Sample Magic has created their first virtual instrument, and they debut in monster fashion! Introducing “Bloq”, a multi-sampled virtual drum and synthesizer instrument for Kontakt 5, with drum racks for Ableton Live 9 and a Logic EXS-24/Ultrabeat version. Bloq is the brainchild of internationally known producer and Sample Magic co-founder Sharooz Raoofi and was initially created as a personal archive of his extensive vintage synthesizer and drum machine collection to use while travelling around the world performing his live techno, and now he is sharing it with everyone. The idea behind Bloq is to bring a studio full of professional and iconic vintage synthesizers and drum machines to your computer based work station so you do not have to pack up and haul those fragile and aging circuit boards on the road, and that is assuming that you already have a collection of revered gear that would make any producer drool with envy.
The process took over a year of hard work to create, with countless hours and months spent on meticulous sampling and recording of some of the most sought after synthesizer and drum machines ever sold. Envious powerhouses adding up to 17 synthesizers and 13 drum machines that include the TR-909, TR 808, TR 606, TR 626, TR 707, TB 303, SH101, Jupiter 6, Jupiter 8, Juno 106, Arp Odyssey, Sequential Circuits Pro One, E-mu Drumulator, CR-68, DX7, Nord Lead, the Prophet 5 and several others. Each sound from the list of gear was sampled in every key of every patch and at various settings to give you the most tone variation that you can possibly achieve across the sonic spectrum. For example, on the TR 909, the hits were sampled at every key, the snares were sampled at different tone settings and different snap settings, the toms at different tones and decay settings, and the rides, high hats, and crash tones were all sampled at different tones and decay settings. All of the gear was sampled like this to give you a total of 7300 samples (don’t let the big number discourage you, the patches are well organized and are quite easy to get familiar with). If that wasn’t enough, the sounds were all recorded through the clearest and purest signal paths you can record with using a variety of pre-amps at 24-bit resolution via a Prism Sound Orpheussoundcard, with the signal path processed through select channel strips like the Focusrite ISA 430, Neve 1073, and Empirical Labs EL-8 Distressor. This professional and creative recording process has given these sounds a unique and powerful new perspective and sets them apart from other samples that came from these same instruments in the past. You get a strong, professional sound in the mix right away and that’s just one of many reasons Bloq is a must have.
Bloq is also very user friendly. It really can be considered 2 separate instruments since the Drum and Synthesizer modules have 2 individual interfaces that have slightly different features. Both are easy to understand without having to pick up a manual and the controls are clean and fun to use. Additionally, both modules offer a 32 step sequencer that offers up to 8 slots for 8 patterns with control features over several parameters such as pitch, length, octave, shuffle, accent, and a random function. It really has that perfectly simple vintage sequencer feel when operating and you can quickly compose music without having to waste time and lose focus. Both modules also offer several interesting FX that can be manipulated like compression, EQ, delay, tape saturation, filter, transients, phaser, envelopes, and reverb. There is a difference in both of the GUI interfaces (and some FX and parameters are exclusive) for the drum and synthesizer modules mainly because the drum module is designed to play 8 voices instead of just one. Another great feature in both of the modules is the ability to assign any sound from each of the drum and synthesizer sounds to create your own unique “kit”. The preset kits are great as they are but you can really get creative and build your own hybrid kits by mixing up the sounds from each of the different machines used to create the samples. Construct a hybrid synthesizer kit using various patches out of the different synthesizers like the Nord Lead, Pro-One, Roland SH101, and others for example, or build a killer drum kit mixing elements from the different types of drum machines like the TR 808 with the E-mu Drumulator and DX7. There are literally millions of different possible kit combinations available at your disposal with plenty of flexibility and creative control to keep giving you new and unique ideas time after time in your studio sessions.
After getting my hands on Bloq and using it extensively with Ableton Live 9 recently I can tell you it has revolutionized the way I approach electronic music production. With access to 1000’s of top quality professional sounds from studio gear I have only been able to dream about up until now, my productions have been sounding just as good as the big names in the techno world and I have reached a new level of quality in my music that I didn’t think was possible with a computer, and I have been having an insane amount of fun doing it! The dynamic range of authentic sound quality is astonishing. It’s all here, all of the drum and synthesizer sounds you have ever loved have been recorded and sampled at a lush and powerful quality that you have never heard before giving you an extremely powerful source of audio patches to help you design cutting edge music and achieve any goal you have with your studio projects. It is all bundled up into two powerful modules that give you a great amount of flexibility and creative flow when programming and sequencing. Whether you are a novice having fun or a professional releasing music on the most cutting edge labels out there, Bloq has something to offer for everybody. One of the most impressive qualities about Bloq though has to be the price tag. I have paid much, much more for so much less. Just the giant collection of pristine, mix ready samples alone are worth the very modest price tag that is attached to Bloq, but when you consider all of the other great features inside, how easy and intuitive it is to use, and the endless amount of fun you have when using it, it almost feels like a steal when you put this innovative VST in your shopping cart. I highly recommend that you check this one out as soon as you can as Bloq is most definitely one of my go to VST’s in every one of my productions these days.