Here’s an evolution in music software I like: Dr. Octo Rex. The .rex format is an old format which allows you to auto splice a sample and therefore make it easy to rearrange the pieces. It also allowed some slowing down speeding up of the clip long before Ableton was born. Sampled sounds have a certain punch to them. I think they are number two in the pecking order for chest thumb behind pure analog and leaps and bounds over virtual instruments. I can sit and play for hours with the Rex loop player in Reason. I wasn’t ever expecting it to be updated but here it is.
“The upgraded Dr. Octo Rex loop player loads eight REX loops into one player and lets you switch between them on the fly. This makes arranging a breeze – load the drum loops into one player, the guitars into another and use the sequencer to select what loop to play in a pattern-like fashion. With eight loops to switch between, the new rex also comes ready for the experimental minded. Set the player to retrig the loops on the beat, on the bar or on the 16th note. Or program the loops manually like in the original rex player.” – propellerheads.se
The Rex audio file format was created by Swedish software house Propellerhead in June 1994. Rex files are audio loops with slice information data attached to them. This allows a Rex file to play back at any tempo. It also allows the individual slices of the loop to be re-arranged in creative ways. With modern DAWs you can get away without the Rex format because of audio warping and slicing tools. However, Rex files continue to be relevant because they come prepared and ready to manipulate which is extreme fun. I often load Rex files into Propellerhead Reason’s Dr. Rex player. I then re-arrange the slice order, slice decay, filter and pitch to make something unique to my project.
A recent exciting development is that Ableton Live 7 now supports Rex files natively. Because of this I thought I’d mention Zero-G Total Rex. This is a two DVD set of Rex files. It’s 10 Gigabytes and has over 15,000 loops!
“…Covers every imaginable base… in a wide range of styles… thanks to the flexibility that the REX format offers, you can easily use loops that are intended for one style in another. The quality of the content is superb, but given that this is essentially a ‘best of’ from one from one of the most reliable sample production houses around, that’s to be expected… Highly recommended. Rating: 9 out of 10″ – Computer Music
I can’t see a better way to get a mass of useful sounds in one shot. Personally I find Rex files far more useful than basic sample sets. Grab an external hard drive and load this baby onto it. On the left side of the Ableton Live interface is the browser area. It has three snapshots for places on your hard drive. I alway keep the middle one pointed to this Rex collection. While working on a project just scroll through the loops and they play back in time with your project. With such a large library on hand it’s rare you wont find something that improves the song.
Do you use Rex files? Are there any Rex collections you really like?