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Free / $99+

Jamstix has an average user rating of 4.40 from 10 reviews

Rate & Review Jamstix

User Reviews by KVR Members for Jamstix

Reviewed By pethu [read all by] on September 6th, 2007
Version reviewed: 2.0.15 on Windows
Jamstix 1 was developed from the idea of an "intelligent" jamming buddy, responding to the intensity of your playing in a life-like manner. In time it grew well beyond that, incorporating an arranger section enabling you to give your drummer detailed instructions of what to play, and when to play it. However, as a result of this organic growth the user interface was a bit convoluted, to say the least, and much labour was required to get the results you wanted.

Jamstix 2 has been redone from the ground up -- it's got the same basic ingredients and capabilities, but done in a completely different and much more user-friendly manner. In the transition, it has gone from being jam-centric to arranger-centric, a very good thing for me personally since I don't use the jamming features (much). Instead, I now have a number of competent session drummers I can really sit down and talk arrangements with.


Leaving the live input (jamming) capabilities aside, there are a huge number of things that affect the way a certain part (one or more consecutive bars) in the song structure is played:

- Load a style to decide the basic rhythm -- there are about 50 styles included at the time of writing. These styles are not just patterns: Each style is customizable through a set of controls that is unique to each style. Some styles offer only minor variations, others are really a package of similar styles where you need to go exploring thoroughly in order to realise the possibilities. The March style, for instance, have both foot and snare settings of "March", "Baiao", and "Gadd" -- allowing you to use it for everything from western marching band music to Brazilian Baiao to a creditable emulation of Steve Gadd's famous drumming in "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover".

- Within the style, the playing for a bar is layered into "groove", "accent", and "fill" aspects: Each aspect has its own set of customization controls, and fills can be played in solo or in combination with the other aspects.

- As if this didn't create variety enough, now it's time to choose between the 9 available "drummers". These are models of real-life drummer behaviours that greatly affect the end results. Each drummer has his own ways to add syncopation, accents and fills to the drumming. In addition, you also have access to a totally "brainless" guy, and one who is a machine. The latter is the only one not taking human limitations into account when playing, but does things you would normally need a trained octopus for.

- Still not satisfied? Then go into the bar editor and edit drumming events individually to correct those small annoyances in an otherwise good performance. Manual edits, as well as entire bars, can be locked from further changes by Jamstix.

- Are we done yet? Not quite - you can also add groove maps to all or part of the song, and make global shuffle and general timing adjustments. In addition, there is the possibility to load your own MIDI files and have Jamstix modify those instead of using the built-in styles.

Yes, Jamstix 2 is deep - VERY deep - but in comparison to Jamstix 1, you can get the overall structure of a song together and the drumming in the ballpark much quicker. It is also really easy to move things around in the song structure without as much fear of destroying what you already have and like.


How does Jamstix 2 sound? The answer is, any way you like. You can use only its included drum kits, or sub-host a drum sampler of your choice within Jamstix 2, selecting drums from both sources to work together - use the percussion from Jamstix 2 together with a percussion-less kit in Battery 3, for instance. You can also go MIDI-only out from Jamstix into a drum sampler loaded separately in your host/sequencer.

The basic version of Jamstix 2 contains just one kit, but it is very, very good and "live sounding", although it will not suit all production styles. The XL version also contains all add-on kits released for Jamstix 1, including brushed kits (necessary for some jazz & swing styles) and close-miked kits. Overall, the drum sound quality is really good, competing with the best of the dedicated drum sample libraries, although naturally a bit generic in nature. You should really consider the XL version standard, and the basic version a "stripped down" one.


Ah, the old stumbling block... This product really needs a lot more readily accessible how-tos and tutorials. Besides, the sheer rate of feature add-on and improvement means it's almost impossible to keep the manual up to date. But let's face it, the Jamstix users are an enthusiast crowd, and some visits to the Rayzoon support forums should be obligatory!

There, I've run out of space already with nothing more than scratching the surface. So I'll end just by saying that Ralph Z of Rayzoon is the friendliest and most dedicated man in the entire business. There! Go Buy Jamstix!

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