All things considered, RMV is a pretty good drum machine.
In an era awash with multi-gigabyte, ultrarealistic drum sample players, will LinPlug’s successor to the RMIV – the RMV – be able to make itself heard?
On paper, it certainly packs in a lot of content, with 1500 audio loops, 2600 midi grooves and 10,000 sounds. It looks the part too, with its brushed-metal GUI and two distinct workspaces for either pads (kits) or loops.
It’s a neat, logically arranged interface, with three tabs of pads; each with 16 pads (into which you can load samples, either individually or as entire 16-piece kits) and six loop tabs. The pads are arranged in a 4×4 pattern, matching virtually every midi controller out there.
Having 48 individual pads is generous, with each one able to trigger either a percussion synthesis module, a sampler module or a loop module. Each pad has unique volume, pan, mute/solo and effect sends controls. The Loop tabs are where the synth-style ADSR amplitude and envelope filter controls come into play and these offer a tremendous amount of creative control.
Wav, AIFF, Rex and Rex2 formats are supported for sample import, so if that 8GB of supplied content isn’t enough for you, you can import anything you like.
Thus, RMV lends itself well to being a laboratory for experimentation. We particularly liked the ability to edit a sample in an external editor and then reload the results directly from RMV’s interface.
The Varizer feature introduces naturally random fluctuations, something akin to BFD’s Humanize feature or Stylus RMX’s Chaos Designer. It also works at the individual pad level.
Pleasingly, RMV’s delayed release for the Mac has also meant an appreciable amount of bug fixing and additional product development courtesy of early Windows adopters.
Some expected functionality is missing, though. For example, it seems odd that you can’t easily set start and end points for loops within RMV. It’s also a shame that there’s no standalone version.
The sample library is disappointing, too. Acoustic drum sounds aren’t its strong suit and when browsing the core library, it sometimes felt like we were auditioning a hundred variations of a broadly similar theme.
Our concern for RMV would be that the drum machine marketplace is pretty crowded these days: Logic has Ultrabeat; Pro Tools LE 8 has Boom; Reason has multiple rhythm devices; and the forthcoming Cubase 5 and Live 8 further up their beat-production ante. Is there still a place in this world for specialist third-party drum machines? For LinPlug’s sake, we hope so.