I have had the opportunity to test Toontrack’s new software the Beatstation (will be launched in June), for some time now and I must say that I am excited about this product. Beatstation is equally an inspirational tool, to find the beat and rythms you want, to a full fledge drum machine and bass line player. Supporting a range of different formats it is very easy to import whatever you have into the Beatstation and play around with it.
When you first open it up it reminds me very much of some of the iPad instruments that has been launched recently, but once you have gotten used to it there is a lot more to explore. Running it via MIDI you can really play around with the pre-loaded drum beats or tweak them as you plase, adding your own flavors to the sound.
Speaking of the sound, the drum beats are of excellent condition, especially the snare drums which really kicks it. The easiest way to get started is to load any type of sample or loop, I used some old REX loops that I had in a recent project and added a selection of drum patterns – and this is when the fun starts because you have som many ways of altering the beat and perfect the groove.
The flexibilityto be able to load just about anything and the fact that it works equally well both as a stand alone inspirational sound system and as easy to use VST. I tried it using Reaper as the host and I had no problems hooking it up with Reapers built in Virtual keyboard and start improvising with different sound sets. Another good thing when using Beatstation is that you have the option of configuring the layout of the drums and synths in order to be in sync with what you are accustomed to, the illustartion below shows a bit of an overview on this.
Would i want something more? Well, most of the effects are hidden i drop down menus, see illustration below and for more live situations it might have been better to have a few more controls visible in order to tweak the sound on the fly.
Beatstation seems to fill a gap in today’s plethora of software music instruments, since it focuses on experimentation and your creativity in finding new grooves and rythms.
Beatstation is a Windows and Mac, stand-alone and/or VST, AU and RTAS compatible virtual instrument. Beatstation plays Percussion Pads, Lead Instruments and Melodic Bass.
It uses a flexible and skinnable open playing surface, records samples, supports external samples (MP3 and WAV), MIDI Grooves and REX Files. The Beatstation expansion format, the BTX, contains high end sampled drum, percussion, bass and lead instruments with MIDI and REX files. Beatstation harnesses the power of percussion samples and melodic instruments in one virtual instrument and has been developed from the feature requests of the current Toontrack users in need of a completely open interface to create their own personlized sound-set as well as for a new generation of music creators.
Beatstation will roll out to stores in June of 2010. Up until store release Toontrack will build an array of videos and tutorials showing the products potential at the product site http://www.beatstation.com.