"XO" By XLN Audio Review

Updated: Apr 27, 2019

By Serhat Gedik 26/4/2019

Hey there folks!

We hope everyone is doing great, creating amazing music and achieving their goals slowly but surely. We on the other hand have been quite busy at Musician Life HQ with both hands and ears are fully occupied. It was only last week that we'd reviewed and amazing plugin and yet here we are again with another brand spanking new, state of the art, great plugin!

The "XO"!

"XO" by XLN Audio is the next generation, if not, the next big Plugin in the world of Drum Machine Synthesis / Drum Sequencing plugins. "XO" is set to change the parameters of Drum Machine Synthesis with not only the way it looks and presents itself, but also with how it functions, makes things easy to access and speeds up your work flow, gives your creativity a big push and helps you get the groove going on within just a few seconds!

"XO collects all your one-shot drum samples and sorts them by similarity in the XO Space." - XLN Audio

We, at Musician Life, are calling "XO" the "Canvas Of Picasso" as the main interface looks just like an abstract painting and the plugin itself has so many new features which had never seen before on any other plugin that's in the market at the moment.

It maybe overwhelming at first look and it may make you think "But how am I going to figure out what is what?" Well, our friends at "XLN Audio" have not only made things look great but also made them function very easy too.

We've spent only a few seconds to figure out what is what and we've been kind enough to list some of them down below for everyone to see and understand how easy the "Canvas Of Picasso" really is:

1 - Red = Kick

2 - Blue = Snare

3 - Yellow = Hat

4 - Pink = Crash

And the list goes on... The thing is, though it may have a huge number of kits within it's own factory library, it also allows you to import your very own libraries you have and with the smart built in Ai system it has, it automatically analyzes and separates each and every sound from one another and categorizes them in colors, it is that great!

Now, the picture above is the main interface where everything is layered in front of your eyes for you to click and test some of the sounds. When we hop on to the Top Right Corner and click on the presets bar (highlighted below), a whole new page comes up with all the drum kits and drum sequences.

In this part, you can see all the available factory drum kits (Sequences), the name of the kit, the date that it was added to the library and the tempo of the kit which makes things less complicated and speeds things up.

"Red highlighted part is where to click to get into the second page to see all the drum kits and sequences"

On the left side of the screen, once tested out the sounds, you can change a certain clap or a kick if you do not like the sound of it for whatever reason. You might not think that it fits in well with the kit, or you might want a stronger, punchier kick, or a sharper hat sound, whatever the reason may be, "XO" allows you to do as you please which is absolutely "Phenomenal".

When we go back to the main page after selecting the desired drum kit, starts the fun part.

To think that you might not be able to "edit" any of the sounds that comes in the drum kit you've selected would have been insane! But that's not case with "XO". Be cause once you select your kit and go back to the main page, on the left hand side you can see the sample categories in that kit, such as; kick, snare, hat and so on. When you click on one of these sounds, a new bar of options opens at the bottom of the page which gives you the ability to the edit the life out of that particular sample you've chosen!

Sample edit section

As it's highlighted in the picture above, in the edit section, it gives you a good amount of options to edit the sound you want to edit and the way you want to edit it. Let's say you want to shorten the tail of a kick or a snare, you lick on the sample option which is the very first option on the list, then you simply drag the bars at the end to the point where you want the sound to stop and that's it, you're good to go.

Shortening the tail of a kick drum

But it doesn't stop just there! Within the same section, there are a whole bunch of other editing options for each sound you choose to edit within the drum kit you've selected. These options are: Panning, Envelope, Pitch, Tone, Cut off (Filter), Velocity Sensitivity, Playback and FX sends. To make things easier though, all you have to do is click on the "Edit" option. It then takes you to a new section where you can see the edit option of every single sound within the drum kit you've chosen and edit them one by one just like shown below:

Edit section of each drum sound

As you can see above, from the very same page, you can choose to add all kinds of effects to each and every sound in the kit. Effects such as Reverb, Delay, Filter and so on. Also as you can see, on the right hand side of the same page, there is the "Sequencer" area which enables you the sequence the drum pattern you want to write which is pretty straight forward and easy to get things going.

But what makes "XO" so special and separates it from the other drum machines around the world is the "similarity" option on it's main front page. By clicking on one of the samples, let's say the snare, while the kit is playing, click on the "similarity button". What the similarity button does is that it allows the smart Ai system within "XO" to find you a similar snare sound to replace your current one with if you think that your current choice of sound isn't good enough or can be a tick better. How can you beat that? You simple don't! :)

Similarity Bar

It doesn't end here! "XO" has more to offer! Here is another one:

Once chosen your drum kit and wrote your drum sequence the way you want; you're feeling the groove but all of a sudden you started getting this not so pleasant feeling of unsatisfactory? You want to change the whole drum kit? Are you serious? Well, that would have been a huge problem usually, but not with "XO"! With "XO", you can just click on the slider on the left of the screen (which is shown in the picture below) and start sliding through the similar kind of drum kits as your sequence is playing and stop when you feel you've found the right kit for your song.

Drum kit slider pannel

What's next is one of the best options of "XO"! Importing your own sounds:

What you need to do is very simple. Click on the folder icon on the top right corner, find the folder where your sample packs are located, pick the file folder you want and let the fun begin! Once imported inside of "XO", you then go on the search section and type the name of the pack you've just imported and "XO" shows by highlighting all the sounds you've just imported on the map. it's that simple and great!

What we're about to show you next is mind blowing! When you click on the edit tab above and then click on the "beat combiner" tab that opens, you'll get a new page which comes up with a series of presets for combining and changing the sequencing options for each and every sound within the drum kit. All you have to do is click on the circles and play around with them till it sounds good to your ears.

Beat Combiner Section

Next one on our never ending list of amazing options of "XO" is the "Sample Combiner".

It uses the same technique as the similarity option on the front page, only difference is you can change the samples and the sequence at once while playing and from the randomize option below, you can click and let "XO" to come up with some random patterns which you might end up liking.

Sample Combiner Section

We believe this beast of a new born baby like drum machine is going to be an essential in every studio around the world. It has already become our #1 go to plugin for all of our drum works and we believe it will remain that way until "XO 2" comes out! ;)

"XO" is available for both Mac & PC and the system requirements are listed below:



macOS 10.9 or later (64-bit only)

2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)

Internet connection (during installation only)


Windows 7, 8, 10 (64-bit only)

2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)

Internet connection (during installation only)


VST, AU, AAX (64-bit)

Standalone Application (Windows and macOS)

You can buy "XO" from the link below for: $179.95 https://www.xlnaudio.com/products/xo

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