Dub FX

The Questions: Dub FX

Dub FX is a hugely successful artist who has made a career from turning his vocal chords into a veritable orchestra. The subject of a recent Native Instruments artist feature (check the video below!) and a recent Loopmasters sample pack (which we reviewed here), we couldn’t think of a better person to kick off our new regular Q&A series The Questions

My studio environment in three words: Rather, be, surfing

Name: Dub FX

The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: I haven’t written it yet..

Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: I have fun with everyone but the flower fairy is the best for me to work with..

Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Their is no such thing as a mistake! [boom boom! -Ed]

A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: My [Boss] GT-10B

A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Power supplies

My studio environment in three words: Rather, be, surfing

A song I wish I’d written: Ennio Morricone’s Good Bad and the Ugly theme

If I could do it all again, I’d: Do something completely different

Dub FX: Site / Twitter / Facebook

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Spectral Layers

Spectral Layers – Photoshop for Sound?

Many of you, when new to production, will have tried to analogise sound editing with image editing before swiftly realising that the link between the two has some major logic flaws. The composition of an image may be able to be totally altered by being able to focus entirely on two dimensions, adjusting colour and shape, but individual sounds can’t be isolated in the same way because of that tricky old concept of time, the fourth dimension.

Spectral Layers is the latest development that promises to isolate instruments in musical recordings

Spectral analysis, which goes some way to solving the problem of tracking a discernible sound, rather than simply a frequency, has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and Spectral Layers is the latest development that promises to isolate instruments in musical recordings. It’s still in early alpha stages at the moment, but it’s already looking promising – take a look at the video below and you’ll see why developers Divide Frame are describing it as ‘a Photoshop like audio editor’.

We want to know what you think about the concept of Spectral Layers, or even whether you care – come into our forums and have at it!


Slider Perspective

Video: Alesis QX49 Review

Our written review, which includes our some fine examples of our eye for a beautiful photo, can be found here. In the latest in our series of video reviews, though, we’re proud to present the Alesis QX49…

Questions? Head over to our forums to ask away!

Dub FX - Vocal Beats, Bass & FX Vol 1

Review: Dub FX Vocal Beats, Bass & FX Vol 1

Dub FX is a considerable beatboxing talent whose vocal chord and loop pedal utilizing productions give him a totally unique sound. His brand new sample pack, brought to you by Loopmasters, promises to give you a taste of that sound. We checked it out…


any WAV sampler, also includes REX and patches for Reason NNXT, Kontakt, EXS24, Live, and HALion.


  • Great drum sounds
  • Some truly individual harmony loops
  • Excellent recording quality


  • Some popping sounds in the loops
  • A few generic sounds, especially bass


Price at review: £24.95 

If you’re looking for some sounds that sound like nothing else you’ve got, then Dub FX’s Vocal Beats, Bass & FX Vol 1 might be right up your street.

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After listening to a few of the loops it occurred to us that one of the main incentives to use beatboxing sounds in production is their totally unique nature. Why bother using someone else’s mouth when we could go the whole hog, we thought as we hooked up our mics. Five minutes later, we were back to auditioning Dub FX’s recorded hits and loops using a dribble coated keyboard and mouse. Not only is beatboxing hard, actually recording the sounds is a task in itself. The meticulously recorded 24 bit efforts on the Dub FX sample pack will sit along side your other sounds and easily hold their own.

The meticulously recorded 24 bit efforts on the Dub FX sample pack will sit along side your other sounds and easily hold their own.

The pack itself features bass, drum, and harmony loops which range fairly evenly across tempos from 75 to 175, covering hip hop, dubstep, and drum and bass rhythms and tempos.

We’ve always thought drum loops were a little lazy, but every loop is dissected into one shots and sorted logically into kicks, snares, hats, cymbals and percussion to allow you to load up your sampler with the hits of your choice. There are also a selection of pads and vocal stabs, and whilst there’s some value in some of the grunts and groans we’re not really fans of the ‘yeah’s and ‘are you ready’s.

A selection of ‘raw’ loops, recorded directly with nothing in the way of multitracking or effects processing, allow you to hear and understand the physical practicalities of beatboxing; without an understanding of what’s actually possible to perform live it’s tough to make a convincing rhythm of your own.

The harmonies are a mixed bag

The harmonies are a mixed bag, with some slightly dull sounding loops that remind us a little of ‘world music choir’ patches from cheap sampler libraries but at the same time some really sonically interesting loops that sound like neither vox nor instrument; the best value in the Dub FX sample pack comes from the sounds that are truly sonically individual.

There are some issues with some of the harmony files, as some that employ a ‘chopped’ effect contain audible pops at the chopping points, and the bass loops, whilst varied, sound a little more like the distortion and effects than a vocal chord and thus don’t make as much sense. However there’s plenty to like about this sample pack and if you’re in the market for some new sounds with a certain je ne sais quoi, you should definitely check it out…

Dub FX – Vocal Beats, Bass and FX Vol 1 at Loopmasters


Oh Drat

We’re Getting Organised

You may have noticed we’ve posted a little less this month – we’ve still gotten a healthy dose of reviews out, from the Livid Block to the Alesis QX49, news of the latest and greatest is still coming thick and fast, and the Oh Drat Podcast for June was released last week.

As Oh Drat grows we continually look at the best way to do things for you

One thing we’ve not posted as much of, however, is our favourite music. As Oh Drat grows we continually look at the best way to do things for you, dear reader, and in order to ensure that we get the mix of news, inspiration, and information right we’re switching up the way we deliver that to you.

  • First of all, our brand new forum is just getting off the ground and we’d love to meet you all in there to discuss music and inspirations.
  • Secondly, our new mailing list, which you can sign up to in a matter of seconds by filling your email address and first name into the boxes on the right will provide links to some of our favourite tit bits of inspiration and fun and games in easy to digest chunks.
  • Thirdly, we’re going to get much more active on Facebook and Twitter and use it to share our favourite sites, freebies, and other peoples’ deserving work as well as ask you questions and find out more about you all, so make sure that you Like our Facebook page and Follow us on Twitter and send us your music, your favourite sites, news, and that hilarious joke you’re pretending you just thought of but really you’ve stolen from an underground comedian in the 90s.
  • Finally, we’re going to put some order into proceedings. Our tireless behind the scenes work into devising the Oh Drat tutorials and figuring out the best way to edit them for you is nearly ready to bear fruit, and we’re currently throwing different coloured stickers onto a calendar in an attempt to schedule regular days of the week for tutorials, tips, interviews and Q&A sessions and reviews. Of course, announcements happen when they happen, so us whipping ourselves into shape should mean even more great content for you!

By the end of June we’ll be right back in the saddle, back on track, in the driving seat, and other transport based analogies that signify that we’ll be posting up articles even bigger and better than you’re used to. Go to the forum now – signing up takes 20 seconds – and let us know what you want to see and hear from us next!

Livid Block

Review: Livid Block with Expansion Ports

Livid make handsome controllers. Block is the mid sized of the three in their current stable, but Livid have produced many more than just three models. With a production process focused on refinement Block, like its brothers Ohm64 and Code, has received tweaks and updates over its lifecycle to bring it to where it is today. We’ve got the newest version, which features a DIY expansion adapter on top of all its existing features – let’s see how it does in the lab…


Mac, Windows or Linux operating system – standards compliant USB MIDI.


  • Good looking
  • Well built
  • Expansion ports

  • Single colour LEDs
  • Comparatively pricey
Price at review: $399USD 

Block looks and feels great, it’s easy to set up and it’s got that ’boutique’ feel. At the same time it lacks some of the polished features that some of the big boys have and it can’t match them on price, but its expansion ports edge it into worthy competition.

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The first thing you’ll notice when you receive Block is that it travels light. Frugal packaging earns Livid environmental brownie points, and the spartan approach carries through to the lack of any ‘bumph’ – all documentation and software is online, so there’s not even a CD in the box. We’re not totally sure how we feel about that… on one hand it ensures that there’s no confusion when it comes to getting the latest versions of the software, on the other it does feel a little bit too much like scrimping.

Pull it out of the box and looks wise Block is difficult to fault.

Pull it out of the box and looks wise Block is difficult to fault.

A 64 button matrix in a sleek, formed aluminium chassis with bevelled edges and wood end panels, all of Block’s buttons glow ice blue. If you’ve the readies, you can even customise Block with red, white, or green lighting, a black or white chassis finish, and a selection of exotic woods for the side panels. It’s obvious that there’s been a lot of love poured into the hand crafted design of Block, and that’s something that transfers its way into your studio environment.

It’s not just all looks, though; Block feels good in your hands.

the buttons have nice bouncy feel to them

The faders have studio style caps on them, which makes them better suited to tweaking than live play, but they’re very smooth and have standard 4mm stems for you to connect a different cap should you prefer. The slits are smoothed off nicely, although we’d have liked to see them rounded off even more. The knobs are smooth, and the buttons have nice bouncy feel to them that you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever played with any number of Monome inspired controllers before. As well as the matrix, there are also some extra buttons which are useful for transport and other controls.

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The Oh Drat Podcast June 2011

We’re back again with another selection of our favourite music this month, and it’s as eclectic a selection as ever to really get your creative juices flowing… Don’t forget to like our Facebook page for regular updates and subscribe in iTunes to get the Oh Drat podcast for free automatically every month!

1. Miramichi – Gretta
2. Drian – The Missing Note
3. IKE - Focus On Concentrate
4. Faith SFX – Play Hard ft Wretch 32
5. Quadron – Slippin
6. Doctrine – Quantised Love
7. DD 2-14 – Bromide
8. Misel Quitno – Caural (remix)
9. Mo Kolours – Biddles

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Oh Drat Podcast June 2011 by Oh Drat on Mixcloud

Steinberg Halion 4

Steinberg Release HALion 4

Steinberg have just released the latest version of their flagship software sampler, HALion 4.

a big addition to HALion 4 is a virtual analogue synth

if you use any other Steinberg hardware or software, you’ll likely be interested in the improved integration with the rest of the Steinberg suite, including drag and drop connectivity between Halion and Cubase and Wavelab, VST 3.5 support, and automatic assignments to hardware.

The new interface, which revolves around separating the software window into various ‘editors’, looks very flexible – giving you the ability to set up the placement of the various elements of the software as you see fit, including saving various screens to switch between for different uses.

The other big addition to HALion 4 is a virtual analogue synth within the sampler, which gives it a real USP and should seriously increase its ‘all in one’ usefulness whilst simultaneously giving it an extra tool to spar with the gigantic library that comes with Native Instruments’ Kontakt 4, which dwarfs HALion’s 15GB collection (which includes the entire HALion Sonic library).

HALion 4 is available digitally now, and shipping very soon, for £295. More information and a review to follow…

make sure to like our Facebook page to get regular updates!

Muon Tau Bassline

Muon Release Tau Bassline Anniversary Synth Free

Here’s a nice little trip down memory lane, or if you’re new to the game – or at least less than a decade old in it – a quaint little free offering from Muon, creator of the Tau series of bassline synths.

as a gift for its 10th Anniversary Muon are generously providing Tau for free

The original version of Tau has been discontinued and withdrawn for a long time to make way for the MkII and Pro flavours of the synth, but as a gift for its 10th Anniversary Muon are generously providing it for free to all who ‘like’ their Facebook page. It’s a simple, monophonic single oscillator synth, ostensibly a TB-303 clone albeit without quite the same sound; but never forget that music’s made by creativity, not the latest and greatest in software. Go check it out – and while you’re at it have you liked OUR Facebook page yet?!

Review: Alesis QX49


Miniaturisation has been vogue for some years now – 25 key keyboards were first, and then mini controls blocks saw 49 and upwards sized keyboards increasingly forgotten in the budget market. Alesis know that when it comes to keyboard control, bigger can be better; here we have the QX49, a 49 key controller with a host of features. How does it fare?

In/Out: USB out, MIDI out, MIDI out from computer.

Bundled: Ableton Live Lite 8 Alesis Edition

Dimensions: (WxDxH) 32″ x 9″ x 3″

Weight: 5.9lbs

Styling wise, the QX49 nails the smart casual look with matt black plastic, round bevelled edges and an ice blue backlit display.

The QX49 nails the smart casual look

The pads illuminate red when pushed – the transport controls don’t, though, however much they look like they might.

The QX49’s main attraction however is the sheer number of controls it features for its knockdown price. As well as a 49 key keyboard with dedicated pitch and mod wheels there are eight faders, eight pots, four velocity pads, transport controls and system buttons. You also get expression pedal input, a MIDI out for the keyboard and a thru from the computer. There’s a 9V DC power option for controlling other hardware (not included), although the QX49 takes power directly over USB.

All these features do come at a price, though… and in lieu of the actual price tag going up, build quality inevitably takes a hit.

The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls

The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls, and whilst it doesn’t feel like there’s any danger of it breaking it does have have an effect on the feel.

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