the same pattern. It was difficult to find this:
This function, available by right-clicking on a pattern memory key, allows the 'resolution' of a
pattern to be changed without altering the position of events in the pattern. It can be useful if
triplet steps are required rather than 16ths, for example.
Well, personally I think Nerve's method is basically about as good.
Summary: For techno, EDM, and all its variations, NERVE is way up there with Geist 2 (which I haven't reviewed but which I would give at least 4.5 stars as well). Nerve has a great audio engine, does pre-calculated effects (which Geist 2 does not do to my knowledge - and this is an important advantage for Nerve) and Nerve comes with sounds arguably more suited specifically for the EDM style of music - add Chris Cowie's pack for about $30 and you'll have more EDM styles as well as some exceptional Hip Hop, Drum and Bass, and Dubstep to name a few.
Another advantage of Nerve over Geist 2, is that drawing in the note patterns in Geist 2, if they have changing velocity, is typically a 2 step process for each event. You click the note into place, and then drag up or down to set its velocity. In NERVE you are presented with two options, 1 lane and 16 lanes. Since Nerve defaults to the 1 lane view, when you click on the graph you've created the note at the velocity you want all at the same time. You would think you could do the same in Geist 2, by accessing the velocity graph. But you can't. Geist 2 forces you to click twice, once in the note lane, and once to drag the velocity (whether in the graphs view or in the full lane view you still click to enter the note and then drag to adjust velocity). On the plus for Geist 2, it has scene and Song modes that NERVE, lacks. Spark 2 does have a Song Mode, but its not better than the version in Nerve. Geist 2 has the edge on these modes by far. Another thing that Geist 2 does well is let you record loops on the fly, and even record a whole series of them, moving to the next pad, and the next, and so on, and the sample quality is superb. Lastly, Geist 2 has 64 pads in 8 engines, whereas Nerve loads one kit at the time, but has quite a number of pattern chains, which can be configured to loop from 1 to up to 8 patterns according to your choice.
There really isn't a single "greatest" tool for these kinds of sounds. I'm glad I own Geist, and Nerve is exceptional as well. I don't use breaktweaker as much, but its probably something that needs, ironically, tweaking. (I think the "edge" sound its good for is partly due to the unique glitch modes, and also possibly the added synthesis in the drums - which I could adjust if I spent the time - but these are unique and worthwhile nonetheless).
I also Hope that Spark 2, Geist 2, Breaktweaker, and also Nerve will get more significant updates (Geist 2 needs some bug fixing primarily). Beat Anthology 2 by UVI is another tool, that I have yet to use - which allows mixing synthesis with samples. I haven't yet used Revolution or Evolution. Revolution has samples of 14 old school drum machines (not as many as Spark 2). But the sound of Evolution concerns me, because the synthesis seems a little over-simplified - it could be better than what's in Spark 2, but I don't know and won't know until I spend the $. Fxpansion Tremor is not geared exactly to the kind of ambient music I make, and I haven't gotten around to trying Rob Papen's Punch.
There are some other dance/techno/hip hop tools I have missed. (I'm not including BFD3, Superior Drummer 3, and the other acoustic drum vsts..)
Please add feedback. Thanks.Read more
Reviewed By tommyzai
February 22, 2013
* I'm giving Nerve a 10, because there is no 9.5 and 9 would be an insult.
Nerve by Xfer Records is beyond user friendly — it's user inspiring. It took me a little time to download the 2gig+ library (wave-file kits, grooves, etc.), but immediately upon launching I noticed a neat, clean, sharp-looking interface. It appears different than others, not based on Roland or Akai hardware. It reminds me a little of the Sugar Bytes Thesys, which is a good thing. Everything you need seems to fit on a small laptop screen.
Its uniqueness doesn't translate into a big learning curve. I was too excited to read through a manual, and quickly realized I didn't have to. In no time, I was clicking and dragging neon blue waveform lines all over the place, making real-time adjustments to the sounds. I later found helpful video tutorials on the Xfer Records website, YouTube, and via forums.
I went deeper and discovered more than twenty Pre-Calc DSP editing slider tools that change the samples in real-time and allow for major or minor re-synthesis. This is the feature got me excited. Check out the demo and see what I mean. You'll probably get hooked like I did. Nerve makes sample sculpting and mangling fun. To borrow a quote from The Plugin Guru, "The world of programming drums and stuff has just been simplified!"
I had no trouble dragging Nerve's blue bars up and down and swiping sideways to create a groove. This step sequencer won't wear out my track-pad or lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. .. just smiles. I quickly created many kinds of beats and variations. It was easy to lock things into 4/4 or swing it a little. I was happy to discover that individual patterns could be un-linked to allow each pad to run as wild and free.
Wow! By itself, the Nerve library (sounds, kits, presets, patterns) makes this a worthwhile investment. Anyone, like myself, who has his/her own sample library, will find this even more attractive as it easily loads AIFF, WAV, REX, RX2, SND, etc. I finally have a use for those REX files that other programs won't load.
Do these guys sleep? They provide a lightning fast response and very helpful by email, website contact, Xfer Records Forum, or via KRV and other forums.
WHY BUY IT?
The market is filled with audio plugins. If I had the money I would buy all the good ones, but I have very little money so I must spend wisely. There are many obvious reasons to buy Nerve, but I later discovered hidden reasons. For one thing, there are top-secret beta releases found in a sticky thread atop the Nerve forum — ONLY visible to registered users. The betas have features not found in the advertised commercial release.
I don't have much to complain about, but if I had to list a couple areas that could be stronger.. .
1. A well-organized independent browser for easier access to big user sample libraries. At present, getting to my .wav files takes too many clicks
2. More Deadmau5 sample packs and 3rd party support (nudge nudge)
3. More frequent "official" updates and releases
4. Groove randomizer to instantly create rhythmic variations
5. Drum synthesis to combine with samples
No complaints!! I'm just greedy and want MORE!
CONCLUSION: THERE IS NO END. .. IF YOU HAVE SAMPLES
Nerve provides humongous power and tons of inspiration. I'm sure you can dive deep into this thing, but you don't have to! I found myself waking up at the crack of noon to play with it. In short, I highly recommend this plugin to any eMusician, producer, or electronic songwriter using samples to make beats. You will have a blast and get addicted fast. I give Nerve three thumbs up.
Thank you Xfer Records for creating a virtual drum machine that makes me feel like a kid again. Time to play!
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation whatsoever to Xfer Records. If my review sounds like a sales pitch, forgive me. I get that way when I find a diamond in the virtual rough.Read more
Reviewed By digitalbeatsyndrome
April 3, 2011
Sound = It's sample based so alot of the quality is what YOU feed it. The included sample library is top notch. At first I was worried spending $200 USD on Nerve, but consider the samples as a bonus. It's effects are so great. You can use 16 examples of the built in reverb based on the TAL reverb. 1 ringmod per 16 pads so 16 examples of ringmod. Use it on my toms, perc, zips and bips keeps me in electro-tech heaven. Built in sidechain compressor. Sample slice and dice. 16 examples of sample reverse. Fuzz on each pad, bit reduction, sample reduction. LFO for each pad.
Features: My favorite feature which sealed the deal for me to buy this instrument and its not really a big feature but means the world to a person with huge sample libraries is the buttons for sample select on each pad. No menu diving just to load a sample, browse through your sample folder with ease, and its not limited to 127 samples only. ctrl click = randomize sample, ctrl win alt click = randomize all samples. You can pitch the individual samples in the sequencer to create melody or bass lines with toms as an example some drum samplers cant do this. Reminds me alot of Re-drum from Reason with a ton of more features. I highly suggest the demo, I can be here writing all day. Steve Duda the creator has awesome demonstration vids on youtube. There is an amazing template for Korg Padkontrol at no extra charge, consider this a cousin of Maschine when used with Nerve. Control surface versions for monome 256, Lemur, and Ipad as well.
The manual is well written though there have been alot of new stuff thats not in the manual but on the download page of the new versions. In other words its well written but not current, you can find the new features in depth on the nerve forum.
Presets: I rate a 10 - the samples used are top notch. They are a premium xfer library that is free with the purchase of nerve. There are sequences that come with them also. Alot of fun to open the presets and replace with your own samples.
Customer support: top notch. Steve is quick via email or forum. Hands down 10, not a question about it.
Value = pricey but worth it. Its a great tool and worth every penny if you have giant sample libraries. There is no other plug in that touches this one... not even close.
Stability = I give an 8 out of 10. It has crashed but only using beta releases. Duda warns you before you download the new beta if you are working on an important project dont install it.Read more
Reviewed By elipsis1
April 2, 2011
First off, the included samples are very good quality. As you scroll through presets, the kit that is loaded also includes pattern data, so it makes for a great browsing experience.
Another cool feature is that you can change all samples in the kit with one click of a mouse. Holding the ALT key and clicking the load button will shift to the next wav file in that pad's corresponding folder. Very cool. You can also use the alt key to perform global pre calc effects as well.
The pre calc effects are a great feature to have, as they take up 0 cpu time after you are done tweaking the sample. The precalc effects are what give you the sculpting power to really dial in your sound or experiment.
Another awesome feature is that you can unlink the pattern so that each pad can have it's own sequence length, doing so also allows you to enable the random button, which will trigger a random pattern number, so that there is a lot of variation going on.
Also, the kit samples are embeded into the file save, so no managing folders or losing/browsing for samples.
You need to see the LFO in action to really appreciate it, you can assign it to so many parameters. This is a well thought out plugin.
The triggering via midi is also a welcome feature. You can play the kit on a keyboard, or trigger patterns, or trigger the different values on the repeater.
There really is a whole lot more to nerve than what I have posted in this review. This plugin is definately worth giving the demo a whirl, and in my opinion, well worth the purchase price.
Steve has been great at answering questions via email as well as his response in the forum. It sounds like he really is listening and planning to implement changes based on user input.
This is a hassle free serial number copy protection scheme, so no worrying about dongles or anything.
Your creativity will really flow freely with this plugin.Read more