Review: PercX by Auddict

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Innovative PercX impresses as a potential “game-changer,” offering huge functionality and a streamlined workflow. Composers and producers seeking fully customizable rhythms that are always in the pocket (including sample pre-roll timings) need look no further.

Jump to the Videos of PercX by Auddict

Jump to the Demos of PercX by Auddict

 

Review: PercX by Auddict

After releasing several widely praised, high-quality Kontakt sample libraries for orchestral instruments, percussion and voice, Auddict entered the plugin instrument market with standalone synth Hexeract, to mixed reception. Those who don’t have issues generally love Hexeract’s sound. I liked it so much that I almost immediately started a user group on Facebook. But, scattered system compatibility issues and a highly stylized user interface marred Hexeract’s success and wide adoption.

Fast forward to late 2019…

PercX demonstrates multiple areas where Auddict have vastly improved their approach to instrument design since Hexeract. PercX benefits from a friendlier interface, better BETA testing and a more obvious industry-leading feature set. Early adopters happily name PercX their favorite purchase of 2019 on public sample library forums.

PercX sells for $149 for Pro or $99 for Core from Auddict

Thoughts

After a few minutes clicking around, my first thoughts were, “This thing is huge!”

PercX immediately engages, inviting play and creativity. Behind nearly every button and knob you’ll find additional layers of control. It’s easy to load and play inspirational patterns quickly, change instruments or rhythm patterns, and sculpt and shape almost every aspect of the sound. Almost everything you could want it to do it does, and if it doesn’t there’s usually a reason. For example there is no timpani because the instrument is not currently intended for tonal percussion.

The interface displays audio waveforms, and you’d be forgiven if you thought the instrument uses audio loops. Actually, it’s all MIDI triggering individual multi-samples under the hood. Every hit is a complete multi-sample from attack to tail. The original performances were played and recorded by musicians. But, every loop has been deconstructed and can be customized or trashed via MIDI editing. What you hear are not “chopped loops” or “slices” of a loop. They are complete samples triggered by MIDI and they sound just as great at 50 beats per minute as they do at 150 bpm.

These are not audio loops. They are waveform visualizations of individual samples triggered by MIDI.

Particular attention must be paid to the fact that each sample has a point at which it should land “on the beat” and it might not be at the beginning – in fact it might be near the sample’s end, if it’s a whoosh or a riser or a suckback sound. This means that the engine always keep track of the “preroll” for each sample, as needed, and can follow tempo changes smoothly without missing a beat (literally). This alone might make it handy for film composers who work with complicated tempo maps, or anyone who adjusts tempo frequently.

How does it sound? The sound quality rivals most packages available, especially products that sound fantastic out of the box – even if that means processing is occasionally “baked in” to the instrument samples. While the initial kits available focus on cinematic sound variations, Auddict can release future expansions catering to many styles and genres. There’s nothing keeping them from releasing rock, hip hop or trap kits, glitch, lofi, EDM, and so forth.

More specifically, I found that most of the ensemble hits have a clear, defined transient with other “players” carefully in the background. This seems intentional and lends to the “always on time” feel of the sounds. Of course you can humanize or alter pre roll settings or move things ahead of or behind the beat. But it takes intervention to make these samples sound messy or out of the pocket.

In the Core kit large drum samples, there is some room sound wedded to some of the samples, kind of a large studio feel that accurately reflects the current cinematic and hybrid sensibility I know many producers will enjoy without second guessing. I also know a select few will still swear by more expensive multiple microphone sample sets with a more close and dry option – but again, Auddict can release as many expansion kits as they like and this quibble could be easily abated in the near future.

Expansion kits in various styles get downloaded from within the instrument, complete with demo previews of each kit’s sounds and default MIDI patterns.

Beyond the excellent sound quality, what sets PercX apart from other packages is the enormous feature set. Sound shaping controls include friendly naming conventions like the “telephone,” “air” and “mud” filter controls. It’s easy to record your own MIDI patterns, adjust note lengths including filling gaps, quantize and humanize timing precision, double or halve pattern section lengths, repeat pattern sections, change dynamics and automate multiple controls; all within the instrument, without touching a DAW. The engine handles all this with extreme grace and takes very little CPU.

Creative effect names to help keep you in a flow state.

If you find a pattern or a sound you like, you can lock it in one of the 16 channels (8 each in the A and B areas) and continue flipping through other patterns or sounds on the same channel. Since each preset pattern was originally played by a musician, you can check how it sounds at the original tempo by double clicking the tempo at top. Layer patterns with a simple drag and drop. Clear patterns with a click to the upper right of each channel. Play channels individually with the colored MIDI notes, the full group together, or the top 4 and bottom 4 channels. Multiple outs are available within your DAW, if desired.

On the left; change the pattern and sound and skip pre-roll. On the right; change dynamic range, delete or copy the patterns and sound to another channel. In the middle, visual representations of each velocity layer and instrument type.

There are standard controls as well that just come in handy: you can undo or redo anything, use the back button to return to any previous screen, and apply effects to the entire A or B sections, or both together. The info / help section at the top get insanely valuable every time you’re not sure what a control does; rollover and it will tell you. Also in the standalone version, don’t miss the scroll bar in the upper right to select your MIDI controller from the list.

Undo redo, documentation, settings, more and helpful info show at the top along with tempo and A and B mix and edit controls.

While I expect to spend most of my time writing patterns – potentially flipping through the presets and then adjusting them or re-writing them – the ability to apply automatable controls to things like a pattern dynamics are extremely exciting. I’m not worried about getting too “loopy” because each channel’s pattern variation can have 32 bars. Not 32 beats. 32 bars, in time signatures from 1/1 to 16/16. And there can be 4 variations per channel’s pattern. Taking advantage of all of this “pattern memory” available was the first evidence of a weakness in the engine’s ability to respond quickly to anything I threw at it. If I used every subdivision of every pattern for 32 bars, things started getting a little sluggish, even on my 12 core i9 MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM.

The controls beg to be automated.

The more time you spend in the editing window the more you realize how fully developed the editor is – it does not feel like a version 1.x piece of software. Examples: ALT or Option temporarily switches from select to write. Additionally, hold down Shift to temporarily deactivate snap to grid. Hover over a note to split it into two, and the new note will trigger the next round robin. In this write/edit mode: right-click while hovering over a note to delete it. CMD click previews the pattern of all the selected channels from the position of the curser (so you don’t have to go back to the beginning each time). Clicking to the left selects all notes. Right click and drag in the velocity area to ramp up or down velocities for the selected notes. Change the Dynamics dial to reduce velocities for all notes.

A fully-fledged MIDI editor allows precise control over four variations of 32 bars for each of the 16 channels.

Hide or show notes, velocities or envelopes. The channels on the left allow you to switch to the patterns of other channels. I could go on and on, and I’ve covered fewer than half the controls on this page alone.

Of course, you can compose and export MIDI patterns to layer with or substitute other sample instruments. There are a few caveats because this feature set was not the main focus for this iteration. Keep in mind the samples in PercX might include a pre roll (pre delay amount) which could mean the exported MIDI would need to get re-quantized in your DAW. The exported MIDI starts at the very lowest note in your DAW’s piano roll so you’ll need to move it into range, and it assumes that each “pitch” is another round robin of the same instrument in PercX. So you would need to flatten the “pitches” to one or two notes to use the exported MIDI in most other percussion instruments. Finally, if you export multiple channels at once and re-import them they are currently getting applied to the same channel (even within PercX) largely because they are not different MIDI channels and there is no separation between patterns; so you’d need to export each pattern separately.

Who might love PercX? At launch, media composers (games, TV, film) who write pattern based music to a tempo track could find this is the best tool for their workflows. It might replace 80% of their current tools. Because PercX includes a standalone instrument version needing no dongle, DAW or Internet to use (Internet is only required for install and activation) it lends itself to groove creation on a laptop during downtimes, such as commuter trips. If Auddict expands their kit content beyond the current cinematic genres I could easily see this become a tool for rock, pop, hip-hop, trap, EDM and other styles as well.

Facts

Application, plugins and all 5 kits take about 10 GB (compressed)
Windows/Mac
Intel i3 processor or above
4GB RAM or above
Requires Internet connection for activation and installation

PercX sells for $149 for Pro or $99 for Core from Auddict

 

Demos of PercX by Auddict

Videos of PercX by Auddict

Contributor Nathan Carlton reviews PercX by Auddict
“Innovative PercX impresses as a potential “game-changer,” offering huge functionality and a streamlined workflow. Composers and producers seeking fully customizable rhythms that are always in the pocket (including sample pre-roll timings) need to look no further.”