INTRO PunchBox by d16 Group is the ultimate bass drum synthesizer, combining synthesis, sampling, and FX into a modular structure.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS As with all d16 plugins, this one has a cool name — "PunchBox!" The purchase, download, install, and authorize procedure is painless — without any dongles. The GUI looks like a vintage rackmount modular system. At first, it seems like there's a lot of parameters for a bass drum synth, but once you break it down, module by module, it's actually very straightforward, user friendly, and powerful.
WHY THIS? Finding the right bass drum is important in any genre, especially for EDM. Dance tracks live and die largely based on the pound of the beat. Producers, whether it be a million dollar studio or simple bedroom setup, endlessly search for the perfect kick. We look in sample folders; we scan synth presets; we experiment with effects. We may even layer sample, synths, and FX to create something unique to drive a beat. There are a few good bass drum generator synths on the market, and there are loads of sample libraries out there. I have a modest collection of over 100k bass drum samples, and I know a few producers who have much, much more! So, how do I find the perfect kick drum? My Typical workflow: Create a basic kick sound via synthesis, find a sample for layering fatness, and then use an assortment of effects to bring it to life. This process takes a long time and rarely nails the sound on the first try. Wouldn't it be cool to have it all in one place — one plugin? Enter PunchBox.
WHO IS THIS NOT FOR? • Genres using a standard acoustic drum kit with corresponding (matching) snare, toms, etc.
WHO IS THIS FOR? • Everyone else.
IN ACTION This modular system plugin features sound generators that work independently and can be used in parallel. The center module, called KICK is the foundation of the sound. PunchBox provides a wide variety of 1100 samples and synthesis that features 909, 808, 606, and sine sources. This is where the meat of the madness is created. *It should be noted that user have a great deal of control over the sounds, especially the synthesis choices. From here, other modules can be employed to further shape/layer the sound — Click (short attack samples), Tops (high frequency samples), and Tools (longer mid-range samples). There are also built-in FX units that boast state of the art algorithms. Users can choose between bit crusher, distortion, EQ, filter, and limiter. Punchbox gives users lots of control over the amount of FX for each layer, and generators can be placed in any order via drag-n-drop. In total, there are over 800 presets created by a pair of infamous sound designers — Sound of Revolution and CFA Sound. The presets sound great out-of-the-box or serve as an excellent start point by which users can tweak and twist to their ear's desire.
FAVORITE FEATURES • Flexibility and possibilities • THE SOUND! • Randomizer • Multiple instances — multiple uses for this single instrument • Drag-n-drop into DAW • Clear, concise manual • Priced right • Great developer.
OTHER THOUGHTS • Overall, the knobs and sliders are responsive and easy to manipulate; however, I have a little trouble toggling the Velocity off/on and Keytrack off/on. I contacted the developer about this issue, and they assured me it would soon be addressed. • Browser is easy to use and reveals neatly labeled patches, but the way it scrolls from page to page might take a little time to get used to.
SUMMARY PunchBox combines virtual analogue technology, high quality samples, and otherworldly effects to deliver a powerful, dedicated bass drum workstation. Despite the complexity and flexibility, it's fast and fun to create zillions of bass drums from scratch with this fine instrument. According to another, "[PunchBox is a] beautiful fusion of synthesis & sampling." I completely agree, and best of all — the sound is fantastic, which comes as no surprise for anyone who has used d16 Group's high quality drum machine emulations, i.e., Nepheton, Drumazon, Nithonat, etc.. All-in-all, PunchBox is another excellent release — these guys never fail to impress and inspire.