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Virtual Drums That Rock! – Stylus RMX

Home Music Production - Virtual Drums that Rock! Stylus RMX
Home Music Production - Virtual Drums that Rock! Stylus RMX
Home Music Production - Virtual Drums that Rock! Stylus RMX


Developer: Spectrasonics
Version: 1.9
Type: Virtual Drums
Price: $379


Ease of Use



Total Score



13GB collection of grooves. Number of included effects. GUI and ease of use. Kit piece menus. Control over individual loop slices.


Switching between grooves and kits could be easier.

Posted July 24, 2010 by Stephan Earl

Full Review

Are you on the hunt for a good virtual drum sample player and can’t decide which one is right for you? It’s understandable since there are so many good virtual drum instruments out there.  There are also different categories of virtual drum instruments such as: groove production machines, drum machines, drum samplers, virtual drummers and software / hardware hybrid products.

In the Virtual Drums that Rock! series I’ll take a look at some of the virtual drum software that I’m using or have used, and review some of their advantages and disadvantages.   Virtual drum  instruments are often used differently and for different purposes, so for that reason this overview isn’t to tell you which product is better than the other, but rather to point out some differences and advantages of each. This way if you currently only have enough coin for one virtual drum software, you have some information to help you choose one that’s the best fit for your needs.


Home Music Production - Virtual Drums that Rock! Stylus RMX

Virtual Drums that Rock! Stylus RMX

How does the story go about the Greek King Midas, that everything he touched turned to gold?  Well that’s how I feel about Spectrasonics.   Their flagship groove-based drum sample player Stylus RMX lives up to the legend with an extensive library of high quality sounds, and a robust feature set.  Currently RMX is being sold as a package, so the $379 retail price includes all five of the RMX S.A.G.E Xpander libraries including: Retro Funk, Backbeat, Metamorphosis, Burning Grooves and Liquid Grooves.

So if you’ve got the coin to get Stylus RMX, the next step is to ask yourself some questions:

  • What type of virtual drum machine are you looking for?
  • Do you like to play acoustic sounding drum parts from your keyboard or drum controller, or would you rather search for the perfect loop and drop it into your mix?
  • Are you more of the producer type who can take an existing loop and chop in up into an amazing work of art, or are you the organic musician type who is looking for the most realistic acoustic drum sound possible, so you can perform your own rhythms?

I use Stylus as one tool in a broad toolkit, primarily when I’m working in electronic, chill, ambient, down-tempo and cinematic styles of music; and need more of a loop based sound or am going for a “manufactured” or produced sound.  The Xpander sets cover every sonic palette you can think of, and RMX allows you to take those sounds and rework them in limitless combinations.  Lastly, you have the ability to import any 3rd party REX libraries which open up the possibilities even more.  You could essentially only have Stylus RMX and be able to produce any style of music including acoustic music using the acoustic drum loops.


The power of RMX is it’s ability to work and rework REX loops on a per hit basis.  Since Stylus RMX’s release in 2004, most DAW’s have adopted comparable features such as beat detection and time warping.  These features allow you to drag a WAV file onto your project, create hit points and match the beat to the tempo of your project.  With RMX, the REX files are already chopped so you can drag the MIDI notes onto the project then change things around or delete hits with ease.

RMX also has integrated  FX racks with 27 professional effects.  There’s an insert FX rack on each of the eight channels, two aux FX racks and a master FX rack.  The mixer page allows you to send each of the eight channels to individual outputs on your DAW.  You can also assign any individual hit or group of hits to any of the eight outputs.  RMX features groove controls and its Chaos Designer which gives you tweekable random hits, that can be saved and the MIDI dragged onto your project


RMX’s core library comes with 7.4 GB of loops covering  a wide range of musical styles.  The Xpanded edition comes with 13GB of loops and includes five S.A.G.E. Xpander libraries:

  • Retro Funk (authentic vintage sound, feel, and classic grooves)
  • BackBeat (live acoustic “straight-ahead” drum grooves)
  • Metamorphosis (21st Century remix grooves)
  • Burning Grooves (maximum impact, aggressive live drum grooves)
  • Liquid Grooves (unique acoustic drum and percussion).

It’s the ultimate remix-oriented sound module for building grooves.


While there are very few dedicated REX players like  Stylus RMX and Dr. REX,  most DAWs allow you to drag-and-drop REX files directly into onto tracks and manipulate them there.  In addition, many popular groove players also allow you to drag-and-drop REX files onto the plugin and manipulate the loops in various ways. Here are some comparable groove production players:

  • Dr REX (bundled with Reason by Propellerhead)
  • Maschine – $599 / Mikro $349 (Native Instruments)
  • SPARK – $499 (Arturia)
  • Geist – $249 (FXpansion)

Stephan Earl

Composing, recording and producing music in the home studio environment for over 25 years, musician and author Stephan Earl now enjoys sharing his home studio setup experience with other home studio recording musicians via


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