Sample Magic Ultimate FX Review
Sound to Sample (S2S) and Sample Magic (SM) established their names quite some time ago. Talking to producers, many of them get excited about their latest releases – definitely time for us at pro|tone to have a closer look at the all-new Sample Magic “Ultimate FX”. To be honest, we were not only curious about the quality often highly acclaimed, but much more about what this release delivers in terms of new, cool, hopefully never-heard effects – just because there’s so many effect samples out there, and attributes like ultimate or ultra fx already sound pretty standard. Anyway – forget about that for a while, join us on our exploration of effects…
We know readers expect to read some boring facts like the sample pack content size here – but this time we would like to start just a bit earlier – talking of the download process. There might be other companies out there doing it the same way, still it was really convenient, despite a fast internet connection nowadays, being able to choose between the sample pack versions you really need. You don’t have to download an XXL package and then throw away all the rex2-loops etc. ’cause you just need the wav-loops, for example. You can choose your favorite format only which gives you a much faster download. Same holds true for sampler patches and the manual – just download what you really need. This convenience left a tiny but nice impression.
Okay, now we do switch to the facts’n’numbers part. Depending on the sample format you download (all at 24-bit quality), you get a library of round about 1.2 GB size after unpacking, consisting of some effect loops but much more diverse kinds of oneshot ingredients for your track:
- Crashes & cymbals (32 samples)
- Falls & descenders (105 samples)
- Fills (173 samples/loops)
- Impacts & bombs (22 samples)
- Layered fx examples (14 samples)
- Machinery hits (22 samples)
- Noise & detail loops (36 loops)
- Orchestral hits (11 samples)
- Risers & lifters (118 samples)
- Synth fx (102 samples)
- Tape, vinyl & static fx (26 samples)
Remarkably, the documents included are very helpful ones, not only telling you about the licensing dos and don’ts: the “layered effects examples” section contains a detailled explanation of how to layer effects to create special tension in your track. The document format is .rtf, a widely compatible one. The booklet pdf gives an overview of the content in a tree-like scheme and includes some tips to aid producer’s creativity with the samples purchased. For the ones interested in the equipment used for or on these samples or the ones even buying just sample packs using certain hardware – here you go with the complete list:
- Akai APC40
- Access Virus TI
- Nord Lead 2X
- EMT 250 Reverberator
- Moog Filter and Analogue Drive
- Harrison Console EQ
- Cooper Time Cube
- 1176 Compressor
- Rode NT1A
Become aware of the spices…
It’s about time to have the interesting talk. Listening to the very details of a good tune you will recognize many tiny effects used here and there: the secret of a good production, as it fills empty space a very subtile way. Talking of bigroom house or electro tracks, you might of course become aware of the very obvious, almost majestic up- and downlifters during break, right before the dancefloor explodes. Last but not least, more experimental music uses effect loops and glitches as rhythmic components. All of this is what “effects” can be like – let’s see what “Ultimate FX” can provide!
The rhythm has definitely got you?
Let’s focus first on the loop section and other effect samples having an own rhythm and thus a dedicated beats-per-minute declaration (falls & descenders, fills, machinery hits, risers & lifters). First of all, we need to come back to the layered fx section where we already pointed out the manual: this really renders Ultimate FX an excellent choice for young producers as you can learn a lot. The layered samples are maybe not perfect as many of them contain a very quick uplifter towards the end, cutting the tension created before a bit too sudden – at least for our taste regarding edm productions. Still, we loved this part a lot.
The loops of this package are perfect for fillig empty space in your arrangement. Subtile, few effects on it, clean-cut. However, there are some just too beautiful so we would like to use them as a main rhythm loop instead. A little bit sad there’s not more loops around here as we love playing around with those by slice’n’rearrange. A little bit more sad is the fact that quite some loops are not normalized in loudness so you have to do that yourself; that’s really annoying as nobody likes overcompression – but normalized loudness for sure.
Machinery hits represent a truely experimental part of this sample pack. Or do you remember loads of popular edm tunes containing epic machinery hits? At least we don’t. And this is why we have to honestly say: we don’t know how to judge this. We’re simply missing experience. Still, one could do some creative cutting, add some more effects and filters and thereby get cool, weird impacts on a track.
Overall it’s good to see a dedicated bpm number assigned to each of those samples. However, the folder structure distinguishing between 125 and 128 bpm seems somewhat unnecessary as it’s mostly 20-30 samples per folder and you could save some clicks by just uniting those.
Especially when looking at nowaday’s modern edm-scene, so-called bigroom tracks are highly acclaimed by the audience: it’s the art of creating a huge impact on the dancefloor with very few elements. The more important it is to have unique, kickin’ sounds, like synth oneshots, vintage effects from vinyl, electric circuits or others. Especially the synth oneshot section has some very unique and punchy sounds to it. We were really happy to see a good “reverse” section, as reversed sounds often have a similar character, making it hard to create really interesting “reverse synth shots”. This was all done nicely here, but while Sample Magic took great care of bpm-declarations above, they left out this important part here: many samples reveal a clear delay effect with constant rhythm – so a bpm number would have been very helpful (mostly those samples are at 128 bpm by the way). Moreover we found a few samples where the filename-assigned tune was wrong (A instead of E…) – seems like the Sample Magic guys worked a bit superficial here and there. Same holds true for another few samples where the reverb tail was cut before it actually ended.
Orchestral hits are a section with nice sounds but definitely no spectacular ones. They sound just typical for that genre. The crash section is an old bag anyway, making it hard to invent new stuff; we would have liked some noise crashes or the like, something totally not common or at least pretty new. This can indeed be found here, besides some more typical crashes with a cool and never-heard character. For the impact section you might think there’s also not much new stuff to add, and in a way we agree. However, we were nicely surprised discovering crystal-clear, wide-stereo impacts with careful reverb use; Sample Magic did great work here, totally unexpected due to the genre’s dullness. Finally, the vintage effect part like vinyl, tape and other is great: weird music and radio samples, crackles or electric circuit noises can be found here. Sometimes they seem just too short. Finally the up- and downlifters don’t seem to be special any more, but you can find quite some new and interesting ones in here…
Below you may listen to a demotrack composed out of the Ultimate FX sample pack. Kick, clap and 1 loop are external samples, no further processing was applied except for a smooth limiter. Please respect the copyright.
Okay, how to cut things short? With Ultimate FX, you definitely get a great effect support for your sample collection. All common effect genres are covered, the sound is professional: carefully balanced frequencies, the higher ones nicely clear and all samples with an overall brilliant touch. Sometimes missing bpm declarations, few wrong tune assignments, not loudness-normalized loops or too early cut reverb tails are a minus. Still, Sample Magic took remarkable effort to help young producers understanding the art of good effect work.
More information: samplemagic.com (34.95 GBP)
Summary: With Ultimate FX, you definitely get a great effect support for your sample collection. All common effect genres are covered, the sound is professional.