BitHeadz Voodoo [continued]

Ease of use
Practically everything you need to do in Voodoo is accessible from this main screen. There are four primary sections to the main window. A main area consists of drum pads, which surround editable pad parameters, such as oscillators, LFOs, filters and effects. Another area contains a pattern and song arrangement window. There is also an editor which switches between pattern editing and waveform editing depending on what is needed. In addition to these main areas are four "floating" windows: a keyboard window, a meters window, a tools window, a master effects section and a tape recorder-style transport window. The keyboard window allows you to trigger a sample by positioning your mouse on a given key. This can come in handy to check a sample or the keymap for an overall kit.

The meters window has four LEDs that show the left and right master volume as well as global effects one and two. The transport window has the usual rewind, forward, record, stop, play, and loop controls. A measures, beats and ticks indicator is also included in the transport. The tools window has icons that represent editing tasks like cut, copy, paste and record to disk. The icons are somewhat confusing. Without reading the manual (included on the disc as a PDF file), I wouldn't necessarily know what they represent. Onscreen help or pop-up labels would make this program much easier to use.

Recording with Voodoo is easy. After configuring OMS to work with the program, Voodoo instantly recognized my master keyboard controller and MIDI setup. After clicking record and play on the transport, I recorded a part. The program also defaults to a MIDI metronome click, so playing to the beat is easy. Patterns are recorded drum-machine style. You can either loop record or play a part in freestyle. This makes it very easy to construct a drum pattern with all the various instruments you may need.

Voodoo ships with a number of pre-configured sampled drum kits, including an 808 kit, jazz brush kit, Latin percussion kit and various rock kits. All together there are 11 configurations to choose from when you open a new file. In addition, you can create your own custom drum kits, assigning samples to the various pads. The samples from within the kits are very good. The brush snare sound is excellent; the 808 sub-harmonic kick drums are convincing; and even the orchestral kit has some life-like crash-cymbals and concert snares. (I do have to wonder if anyone would use this program to create an orchestral percussion score.)

Once you have created a pattern it is added to the pattern list. If you would like to edit the pattern you simply click on it and a piano-scroll-type window opens, allowing you to draw in notes, delete notes, quantize, shift, etc. The program does allow for notes to be filtered depending on velocity, pitch placement and a variety of other factors. This makes it easy to turn up just the snare drum in a pattern, for example. To record more patterns you select the Add Patterns command and record at will. All time signatures, tempos and pattern lengths are set as you record them, and every aspect of a pattern is easily editable later on.

Once you've constructed several patterns you can assemble them into a playlist in the Pattern list area to create a song. It’s very easy to drag-and-drop patterns into an arrangement. Each pattern can have a series of repeats as well; if a pattern appears once you can set it to repeat as many times as necessary before moving on to the next pattern. Rhythmic arranging with Voodoo is very simple.

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