Review: The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio

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8Dio has put together a 3 volume collection they ambitiously call The Bible of Pop, Latin and Salsa with all that such a lofty title implies. Whether this series ultimately lives up to that ambitious title remains to be seen. But these are overwhelmingly deep instruments that provide most of the colours, melodies and palettes necessary to make authentic salsa and latin pop music. While very deep, the interface, with a few notable exceptions, remains fairly intuitive without too big of a learning curve. Grab a partner and let’s dance!

Jump to the Videos of The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio

Jump to the Demos of The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio

 

Review: The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio

Latin music and in particular salsa is a notoriously difficult genre to get right. Like Tex-Mex, most of what passes for it in commercials or on TV is a pale imitation of the real thing. Throw in some congas, a shaker or two and timbales with syncopated piano and that’s what most people think of when they hear the words latin salsa music.

In reality, latin and salsa are very complex, highly developed forms of music with their own conventions and styles. They’re hugely popular in many parts of South and Central America and have their own stars and virtuoso musicians. They also require a lot of musical chops and feel to get right!

So what’s a humble musician stuck in Toronto, Canada to do when he needs to write some salsa music for a TV commercial? Fake it and try to create something approximating the real thing?

Well, I can only say I wish that I’d had access to this library when I recently faced that exact situation. Of course, I did what anyone would have done in my shoes, I faked it. Needless to say, I didn’t get the gig! But if I’d had this library then…well who knows?

The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 sells for: the bundle $398 USD, or $198 USD each for Volumes 1 & 2, $298 Volume 3 from 8Dio

Thoughts

8Dio has ambitiously set a new bar when it comes to phrase and loop based libraries. And with a title like The Bible of Pop Latin & Salsa, they had better deliver something worthwhile. How did they do?

Well, first and foremost let me say that I’m a total fan of phrase libraries. I’ve spent countless hours trying to get a brass sample patch to play and sound like a real horn section. (think Tower of Power) But after much work, it almost always sounds fake to my ear. While that may have a lot to do with my lack of skill in programming, I’ve yet to hear a midi version of syncopated brass sections, whether for latin music or funk, that sound convincing. I think that’s because it’s nearly impossible to program the swing, the groove, the feel, not to mention the inherent soul that live musicians bring to a piece without thinking.

Here is where phrase libraries are so handy! They give you the best of both worlds. You have at your fingertips, access to some of the world’s best musicians playing in the styles they literally grew up in. You get the feel, the attack, and the soul of real performances. Only, you control how and where those performances will be used. And The best phrase libraries give you an enormous amount of control over how to combine and personalize those phrases. Think of it as having a virtuoso music section in your studio that you are directing to play exactly what you want. Without the cost!

Of course, you will still need skill and musicianship to use that tool creatively. Otherwise you’ll just end up aping what others are doing. But when done right, it sure sounds a lot more authentic and real than any note based sample library. Because it’s real musician’s playing real licks! And that is precisely what this library offers. World class latin and salsa musicians doing what they do best. Only just for you!

8Dio provides you with just about everything you need to make this library work for you. I did say it’s deep. There are literally thousands of combinations and arrangements possible of the existing phrases and percussion loops. I doubt very seriously that anyone would ever run out of runway using these libraries properly.

On top of it, they recorded at least 22 different native sub-styles of latin salsa, with thousands of different phrases and motifs. You can mix and match the different styles and their phrases with relative ease to make something unique if that’s what you want. Or you can stay within a particular salsa style. Your choice! You also have the legendary 8Dio effects section that gives you pretty much everything you need from EQ to Delay to spice up or mangle the sampled phrases. Hybrid industrial salsa anyone?

I won’t go into too many details about the various buttons and articulations available. The 8Dio site has some great walk-throughs and the manuals are quite informative.

So how does it sound? In a few words, pretty darned good! All the instruments were beautifully recorded with multiple mic positions available for some. The phrases in volumes 1 and 2 were recorded in 6 keys (3 major and 3 minor) and are all improvised. There’s also chord inversions and runs to keep things interesting. So, in essence you’re getting 6 improvised different versions of each phrase. No danger of repeating yourself…unless that’s what you want.

There’s even a 4 voice vocal section that gives you those rhythmic Spanish backing phrases that add a real latin groove. They can be soloed, combined or panned. While they sound great, there’s only 5 phrases per volume to choose from. (Volume 3 has no vocal or phrases) And there are no female vocals at all. That may not matter much, but in my mind female voices add something to latin music. There’s some great female salsa singers out there! This seems like a bit of an oversight to me.

All the musical phrases are well played and inventive, really laying the groundwork for that latin salsa feel. I did find though that some of the phrases, especially in the solo parts seemed a little more jazz tinged than pure salsa. Subjective I know, but there it is. Perhaps the way a composer uses and combines the phrases will alleviate some of that. Or maybe that is intentional, seeing as Latin jazz is a well established and popular genre in itself. It does give the phrases some versatility for other kinds of music.

Each instrument can be accessed solo or part of an ensemble. Combinations are many and only limited by your imagination and/or the structures of what you’re trying to create. Everything is also tempo synced. Take note however. Using the ensemble patch (all the instruments in a particular phrase family) will tax your CPU if you don’t have one of the latest and greatest. Even on my 5k iMac i9 with 72GB RAM there was an impact. Slight but still noticeable! But as they say, your mileage may vary.

There’s not really enough time to go into all the different options available. You can control the speed of the phrases, their pitch. You can cut and paste and combine them to make new phrases. There’s a tuning option, a gate and a mono and true legato switch (handy for the solo parts). On the main page you can also access a detailed effects section with an X/Y grid for fine-tuning. and of course the infamous chaos button if you’re out of ideas.

If you’re familiar with other 8Dio products, you’ll find your way around this one pretty easily. It follows a similar layout and logic. If you’re not, well the manual kind of sets out for you the principle elements you need to know. I say kind of, because there’s a lot of information not evident or described in the manual. More on that below. Note; the online video walkthroughs on Youtube are very helpful.

Now let’s get to some of the issues I was having. I say I was having, because others may not have them. First of all, the infamous chaos button. If you don’t really know where it is and what it looks like, it’s pretty hard to find. (look to the immediate left of the power button on the effect strips. Looks like a radioactive warning icon. On the main page it’s right beside the 3 little icons on the top right hand corner. )

I know, this is supposed to be a brand new advanced user interface, but it wasn’t that easy to just jump in. Hey guys ,how about a mouse-over feature that identifies the various buttons and what they do? They’re not always obvious to the uninitiated! Would be very helpful I think.

Next. Speaking of effects, there’s a strange glitch in the way these libraries fit into the Kontakt window. I’ve extensively tested it out and for some reason, certain 8Dio libraries, not all mind you, will not show all the effects available to you in the Kontakt window. It’s like Kontakt runs out of room. There should be 6 effects, but all you see are 5 with a hint of a 6th at the bottom. Now that’s not a deal breaker because there is an easy enough workaround. But it just seems odd to me. You can still access all the effects by clicking on the effect name. A drop down menu will appear and you can choose one of the 6 effects to take up that slot. Chances are you won’t be using all 6 effects at the same time anyway. So as I said, not a deal breaker. But I have to ask, is this a glitch in the library itself or did I just miss something?

Either way, I shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to figure out where and what things are and how to locate them! If it’s not obvious or explained in the manual, then it’s not fair to the consumer. This takes away some of the pleasure in using this product. Of course, 8Dio are not the only sample company guilty of usability issues. And they fare better than most. B

There were other quibbles but I had to remind myself that nothing is perfect and there are always compromises that have to be made in such an extensive undertaking.

Overall, though it’s a great product. If you’re looking for something to create authentic latin music or you’re just looking to spice up some of your tracks with real latin phrases and colours, you won’t go wrong with this product. These libraries sound great!

Sooo, time to get your salsa on!

Facts

The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa: Bundle requires 40 GB of Hard Drive Space
Full Retail version of Kontakt 5.8+ required / Not compatible with the free Kontakt Player
Runs as VST® or Audio Units plug-in, AAX® under Pro Tools
Minimum: Intel Core i5 or equivalent CPU. 8 GB of RAM or more is highly recommended. For TMPro Patches, i7 or equivalent is highly recommended.
Sample resolution: 48Khz / 24Bit stereo ncw format (no wav…at least in the copies I tested)

The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 sells for For the bundle $398 USD, or $198 USD each for Volumes 1 & 2, $298 Volume 3 from 8Dio

 

Demos of The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio

Videos of The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio



Contributor MCR reviews The Bible of Pop, Latin & Salsa; Volumes 1,2 & 3 by 8Dio
8Dio has put together a 3 volume collection they ambitiously call The Bible of Pop, Latin and Salsa with all that such a lofty title implies. Whether this series ultimately lives up to that ambitious title remains to be seen. But these are overwhelmingly deep instruments that provide most of the colours, melodies and palettes necessary to make authentic salsa and latin pop music. While very deep, the interface, with a few notable exceptions, remains fairly intuitive without too big of a learning curve. Grab a partner and let’s dance!”