Native Instruments Intakt
Although it may look like another software sampler plug-in, Intakt is really a functional tool for the beat savvy musician. Intakt is a swiss army knife for working with sampled loops and beats, available for Mac and PC supporting VST, Audio Unit, Core Audio, RTAS, DXi, Direct Sound and ASIO formats. Intakt is based on the Kontakt sampling engine, offering up to 128 stereo voices with 32 bit processing and up to 96 kHz sample rate support. It even supports Direct from Disk playback.
Similar to apps like ReCycle, use it to tempo match any stereo loop on-the-fly, or chop, morph, effect and twist loops into your own sonic creations all from a convenient one-screen interface plug-in within your host music production software! It imports almost any sound format including WAV, AIFF, REX1 and REX2 files, Gigasampler, AKAI, HAlion, EXS, BATTERY, and KONTAKT instruments.
Intakt offers three types of sampler in one: Beat Machine, Time Machine, and Sampler Mode. Beat Machine, like ReCycle, uses a peak-detection algorithm to find the peaks in imported audio loops and splice them at those points. Each slice can be individually edited for pitch, playback direction, pitch envelope, amp envelope, distortion, delay, and more. Each slice is automatically assigned to keys on the keyboard too. It can then export a MIDI file of the chopped loop for use in a sequencer. Slices can be muted and re-arranged from within Intakt itself as well as from the exported MIDI file data. Each slice marker can also be adjusted if needed, and there's a sensitivity slider to tweak the number of slice points in the sample.
The Time Machine offers time stretching/compressing in real-time without affecting its pitch. This mode allows you to match any loop to a new tempo without the need to slice up the sample. This mode is similar to how apps like Ableton Live work with loops, letting you drop them into your groove asap and without affecting their original pitch. Of course the sample can be pitched shifted up or down independent of the amount of time-stretching for getting that sample in key as well as time with your sequence.
Sampler Mode allows you to use Intakt like a typical sampler, assigning loops and imported samples to each key or across keyboard zones. Any time stretching done here will also affect the pitch, just like in a traditional sampler. This mode is more like a 'lite' version of Kontakt and is useful for tasks such as mapping each drum of an entire drum kit across the keyboard.
Intakt allows you to shape and mangle your sounds via multi-mode filters (six types of filtering), two syncable LFOs (with multiple waveforms), lo-fi effects, syncable delay, distortion and flexible envelopes. The virtual built-in keyboard shows where samples are mapped and features pitch and modulation wheels, transposition and hold (latch) switches. Intakt ships with a 1.3 GB library of loops from Zero-G and East West covering a broad range of pop, hip-hop, house, R n B, soul, rock, garage, funk and many electronic styles.
The interface is technical, busy, stream-lined, and takes some getting used to. But it's laid out quite well, with a Source Edit section where you work directly with the sample. The Modulation section is basically envelopes and LFOs for giving the sample some activity. The Effects section has the filters, delays, etc. for coloring the sample. There's the keyboard section where you can map and assign samples to any key or range of keys. Finally a Browser section is built-in for finding and loading audio from disk, CD, DVD, etc. If you rely on loops in making your music, Intakt is as professional and musical a tool you'll find for getting your grooves on!
Images from Native Instruments.