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*I'm giving Nerve a 10, because there is no 9.5 and 9 would be an insult.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS 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.
LEARNING CURVE 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.
PRE-CALCULATED EDITING 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!"
SEQUENCER 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.
THE LIBRARY 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.
CUSTOMER SERVICE 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.
SUGGESTIONS 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.