Installing Groove Agent was a breeze, except when it came to getting the kits to load for the first time. This problem does not occur with Cubase. If you’re a Logic, or other user, you can get the details about this extra procedure on the very useful Groove Agent website’s forum: http://vg.clubcubase.net/vgforum/viewforum.php?f=2
The samples are of high quality. There are dozens of kicks, snares, hats, percussion, from different time periods. Many have a boxy quality, but that’s expected when a 50s kit is used. Each element is also offered in one of two mic placements - very natural sounding. You can also route each element to one of four outputs, for further processing. The downside is that you can’t load your own samples.
GA has a fresh interface, the kits load quickly, and, since the pattern variations are MIDI sequences, it’s very easy to ‘jam’ with the machine in real-time. Everytime I start improvising with the complexity button, I easily loose an hour of my day.
The most authentic styles for me are found in the pre-80s offerings. The playing is very good, even a bit sloppy in some parts (that’s a good thing!). If you already have lots of techno, hip-hop, breakbeat, house loops, and you’re looking for something different, this tool might do the trick. As a soundtrack composer, I often have to re-create styles from the past, and this will now be the first VSTi that I will call up when I need a rumba, or a bossa nova, etc. On the other hand, I would not use this VSTi for more modern electronic music. Although, I did achieve a certain element of freshness when I combined their electronic kit with say, the bossa nova or fox patterns (50s).
In the info window, there’s a handy Range field that suggests a tempo range for each style. This helps to give your choice a realistic feel. I didn’t ‘get’ some of the styles until I set Logic’s tempo to a number in the suggested range. Of course, you can always play a Rumba at 174 bpm if you’re in the mood.
My favourite part is the MIDI keyboard shortcuts. Since all the samples are triggered below A#3, the keys above that note can do several things, depending on whether the MIDI channel is even or odd: you can select the level of complexity, add fills, mute elements, add accents, select memory locations (different kits!), even the mod wheel can add fills!
My major criticisism is that there could be more velocity layers for each element (kick, snare). You still get 3 to 5 different samples per velocity, but with the Giga libraries sometimes offering 16 samples per key, we’re all getting a little more demanding.
(As an update to this review, I'd like to state that along with many other Logic and DP users, I have experienced random muting in GA. This problem has been posted often on the official GA forum, but there has been no reply. I was hoping for news of an update, but 1 year after its release, there is nothing to report - too bad!)