Review: UVI Beatbox Anthology 2 is a virtual instrument for PC & Mac with which you can discover analog & digital drum machines from the past & today
If you want certain vintage analog or digital drum machine sounds, you are usually looking for the original hardware devices on the market. If you don’t find the device on the market or they are too expensive, musicians search for good sounding sample libraries. Such sound products are available like sand at sea. From cheap to expensive, there are libraries suitable for every budget. Often you can even find free sounds on the internet but you should always make sure that these samples are freely usable in music productions.
Drum machine sample libraries that can deliver more than just sounds are rare on the market. Normally, sampler plugins include a series of drum machine samples in their factory library. With the new Beatbox Anthology 2 library, UVI tries to turn the tables and offers a very large collection of high-quality drum computer sounds from the past decades and provides a completely intuitive interface for using them.
In the second edition of the Beatbox Anthology, musicians have access to over 11,000 samples from 111 different drum machines. UVI doesn’t set a limitation on how old a device must be in order to get into the library. So here, musicians not only find old analog /digital instruments, but also recent modern analog drum machines such as samples from the Arturia Drumbrute.
In this new collection, of course, classics such as the Roland TR-808 or 909 can not be missing but more exciting are the samples of drum machine rarities that are hard to find as hardware units. The 111 drum machines included in this library convinced me during the test period and offers a nice tour through the last decades of analog and digital drum machines.
As already mentioned, UVI delivers the entire sample content in its own UFS format and binds it well into it’s own interface. This can be opened using the free UVI workstation or the full-featured synth workstation Falcon.
UVI has made an effort to build an interface that is inspired by classic drum machines that comes with a step sequencer. An easy-to-use preset browser can be found on the top where all drum machines kit are sorted in specific categories. The interface is divided into three different sections: EDIT, FX and SEQ. In the EDIT section. It allows to create up to 12 different drum sounds and tracks. The basic sound is assembled in the EDIT windows using up to three different drum layers. With the help of the three layer architecture, you can design far more interesting drum sounds than just with a simple sample per track. The user remains open, of course, as he uses the software and whether he use a sample or blends all three samples slots together. For some drum tracks, such as the bass drum, the user has only two layers. In the third layer for this instruments a tone generator is used automatically.
During my test, nice and powerful sounds were created with the help of this layer system and I rarely used only one sample layer. To design the sounds, users gets a handful of good and usable parameters. Per example, a AHD (Attack, Decay, Hold) envelope, a tuner and filters are available per layer.
The user is then shown additional parameters for each track, such as a compressor, delay, and reverb send or even an EQ. These parameter inserts on the right side are very intuitive and you immediately understand that they are there for the one track. On the left side, the individual tracks are also separated in color and each has a mute, solo button as well as gain and panning knob. Thus, the whole is a harmonic representation that is easy to read and to use.
As the title of the second page predicts, this is the effects of the Beat Anthology 2. There are different slots with 6 quite simple effects. Two delays, one bit crusher, two reverbs and a 3 band EQ. Now you wonder why you need two delays and reverbs. On the Edit page, you can route them separately on respective tracks. This allows the use of two different reverb settings, for example, on two drum sounds. So you are very flexible in the routing of both effects. Simple in the architecture are the effects certainly but can score with a very high-quality sound character.
In the third part of the interface, you can see the sequencer, the key feature of Beatbox Anthology 2. This can be felt with up to 64 steps and can play at different speeds. To get a little more life into the sequences, you can add groove to it. To give musicians a simpler start, UVI provides a good selection of finished patterns in the sequencer. These range from Pop Rock, EDM to Jazz Blues. Every musician will find a perfect pattern to start here. With the nudge row, you can move the steps very quick inside each track to the left and right. This feature is especially great for adding instant rhythmic changes.
With the function button on the right side, you can get further interesting hidden skills of the sequencer. So you can only delete the track or the entire sequence or duplicate it also. These features enhances a lot the workflow and makes the work quicker. Also in this area, you can find a nice selection of Euclidean templates. Although the sequencer is more suitable for simple drum sequences, you can use different tricks to set the steps so that it sounds like an Euclidean sequence. The sequencer also has a MIDI export functionality. The sequence can be triggered by the Note C3 and you can also play individual sounds with the keyboard. That gives you the option to use another sequencer if you prefer a different one.
Although the sequencer makes quite a lot of fun, it lacks some advanced features that would strengthen the whole experience with this library. It would certainly be a very creative feature if you could adjust the track length individually for each track. This has been seen quite often in software products in recent times. A feature that brings more variability into the sequences. Also I’m missing here is a possibility to store patterns so that you can play them without problems one after the other. Also a per step modulation for the effects would certainly be an interesting features that refine the sound and opens the doors formore experimental drum sequence ideas. Nonetheless, the sequencer is very clever designed and is usable by every musician.
As mentioned before, the Beatbox Anthology 2 is not a drum machine where the sounds are modelled with synthesis, but the UVI team sampled a large collection of old as well as new machines in their studios. To be precise, the library has over 11.000 samples of 111 different drum machine. Since the second version of this library, now includes even more drum machine kits, I’m absolutely certain that every electronic musician will find his favourite in here.
In the last product releases, UVI was able to score not only because of easy-to-use interfaces, but also for their sound quality of their sample-based instruments. So it was certainly no surprise that this also the case here. During the development process, the sounds were recorded in a high-quality with 96kHz and in the final product, users received them in 44.1 kHz. In the test, the sound quality of the individual drums but also of the kits of the Beat Anthology 2 completely convinced me. What one notes here is that UVI has tried with this library to make the sound quality so high that they sound as real as possible. In my opinion, this has been well done here.
Also positive to see is that one has complete access to the individual samples. So you can easily use them in other samplers. You need the free UVI Workstation or Falcon for accessing the “Elements” folder. Here you can simply move the samples with drag and drop. This gives you the freedom to use them also outside the UVI plugin. Also included are a good collection of ready-to-use loops from different drum machines. On the whole a very wide and good sounding selection of sounds.
Can you travel with the new Beatbox Anthology 2 from UVI through the last decades of drum machines? I’m sure you should see this library not only as a drum machine sound arsenal but also as a sound history catalog. It can not only score here through a simple handling, but also through the high-quality sample content. In the 111 available drum machines, every musician will find the right sound. With the help of the easy-to-use sound browser, you can discover the various drum machines from early to modern times and when they fit, you can use them directly in your next music production.
The Beatbox Anthology 2 is certainly also an interesting product for music producers who use a DAW where it is harder to programm drum machine patterns. With the simple plugin integration or also with the help of the MIDI export function, drum patterns can be programmed very easily.
This new library from UVI also has minor weaknesses points that can be improved. So, for example, it would be more exciting to have a sequencer that allows you to build more complex patterns. (Different step length per track) Since UVI already built it’s excellent effects here, it would certainly have been interesting if one had offered a per step modulation for the effects also. This could have produced very exciting and experimental drum patterns. Also a small criticism, I have at the price. 149€ are to my taste a bit too high. Here 99€ would be more appropriate. Since the plugin price in the last few years went down, it would certainly be a better sales argument in my opinion.
Nonetheless, the Beatbox Anthology 2 offers every musician a nice and good-sounding tour through the last decades of analog and digital drum machines in an easy-to-use plugin.
+ High quality & authentic sample content
+ Wide selection of drum machines from the past and present
+ Easy-to-use and intuitive interface
+ Good sounding effects
+ MIDI Export feature
+/ – Advanced sequencer features are missing (different step length per track…)
+ /- Retail price a bit to high
UVI Beatbox Anthology 2 is available now for 149€/$
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