Review of Stylus RMX
A Novel Approach for Making Beats in your Sequencer
It took me
a long time to warm up to Stylus. Mainly this was because of my misunderstanding
of the product. I thought Stylus was in it's essence a "DJ tool",
filled with turntable scratches and hitz and beatz and yes, it has those.
But it also has sooo much more. I heard so many good things about
the newest version, Stylus RMX, that when I found out it was now compatible
with Logic 7 (which is rather picky about what plugins it can use), I took
I am glad
I did. Stylus RMX is a powerful package for drum beat creation and
generation. It's filled with the good stuff--unique, on-the-edge
drum sounds and grooves. You want edge? It's here.
For squeaky clean pristine drum sounds, this is probably not the ticket
(though it has some remarkably clean percussion sets.) If you are
looking for those intense, distorted, whole baked weeds you can drop on
a track you are in the right place. So naturally, Stylus RMX is better
suited for some forms of music than others. Doing hip hop? You
will love it. It's got some awesomely low kiks that
could get you a hefty traffic fine in Texas, and all the nerdy snares and
tinny tinkly high hats you could want. Killer krunk. For those
that prefer the faster BPMs of DnB and Trance I guarantee you will not
be disappointed. You'll find LFO-->Filter possibilities, quick
and easy reversed sample capability, perfect trance delays, and in some
modes you can put a whole rack of effects on each drum element in
your kit as inserts, given you have the requisite CPU power.
How it works.
In a nutshell
you have a choice of how you want to use Stylus RMX. This is the coolest
part too, so pay attention as I get a little complex.
You get 8
mixer channels in Stylus RMX and you can use each channel in 3 different
menu. Here's the whole groove is laid out on the keyboard--every
single hit--arranged chromatically (up the white and black keys from low
to hi). You can play this by inputting notes in your sequencer or
you can drag and drop a midi file of a groove direct from stylus (see fig
1 below). And you guessed it, once it is in your sequencer you can
edit it anyway you want. If that was all it did it would be alright
by me, but then there is also the..
menu. Using the Groove menu these midi files play when you press
a key on the keyboard. Get it, the whole beat plays on one key.
When there is a variation they play one the adjacent keys.
Sound Menus. Here the keyboard is mapped by instrument.
For example, if you choose one of 30 odd kik menus it will load up the keyboard
with kik samples. Some of these menus may have 60 or so kiks!
You'll find menus for cymbals, hi hats, percussion, side sticks, noise,
guitar bits, turntable FX, retro hits and many more, including my favorite,
In my current
song that I have loaded in Cubase SX 3, I have all three methods used in
only one instance of Stylus RMX. I love having a choice of how I work.
What? You want it in GM format? Dude! You can have that
too! There is also a "kit mode" that lets you call kits built along the
GM standard of kik at C1, Snare at D1, Hats at F#, G# and A# like you
are used to.
Oh I hear
ya, preset grooves get old quick in a track. Well they can.
But you have yet another option with the onboard "chaos generator".
You can take a preset groove and let the program create subtle
or dramatic changes. Take a look at the features in the chaos generator.
The more you move each fader or knob, the more things change. When
you hear what you want you press Capture, and then you drag it out of the
export box to your host sequencer's track. Easy and Powerful.
Well it is. But you don't have to read the manual. In fact,
there is none. What you get is a whole DVD or video tutorials, done
by Eric Persing himself. You even get to see Eric sitting in his studio
and can watch him use Stylus in his sequencer (which is Logic, by the way).
There are several hours of video. But I assure you, if you go through
them all like I did, you will be able to instantly use Stylus RMX and know
what you are doing.
OK, one more
cool thing about Stylus RMX. You can use the SAGE converter
it comes with to import your own ReCycle RX2 files into stylus. I
was able to take my own custom Celestial Windowpane Acid Loop, run them
though ReCycle to make a properly sliced RX2 file, then import them into
Stylus RMX with the SAGE converter. So you can move material into
lot of pros for Stylus RMX in my book. Now lets look at the drawbacks.
I'll tell you now, there aren't many. In fact it's hard to think of
any without nit-picking. One would be that you cannot get in and edit the
preset grooves or access the source sample files. The only files you can
add of your own are ReCycle files. There is no .WAV or AIF import.
You can import certain Akai CD roms that have the Spectrasonics groove engine,
like their CD rom Metamorphosis but not their classic Distorted Reality
2 or Symphony of Voices. OK, looks like I don't have any
other significant nits. Even the copy protection and installation
was easy. If there is something to complain about it's Spectrasonics
license agreement. But I ranted about that in my review of atmosphere
so I won't drag you there again.
I am using
RMX in both Logic 7 and Cubase SX 3 on my Mac G5. Have not tried it
on my PC. It seems to work a little faster graphically in Cubase than
in Logic, but Logic's automation engine lets you more exactly record and
edit the tweakage done in Stylus. It is compatible with versions of
Fruity Loops too.
I sum I am
impressed with Stylus RMX to a great degree. Its so well-thought out,
I am surprised it does not cost more. This is a solid plugin instrument,
and if you are doing hip hop or adventurous forms of electronica you really
have to have this one.
More info at
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