Keyboard Magazine Review
Sample Magic is arguably one of the best soundware developers: Their dance-music libraries are absolutely on point. So when co-founder Sharooz Raoofi contacted me about the new Bloq collection of sampled analog instruments with a focus on vintage dance sounds, I hopped on it.
Bloq assembles a wide array of synths from Sharooz’s personal collection, recorded through Neve, Focusrite, and Empirical Labs processing. The instruments range from the Roland Jupiter-8 to the Sequential Circuits Pro One, as well as vintage drum machines such as the E-Mu Drumulator and Korg KR-55B. The library includes versions in Native Instruments Kontakt 5, Ableton Live, and Logic EXS and Ultrabeat formats. While the flagship Kontakt 5 version includes a custom interface for tweaking the sounds, Bloq is not yet available for Kontakt 5 Player, so you’ll need to be an existing Native Instruments user to take advantage of its features.
A comprehensive list of Bloq’s synths can be found on the Sample Magic website, but it’s worth mentioning that the collection includes classic gear such as Roland Jupiter-6 and 8, and modern products such as the DSI Prophet 08 and Elektron Analog Four. And there’s not a throwaway patch in earshot; all of the sounds are useful and sit beautifully in a track thanks to the engineering. Stabs and leads predominate, with basses taking a backseat. Because the instruments cover a multi-octave range, you can edit almost any instrument into a capable bass.
The flagship Kontakt version makes full use of its processing and modulation amenities, with controls for filter, envelope, LFOs and scripted step sequencing options along with processing. The Ableton version is quite flexible, with lots of macros—top-level and nested—available for customizing your patches. It may not be as pretty or user-friendly as the Kontakt version, but it gets the job done.
On the percussion side, Bloq covers a lot of ground. The pantheon of Roland drum machines is present and accounted for, but the inclusion of more obscure gems like the Sequential Circuits Drumtraks and the MXR 185 will make this 2.6GB collection worthwhile to connoisseurs of exotica.
As with the synth instruments, the Kontakt 5 version offers numerous customization options, with filter and envelope tools, transposition, and the ability to easily create hybrid kits with drums from multiple sources. What’s more, there’s integrated processing for the drums, including compression, EQ, delay, reverb and even a tape-emulation option.
For Logic users, the drums are assembled into a collection of Ultrabeat kits, with all of its integrated features available for tweaks and touch-ups. As for Ableton, each machine is collected into its own massive drum rack, with oodles of smartly designed macros.
Yes, there are numerous sampled analog collections currently available, so it goes without saying that this territory has been thoroughly explored. Nonetheless, Bloq stands out from the pack thanks to it attention to detail. And for $65, the package is an absolute steal. Moreover, the drums and synths are available as separate packs for $29 and $44, respectively. If you’re looking for a collection of dance-centric analog sounds for both retro and modern remixes, Bloq is a fantastic value.
PROS Intelligently curated collection of analog dance synths and drums. Extensive editing features in Kontakt version. Macros in Ableton version. Beautifully recorded through a well-designed analog signal path.
CONS Kontakt 5 version requires a licensed copy of the full software player.
A top-notch collection of sampled vintage gear for dance music producers.