Grid V3.0 Future Retro Drumtrax is F9 Audio’s attempt to create a perfect blend of vintage drum machine sounds with a modern production flavor and the warmth of real analog tape. In a market so oversaturated with drum machine sample libraries, are these classic tape-saturated drum hits worth the asking price?
F9 Audio focuses on delivering audio products that aim higher than the current sample/loop library standard. Apart from the audio content, their releases contain pre-mixed and fully customizable song arrangements provided as session files for Logic and Ableton. The idea is to let the users focus on the core aspects of songwriting instead of limiting their creativity with mixing and drum arrangement tasks.
Grid V3.0 Future Retro Drumtrax is no different in this regard, containing nine professionally mixed and arranged projects, along with one-shot versions of all featured sounds. The thing that makes it different from most other F9 Audio releases, however, is that this library focuses exclusively on drums and FX sounds. There are no melodic parts to speak of, apart from the sequences heard in the first demo track, all of which are included in the download.
Modern Vintage Drums
The 80s influence on modern electronic music is stronger than ever, with classic drum machines and synthesizers of the era being a staple of contemporary genres like synthwave, electropop, and various other retro-inspired styles of electonic music. Whereas those classic sounds are still musically pleasing, the mixing and mastering standards have advanced significantly compared to what was considered acceptable back in the day. Because of this, raw drum machine sounds will, more often than not, require considerable amounts of polish and post-processing to blend well with modern music productions.
F9 Audio fixes this issue with Grid V3.0 by doing most of the dirty work for you. The included drum loops and one shots are professionally edited and mixed without losing the original flavor and vibe of the sampled drums. In addition to the basic EQ and compression work, the source sounds were passed through an ex-broadcast Magnéto Revox B77 High Speed reel-to-reel tape recorder for added warmth and punch. According to the info posted on F9 Audio’s website, the product release was actually postponed until the right tape machine was selected for the task. The team tried several different options before choosing B77 in the end. Judging by the sounds in the pack, they made the right choice. The included drums are solid, punchy, noise-free, and authentically retro sounding.
Having done some drum machine sampling work myself in the past, I know that getting the right sounding result takes a lot more effort than simply recording a drum machine to a tape deck and calling it a day. There are plenty of factors at work, from tweaking the source instrument properly, to finding the right amount of drive when recording, cleaning up the recordings with an EQ, shaping the drum hits with a compressor, and more. After listening to the sounds included in Grid V3.0, it’s hard to use any word to describe them than simply perfect. I’ve tested plenty of drum machine sample packs, ranging from free to the most expensive ones, and I can safely say that Grid V3.0 hasn’t failed to impress me sonically. Granted, it is not a pack you’d want to purchase if you’re looking for raw or marginally processed drum machine hits. But as a set of mix-ready vintage drum sounds, this F9 Audio release simply excells.
Arranged Is The Word
As previously mentioned, an F9 Audio product is usually more than just a set of samples and/or audio loops. These guys put in the extra effort to deliver song files that are ready to edit, rearrange, remix, or analyze and use as a learning tool. Whereas I prefer arranging drum tracks myself, it’s hard to deny that using pre-made drum arrangements like these can be a serious workflow boost.
The contents are organized into nine individual song projects, with tempo ranging from the laid-back 98 BPM of “Close To The Hedge” to the break-style 140 BPM groove of “Maniac”. The provided arrangements are detailed and original sounding while remaining versatile enough to conform to a range of musical ideas. In other words, I didn’t feel limited while jamming on top of the provided tracks – instead, it was pretty inspiring to play whatever synth parts I could come up without having to think about programming and mixing the underlying drums in advance.
Pricing Options Galore
The library can be purchased in eleven different versions, with different pricing options. The full pack including all audio content is available for Apple Logic and Ableton Live (£27.95), as well as a WAV stem pack containing full arrangements for use with any DAW (£26.95). A simple WAV format version without the full arrangements is also available (£22.95), along with half sets for Ableton And Logic (priced at £16.95 each). Finally, Grid V3.0 can be purchased as a half set in WAV format (£12.95) or a plain old set of drum and FX one-shot samples in WAV format (£9.95).
Users like myself who enjoy programming drums should probably pick one of the WAV versions, whereas Ableton and Logic users who are looking for an ultimate drum workflow boost will enjoy the full versions of the set with included arrangements. Considering the quality of the included audio content, the pricing is more than fair for all available options.
Grid V3.0 Future Retro Drumtrax is an impressive set of processed drum machine sounds designed for the modern music producer. The included drum samples and the provided arrangements are equally impressive, with enough pricing options to fit any musician’s needs. If you produce retro-inspired electronic music, or need a source of professionally mixed and edited drum machine sounds for your tracks, this release is well worh a look.
More info: F9 Audio Grid V3.0 Future Retro Drumtrax (from £9.95 to £27.95)
F9 Audio Grid V3.0 Future Retro Drumtrax Review
A perfect blend of vintage drum machine sounds and modern processing techniques.