The original Stylus virtual instrument has long been a favourite of mine for quickly putting drum grooves together. The drum feels are always inspiring and the Groove Control system lets you drive these from MIDI so you can easily change tempos. Now Eric Persing’s team at Spectrasonics has managed to top this – and then some. Featuring Groove Control along with the new Spectrasonics Advanced Groove Engine (S.A.G.E.), Stylus RMX isn’t an update – it’s a completely new virtual instrument that shares the same colour and styling and includes the entire library from the original Stylus, but that’s about all.
The Edit page features the new multi-mode Power Filter, envelopes, LFOs, pitch and other controls to spice-up the sounds. All these new controls make it fiddlier to use, so you can switch to Easy Edit, which has a smaller selection of big knobs and faders, if you prefer. The interesting new Chaos page lets you introduce constantly evolving variations to make your loops sound more like the improvised grooves that real musicians play. So you can make patterns change, or play in reverse or with random variations, for example.
The Browser page lets you navigate the sound libraries. Just click on any listed item and it plays back immediately. To the left of the listed sound suites and elements, a display shows the Groove Control MIDI file to use with the selected element. Simply drag-&-drop this onto any MIDI track in your host sequencer. There are three kinds of elements – Grooves, Sound Menus, and Kit Modules. With Grooves, the tempo always matches the tempo of the host sequencer. Sound Menus present a menu of drum sounds laid out across your keyboard ready for you to program beats.
The FX page has an effects rack that you can load with effects such as Tube Limiter, Valve Radio and Retroplex Tape Delay. The Mixer page lets you load eight channels with drum sounds and provides faders, pans, aux sends, meters, mute and solo buttons for each. Each part can be controlled using a different MIDI channel/track in your host software for multitimbral operation. Up to eight audio outputs are available – although not yet with Digital Performer or Pro Tools. The Mixer has two main operating modes, Multi and Kit. Multi mode is the default multitimbral mode. In Kit mode, the eight parts typically respond to just one MIDI channel and the library includes plenty of modules set up this way. In Kit mode you can easily change the kick, snare or whatever, while the rest of the sounds stay the same – making it really easy to set up the sounds you want to use. And there’s much more. Fortunately, Stylus RMX comes with three hours of video tutorials to help you get up-to-speed with the new features as quickly as possible.
Stylus RMX now offers one of the most complete and convenient systems for working with sampled loops. Highly recommended.