Native Instruments’ Battery percussion sampler, previously available as a VST Instrument, is now available as part of the Native Instruments Studio Collection Pro Tools Edition, which also includes the Pro-52 and B4 (Macworld, January 2001) software instruments.
Native Instruments is the first manufacturer to offer virtual instruments for RTAS (Real Time AudioSuite) as well as Digidesign’s newly developed ‘Host TDM’ (Time Division Multiplexing) HTDM plug-in formats. The RTAS versions use the host computer’s CPU for processing, and work with Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools Free systems. HTDM plug-ins are a hybrid of TDM and RTAS technologies.
They can be used as TDM plug-ins, but, like RTAS plug-ins, the processing is carried out in the host computer instead of on the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chips in the TDM hardware. One SRAM (Static RAM) chip on the Pro Tools card is used to handle the data transfer between the host and the TDM bus for up to 16 stereo HTDM plug-ins.
Battery features 32-bit internal resolution, and comes with a comprehensive library of 30 sets of percussion sounds. It can be used simply as a sample playback unit, or you can manipulate the samples using velocity layers, individual tunings, volume and pitch envelopes, apply bit reduction and waveshaping, and various modulations. The program can read samples from Akai, SF2, LM4, AIFF, SDII, WAV and MAP sources with any resolution from 8- to 32-bit – so you can load sounds from more-or-less any common source.
To get started, you can load a kit by clicking the ‘File’ button in the Master section. The names of the individual drum sounds appear in the different cells in the matrix of ‘pads’. Click any pad to hear the sound played back. Drag-&-drop samples and parameters between cells – underneath the matrix, you can set various parameters for each cell. These may include MIDI notes or note ranges that will play any particular cell.
The Tuning and Shape edit section has four global settings: cell tuning, wave shaping, bit reduction, and sample start offset. A waveform display shows how these controls affect sounds, and editable envelopes for pitch and volume are also provided. These are exactly the kinds of ‘tools’ required for dance-music programming.
One disappointing aspect is that the Akai-import feature is slow. Another downside is that you can’t automate Battery using standard Pro Tools automation. However, a selection of parameters can be automated using MIDI controllers, so all is not lost here.
Battery scores over most of its competition by having 54 pads that can be grouped together to play from a particular MIDI note-number.
The envelopes, bit-crusher and so forth make it great for dance music. And you get 16 outputs from one Battery – so you can set-up your entire drum library with separate outputs.