PercX is a stand-alone app and a plug-in for your DAW. PercX Core (199 USD) comes with a decent number of included kits and a huge number available as optional (paid) downloads. PercX Pro includes everything (299 USD). A kit is a multitrack percussion arrangement with up to eight instrument tracks. It has predefined rhythm patterns and tempo. You can use the patterns as they are or as an inspiration and source material to create your own rhythm. You can also discard rhythms and play/record new patterns like with a traditional sample library.
PercX has two mixers, each of which you can fully edit. Every one of the 500+ instruments that I could try out has multiple Round Robin variations and up to eight dynamic layers. You can play them as fully customisable loops or a deep-sampled library. There are a plethora of instruments, including taikos, toms, snares, kicks, hats, bombos, hybrid SFX, Chinese toms, dhols, djuns, frame drums and more. A full kit has eight instruments.
My experience with percussion kits is fairly limited in that I have only had the pleasure of using the Logic Pro X drum kits and drum designer, and iZotope’s BreakTweaker. The latter comes the closest to what PercX offers but is still less rich in the sounds and instruments it can produce and/or mimic.
You can use PercX right out of the box. In that capacity, it’s a playback machine. You select the percussion kit — either one that you purchased or one that you made yourself — and play. Each of the eight instrument tracks can be triggered individually with the keys E to B on your keyboard. In addition, there are “multi” keys which either play the top or bottom four tracks and one key to play the whole kit.
The playback modes of this app are brilliant not just for musicians but also for people like Indie filmmakers and Youtubers who want to quickly create rhythmic background music without having to hire a professional percussionist. The pros will love it because it allows them to start with an existing kit and then take it from there.
PercX starts up in Loop Mode, but there’s a second mode, which is Manual Mode. If you like a certain sound but not so much the default rhythm, you can simply switch to Manual Mode to play the instrument like a traditional sample library.
The full power of PercX lies in recombining and shuffling around instruments. Besides locating a specific instrument by selecting one from the list of all individual instruments in the current kit, there’s also a dedicated search mode which sorts the instrument by categories.
PercX can be as responsive as you’d like it to be by using the Dynamics slider that allows you to play with real-time controllable dynamics. All mixing tools and effects have been condensed so that the most interesting effects are combined into single knobs with one or two dials. Furthermore, you can map any number of parameters to one of eight macro controls and connect the macros to one of three modulation sources.
PercX offers endless capabilities but behind all the madness of having countless possibilities, there’s a high sound accuracy. For example, if you change tempo, there are no artefacts, nothing that reminds you this is digitised sound that can get distorted if you manipulate it too much. Even when slowed down to a third or sped up to one-and-a-half its native tempo, the whole kit sounds perfectly natural.
Out-of-the-box, you play PercX using the on-screen keyboard, but, of course, you’ll want to use a MIDI keyboard. To control PercX’s modulation architecture, there’s a whole CTRL system built-in that allows you to connect one knob to the mod wheel that can control all selected tracks within a defined range of the effect of the CTRL. You can also do this for each track individually.
PercX allows you to edit the full mix of instruments and the corresponding MIDI clips. It also has a considerable number of effects you can apply to your instruments, including a 3D Haas effect, pitch, boom (which duplicates the played sample and filters it down for additional bass), mud, crunch and air.
Finally, when using PercX as a plug-in to your DAW, you can route the tracks to different outputs. You can use up to 14 channels.
To me — and I presume many users — PercX is a revelation in that it offers quick access to professional sounding presets while also enabling the creation of completely new sounds. As such, it appeals to both musicians and filmmakers.