Review: BLOQ Vintage Synth by Sample Magic

Buying vintage synthesizers and drum machines these days can be very expensive. It’s also a lot like betting on your purchases as many of us buy vintage gear over the internet without testing it out.

The frustrations of having to look and audition samples from classic synthesizers can take a long time and be harmful for creativity. Lucky for you, this frustrations has prompted Sharooz Raoofi of Sample Magic to develop BLOQ, a vintage synth & drum machine instrument sampler that I’ll be reviewing today.  

 

Installing & Using BLOQ

BLOQ came as 1GB download, packed with over 7300 samples recorded at 24-bit resolution.

Here is the full list of Synthesizers & Drum Machines that was sampled in BLOQ.

Synthesisers:

Roland Jupiter 6
Roland Jupiter 8
Dave Smith Prophet ’08
Clavia Nord Lead 3
Clavia Nord Lead 4
Teenage Engineering OP-1
Roland MC-202
Roland SH-101
Elektron Analog Four
Roland TB-303
Yamaha DX7
Korg DW8000
Korg Poly 800
Korg Poly 61
Arp Odyssey
Sequential Circuits Pro One
Roland Juno 106

Drum machines:

Roland TR 808
Roland TR 909
Roland TR 707
Roland TR 606
Roland TR 626
Roland CR 68
Sound Master SR 55
Nord Drum
Sequential Circuits Drumtraks
MXR 185
Emu Drumulator
Akai MPC 60
Korg Super Drums

 

There was no need for any sort of installation for BLOQ as its made as an instrument for Kontakt 5. Alternatively, you can download it as a Ableton 9 drum & synth rack or EXS24 instrument & Ultrabeat in Logic.

Since I was using Kontakt, I downloaded the Kontakt version which was a 1.2GB download as a zip file. Upon extracting the files, simply copy the files to wherever you like on your computer, somewhere easy to find so you can easily load up BLOQ from within your DAW.

 

bloq sample magic

Simply drag the zip contents to a folder where you store your samples

Load up Kontakt 5 player in your DAW, go to the file tab and look for the nki file within the folder in which you copied BLOQ over and drag it to the empty area in Kontakt 5 player. BLOQ doesn’t install as a library in Kontakt. Though that could be a neat feature, I’ll let this one pass given the affordable price tag BLOQ is tagged with at only $68.

how-to-load-bloq-in-kontakt-5

First Impression

Loading BLOQ was pretty simple. There were plenty of patches that you can call up on BLOQ Synth. Unlike many other soft synths in the market that works by emulating the classic synthesizers in a software format, BLOQ is a sampler. My first impressions on the sound was good.

Granted, there are other vintage synthesizer samplers as well but you’ll find sounds on BLOQ to be full, rich and most importantly usable.

I guess this was due to the way the classic synthesizers was sampled for BLOQ. According to Sample Magic, the samples in BLOQ was carefully recorded with a Prism Sound Orpheus recording interface with the signal gone through hardware boxes lke the Focusrite ISA 430, Neve 1073 and Empirical Labs EL-8 Distressor in order to achieve the cleanest and most authentic sound, sort of playing the real vintage synth and drum machines.

Fundamental Parameters with Extremely Useful Effects

bloq-fundamental-parameters

Within BLOQ Synth or Drum likewise, you’ll find the fundamental parameters like the Waveform unison control, filter section, envelopes and LFOs to creatively sculpt your sound other than just using the ready made patches.

I exceptionally like it that there were helpful effects like the equalizer that was extremely helpful for sculpting your sound further. The compressor in BLOQ was useful to control the dynamics of your sound, though I find myself using the compressor mostly on the BLOQ drum machine as compared to BLOQ synth. The tape effects adds grit to some innocent sounding patches.

The effects located on top of BLOQ synth was fun to play around. You can quickly send your sound to some effects like phasing, chorus, stereo spread, delay and reverb. The best part was that you can change and control every single effects under the FX tab as well. This is a nice addition & I found using the built in effects within Kontakt 5 instead of using effect inserts on my tracks.

It's nice to be able to change the parameters for each effect sends

It’s nice to be able to change the parameters for each effect sends

Solid Sounding Drum Machine With Sequencer

Bloq Drum Machine - Lots of tweaks can be done here

Bloq Drum Machine – Lots of tweaks can be done here

I used to create my own 808 kicks with soft synths but I was quickly convinced not to do that anymore with BLOQ drum machine in my arsenal of samplers. You’ll find the drum samples in BLOQ drum machine to be really solid sounding and powerful – almost as though its the real drum machine you’re playing. This is thanks to the attention placed in recording the samples for BLOQ.

You can also tweak the voice, envelopes, filter and transient of each and every sound sample you have loaded on BLOQ. Not many samplers gives you the flexibility to tweak each and every sound patch so this was a welcoming feature in the BLOQ drum machine synth. Again, there are effects built in where you can compress your sound, EQ and give it some fatness with Tape effect.

BLOQ drum machine works as a playable drum kit while including a sequencer with 4 drum patterns for each preset in BLOQ. This gives you an idea of the generic rhythms that are usually played with the different sounding patches. You can program up to 8 different types of rhythms within the 32-step sequencer, provided with the very flexible dials to control the sync, shuffle, accents, random, dynamics and more. Triggered by pressing a key on the MIDI controller, I was able to quickly program a quick drum patch, thanks to the rhythms that came with the preset.

Few Outs Of BLOQ by Sample Magic

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There has to be a few outs of every sampler, is it? Well, given how powerful BLOQ sounded it feels unfair to be complaining, however here are some things to note.

1 – Small User Interface

Display below sliders looks a wee small, ain't it?

Display below sliders looks a wee small, ain’t it?

While BLOQ is designed with a vintage looking GUI, the interface can look tiny to some. The displays below the sliders that shows the LFO it is being sent to are indeed small and might cause you to squint a little.

However rest assured you’ll quickly get used to the interface. The rest of the sliders and controls are designed nicely and easy understand.

2- Watch Your CPU

watch-your-cpu-load

I noticed my CPU load to increase drastically when I loaded too many instances of BLOQ. Given that every instance of BLOQ comes loaded with lots of effects and samples, you might find yourself running out of CPU juice if you load too many tracks running BLOQ. The interface and sampler is quick to load and moving between patches is fast though.

An option here is to bounce your files into audio or use the freeze function in your DAW.

3 – No Randomizer Button For Sequencer

BLOQ synth lacks a randomizer button which can pretty fun to tweak and churn out random sounds within the sequencer on the Synth & Drum sampler.

 

Short Conclusion

If you’re looking to use vintage synthesizers and the popular classic drum machines, look no further than getting BLOQ by Sample Magic as your next producing companion. Priced at only $68, it beats spending all your hard earned money on vintage gears, unless you really have to!

BLOQ is great to be used when producing electronic music like techno, disco, house, garage and trap, to name a few.

Very carefully recorded and crafted, this is as close as you get to a library of vintage synthesizers and classic drum machines in the form of an inexpensive instrument sampler.

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