You can buy Logic Pro 9 cheaper and it comes with more loops and drum kits than RMX.
That alone is a deal breaker. One of the worst investment I've made.. At the moment it really is outdated.
And also now I now the quality of the support also: It's been a month when I contacted Spectrasonics support and asked if I can sell my license. They are "reviewing my case". They think I don't fully know how to use the plugin. Just telling that they have a great future ahead for all products.
My advice is to avoid Stylus RMX at the moment. If they drop the price to 99 dollars, then CONSIDER.
Original review in 2009:
What can I say... I too started using loops. I bought Stylus RMX xpanded about a year ago and have found myself using it quite a lot. Perhaps lately I've used it mostly on some shakers, congas spicing up the backing track in various ways and those kind of little things but still. Very fast and effective way to do it. Also for cinematic / action sequence music it's very good and has some great presets. And overall the presets sound very good.
User inteface is clear. I think the "graphics" could be more appealing for eye but it does the job.
I don't see anything special about Spectrasonics hyped "Groove control" or in the way RMX handles the tempo change. For example if slowed down to very slow tempo. You can clearly hear the slices starting and ending as you would imagine of course.
You can use Stylux RMX as a loop player where you can have 8 loops running simultaneously in MULTI mode. Or you can use it as a drum sample player in KIT mode where you can construct your own 8-part kit from the Stylus RMX own library. Importing own samples is not an option once again. Fortunately the onboard library is pretty big.
Never needed customer support really. Crashed 1 or 2 times. Value for money... Well I think it could be a bit less expensive. Maybe 199 eur is more realistic for the whole pack imho.
RMX is still the most complete selection of loops, drum sounds and user configurability on the VSTi market. An industry standard, now powering the soundtracks to most contemporary film and TV scores; appearing on more and more mainstream albums, providing polished percussion and stomp to a hundred stage shows.
It has, with version 1.51 onwards, become fully Intel Mac compatible, and has run without flaw on both my Windows and OSX machines. Amazingly, it never seems to hog huge CPU cycles unless I ask it to [by, for example, max enabling the superb FX busses.]
Just like other Spectrasonics stuff, the GUI is clean and uncluttered. Updates come infrequently, but the synths work well first time out. I want to thank Eric and the team for the awesome 1.5 update, a leap which many other companies would have charged for [probably including Apple, and certainly the NativeBerg types].
The sounds, and this could be criticism or complement, are polished and professional - even the 'lo-fi' sounds have an instantly recognisable RMX sheen. If there's one area where another synth may outshine RMX, it's perhaps in raw, unprocessed analog drums [easily fixed by complementing this with ErsDrum or similar.]
From hi-tech electro to European house, through ambient swashes and kettle drum/tribal war beats, Stylus provides the ingredients, and the chaos/filter/LFO/FX sections enable you to make them your own. With hundreds of chopped loops, and infinite FX/redesign possibilities, there's no two musicians that should sound the same.
The Groove Control feature means that a 180bpm loop slowed to 30bpm should still sound natural, unlike other REX files, where marked tempo variation causes audible untrimmed silences and stuttering.
We all know RMX is the 'daddy', so I'd like to focus on two areas that are often missed in [non-kvr] reviews...
First; the REX expansion makes this VSTi a virtual Akai MPC groovebox. The ability to load up samples from anywhere and chaos/groove/FX them to bits means that you can create whole songs within RMX. This lends itself to live playing, dropping new sections in/out like a self-contained 'Ableton Live' application. Want a Jazz saxophone lick alongside some chopped vocals, with a selection of synth pads, basses and big beats dropping in and out? All done within RMX, swooping, changing on the fly, tempo synced. Using any REX source, the possibilities are great - just remember the REX files aren't as forgiving of extreme tempo changes as the Groove Control stuff. But they are everywhere, and available online - instant free expansion packs!
Second, the Tutorial videos. I've recently been getting back into Logic on the Apple Mac, and found the learning curve steeper than I recall. Eventually, I found some superb online movies which taught me more in a few hours than any manual or workthrough text could in weeks.
This proved two things to me; first, a good tutorial video is worth paying for, just like a good tutor. Secondly, Spectrasonics have given hours of Tutorials free to RMX users. These could easily have been payware; the videos are long, in-depth, logical, easy-going, and demonstrate more advanced features you'd not have discovered quickly. A generous and useful gift from one of the most professional companies in VST synthesis.
Support, value for money and sound quality are second to none, and Spectrasonics have built a loyal customer base with their honest company policy. You get what you pay for.
First I will skip to the conclusion: Stylus RMX is the definitive plugin for all types of percussion. There is nothing better. Ok, there I said it. Now I can get on with the review. Note that I'll assume you have some idea of what RMX is and what it does. If not, check Spectrasonics site first.
User Interface: Very polished. The GUI consists of tabbed pages for each of the 8 multi-timbral channels. Its very easy to understand and the look is quite nice.
Sound: At its heart, Stylus RMX is a playback module for sliced-loops, as well as a basic drum-hit module. In terms of sound quality when speeding up/slowing down loops, RMX has no equal. Its virtually perfect. Its to the point where you don't even think about what tempo the original loop is in, you just insert it into your project and smile.
The included effects are very diverse and quite good. Different compressors, limiters, filters (contains even the great filter from Imposcar!), reverbs, etc. All you need to effect your drummixes. The effects are so good that you'll wish they came in an FX version so you could use them on other synths/audio.
Features: RMX is very flexible. You can use Slice mode, where you can load up 8 loops and use midi to sequence every slice; or Groove Mode where you can load 63 x 8 loops and use midi to switch between them! In addition to that there is kit mode, a semi-GM compatible mode where you can access the very diverse drumhit collection RMX comes with.
Chaos mode is the next major feature. It algorithmically modifies loops in real-time. You choose how much variance you want. And then if you like what it produces, you can save it to midi! This is an unbelievably useful feature - and one that just isn't available anywhere else.
The only negative I see as far as features is the inability to use Kit Mode at the same time as Slice Mode. For myself, I often want to lay down a few basic loops and then trigger midi drums over top. Unfortunately this isn't possible in RMX - unless you use multiple instances of the plugin. I'll say more on why you probably don't want to use multiple instances in the stability section.
Where to begin... First, the number of sounds. You get the ENTIRE Stylus Classic library of loops and hits(~3gb), + ~4.5gb of new content. The new content is quite a bit more experimental than the original stuff - pushing the boundaries well past Stylus Classic's relatively rigid set of breakbeat, urban and dance grooves. In contrast, you'll now find tons of new eclectic electronic material, as well as sounds suitable for filmscoring.
Not only do you get the loops, you get over 500 multi-patches. These patches are multi-channel setups containing multiple grooves, with appropriate FX and Chaos etc. already selected! Needless to say, these are hugely useful, if only as a starting point.
Ready for more sounds? RMX comes with nearly 300 drumkits. These kits are complete with FX and mixing already done. Don't misunderstand that all RMX can do is loops - the kits are second to none. They aren't the heavily multisampled stuff of FXPansion BFD etc., but they are extremely useful nonetheless - especially for electronic genres.
Finally the best part: Starting with the 1.5 update, EVERYTHING is organized by genre/type. So if you want a military-esque multipatch, an urban drumkit, or a 'tight' snare, its all just wonderfully easy to find. This type of organization is essential when you have so much content to work with - it just makes workflow in RMX so simple.
Customer Support: I haven't used support yet, but I will give a 6 based on two things: I purchased a used license transfer and it took a very long time. I understand that its not a priority, but this was an unacceptably long wait (weeks). Not only that but there is a $50 license transfer fee that seems quite high. Even then the person receiving the transfer isn't entitled to update deals (such as the upgrade price from Stylus Classic to RMX). I don't like this transfer policy at all.
BUT Spectrasonics partially redeems themselves by offering great free updates. The 1.5 update was incredible - and cost $0! It was much more than just bugfixes. Thats great support.
Stability: For the most part RMX has been very stable. So I will use this section to instead talk about resource usage. RMX is a RAM hog: just to load 1 instance (with no sounds!), uses about 200mb. Loading two instances uses over 350mb! Thats alot, and thus I don't recommend RMX if you have under 1gb of RAM.
CPU usage is improved alot in recent versions, but its still rather high. In particular, the Imposcar filter uses over 5% of my cpu. Why? Imposcar altogether uses less than that. And Kit Mode, just to play back a few samples (with no fx or timestretching etc.) takes quite a bit of CPU. Compare this to an efficient drum module like Battery or Redrum and its not competitive.
Value for Money: Overall RMX is totally worth the money. Love it!
$10 for a UPS delivery is great value for a free upgrade from Stylus that I bought in April. So is the upgrade worth it? Well, it’s not an upgrade…Stylus RMX is a completely new program that installs as a separate version to the original program.
The package comprises two DVD’s containing 7.4 Gig of sounds and the program itself. Installation is fairly straight forward but Stylus RMX would be better if it would allow you to “point” to where your Library folders are kept rather than the more awkward way they have of linking to your vst file.
Authorisation is via a challenge and response number from their web site.
Included in the pack is a great CD containing QuickTime video tutorials. This CD is a great innovation; it is immensely useful by way of an introduction to the various screens and controls which is needed because the manual is very poor.
So what’s new? Well, for a start, Stylus RMX is very different to the “old” Stylus. No more accessing the sound set via the Windows Start button and Explorer. The library is now accessed by means of drop down menus from within the program. Up to 8 simultaneous instruments (which Spectrasonics call “Elements”) or Grooves can be layered at once, and total control is available in real-time over all the sounds, even changing them as you play. Grooves can be selected to play back from the drop down menus as well as individual Elements, giving you huge control over your beats.
There is a virtual rack of effects including all the usual suspects like EQ, Tube slammers, limiters and delays which can all be loaded separately for each track or voice. The full range is listed on this web page at K-v-R above.
Further screens for editing LFO’s, Envelopes and Filters – even a chaos control screen - all make for an interesting and endless sound design capability. The control options over the sounds are virtually limitless. A mixer page is instantly recognisable but swivelled through 90 degrees so it is sideways. Controls for pan, levels, and fx are all accessible via this page for each of the 8 tracks.
Drag and Drop facilities to your host program make constructing layered sounds comprising both Grooves and individual sounds/instruments is easy and can be used to quickly construct unique songs very easily but beware, different hosts allow this facility in widely differing ways. REX files can also be converted to S.A.G.E. using the included converter making the sound files available through the library drop down menus.
So what does it sound like….and how easy is it to use? Awesome and as easy as you want…or as complex as you want…it’s your choice - most users will be able to get some simply stunning rhythm grooves going very quickly. Because the sounds can be manipulated in real-time; if you don’t like a particular instrument or groove…then change it on the fly. Adding in individual percussion instruments, as you play, all synced to your host is easy. The sheer range of instruments including many ethnic sounds is really impressive. I found that in my P4/2.4Gig PC, each Groove took about 15% of the CPU capacity…. But not once did I experience any crashes or glitches, even with 4 instances open within my host, so it appeared to be very stable.
The main thrust of Stylus RMX in its standard, out-of-the-box format is for Hip-hop and dance/trance genres of music but to say that there is no flexibility to cover other styles would be doing the program an injustice.
Any library that uses the same format, described as “S.A.G.E. Expander’s by Spectrasonics, can be used to broaden the appeal and use of the product. Make sure you check out the demos of all their libraries including their BackBeat Expander reviewed by SOS magazine that has stunning acoustic drum sounds. These add-ons give Stylus RMX a real edge for all sorts of music makers…from film and commercial producers through to the discerning amateur.
Bottom line? An amazing program, something for everyone, a greatly improved new interface, terrific for using live and with the added $99 S.A.G.E. Expander library’s, hugely appealing for all music buffs of whatever persuasion you are.
Although relatively expensive if you need to supplement the program out of the box with Expander libraries, the quality of the sounds and the degree of manipulation and ease of use makes this program well worth it. This program should be in every serious amateur musician/producers portfolio. Whatever criticisms the original program had from the music community, Spectrasonics have evolved the product to be a great beat program, right out of the box. I had many hours of fun jamming to made-up beat grooves before I recorded anything. And if it doesn’t quite suit your particular musical taste from the get-go, then with all the libraries available for it, all music genres are catered for. . Simply a “must try it” program!
Stylus has something like 1000 kicks, 1000 snares and 500 hihats + loads of loops. Phew. Now that is a lot to audition. They all sound great, but it's a bit of a pain finding the right one, as they are not categorized.
Most of the sounds are aimed at hip hop/funk but you can find something for most styles though. The loops are mainly these 2 styles and Drum n' Bass for the faster loops. That's not too much of a problem as I usually removes the kick and snares and then you have tons of posibilities again. All the loops sound superb, although too much alike. The biggest problem with Stylus is that it's not multitimbral. Sure you can use all the drumhits in a loop in one instance, but once you want another snare you have to open another Stylus. That's a bit of a pain when you are sequencing. But Stylus RMX which comes out in September should take care of that. Can't wait. It'll turn a great ROMpler into a superb one. Eric's sounds are just the best. I don't give it as high scores as someone does, as I think it can get improved a lot, and I know it will be. I'm sure once Stylus RMX comes out I'll rate it 10 in all categories. And the upgrade will be free for everyone who buys it now. I'm sure it will be the king of drum machines then.
Just picked this up. I find that the interface needs some work as well as the way Stylus works in general. For instance, you preview a loop from one list, and then if you want to use that loop in a "recycle" fashion, you have to find it and load it again from another list, then you have to go to the Windows start menu, find your way through that and dig through several more levels of folders to find a corresponding midi file to drag and drop on Stylus...Just to get control of the individual slices! Then do it all over and over again for each loop you want to use. This is honestly pretty bad. I have to wonder why they chose the Windows Start menu for the midi files and on a Mac it's in the Apple menu. Since I'm using FL Studio, I pointed FL's internal browser at the location of the midi files to make it somewhat less tedious. I'm surprised they couldn't figure out a better way to integrate the midi files than dragging and dropping them from the Windows Start menu.
As for the samples themselves, I didn't find more than a few that were inspiring after listening to everything from 120bpm down. I'm also surprised to find that some of the drum parts aren't separated properly. There are parts with, for example, kick and hi hat mixed into one slice with no way of separating it. I expect that when I slice up beats myself, but not from an expensive soundset. It also doesn't have multi-outs so serious mixing of these drums will involve a lot more work unless you output the drum loop to wave, reslice it and load it into a something like Battery. The way it stands currently, all drum parts will be on a single mixer channel.
Stylus will be a very good tool when they get these things sorted, most importantly, multi-outs for the slices. Right now, I'm thinking that I'm gonna preview loops with Stylus, and reslice them with Beat Creator to make Battery kits simply to get each part on it's own channel. I'm hoping that a future update wil address this serious shortcoming. I think it's almost impossible to mix drums on a single channel which gives Stylus a very large minus.
The one thing very unique about it is that you can take a beat from 120 bpm down to 75 bpm and it still sounds pretty good. There are also a few other nice tricks up it's sleeve which are demonstrated on the demo video.
Overall, I'd say it's a good value for the money depending on how you plan to use it. For me, I have to get each drum part on a separate channel so I'm looking for the best way to achieve this. If this gets added in a future update, I can probably deal with the dual menus for previewing, vs dragging/dropping midi files from another menu.
Well when I first started playing around with stylus I was alittle dissapointed as at first it seems like most of the grooves/loops in it were really not my "cup of tea" but ...
When I started mixing it into tracks it became apperant that these grooves sit really nicely in a mix regardless of the musical "style" (no pun intended :)). Had I not actaully used it in some tracks I would have probably given it a 7 on sound, but in a mix ... it gets a 10. The sounds work well with some compression, reverb, delay etc.
Whats really nice about stylus is that you can drop a grove in on top of a mix to liven it up or start a whole new song based on one of the grooves ... it all works wonderfully once you start to make real music with it.
I like the simple interface. The ability to filter/process individual slices is nice; however I havent so far really wanted too.
I do wish there were more percussion type loops, there are some but I wish there were more.
I have ran into a few clitches along the way ...
1) when used on a track and you zone edit ... the names of the slices dont change like they do when playing directly from a keyboard ... maybe this is by design but I would have liked to see this for more feedback.
2) I had some problems in Orion with the imported midi files not playing back correctly but in cubase SX it works correctly ... Ive reported this to rich so it should be fixed in short order.
I think this unit could be a little less expensive but all in all Im happy I got it. :)
Very Refreshing drum loops (though a bit "west coast-ish"), that are clearly inspirational. You should be able to extract any drum beat from the clear editing and amazing choice. However I would have like to see a more european feel in some of the loops, but I guess it can be tweaked with a combination of the interface and the midi groove extracted into the sequencer.
However (somebody correct me if I am incorrect) but the system of corresponding slices to midi slices is rather cumbersome. It involves first loading up the slices, then finding the corresponding midifile to load into the sequencer. Rather it should allow a preview of the loop, allow you to then load the slices, and then drag and drop the midi file like phatmatic. For this I cannot give a higher user interface mark and hopefully one day this feature will be added.
Stylus is very easy to use, the automation you can do on each "slice" of the main beat is amazing, especially since, you just load the midi file, the c.g. version of the loop, turn on zone edit, and tweak away. I have used stylus in new age type tracks, all the way to dance, to hip hip. then you throw in no license worries, they are going to update stylus, the customer service is very good....etc etc etc. and on a 667 with enough RAM, you barely even notice your using it.
I'd like to add my voice to the chorus of praise for Stylus. I've been a fan of Mr Persing for some time and was really looking forward to a breakbeat-styled product from Spectrasonics. I have long wanted to use loops as they really do add something to programmed drums but I never found a sample resource that had that magic that seems to come from lifting breaks from other peoples' records.
Within 5 minutes of loading Stylus I stopped writing down the names of loops I liked: there were just too damned many of them :) Most had that elusive magic and they really added something to the tracks I was working on. It's like collaborating with a good musician-they suggest new avenues that the piece might venture down while, at the same time, seriously getting on with the job.
And it's not like you're stuck with them either. With Groove Control it's ridiculously easy to tailor the loops to your track, retaining the sound but changing the feel. And since Stylus has got really good filters and very, very useful modulation options, you can go the other way too: radically changing the sound while completely retaining the feel. Everything can be automated, so you can continuously shift between the altered sounds/groove and their original form. And the interface is well designed, so doing all of this is a piece of highly chocolatey cake. Mmmmmm. Cake.
Support, as most of you know, is exemplary. As for VFM, Stylus is (relatively speaking) an expensive tool but you definitely get what you paid for: the material is incredibly diverse and of an exceptionally high sonic quality.
I did nip off a mark for documentation because I would have liked a list of the loops, hits, etc for reference purposes. Also, way too many of the single kick drum hits have hat/cymbal noises on them. I'd have preferred them clean.
Parting shot: if spectrum is listening, I'd like more percussion loops - I can see myself using them even more than the breaks in the future. Ta for the killer tool.
user interface: very simple and easy to use. i like that.. everything makes sense. its easy to glance at it and know what your settings are.
Sound: man! let me tell you there are some excellent sounding beats and breaks in here! the fact that they're also all "sliced" up for with the GC versions of each loop, you get ultimate control.. its unreal. its like getting 3 gigs worth of a dope sample library all wrapped in an easy to use player.
Features: great simple features. i can see tons of room for enhancements that i bet spectrasonics will probably implement (like importing of new samples, and etc). but for the most part, it is what it says. a break beat driven, groove control virtual module. great stuff.
Documentation: it was ok.. but when is anyone ever happy with documentation? there was some spots that i had to figure out, but the interface was simple enuf i wasn't too stumped.
presets: well duh.. its all about the presets on this baby.. FREEKIN 3000 LOOPS! YIKES!
customer support: excellent! all questions answered very quickly (and spectrum is a kvr member and very responsive)
Value for money: more than worth it. think about how much 3GB of drum loops would cost. thats, 5 sample CDs. usually 99bux a piece. also, you need a sampler to take advantage of these, more money you'd need to spend. with that in mind, stylus is rediculously cheep!
Stabilty. well, i've had it crash cubase SX for me. also, cubase SX doesn't implement drag and drop functionality, which would make using stylus so much more easy.. as importing the GC'd midi files is a pain in the ass.
I've had Stylus for over a month now and it has to be the most inspiring production tool i have ever used !!!
The interface looks great and is idiot proof, no scrolling through loads of pages its all there infront of you. All your movents on interface are automatically recorded when you go into zone edit mode, which is really handy if your doing stuff on the fly.
The filter's sound wicked, and can be assigned to your choice of controller. There's a really neat 'Random' setting which does some mad thing's to your loops, and sounds great on bongo's/conga's, it gives them a sort of 'live jam' feel. When the filters are used together with pitch you can really make some of the drums scream!! and these are all assignable to each key for some mad effects on the Groove Control loops.
The loops themselves sound great and cover all genres of Breakbeat material, with 1000 to choose from, i don't think i've heard all of them yet. (there's almost too much to choose from).
The Groove menu's are a great place to start from, they're tempo grouped and placed across the keyboard, its good to use these to see how the loops fit together. There's a choice of 'Groove Menu's' or 'Swing Menu's' with 4 tempo sources in each. Once you find a loop you want to use Stylus will tell you which GC file it came from! (save's a hell of a lot of searching :)
Groove control is where this thing comes into it's own though. The individual slice's all sound brilliant and once loaded recreating your own versions of the loops is a doddle. With 38,000 different samples including Kick, Snare and perc menus your not stuck to the sound of the origonal loop if you don't want to be.
It been rock solid on my Mac and use's hardly any of the CPU. So if you want, you could open loads at the same time without your computer falling down
All in all if i could give Stylus more points i would, It really is impressive and easy to use.
I highly recommend it to anyone who want's TOTAL CONTROL over their beats.
I finally submit my raving fan review: I've had it for over a month, and I use it ALL the time. This rates a 10/10 because I just can't stop using it.
Hundreds of very good loops - better than most other sample CDs I've bought. The quality is is absolutely unparalleled - Spectrasonics does not mess around with fidelity.
There's the loops, whole and sliced ("groove control", which is actually more tha sliced - each bit sounds good on its own), as well as 3000+ very usable drum hit sounds.
The user interface is very easy to use. It is intuitive to manipulate the individual loop slices. It encourages experimentation and "playing" with the loop slices in a way that even Reason's Dr Rex can't quite manage.
If I had a complaint, it would be that loading the midi files for the "groove control" requires that you leave the application, but at least the directory structures are easy to navigate, and the loops and midifiles are well named - you really can't get confused. Ideally, there would be a "load loop" function inside of stylus, but I'll survive.
But basically, this is a fantastic value for the money. It sounds great, it has SCADs of sounds, a very good user interface. In the final analysis, I can't STOP using it, so I give it highest marks.
For Support and Docs, high marks now, because Spectrum is active on these boards, and they just released a very good PDF manual. Never a crash.