Beatmaker RICO by UJAM Review (Effortless Reggaetón Grooves)

For the last few years, UJAM has given virtual instrument concepts in partnership with designers from Steinberg’s Virtual Guitarist and Groove agent, producing software series for guitarists, bassists, and drummers. The Beatmaker series is a set of simple plugins for electronic groove and beat composition. This series has upgraded to the second version, which adds new features to the series plugins.

What exactly is RICO?
Rico specializes in percussion, reggaeton, and dancehall rhythms. This program from Ujam provides tools for creating strong rhythms and high-quality sounds with a user interface that will astound even the most seasoned music producers. In addition, this plugin provides ready-made patterns and styles, giving you an infinite number of groove choices at your fingertips in the simplest way imaginable. This excursion into reggaeton music may give you the necessary enthusiasm for your song.

What benefits does a Percussion Plugin provide you?
A virtual instrument called a “percussion plugin” enables artists to generate and modify the sounds of percussion instruments. Drum percussion plugins are the most prevalent, however, others are more specialized and only offer sounds for a single kind of drum. In addition, drum beats and other percussion rhythms can be produced with percussion plugins realistically or synthetically.

Category
Rating
Summary

User Interface
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rico features an intuitive user interface. In the plugin’s primary interface, changing controls and settings are simple. Rico also gives you the option to change the interface’s size.

Features
⭐⭐⭐⭐
There are several characteristics of this virtual rhythm instrument. It has every component that is necessary for a percussion plugin. Because the controls are responsive to adjustments, the possibilities for changing the sound are unlimited.

Sound
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
An essential component of sound modeling is provided by the way the snare and kick sounds may be changed using that simple fader as well as the new Me Gusta mode that UJAM added, particularly for this plugin. As people at UJAM promised, the samples are true and high quality.

User Interface

RICO features a chic design with a motif that perfectly captures the experience you would have in Puerto Rico, as professionals at UJAM have been accustomed to doing with this line of instruments. Using vivid colors creates a visually appealing experience, and the two components of the visuals effectively divide the two primary portions.

 As an illustration, the left side of the screen has options for Instrument, which contains the plugin kit’s essential functions, and Mix, which represents the sound’s final component. The Style in which the plugin plays may be changed in this section, along with many other features.

You will have access to the plugin’s full functionality whether you use the MIDI keyboard or only the keys displayed on the plugin’s home page, and the plugin will start producing drum sounds immediately.

Positioning these features so accessible works very well with this one.

The keyboard instrument, which you can discover on the left side, stores the drum sounds that the kit has individually, and at the bottom of it, you may change the drum sound using parameters also, and the output can be individual or master.

We have controls for the instrument’s style on the right side.

These three piano octaves, which stand in for intros, fills, endings, and much more, act as a pattern generator. Of course, using the left and right arrows, we may change the preset’s style.

 

Features

Additionally to the new features that we will discuss below, RICO gives you the option to mix your sounds directly from the plugin’s interface. Take a look at the contents of this package.

Phase Drag and Drop

You may drag phrases like fills and endings directly from the plugin interface using the latest version of the plugin. This feature is beneficial and fosters your creativity. Naturally, you have the option to adjust this feature to your preferences; you may alter the velocity and even the note placements. Additionally, these Styles may be used in conjunction with the other Beatmaker plugins. The majority of them profit from the drag and drop function.

Master or Individual Output

Importantly, this updated edition enables you to divide all of the instruments across your mixer’s channels. This plugin benefits from a strong path that properly aligns with your DAW. Of course, if you feel that the mix features the plugin offers are sufficient for you, the output can also be stereo.

Special Controls

Curved sliders, or faders as I prefer to refer to them, were advantageous for RICO and could be used in both Kit and Mix. These functions give the program a definition, offer a unique tone, and are specially made to best adapt the adjustments you make to the kit or mix.

  • Kick and Snare
    The fade out to the kick or snare is momentarily controlled by this slider, which is located on the right side of the Kit section. If you desire, it can perform more tasks because I’ve also used it as a volume fader on occasion. The wheel on your keyboard or a Pitchbend controller may be used to move this slider. 
  • Me Gusta
    You may simply modify the overall sound with this slider. If you want the beat to take up more room in your mix, raising it also widens the stereo space. Additionally, this function increases the low frequencies while lowering the high ones in order to widen the stereo field. The converse happens when you move the slider downward so the mids are boosted.
  • Amount
    With this function, you may use a single slider to profit from most of the features. Amount refers to the effect quantity you may select in the Mix area, which is on the right side of the screen. Numerous modifications that change the sound of the utilized kit may be found there. They provide modes that are specifically in the reggaeton music style, including distortion modes, filters, and many more.
  • Beat Intensity
    The right side of the plugin has this feature, which has a variety of applications. Naturally, this function refers to the velocity at which the instrument plays to provide a more dynamic variety, but I think this function is appropriate for live mixing. Depending on the beat’s intensity, you can adjust what happens in real time with a Modulation Controller or a ModWheel.

 

Interactive Keyboard

You can play RICO with the interactive keyboard, but you’ll normally prefer to operate it remotely via a MIDI keyboard or MIDI notes. The notes that have been received are also shown on the interactive keyboard.

With a few minor exceptions for some special instruments, the layout is the same for all UJAM Beatmakers. This means you may utilize MIDI patterns you’ve produced for one Beatmaker with another or drag-and-drop expressions between Beatmakers.

Certain tweaks are needed if you wish to utilize RICO as a drum module because the drum pad mapping is not GM standard. As opposed to using acoustic drums, RICO employs its optimized mapping for the drums and noises.

Song Parts for Interactive Keyboard

Every style has 23 functionally ordered melody sections, starting at C3 and moving up the MIDI keyboard, plus a stop key. With the main sequencer, all components always play simultaneously. You may easily switch between Song Parts without having to play the Song Part again, and a live, non-repetitive drum performance may be made with this.

As you advance up the keyboard, the severity of the variances from each group in the section rises. Some of the tunes loop, while others play once you hit the key, and others only play while you hold the key. Additionally, the parts of the song that are commonly allocated to the white keys are the looping sections.

Timing Settings

  • Micro Timing
    The area that pertains to the Micro Timing Label may be found at the top of the main right portion, above the Style button. Once engaged, this feature offers two performance modes.
  • Speed
    With this three-way switch, you may adjust the speed of the drums to half, regular, or double. You may automate this parameter to provide variety to your rhythm or use it as a fixed option to adjust to an existing replay. Look for it under the RICO DAW track’s automation menu.
  • Humanize
    You may progressively change how loose or tight the rhythms are by using the Humanize slider. Your beats are entirely quantized at the far left. When the beats are in the straightest position, they are slightly “off time,” which creates a fantastic groove and feel.
    If you wish your MIDI notes to match your other programmed traces, this option is useful for the RICO music genre. As a result, the shots will be further away from being in the defined place of the grid as you move the slider from left to right.
  • Player Sync
    The micro timing overlay’s setting, which allows you to quantize the RICO player to match the playback, is now available. To make sure they have the phrase in time and on the appropriate beat, this new function keeps the RICO always in sync with the DAW’s sync position.

Presets

RICO includes 20 more styles, 30 extra presets, 5 extra kits, and 6 different mixes. A preset is always a whole RICO configuration; it modifies the kits, effects, and grooves. Browse through several presets and experiment with various Style phrases at this time to gain a sense of the RICO melodic and aural palette.

How does it work?

Presets may be loaded by clicking their names in the menu bar or by navigating among them using the little arrows. You can store a user interface configuration as a separate preset after making changes to it. The preset menu is user-friendly and clearly labeled, and I generally found the presets to be quite helpful while composing my compositions.

Although I frequently utilized the presets in the loops menu, I didn’t always use them as loops; rather, I did it because I thought they had the most fascinating selection of samples and made it simple to choose sounds that worked.

Mix Section

The Mix part of RICO appears to be straightforward, but it really has a 12-bus mixing console with numerous audio processors in each channel strip and hundreds of macro-controlled parameters that are selected via preset selectors and volume knobs.

The Mix presets available here adjust a RICO’s internal mixing console’s hundreds of settings. RICO has a unique collection of 12 Mix Presets that are tailored for their specific genre. Turn up the Amount Control and click the name or arrows in the center of the circular components as you browse the Mix Presets to find the one that best suits your song.

Amount slider enables you to choose the ideal balance between the preset’s most aggressive level and a neutral mixer setting. This is not just a straightforward Dry/Wet control; rather, it is a macro control that is achieved by individually adjusting the mixer parameter within.
Dial the amount till the amount of processing is appropriate while keeping the amount control fully engaged while you browse the Mix presets until you locate the one you want.

Kit Section

 

In this area, you may choose a drum kit by either clicking on its name to open the list or by using the tiny arrows to browse through the list. There are ten kits available, each featuring its own collection of samples take your cue from the kit’s name. The ability to swap out any tool in a kit with an instrument from any other kit has been included in version 2. Simply click the tool’s name or the arrows adjacent to it in the Tool list.

Although you can play in separate drum kits, it really shines when it comes to audio loops since you can control the playback of drum performances in real time. Using the Style a Section keyboard, you only need to instruct the drummer on which notes to play and when to produce a finished song in a certain genre. Drum performances are divided into genres and portions in RICO. Each of its 45 styles focuses on a different channel. Song Parts are used to categorizing styles.

Effects

RICO includes two parts where you may modify the sound it provides. The Master and the Kit are referred to throughout the two parts. The Instruments you’ve transmitted through Individual Outputs are not processed by The Master Section; just the stereo output of RICO is.

You may simply adjust and modify the various sounds that make up a whole Kit and Style in the Instrument Section. The name of the selected drum is shown in the Road Edit box when you click on any of the Drum keys.

Master Section

  • Sweep Knob
    Sweep is a dual filter control.
    The filter is disregarded when the right button is pressed. The resonant low pass filter is applied by turning the knob to the lowest setting, producing a conventional synthesizer filter sweep. The high-pass filter sweep is now activated when it is turned all the way up to the bottom.
  • Saturate Knob
    The Saturate processor alters dynamic behavior as well as overall signal dirtiness by adding warm harmonic distortion to the RICO primary signal. Saturated produces a subtle lo-fi edge at lower sound control levels, but at higher sound control settings, it will become pumped and distorted, which is occasionally precisely what you want.
  • Maximize Knob
    A well-known audio processor called Maximizer increases the perceived loudness of a signal without really increasing its technical level. Increased maximum settings produce drums. Clipping a mix even at lower volume levels might help you prevent internal Beatmaker distortion caused by high volume levels.
  • Ambience Knob and Presets
    You may change the size of the room with the Ambience knob. Ambience has the power to alter the character of the whole Groove, from the ground to Hamilton Mausoleum. In your DAW, you may automate the sweep and ambience controls to make significant audio adjustments to the dynamics of your song.
    A menu for choosing one of the six Ambiences programs is located above the Ambience button. It says “Mix Preset” by default, which indicates it uses the Ambience settings provided by the Mix preset. Click on the name to choose a different one, or use the arrows adjacent to it.
  • Volume
    The RICO output volume is shown and adjusted using this slider and level meter to maintain the mixer’s or other audio processors’ ideal input level.

Instrument Section

A fade knob controls how rapidly a drum sound decays. When the drum is raised to its highest point, the original envelopes are played. The lowest setting drastically shortens every sound. Using the Pitch knob, the drums are tuned six semitones in each direction. To change the overall tone of your drum instrument, utilize the Lowpass or Highpass filter capabilities of the Filter as a version 2 feature.

You may hear a drum sound alone by pressing the solo button. While the entire pattern is playing, this is the ideal way to momentarily examine and adjust the tone of any instrument. When you hit the Mute button again, the sound of a drum is returned to the mix.

Any instrument channel can be routed to the DAW’s Master Section or a specific output that will be supplied to an Aux bus. The Interactive Keyboard’s order is followed by the main output before the Instruments are transferred to the DAW.

No matter what genre I was seeking, the sample collection had everything. In reggaeton, trap, techno, house, and dubstep, I utilized RICO and could always discover some excellent samples. Additionally, the search-refinement features have made my process faster.

Drag and Drop

RICO enables users to drop song fragments from the interactive keyboard into any song’s DAW where they will be transformed into a MIDI area with editable notes. Drag a Beatmaker song part to the appropriate runway by clicking and holding any Song Part key on the interactive keyboard’s dot drag area. 

Like any other MIDI sequence, a RICO song component can be edited. One song might have musical elements from several genres. Simply alter the styles and start shooting. Any instrument channel can be routed to the DAW’s Master Section or a specific output that will be supplied to an Aux bus. Furthermore, in abandoned MIDI zones, you must manually abbreviate choruses or verses even though RICO would automatically do so when you play a Fill.

Loop Import

Although loops are frequently employed in music creation, they are regrettably rather static. After being imported and tempo-corrected, an audio loop or cut has several limits. We got a little closer to collaborating with a live drummer thanks to UJAM.

RICO lets you dynamically adjust the grooves, much like a drummer would arrange the drums to meet the dynamics of a song, even if the sounds and patterns are faithful to that style. This eliminates a lot of your bother. With RICO, there is no need to search your computer’s hard drive or the internet for relevant loops—or, worse yet, more loops that are identical and might be utilized in the same song.

Compatibility: 

RICO is available for macOS 10.14 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Verdict
I got about 4-5 days to test the plugin, and even if it’s a little different from the music I usually write, I can tell that if you’re creative enough, it immediately finds a home on your shelves. Even though I didn’t want to review it, the distortion settings and particular drum patterns helped me to use these drum sounds in my work. This plugin is undoubtedly an excellent place to start since I love to encourage individuals to get past their obstacles and strive to make any form of music.

RICO provides you with the opportunity to avoid reaching the point at which you run out of creative inspiration thanks to all the drum sounds it provides, as well as the drums that have sub-bass following the drum. The plugin’s meticulously developed sliding modes and all of the effects that represent the drum function flawlessly and don’t use up a lot of CPU and RAM. RICO is therefore an affordable plugin in terms of usage, and it connects flawlessly with other plugins to allow you to build highly complicated compositions.

RICO, at least for me, fits into many genres even if it’s a touch different from what I usually write. Rap, Reggaeton, DnB, Trap, and traditional Romanian music were all genres I utilized to create. There are no restrictions from this perspective since, in my opinion, percussion sounds go nicely with every style of music.

The UJAM guys did not disappoint with this collection of drum sounds, to sum up, all of this. In terms of usability, it is not a difficult plugin to use. It has a lot of already created drums, so you can discover it in a more creative way, and presets take you from one movie to another.

The interface is powered by a well-tuned engine, and the sounds are modelled exactly as what is sung in the original music. They are intricate, provide you with a vast range of selections, and guide you through every genre you have previously listened to. Although it’s not very pricey, we strongly advise you to try this plugin if you’re interested in the BEATMAKER series.

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