AVA Music Group is a company that offers a wide range of Virtual Instruments and Sound Effects solutions for producers of all genres who are well-known in the music world and beyond. The solutions offered by AVA are used by film industry, being used by companies such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney, Netflix, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm Ltd.
What Is PRISM | Urban Legends?
PRISM is a category of virtual instruments they offer and refers to the virtual drums library. These plugins offered by AVA offer tools to create powerful beats of very high quality right from the plugin interface. PRISM | Urban Legends is their answer to the Hip-Hop scene and is designed to give Hip-Hop producers high-quality beats integrated into a much easier-to-use and follow form.
You can easily and creatively compose and mix drum beats in this plugin. This plugin’s engine has integrated many mixing tools to help you prepare these sounds quickly and qualitatively.
What benefits does a drum library provide you?
The benefits a drum library can offer you are efficiency and creativity. A plugin like this helps artists generate and modify the company’s pre-recorded sounds in much simpler, busier ways. The most important part of plugins like this is that the artist doesn’t have to worry about recording drum sounds, which can be costly in every way; they choose the library they want to use, leaving them to create the music.
Urban Legends offers a very easy-to-use interface for all categories of users. On the first page, it offers presets and easily alterable parameters, which is good for beginners.
When you want to understand the plugin better, it has a lot of control parameters that will help you find the identity you want to convey.
The features chapter meets all the requirements that a virtual instrument should have. The effects are an interesting addition because they are designed according to the style the plugin serves, and all parameters are responsive to settings, which is more than necessary when you want to create your style.
The folks at AVA have thought about any parameters a user might have when composing drum parts in this style. The engine they have incorporated is very detailed regarding sound possibilities.
The triangle on the main page is their most interesting feature when it comes to sounds because it’s interactive, and you can find the right sounds quickly, and combined with the effects and presets they offer, you can quickly end up integrating good quality sounds in a short amount of time.
Urban Legends’ interface perfectly represents the idea of modern times, expressing compatibility, efficiency, and richness, which we can see in the whole PRISM line they have on the market. They make use of neon colors, coloring that very cool middle gem. The most enjoyable part when you open the plugin is that it’s not tiring on the eyes, making it easy to use for longer.
The main part of the plugin on the main page is divided into three categories that give you quick access to any parameter you want to change. Here you can select drum presets, change quick effect parameters, and enter additional pages that give you even more controls.
It is important to remember that this plugin offers two ways you can use it: it offers drums already created, but you can also use its functionality using your keyboard by connecting it to Kontakt. At the bottom of the interface, the plugin shows you which keyboards to produce sounds directly from the keyboard.
Urban Legends proves that if you know how to conceive your design in such a way, it perfectly combines functionality with a good appearance. This plugin has on the main page master settings, a selection kit, and a browser to enter the Urban Legends menus.
The browser menu can be found on the main page and is meant to go through all the important parts of this plugin, but with a few extra features.
It lets us go into pages like Main, FX, Master, or About, but the most important part of this menu is that it lets you use the MIDIs created by AVA which are more than necessary when composing. It lets you play and stop but also lets you track the name as well as the BPM that the MIDI is in.
This part provides quick access to any parameter the plugin offers. Using this part will help you understand almost everything the plugin offers, but if we leave out the detailed control part.
The Fx page is probably the most important part of the plugin because it is the core of Urban Legends. Two functions represent this part: one lets you select each instrument from the ten kits, and one represents all the effects you can add to each instrument.
- Groove Browser
Groove Browser represents what AVA calls quality vs. quantity; it is meant to offer highly customizable grooves inspired by the rap and hip-hop scene. The 50 drum patterns are of different BPM, found in the Groove tab, and categorized into Slow, Medium, and Fast, which can also be easily integrated into your DAW with the drag and drop function.
The master page is the final output of Urban Legends. In it, we can find effects designed for the final sound of the drums, and they correlate directly with the slides on the front page. It’s a very cool addition that the folks at AVA have brought to this new plugin, and it’s a necessary part of the mix.
Urban Legends boasts that this plugin offers a quality vs. quantity solution. Well, we were inspired by this approach because it helped us understand the concept they have approached regarding features.
We can understand that the plugin comes with ten drum kits, a groove browser that is increasingly used in most drum plugins, which benefits from rap and hip-hop grooves that can be modified very easily but also have a lot of effects.
We will discuss all these features spread over the pages that Urban Legends has; it’s much easier to understand but also makes more sense because the order AVA proposes offers a complete signal chain, from drum selection to mix and output.
The most interesting part of the main page is the slides that give you control of the effects in the plugin’s master bus; they are meant to set the amount of effect in that category. There are 4 of them, and two appear, but you can use the arrows to select the other two. Note that if you want them to be active, the effects on the Master page must also be active.
Comp is the amount of final compression you can set from the Master page, which brings a more detailed addition to the settings there. It helps the low-end kick and snares interestingly without clipping the frequencies, and this sound is loud, clear, and detailed.
The limiter is an effect you either want or you don’t. The point is that although it does its job well, if you don’t know how to use it just by ear, it can ruin your kick mix, as many are used to doing it after meters. It’s very good, it brings your kick and bass up to par and doesn’t let anything get past it, but if you’re used to doing it after meters, you might consider using an outside effect.
The tape slider you’ll definitely want to have it handy. This effect will not only highlight your drums, but it will also bring that aggressive feel you’ll want in your mix. It’s a more than necessary effect in what the master is all about and a fitting addition to the main page.
- Secret Sauce
The secret sauce is the recipe for success if you want a prominent sound with little distortion. You either use this effect to aggressively distort the drums for a more prominent effect or subtly adjust it to bring the drums a little more to the front of the mix. This one should not be missing from the effect chain, and AVA has thought it through; the character it brings to the mix is special.
Urban Legend offers three ways to find the desired drum sound. Either you choose to play with that big gem on the plugin’s main page and go through each entire kit individually, or you take control and select each one individually on the FX page, or you can use the sample browser, which allows you to see them better visually.
The Big Gem
In the middle part of the main page, we have a gem that gives access to the ten kits the plugin has. By rotating from the right or left, you can choose kits in the combination that AVA proposes, but they can certainly be altered to your liking on the FX page that we will discuss in the following.
Visually, this part shows us which preset we are in and the drum categories for each; here, we will see Kicks, Snares & Claps, and Close & Open Hi-hats.
Although it’s intuitive, you can easily skip the kit if you’re not paying attention to the points it shows, and it’s very sensitive. It’s not something that holds you back from discovering the plugin, but once you know it very well and know what the kits are, you will use this knob easily.
This menu path can be found on the FX page and lets you scroll through all the drum types they have captured. Each has ten options, as there are ten kits, and this feature allows you to find the right sound.
Also, selecting any of the instruments will immediately activate the Effects you can see on the right side of the FX page, but we’ll discuss that in a moment.
When you select an instrument in the drum menu, at the bottom of the menu called Samples, you will see something change. This menu shows you the ten choices that the instrument has, and if you click on them, you can listen to them individually, which is appreciated.
It’s a much easier way to follow, and although it’s a much-needed addition, it’s not there for some functions like Reverb in the effects category.
The effects part of Urban Legends offers a complete suite of ways to make your mark. AVA has come up with a complete solution of 3 kinds.
Either you want to tweak the sound of individual drums, and here you’ll see they have nine effects which is pretty much everything you need, or you want to alter the MIDI quickly with Time and Settings functions, or the final sound, which is the master of the drums and offers four master effects.
Individual Drum Effects
These effects can be found in the FX menu and chosen at the plugin’s bottom. Here you can find effects such as Compressor, Exciter, Reverb, HP, Transient, Delay, 6-band EQ, Stereo, Pitch, and an LP.
To use them, you have to select an instrument on the right side, such as the Kick, and apply any of the nine effects to the instrument you want to use. To activate the effects, you need to activate its icon, which can be found on the right side of each effect on the page.
This compressor is meant to give you a perfect solution when you want to level the volume of drums that in some parts sound louder than necessary. It gives you basic settings that you can find in any compressor such as threshold, ratio, attack, release, makeup, and mix, and gives you instant punch, especially in kick and snare.
Exciter is one of my favorite effects in this suite, especially regarding snare. It gives you three basic controls (saturation, tilt, and output) and adds saturation in the high frequencies to produce overtones and add richness to the final drum mix.
Transient shaper is one of the most important effects, especially regarding drums. It locates transients in the drums and gives you controls to make them longer or shorter through attack and sustain.
This one in Urban Legends helps us add punch to the drums and offers a more transparent way to mix drums with other instruments for more clarity and impact.
The delay, in this case, gives us the opportunity to create cool breaks but also adds a significant touch to the overall drum sound. It gives us parameters like time, dampness, feed and mix, and the most basic parameters we can find in a delay.
Reverb is the most creative part of this section and the most important part when creating a drum room. AVA didn’t give us too many control parameters (only mix knob and 15 reverb styles).
These styles can be used in two ways, either a basic one where you want to help the drums not be too in your face or you use some of the styles to create new drum sounds, which are extremely cool.
I didn’t particularly appreciate that they don’t have names, nor can you see them in a menu if you click them, so you must rely on visual or auditory memory. Anyway very well designed this section.
Pitch is the right solution when you’ve found your right drum sound, but it seems like it would work if it could be tuned lower or, why not, higher. Well, the folks at AVA have also included this effect that allows you to transpose your drums quickly.
Stereo allows you to spread the drums from mono to stereo using the mix knob (you could call it a widener, perhaps). Also, if you click on ”Output: Default” it allows you to assign each instrument to separate channels so you can make their volumes.
It would be super cool if users had the mixer option built right in from the plugin, as beginner users may need to learn the technique of using Kontakt to do this, but of course, there is room to learn, and this feature is 100% functional.
- 6-band EQ
This 6-band EQ is the perfect solution for mixing your drums. With these six bands, you’ll be able to have full control over your drums and adjust them to your mixing style and taste.
- Low Pass and High Pass Filters
These are the response of the EQ, which gives you control over low or high frequencies when you want to get rid of certain unwanted frequencies; these two LP and HP are more than useful if you want to fine-tune your drums and place them better in the mix.
The guys at AVA offer a wide selection of pre-recorded drums to help you when you want to compose music and some tools to alter them.
Let’s say you have 120 BPM set in your DAW, but your drum pattern is at 60 BPM; you wouldn’t necessarily want it to sound twice as fast because you would turn those drums into death metal drum parts. Then that part finds its functionality.
Whether you want to reduce the speed or double it, these Time settings are more than necessary because you can increase the expressiveness of the drums or match them to the BPM set in the DAW much faster.
What is to be appreciated is how Urban Legends offers a solution that we have seen in other forms in other plugins but is not so effective and obvious. I say obvious because these kinds of settings are usually hidden, and the moment you use them, they are not so effective. In the Groove browser, you will see three knobs in the settings tab that changes the game: Tightness, Swing, and Velocity.
It’s a knob you can use quite interestingly. You can insert playing errors by making the drum loop, not on the grid, which means the drums will become more human. If you find the right sweet spot, you’ll find that your drums will be much more interesting, as if played by a drummer. The higher the value, the more they will be on time.
This option is on most plugins, but in this case, it works great because hip-hop and rap drums are usually simple, and an engine can insert notes much more humanely. This knob helps you add a swing to the drums, inserting accents and not just the drums you selected, making them more interesting. The more you increase its value, the more complex they become.
We all know the term velocity when writing drums. But here, it is to be appreciated that with Urban Legends, you can do this directly from the plugin interface, and using the other two knobs, you can humanize the drums without entering values in the DAW. The velocity goes up to 127 (standard), and the knob is efficient and sensitive to settings.
The master effects in Urban Legends are meant to alter the total output the drums give, representing the final sound. There are 4 of them (Drum Compressor, Limiter, Tape Distortion, and Secret Sauce), and they will greatly help you as they represent pretty much everything you need for the drums in the final output stage.
What’s more interesting about them is that they are linked to the slides shown on the main page, so once you have set your effects in the master, you will only need to set the effect amount on the main page.
- Drum Compressor
Drum Compressor is a compressor that offers basic settings (Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, Makeup, and Mix) that you can see in just about any compressor, except in this case, you’d be surprised how well it correlates with drums.
It can deliver a very good quality low-end punch in the drums, and at high volumes, you’ll notice how cool and easy you can apply compression to them.
- Tape Distortion
Tape Distortion is a necessary effect in any drum master bus. In this case, we have controls such as (Gain, Warmth, HF, and Output) and by using these, you can improve the punch and aggression of the drums in the mix by adding a bit of distortion. It is an effect you will often use, especially in the genre that Urban Legends is tackling.
The limiter, in this case, works very well but only for part of the range of users. It offers settings that just about every limiter has (In Gain, Release, and Output), which is useful. However, we’re sure many novice users don’t know how to use it by ear, which might give them a headache. But again, it’s an effect that works very well, and if you know how to use it, it can provide exactly what you need.
- Secret Sauce
In Urban Legends, Secret Sauce is an effect you might use more than you think. With it, you can give your drums aggression with noticeable distortion or add a little boost to the final sound of your drums. I’m glad that AVA brought this effect into the chain, as it adds a distinct note to the drums you’re about to use.
Drag And Drop
Urban Legends allows users to use patterns already created by AVA and transfer them to DAW to modify them as they wish. To do this, you select a drum pattern in the Groove Browser and drag and drop it from the MIDI button into the Urban Legends channel in the DAW.
This way, you can alter the drums to your liking, which is more than useful. Also, in the Groove Browser, you can add any loops you create yourself, so you can create a library of loops you’ve composed and have them at hand at any time.
AVA told us to inform you that in early April, Urban Legends will get a new update that will improve the bugs they encountered with the plugin, but also a small detail we noticed in our review. It’s cool to see that the plugin is increasing its functionality; with time, it will become stronger and stronger.
This is what you can expect in the new April update:
- MIDI playback bug fix
- Hi-hat and Clap volume bug fix
- Volume and Pan knobs will be added to every individual element.
Urban Legends is available for Kontakt 6.4.0+, which works on Windows 7/macOS 10.13 or higher. Kontakt comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats, and you will need Native Access to activate the library.
When composing music, especially in this genre, it is more than necessary to let your imagination run wild, and everything goes smoothly and creatively. AVA Music Group has decided this is more than necessary, so they have made it possible with Urban Legends.
Hip-hop and rap producers now have an extremely useful and functional tool in every respect, being able to compose music and explore multiple styles in one accessible plugin.
I’ve worked my way through making rap beats in the past with friends, and the most frustrating part was when we had the instrumentals and sounds set up, but we had to choose the drums. Of course, it’s easy to write them, but if we had Urban Legends back then, it was probably a lot more fun and useful to go through the creation process.
The most important part of this plugin is the drum sounds and how to alter them. Whether you’re a novice and want to find something quickly or dive deep into the process and alter every parameter of the plugin, Urban Legends is for you. The effects are cool, the master bus is useful, and the loops already created by AVA are extremely versatile.
There are two things I’d change about the plugin, but they’re minor things that will get updates in the future, as AVA is constantly working on things like this.
When you want to change any parameter on a knob, either in effect or in the master bus, it’s challenging to increase or decrease the amount by 0.01; for example, what I would have liked, though, was to be able to insert values manually from the keyboard, so you won’t have to bother so much with the cursor.
And the second one was reverb names. There is so many cool reverb without names, and by their icon, it’s hard to tell which one is your favorite because they all have cool icons, and it’s hard to follow them. (I’ll use the reverb part if I can for other projects, it’s just cool).
You guys who are in this scene, I recommend this plugin 100%, and it is more than necessary. You’ll see that the plugin can help you explore many musical genres, even if you are a hip-hop or rap producer.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age. Read more…