Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rob Papen Punch-BD Review: 'Inspiration Soundware' Gives Dance Music's most Vital Element Extra Special Attention

Punch-BD Offers Amazing Sounds Straight out of the Box, with all the Processing Potential that you Could ever Want

Ask any producer, musician or beatmaker what the fundamental element is to any form of dance music, be it house, hip hop, EDM, or anything else, and they are very likely to say the kick drum, also known as the bass drum.

As the name suggestions, Rob Papen's latest piece of 'Inspirational Soundware' packs a punch, both in presets and in sound design capabilities. robpapen.com.
Not only is this more often than not the 'drive' behind your beat, sitting in the low end of the frequency range, it's essential that the kick works with your bassline.

It's not an easy task.

Enter Rob Papen, creator of  'Inspiration Soundware' to help you out, with Punch-BD.

From the good folks over at robpapen.com:

'Based around the BD module of the multi award winning Punch virtual drum synth, Rob Papen delivers a creative module to help you to produce the fattest sounding bass drums for your music.

Stacking bass drums is a popular technique used by today's music producers and Punch-BD gives you the ability to stack up to 6 in total. Divide the 6 BD pads over the keyboard or use them 'stacked' in tuned mode to produce creative new BD sounds for all styles of contemporary music.

Punch-BD delivers synthesized drums in the finest audio quality or you can choose to load in your own samples for complete flexibility. Each pad has its own distortion module with several distortion types as well as its own 3 band graphic EQ. What's more, each individual pad also has its own preset section next to the overall 'BD kit'.

Like its big brother, Punch-BD features four FX units each with many 31 types of top quality FX plus further filters, envelopes, modulation routings and more for crafting your own unique sound.

From Electronic Dance and Hip Hop to Soundtrack projects, Punch-BD provides a solid speaker-busting sound for your productions.'

The New Beatmaker has been happily playing with Punch-BD for a few months now, and I really couldn't agree more!

For those of you of the 'Too Long, Didn't Read' persuasion, I'll give you the conclusion up-front ;)

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired by the sounds, just as they come, for a very long time; and as they become a more experienced knob-twiddler, Punch-BD offers such an amazing number of effects and controls that they will be able to tweak - or downright mangle - to their heart's content for a very long time thereafter.

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired ...and as they become more experienced...they will be able to tweak to their heart's content for a very long time...

And what sounds they are, too.

There are too many types to mention in full, but here are just a few that have caught my ear: big, dramatic timpanis and distorted and mangled kicks; 808 style bass drum notes; hard kick drums of the more techno persuasion; tuneful congas; and all sorts of gnarly, angry, distorted beasts which will come in handy if you delight in the more abrasive styles of anything from EDM to Nine Inch Nails style industrial electronic rock.  Creating music for video games? Check out my example of what Punch-BD can do for you, below.

Layering drums to get a bigger, more dramatic, sound is a time honoured tradition, but it's one that is easily gotten wrong, with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out, ironically creating an weaker sound.


Rob Papen himself gets hands on in this must-watch tutorial: youtube.com/user/robpapen

With Punch-BD, the user is able to load up to six different drum pads at the same time.  Now, bearing in mind just how much trouble the new beatmaker can get themselves in to by just blindly throwing sounds together willy-nilly, Punch-BD comes with a huge amount of multi-layered pad combinations, meaning that the newbie can enjoy making tracks with impressive drums right from the onset and, as there knowledge and confidence in drum grows, they can then begin to design and layer their own sounds.

The same can be said for Punch-BD's generous to say the least processing capabilities.  19 - you read that right - types of distortion - EQ, filters, reverbs and the like for days, two LFO's and more, mean that the more capable sound design minded musician is not likely to get bored in a hurry!

All these dials and sliders however are sure to intimidate a new beatmaker, so mercifully the GUI has an 'Easy' page which shows far less of those scary dials and knobs.  Helpfully, the root note of the drum / layered drums is shown on this 'Easy' page, making it even easier for the new beatmaker to ensure their drums are in key with the rest of their instruments.  One thing that would have made this page even better though, would have been the inclusion of the search, or rather 'find' option, which is actually located at the bottom of the manager screen along with a host of other commands.


A videogame/action movie style soundtrack idea from yours truly, ALL drum and percussion sounds, including that 'whooshing sound', are from Punch-BD.  Choir is BigTick Angelina free VST, talking keys are Smartelectronix ASynth free VST.  

Another 'quick win' provided by Punch-BD is how quickly you can put together a bassline using the tuned stack function and a suitable bass drum, this technique is often used on tracks of a dirty South / trap style.  A bassline comprised of a 808 style bass drum notes is far more likely to sit nicely with similar sounds from Punch BD and would therefore alleviate the frustration of drums and basslines not gelling which, like drum layering, can often happen with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out (or missing altogether).  Elsewhere, a 'sequence' / 'tuned sequence' function plays up to four drum pads one after the other, which could prove to be a nice way of quickly building up a simple idea quickly or if you're otherwise suffering from beatmaker's block.

With more features than it's possible to detail here, Punch-BD is a piece of software that will provide both instant gratification and is likely to become ever more useful and inspirational in time.  At a very reasonable $59 at the time of press, Punch-BD is bound to be a big hit.

Conclusion:
Pros:
Superb preset sounds.
Seemingly endless process and control possibilities.
Cons:
May intimidate new beatmakers to begin with.
EQ window a little small.
Total Rating: 4.5/5
This product is very much recommended by The New Beatmaker.
Buy at: robpapen.com/Punch-BD.html 

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