MPC-Samples.com recently released The 60s Funk Kit, a multi-sampled drum kit for all models of MPC’s including models with JJOS loaded. MPC-Samples explains that the aim with this kit was to capture a particular 60’s and 70’s sound comparable to that of “legendary drummers such as Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks, Zigaboo Modeliste and James Black …packed with a traditional gritty tone, full of the warmth and character youʼd expect to hear from classic vintage drums.”
The kit includes 180 unique drum multi-samples taken at various resolutions and sample rates;
- 24 bit WAV (mono, 44.1kHz) – compatible with the MPC Software, MPC5000, MPC4000, and any computer based recording software.
- 16 bit WAV (mono, 44.1kHz) – compatible with most MPCs, but recommended for MPC1000 or newer.
- MPC SND (mono, 44.1kHz) – provided purely for legacy MPCs such as the MPC3000, MPC60, MPC2000 and MPC2000XL.
My first thought on this kit was that the artwork screamed vintage. Not only because of the vintage vinyl album cover flavor but because of the images of reel to reel tape machines, mix board, classic drum kit and mics. I knew that if the artwork was any indication of how the kit would sound that The 60s Funk Kit would be a bit of a gold mine. As I suspected, the kit met and exceeded my expectations.
MPC-Samples.com, did a great job at constructing a dynamic multi-sampled drum kit with The 60s Funk Kit. Some of you may ask, What is a multi-sampled drum kit? Well, a multi-sample is a sample technique used in sampling to achieve a more realistic and dynamic sound. Multiple samples are taken of a given note or sound. These samples are then used in a layered sort of way that allows the player to get a different dynamic (soft to hard or smooth to rough) depending on the velocity of the hit.
To achieve this sort of multi-sampled flare, MPC-Samples.com set up an elaborate operation of recording and programming exclusively with MPC owners in mind.
Programming The 60s Funk Kit is best explained by this bit of info direct from MPC-Samples.com
- The Velocity Sensitive Kit – this is the main kit, where each pad is set up using ‘velocity switching’, playing back either a hard, medium or softly recorded sample depending on the velocity you hit the pad with.
- The Round Robin Kit – made specifically for the MPC Software and MPC5000, this kit uses the ‘layer cycle’ feature to take advantage of the four unique ‘takes’ per velocity we’ve provided for each instrument. Each time you hit a pad it will play back one of these four different instrument timbres, producing very natural sounding hi hat runs and snare rolls.
- The JJOSXL ‘Full Monty’ – JJOSXL is the only MPC OS that allows you to combine velocity switching and round robins together on each individual pad, so this kit takes full advantage.
- The Low Memory Kit – this kit is more basic and features just a single sample on each pad, giving a much smaller memory footprint, perfect for most legacy MPCs. This one has added velocity-sensitive timbre emulation (V>Att, V>Pitch etc).
Recording the samples for The 60s Funk Kit was no small feat either. MPC-Samples.com teamed up with renowned drummer Richard Preston. Richard Preston is known for his original ‘Tombongo’ breaks that broke pretty large on the internet and among beat makers world-wide earlier this year. According to MPC-Samples “Richard spent a very long day both setting up and playing the drums used in this kit, originally recording up to 100 takes per instrument articulation over three unique velocities to give us more than enough material to build the collection.”
The recording chain is just as important if not most important when considering the classic feel and vibe of The 60s Funk Kit. It is noted that … “This entire collection was recorded directly to a Studer A80 two inch sixteen track machine via an Alice Stancoil 1970’s AM series quadrophonic mixer… combination of microphones to record the drums; a Coles 6 4038, Calrec 600, Sure 545 , Calrec CM 100,and a AKG 414, recorded with close and overhead position”
The kit even comes with a manual that reads a bit like liner notes and a bit like a traditional manual but it also veers into the tutorial arena in the Tips and Tweaks, Optimizing Memory and Adjusting MPC Pad Sensitivity section. There are also sections for each type of kit included such as “The Round Robin” & “The Velocity Sensitivity” etc. which is a huge help for those looking to get the most out of this kit.
As you can see there was obviously no expense spared nor shortcuts taken in creating a kit that can easily hang with the most bangin’ boom bap aesthetic as it is as palpable to the programming of the most dynamic, warm and realistic drum tracks.
So, all of this technique and fuss really comes down to one thing… How does it sound? In a word… Great! I fell in love instantly with the warm sound of the drums in The 60s Funk Ki. The thing that hit me most was the density of some of the kicks and the realistic spring ring in some of the snares. I totally appreciate the feel of the close miking. Meanwhile, the cymbals and toms seem to benefit nicely from overhead miking. Although I’m certain the dynamics of the kit was achieved by using both techniques. And it’s worth noting that there is plenty of headroom so you can feel safe in adding a bit of compression and / or limiting to make the kit bang even more without killing the feel of the kit itself. According to the manual “Unlike the heavily compressed and EQʼd sounds youʼll often find in many commercial drum libraries, the sounds in the 60s Funk Kit have not been processed or ʻpolishedʼ at all; they are completely raw, straight from the vintage mics to the analogue tape, for a traditional, natural sound.”
Having the kit loaded in my MPC makes it easy to be oblivious to all of the cool programming and care in recording that went into the making of The 60s Funk Ki. But once the bangin of the pads commences, especially in a typical finger drumming fashion, its instantly obvious why this kit so special. I for one have not the time that I would need to be able to excavate this type drum gold from vinyl. I’m not so sure this sort of multi-sampled dynamic approach is even possible (at least not very easily) via found sounds from vinyl. That said its nice to have such a dope kit without having had the headaches of creating it.
Bottom line is that this is, if you are looking for a nice live drumming experience that allows you to program beats with a finger drumming aesthetic, The 60s Funk Kit is the kit to have at a mere $25. Even beyond that fact there is so much flexibility in this kit and the manual will help you get the most out of it. This is definitely one to have in your library of kits. I think the next wave in dope drum kits is multi-sampled kits. At least I hope so and I’m looking forward to future kits from MPC-Samples.com in that regard.