Beatmaker 2

 

I needed to find a sampler to run on my iPad for live shows. I thought that would be simple - there are many excellent musical toys for the pad that there surely would be one that acted like professional sampling hardware. So it really was a surprise to spend nearly a day sifting through candidates and finding the majority of them are, quite frankly, useless.

 

  • Many don't have MIDI support. You're stuck with tapping glass. No.
  • Quite a few have one waveform at a time. As if that is any use.
  • A few only looped their own paid sounds. Like BeatHawk. Stupid.
  • Most could only loop the whole sound, if at all.
  • And they were mostly abandoned. The iPad music scene is slowing.

 

By the time I got to Beatmaker 2 I was pretty accepting, but it actually meets most of the demands I have for real world performance. I'd avoided it because anything with 'beat' in the name usually means kiddy hip hop. (Note that I'm not interested in using it as a DAW, and so know nothing of the composing features. I'm just calling up the instruments.)

 

The sampler has layers (so stacks of samples, that can be velocity switched if needed) and more importantly zones (so you can multi sample an instrument without chipmunks). Setting these up is easy on the pad.

 

The samples can have loop points, unfortunately the loops are not recognised in existing waves - you have to redo them, which is about the same difficulty as hardware. No alternating loops.

 

Some simple effects - normalise, trim, fades. Time stretch too, but I've preferred to do that on the sources before loading them.

 

The sound goes through resonant filter and amp, each with ADSR. I don't find the filter much use for more than harsh effects. There are 2x LFOs for the most common pitch and filter tweaks.

 

Each instrument can have 4 effects, and 4 on the total mix. They, like the filter, are crude, with only the reverb giving any width.

 

Basically it runs like an AKAI S--- from the 1990's which is perfectly decent. You could wish it ran like an Ensoniq ASR with things like modulated loop points, but useful and stable is a good start. Actually there's plenty of iPad sampler apps that do the wacky stuff and you can integrate them into the Beatmaker interface with audio sharing apps I am a bit vague about. Not much point when you could just double-click and switch to the other app.

 

I also liked the means to get the sounds onto the pad, by running a FTP server and up/downloading from the source computer. That of course assumes you have a local network, and I am a bit worried about that on the road, where I'll probably use the iCloud service.

 

There's a new version coming. I think I'll be getting it.

It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.