Series of XX-Large Extreme sample CDs is one of the most comprehensive dance-music drum-loop collections available, offering thousands of loops on each volume. XX-Large Extreme 5 features 1,200 drum loops ranging from 142 to 175 bpm, geared toward faster genres like drum ‘n’ bass,jungle, hardcore, and speed garage. There are also 375 synth, bass, and sound effects thrown in for good measure. The CD is available in either audio or CD-ROM formatted for Akai, E-mu, Roland, and SampleCell.
The loops on this CD are arranged by bpm, which is great if you’re looking for loops at a certain tempo. However, drum ‘n’ bass and hardcore loops often reside on the same track, so if you’re looking for a particular style, you’ll have to wade through some inappropriate material. This would be okay if the loops were identified by style in the documentation, but they’re listed only by bpm. Most of the loops are a bar long, although several span two bars. A click marks the end of each loop, making it easy to
edit the sample so that it loops perfectly.
Audio quality is excellent: a lot of the drum loops sound as if they were created with a drum machine, which is appropriate for hardcore but not for jungle, as it relies heavily on drum loops made from recordings of live drummers. The synth, bass, and effects samples all sound great. Some of the sounds seemed familiar and could have been stock factory synth patches. Most of these samples are rather short, which is fine for some applications, but many of the pads and atmospheres would be more useful if they were longer. While the synth, bass, and pad sounds offer a decent selection with which to build tracks, it would have been more helpful if the single-hit drum sounds that were used to create the loops were included, allowing you to modify patterns or create new ones.
One of the biggest challenges of producing a CD of samples for drum ‘n’ bass and hardcore is that these styles are constantly changing. The tempo of drum ‘n’ bass seems to accelerate every month, for example, so I found many of these loops a little slow for my taste. There are only a handful of loops that clock in faster than 170 bpm-the average tempo for most drum ‘n’ bass today. Also, many of the loops feature tricks that have become a little overused over the last few years. But as most drum ‘n’ bass producers like to chop up, time-stretch, and modify their loops anyway, this disc provides a great palette to start with, and even experienced producers should find it inspiring. – “Dave Longo”