Audiofier's Pragmabeat first impression.
The best rhythm machine I have come across, with a stunningly comprehensive collection of sounds and rhythms. All for a price significantly less than all of the other rhythm VST's that I have bought (only to see them spend the remaining of their life in the 'never gets opened again' bottom draw). Pragmabeat is a keeper, and looks to be the first rhythm solution I will boot up.
Audiofier always put out such intriguing Plug-in, as someone who has been fascinated by generative music for many, many years, I have pretty much everything they have put out. All of them are distinguished by the quality of the sound (these guys know how to sample!). Every VST I have from them are notable for their superficial ease of use - however, this is a facade for a really deep and customizable engine. I also feel that we as a community should support companies that have a fair pricing for their products.
Were you to ask me what is the most important part of music, I would say the beat, as would most of you. The Beat is the pulsing core of all music. Tragically, percussion is something that I really struggle with. I must have bought most of the drum plug-ins on the market, yet none of them have really worked for me. I have just grown to accept that you cannot replace a real drummer.
I was working on a track where I just could not get the drum part sounding right. So I shut down the DAW in frustration and checked on my emails. The mysterious gods of synchronicity must have been alert, as the first email I opened was from Audiofier - a promotion for a percussion VST.
So, how is Pragmabeat? Does it provide a working alternative to a flesh and blood drummer? Well, no - of course not, nothing really can. However, straight out of the box, it fixed my problem with that stubborn track - simply because the sounds from this VST are of such a high quality - and it literally was a one button press to slot in what sounded like the perfect beat into the track. Two minutes after installing - problem solved.
The first thing I noticed was that all the drums are round robins (to my best knowledge). This brings a naturalness to the performance. Whenever a virtual drum is struck, it is subtly different each time. I have other percussion VST's that do this, but none sound this good, none seem to have this so well implemented.
The second thing - is just the range of percussive sounds available; from more ethnic percussion (which pleases me enormously), through more standard rock beats, to more modern electronic drums and patterns (some of which are pleasingly wild). It is simply the most comprehensive pallet of sounds and patterns I have come across in a percussion VST (and I have tried a few!).
With this beast of a thing, you can make everything from a natural-sounding percussion (well, as natural as I think is possible digitally), to really experimental beats. This is why it will probably be my first port of call when adding a rhythm to a track - it covers so much ground - and in a very simple to grasp engine.
The third thing to stand out for me, is how easy it is to play live. Normally, I would go into a percussion VST and lay down a basic beat, then go into the DAW and rather mathematically chop/cut/paste/rearrange the MIDI data. Result? The beat is mechanical - dead - lacks spontaneity/authenticity. With Pragmabeat, I simply have not needed to do that; all of the key-switches are logically laid out and take very little memorization - it all just works. If possible, writing *anything* in the DAW is absolutely the last resort, as (in my personal opinion) this takes you further from the 'soul' of the music. I gave myself a 'free-pass' with percussion. Now, there is no need for this awkward compromise.
An important point - and something that is present in every Audiofier plugin that I have tried (which is about 80% of them). The engine is stupidly simple on the surface level, but this hides the layers of depth below. Pragmabeat is *very* simple to get into. You could argue that it is too simple - as all you need to do is press a button here or there to generate a very impressive and usable beat. In short, it is easy to be lazy with this thing. However, as with Audiofier's other products - there is a vast untapped potential under the hood, and experimentation is rewarded. This VST has not been out that long, so I have not had time to get to grips with the engine fully. I started by letting Pragmabeat do the work for me. The next stage is to tweak things very simply; 'what if I substitute that Kick for a Djembe? - or that cymbal for a Cabasa?' That kind of thing. Doing this alone is so much fun and leads to your own unique (and sometimes eccentric) drummer turning up for the session. The stage I am experimenting with at the moment is exploring the potential of the rhythms and poly-rhythms I can potentially create. I am also exploring how the two parts of the engine interact and can be personalized.
This is not the place for a tutorial - anyway, Audiofier always makes excellent, in-depth, and inspiring Youtube tutorials. If you are curious, or thinking of buying this, I really suggest you check out their tutorial here (this video cause a spontaneous levitation of my credit card):
This will do a far better job of explaining things than I could ever do.
I have many percussion VST's and they all do a little of what Pragmabeat does. Yet none of them do it all, sound as good, have as much flexibility, or such a broad pallet. For me, Pragmabeat brings all of this together in one intuitive a wonderful sounding beat-machine.Read Review
"Hi, my names Bob and I'm a VST addict."
Well, the 'Bob' part's made up, but the rest is true. Amongst my VSTs are gems like Komplete Ultimate 11 CE, IK's Total MAxx, and the Arturia V collection; but if all were removed, the collection wouldn't be much smaller. For the last few months I've been cutting back, only acquiring (I use that word rather than 'buying', because there's some great free stuff out there) - only acquiring VSTs that add to what I already have.
So, a Kontakt synth at 75% off and costing $20? It looks ugly, but let's play the video.
For the first part of it, I was ready to stop - some nice sounds, some ordinary. But the chap doing the demo did a good job, and before long I knew I was going to get this one. That video is worth watching to the end: SEQui2R synth looks basic and old school, but it's a fairly powerful synth, capable of producing some very pleasant sounds, some great old school patches, and some hurting bass. Then add the sequencer, which is like nothing else I've seen, and the combination is no brainer at the discount price, and well worth the full price.
I bought it last night, around 11pm Pacific Time. You have to email the vendor to get a download link; they replied immediately, that's around 7am where they are, in the UK.
This morning I mostly went through the presets (which have to be installed as Kontakt snapshots - easy to do, but there's a video in the download to show you how if you don't know.) There are lots, and they're varied and I would think do justice to the product. I did a bit of patch editing too, but it really needs to be done in combination with the manual or the afore-mentioned youtube video - there's no popups when hovering over a control, and there are lots of controls.
One particular point of note: these guys make patches that use the mod wheel. I *hate* running through presets that don't use the mw, but SEQui2R synth does, to sometimes excellent effect. Thanks for that.Read Review
The newest update now has MIDI drag and drop, like Sequi2r.. This greatly adds to the value.. Cause you can use any VI of your choice. I had taken MIDI drag/drop from Sequi2r and used a Kontakt string library.. I got results like Alfred Hitchcock strings on LSD.. Positive striking. and because the strings sound so real, you envision this mad violinists dancing around in the piece..
Adding the MIDI drag/drop feature is a HUGE bonus.. All the Audiofier plug-ins are quite clever programing to work in Kontakt.Read Review
I like to give you some very first impressions of Abstrung the new library by (in my opinion) much underrated Audiofier:
I already have Sequi2R and the follow up Sequi2R EX (with a lot of expansions included) but skipped over the first version of their new series vesper cause "bells and whistles" just not my sounds.
Now I could not resist the new Abstrung, same concept then Vesper but with "strungs" (Abstrung :lol:) and plucks (my sounds :D).
Took some time with nearly 20 GB download to get evrything working but then I was just overwhelmed :o .
Me, the preset addicted and NO nki-instruments, no snapshots ????
NO, you really dont need. After this I will open my pc an look for this bunch of mini composers where they have been hidden.
NO, thats NOT random, not at all. Evry click brings a new (whatever magic does that trick) well designed preset :o :o :o.
AND: you can choose a sound category from the browser for the random sound generation.
And if you do this it is far more then just a plucks and strings thing.
Choose "spacey" and in no time you have a texture, soundcape, pad, athmophere whatever you like.
Have not come further now, four other categorys waiting to be explored.....
And magic goes on. If you have the sound you like in general there are two alternative ways to go on: use the crystal engine (no, I wont try to explain, you must have a look on yourself) it just adds kind of magic to your sound or use a very polished and feature rich double step sequencer following the root note and scale you choose.
I must admit ad this point as a hobby musician with more enthusiasm then knowledge I never really managed to master Sequi2r in all its possibilities, just to much for me so I am really fine with using the presets and just playing a little bit with the sequencer on first level.
But was makes this series so outstanding is the ease of use:
- choose a soundcategory you like
- use the sound composer (no, I wont call it random cause it just isnt :lol:)
- and then add the magic with crystal or a double sequencer.
Of couse there are a bunch of special fx, I dont think I will need them much but of course they are there and as easy to use as the rest.
So I will go back to magic :party:
Have a look at it if you like, it is really marvellous.Read Review