If you’re not familiar with Battery, it’s a dedicated drum sampler by Native Instruments, which makes editing samples and creating kits easier than making jokes about bad drummers.
Recently optimised for NI’s Kore Technology, this new release answers many (though not all) of the komplaints I made in my komprehensive review of battery 2 a while ago and adds a bunch of new functionality to boot.
The biggest news is the brand new user interface, which offers significant improvements over that of its predecessor’s. For a start the drum/sample matrix has a maximum of 128 cells available, which is double the number on offer in Battery 2. What’s more, this matrix is now completely customisable, with the adding and removal of columns and rows as simple as clicking the plus and minus buttons around its borders.
The tabs below the matrix window have been rationalised to offer both new functionality and better usability and now number nine in total. Unlike Battery 2, their contents fill the full width of the window beneath them and can be switched between using the F1-F9 function keys. But although they are conveniently labelled ‘Cell’, ‘Setup’, ‘Mapping’, ‘Wave’, ‘Loop’, ‘Modulation’, ‘Effects’ ‘Master’ and ‘Browser’, they are, inconveniently, not labelled with their respective ‘F’ key numbers…causing me to use my own ‘F’ key on more than one occasion…
Battery’s new interface offers a number of useful new ways to utilise your sample collection. The ‘Cell’ window allows you to select the next and previous samples on the fly, whilst your pattern is playing. The ‘Browser’ window allows direct auditioning of each sample (with pre listen, auto preview and loop options). You can drag sounds direct to cells and if you right click on a cell, you can replace its contents with one of the 4000 new drum sounds (organised by instrument) that ship with Battery 3.
But it’s not just the individual samples that are new. There are also 40 new kits (making a total of 90) that cover everything from African Tribal to ‘Robotik’ (sic). Including the Battery 1 & 2 kits, which it does, that’s a total library size of 12GB (4 times larger than Battery 2)…which is more drums than you can shake a stick at…and if that’s not enough sounds for you, support has been added for a multitude of additional sample formats, including Akai MPC, EXS 24, GigaStudio, Reaktor, Acidized WAVs, Apple Loops, and Recycle 1 & 2.
Battery’s new sounds take advantage of its new sample engine, which borrows functionality from their Uber sampler, ‘Kontakt 2’. ‘Stretch Mode’ uses granular synthesis to enables a sample’s length to be changed independently of its pitch. ‘Beat Machine’ does the same with loops, which, if you drag to cells, will automatically sync them to the host/internal clock. There’s even an ‘Expand’ control, which will ‘recycle’ (slice) the beats in your loop and assign them to individual cells…killer!
NI have even addressed one of my major complaints about Battery 2, by building in a proper sample…or in NI lingo ‘Waveform’ editor. Frustratingly though, they have failed to address my other major complaint, namely, lack of sufficient effects.
Battery 3 offers ‘Cell’ and ‘Master’ Effects. The former can be applied individually to each cell, whilst the latter apply globally. Cell effects consist of ‘Lo-Fi’ (bit reduction), ‘Saturator’, ‘EQ/Filter’, ‘Compressor’ and ‘Invertor’. Master effects consist of EQ/filter, compressor, a limiter, delay and reverb (with classic digital and convolution modes). While each of these effects is excellent and offers lots of sound shaping possibilities, to only be able to assign delays and reverbs globally is…limiting (there is a simple tempo synced echo available in the setup tab…what it’s doing there, instead of in the ‘effects’ tab, is anyone’s guess). Added to which, where are the modulation effects…and why should I need to choose between a filter and an EQ…and why aren’t the effects fully automatable…and why aren’t I ever happy (don’t ask it’s a Jewish thing).
On the performance front, there’s lots of new functionality. Each cell can have individual articulations covering everything from flams and 3 stroke ruffs, to speed rolls…and the ‘Geiger counter’ (which comes complete with ‘radiation’ and ‘decay’ controls noch), latch, retrigger and quantize options, velocity curves, ‘humanization’ with velocity, tune, time and volume controls. The ‘Modulation’ window offers two LFOs, a selectable AHD/AHDSR envelope and an eight way modulation ‘router’ (matrix)…per cell!
Other new functionality includes comprehensive control over how Battery locates/deals with missing/moved samples and ‘Sample Purge’, which, at the touch of a button (or two) removes from (and restores to) RAM, all samples unused in an arrangement, in order to conserve resources.
Finally, a set of well put together video tutorials on the installation DVDs (of which there are two) completes the package nicely, by making it child’s play to get to grips with everything new that’s on offer.
So, in conclusion, although it doesn’t address all of my complaints and requests (which include the desire for classic beat box style sequencing, a la the 808, Reason and NI’s own ‘Limelight’) this is an epic update, that makes Battery substantially more user friendly and flexible and which takes it head first into the realms of full on sound design, earning it, for the first time, the full five bagels!
More info: www.arbiter.co.uk
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