UVI BeatBox Anthology 2 by Diogo C
- Product: BeatBox Anthology 2
- Developer: UVI
- Format: UVI Workstation/Falcon instruments
- Requirements: Windows 7+ and Mac 10.7+
- DRM: iLok (3 activations, optional USB dongle)
- Price: $149 (US Dollars, MSRP)
Sound quality: Taken as a whole BBA2 sounds very diverse, it’s a very capable instrument that delivers many great sounds associated with some classic machines while also offering plenty of fresh takes on electronic drums, which is arguably its biggest feat to the eyes and ears of this reviewer. However, it should be said that this is not a thorough sampling exercise of many drum machines in all their entirety, as BBA2 is more about taking a few bits from many sources and putting it all together in a way that the user can create his rhythms with somewhat familiar sonics. Having said that, UVI has done a brilliant job on offering many pieces to be assembled into something of our own and it’s definitely a case where the sum is greater than the individual parts.
Ease of use: BBA2 is mostly easy to use, it’s one of the fastest virtual electronic drum instruments out there, but I’ve found a few roadblocks such as the fixed key maps and odd choice of sequencer trigger implementation that asked for a key to be pressed at the whole time when playing loops along with its host, but that’s pretty much it. One other problem here are the tiny volume and pan controls, which can be mitigated if you use the provided multi-output version and mix with on your DAW, and another slightly disappointing issue is that both audio and MIDI channels are also fixed so you can’t freely reassign each drum kit piece to the desired output and you’ll to respect BBA2’s default settings in this regard. I appreciate the fact that versions with separate audio outputs and MIDI omni are provided, but I’d prefer to have such options within the plug-in. With that out of the way, it’s quite straightforward to set a nice sounding beat with BBA2 and working with it should be quite fast if you adopt the drag and drop feature or have your favourite step-sequencer fully mapped to it for quick access - which was what I did with a Beatstep Pro. I wish there were a Ableton-Live sample triggering mode but that's definitely beyond the scope of the instrument, but it would be interesting to see if UVI goes down that route at some point. Back to topic, Performance-wise it’s also a good instrument, with fast loading times, very low CPU and RAM footprint as we have come to expect from UVI. Documentation is also okay and cover the operation in satisfactory fashion.
Features: The star of the show here is definitely the huge sample pool, taking bits from many different machines, with all the “cookie-cutters” and most popular units but also from some forgotten gems and quirky obscure machines - check out the screenshots below for the full list, it’s really an impressive number that goes as far as including recreations of classic e-drums sounds from hits such as on Phil Collins “One More Night” and others, which might be borderline gimmicky but fun nevertheless! In contrast to this vast library of sounds there’s a feature set that feels quite concise and that doesn’t distract or overwhelms the user with a plethora of different options for filters, envelopes, modulations and so forth. BBA2 has a strong focus on the workflow within its boundaries i.e. getting the work done without having to leave the UVI Workstation/Falcon. I wish some of the nagging issues described above could be amended somehow as I think that would provide a better “quality of life” for those not fond of drag and drop, but other than that it’s a capable feature set that besides the immense library also provides good sound shaping tools and it’s effective enough to cover a lot of ground.
Bang for buck: At this point in time basically everyone has their own batch of “classic drum machine” samples and probably a handful of entries in this category, be it in form of WAV files or virtual instrument. It’s safe to say that BBA2 goes beyond the basics and offers some quite unique samples captured with very high quality, add to that simple yet effective sequencing and sound-tweaking tools and you have an instrument that delivers substantial bang for not that many bucks.
Recommended for: Electronic musicians and producers looking to expand their drum machine sample collections or anyone after a powerful yet accessible beat making instrument with a great variety of sounds.
Click below for full-resolution (1080p) screenshots & drum machine list.