Every producer’s Dutch genius Rob Papen has been a bit quiet of late, leaving many of us to wonder if and when he would grace us with another awe-inspiring virtual synthesiser. As it turns out, the reason for this recent silence was that Mr Papen has been busy working on his latest mouth-watering plug-in — a very tasty drum machine called Punch.
There is no shortage of virtual drum machines on the market: in fact, there is pretty much every flavour, emulation, remake and bastardisation imaginable available at the moment, and more are being released constantly. But when a virtual instrument has the name Papen associated with it, anyone who has any studio sense will want to check it out or run the risk of missing out on something special, even if they already have a whole collection of drum machines — virtual or otherwise — in their arsenal.
Drum machines and groove boxes generally fall into one of two categories: a) sampled, where the drum sounds have been recorded and stored as samples, or b) synthesis, where the drum machine generates the sound. Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks, but you can’t have your cake and eat it right? Well not according to Rob Papen, who has taken the rather innovative approach of using both sampling and synthesis to generate the drum sounds in Punch, thereby having the best of both worlds.
Punch elegantly combines the elements of a groove box and a drum synthesiser, then puts them all together in a slick and user-friendly plug-in that is available in ultra-sexy 64-bit as well as 32-bit versions. Rather than being pigeon-holed into one particular genre because of the style of sounds, Punch has a huge range of amazing sounding drums and percussion that will suit almost everyone who is making music at the moment.
Punch’s interface is very user-friendly as well as pleasing to the eye. The layout is uncluttered and logical but still manages to give a huge amount of control over the sounds and effects, as well as having a few neat little tricks up its sleeve to boot. One such unique tricky feature is the re-trigger function that makes creating rolls and flams an absolute breeze, as well as being brilliant in live gig scenarios.
At the top of the Punch drum synth is the preset browser screen, nicely disguised as an LCD display. To the right of the browser are four buttons used for turning on editing options as well as a master volume knob. All pretty standard stuff but done with taste and style, which is always nice.
In the middle of Punch Drum’s interface is the control section, broken up into three parts: Quick Edit, Synthesis Options and an Effects section. The quick edit section is a really nice touch and will take care of most of the day-to-day tweaks without needing to think too much. The synthesis and effect options offer a huge amount of control without being cluttered or intimidating, with everything there for a reason and in the right place.
At the bottom left-hand side of the plug-in sits a bank of 24 drum pad-style buttons just begging to be pushed, and on the right-hand side of this sits a lovely large blue screen that doubles as a sequencer display, as well as the editor for the drum sounds ‘engine’ when one of the drum pad buttons is held down. There is no lack of options for control or tweaking here, and once again the layout is slick and user-friendly.
The presets in Punch are fantastic. There is a huge range of styles, and the sounds are of the highest quality. In addition to drum sounds, there is a great selection of sequence patterns to choose from without needing to program them from scratch. Once the effects are added and the knobs start to get tweaked, it becomes obvious that the range of sounds that can be created is almost limitless.
Once again Rob Papen has created a virtual synthesiser that oozes quality in every respect. The sounds are awesome, the user interface looks great, it’s easy to learn and fast to use. We all know that the “world don’t move to the beat of just one drum”, so even in such a crowded market place Punch should do very well indeed, finding a home in many studios across wide genres.
Established producers and percussionists would do well to investigate what Punch can do for them. Anyone who needs a drum machine at the moment would be plain crazy not to download the free demo because this could well be the one drum machine they use for years to come.
|Ease of Use||8.0|
|Value for Money||8.5|
All-in-one groove box and drum synthesiser with huge tweakability and awesome sounds.
None, other than the fact it wasn’t released years ago.
|Conclusion||A well rounded, slick and easy to use drum machine and groove box that spans genres as well as doing things that other drum machines simply can’t do.|
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