The Lowdown is a truly eclectic collection of amazing sounds all made on a 100-year-old antique upright bass. The original concept for the instrument was to detune the bass and record some low drones but the lads at Modwheel were so inspired by the sounds they were getting that they decided to go wild and record just about every possible sound you could think to make using an upright bass. The result is a truly unique instrument filled with pads, drones, loops, percussive sounds and an extremely authentic upright bass instrument.
First, I experimented with the standard upright bass. There are keyswitches for both the arco and pizzicato instruments which give you quite a few articulations. There is no combined instrument, however, so you have to make your choice of pizz vs. bowing from the start. The bass sounded wonderfully authentic, and the pizzicato instrument was particularly realistic. The arco instrument was nice, but requires the mod wheel for dynamic adjustment, something I wasn't a huge fan of.
After dabbling a bit with the traditional bass sounds, I moved on to sample the more unusual sounds and it's here where The Lowdown truly sets itself apart from other bass virtual instruments. The sounds you can get from The Lowdown range from beautifully odd to amazingly bizarre. I found myself trying to imagine how the heck they got some of these noises from a bass. I was told they used bows, mallets, chopsticks, brushes, hands, feet and just about every conceivable object you can think of.
There are some sounds that feel truly 'organic' and simply involve rhythmic or tapping elements, and there are some amazingly detuned and lush pads that were a pleasure to use. Some sounds were effected, others arpeggiated and harmonics are often available to blend in with the chosen sound.
I found The Lowdown to be a great tool both as an instrument and as a sound design element. There are even 'drum sets' created from bass sounds to spark your inspiration. If the sound can be made on a bass, I can pretty much guarantee you it's in The Lowdown.
I had to tear myself away from cycling through all the presets of The Lowdown in order to write this review. Sound after sound, each one is different than the next. It was a wonderfully fresh take on the bass and at their low introductory price this one is kind of a no-brainer. I do wish it was a 'wrapped' Kontakt instrument—you have to load it through the file browser and for us lazy folks that's one extra step, but that doesn't affect the sound or usability of this fine collection of sounds.
Price: $79 ($49 limited time introductory price)
Pros: Great quality sounds, easy to use, a wonderfully creative and versatile instrument, very low price.
Cons: 'Unwrapped' Kontakt instrument requires the full version of Kontakt to run