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Drum Synth 500 is a collaboration between AIR Music Technology, Akai and Alesis, the latter two certainly having form when it comes to drums. It aims to create a 500-series module experience with so much thrown in there, in the form of hands-on tweaking, that you can create vintage electronic beats, modern hard-edge sounds and pretty much everything in between.
There are eight channels for your beats, including two sampler channels where you can load in your own WAVs. Each of these channels contains a lot of hands-on action, including nine dials that open each one. These vary per sound. The kick and snare are generated by oscillators so you get Amp and Pitch parameters to adjust among others. The clap and hats use noise as a source so you get Spread, Noise, Timbre and EQ sections.
The toms and percussion utilise FM as a source, so they offer Operator and Pitch sections. Finally, the two Sampler channels have Pitch, Amp and Sampler sections to adjust. That’s a lot of different types of sound-generation packed into one unit. As if that’s not enough, though, you get a load of effects per channel – see stats above – plus a fully featured master channel with yet more effects to use. These are a highlight, offering so much more flexibility – even though there are a lot of synthesis options already.
There’s no sequencer for quick beat creation, but 500 supplied MIDI files will get you started and you can then have them trigger different kits from the 50 or so on offer. Great as they are, this drum machine is all about getting in there and synthesizing each sound.
Here, you could literally fall off a cliff and into a world of beat synthesizing for hours, as there’s a lot of fun to be had experimenting and driving beats hard and then even harder. In fact, we’d thoroughly recommend doing just this, as you’ll quickly learn the impact and value of each parameter.
One of the standouts is the distortion section where you can take a sound and bend it beyond your wildest dreams in seconds. Also, never have the tuning features been so easy to implement, so that you can drag kicks and toms into the pitch of your tune with ease. DS 500 is great for hard electronic sounds and pushing any beats into any creative areas.