Dissecting Toontrack’s Beatstation

(mtebaldi | Posted 2010-08-24)

Dissecting Toontrack’s Beatstation

Released in June, Toontrack’s Beatstation marks a new era for the Scandinavian software company in developing virtual instruments for the music production world. Already known for offering an arsenal of top quality drum samples through their world famous applications (EZdrummer and Superior Drummer), the Beatstation is not just a place where you can combine all the rich Toontrack’s expansion packs by its stand alone capabilities. It is also virtual instrument for your recording application that offers huge selection of acoustic and electronic drum samples along side a vast catalogue of bass, synths, guitars sounds, and carefully crafted MIDI and REX grooves. Reflecting upon its complex capabilities, I find that discussing the Beatstation can be similar to the dissection of an animal in science class. From very first incision, you start discovering things you never imagined you would find.

Toontrack envisioned Beatstation to be the one stop solution for all artists and producers who work with loop created music. It’s a place you can find, create and tweak a beat, lay down melodies, and ultimately compose a tune from start to finish. Artfully arranged, the Beatstation interface is designed in a simple and clean way with an almost feng shui quality that is conducive to helping creativity flourish. The main section of the interface contains the drum pads and keyboards. The pads can be rearranged by the drop down menu button located on the top left of the window where you will find a few different options to satisfy your visual needs while working on this product. The bass and lead keyboards are displayed right underneath. Right click on pads or keyboards and you will open the Pad Properties. Here is where the real fun begins. Each properties window offers you plenty of possibilities for crafting each component of your beat. There you can control the amount of effect sent to the sample as well as adding additional ones. You will be able to play around with bit-crushers, choruses, compressors, reverbs, delays and many more. Under the sound profile, you will find one of the unique features on this software which allows you to add up to five different sound samples that can be individually manipulated by a series of sound shaping controls (EQ, change pitch, reverse the sound wave, pan et cetera). This feature helps you to use different sound frequencies from different sound sources so you can create the most unique sounded pad. The possibilities for what you can achieve here were seemingly limitless once I started playing around with this feature.

Right beneath the pads and keyboard windows you will find the main controls for this software. Play and stop buttons that, without music reproduction, would be just impossible. I was glad they made the play/Pause button the biggest one on the interface ensuring there is no way to miss it. Tempo control is located right above “stop” and, like EZdrummer, the Beatstation allows you to make the loop half or double as the normal tempo. For some added fun, two knobs that send effects directly to each sample sound and one that affects the overall beat are given. Once again you will have plenty of options to choose from. Each of the these knobs can be quickly turned off by clicking the little orange “light” next to each of them. The Live Hybrid Sound Library comes with a vast selection of preset instrumets, MIDI and REX grooves, and top quality samples. They are categorized under three built in Beatstation Expansion Packs (BTX): Lowbit, organic, and synthetix. More BTX will be shortly released, expanding the library content even further. The LiveHybrid also gives you the power to use all the EZX and SDX packs that you own, including their MIDI grooves as well. The hundreds of options for sounds and grooves at your disposal become almost overwhelming, and, if this wasn’t enough, Beastation comes with a built in Sample Recorder with simple but powerful features. Simply record, normalize, assign the start and end of the audio wave, and guess what? Just drag and drop your own sample right into one of Beastation pads. It’s that easy! And speaking of the drag and drop, this capability can be found throughout this product’s sections. You can pretty much take and put whatever sample any place you like, including your main production application.

Underneath the Library window you will find the REX window that not only shows the waves of the REX file you’re playing, but also lets you take any wave piece you want to use on your beat. Right underneath you will see the groove window that features the groove variation you are working with and lets you manipulate four properties; velocity, swing, drum flam, and transpose. Another very cool feature of this product can be found under the help button on the top right of the interface. Along side the manual and online support (odd place to have such feature, I think) you will find the Drag MIDI as Audio, which does what is named to do. All the MIDI grooves will show up as audio waves once you drop them into your production application. If you are like me and believe that beauty should not only be interior but exterior as well (ok, a little superficial), the Beatstation comes with a series of layout themes under the “man icon” button where you can also import new BTX, load and save pads layouts, and kit presets. Under “skins” you will have a few very cool options to better make the Beatstation match your personality. You can also color customize every section of the interface. Want to flaunt it? Just go to www.beastation.com and create your own personalized skin and share with the world!

Toontrack’s Beatstation is a piece of software that ensures the creation of original and, most importantly, top quality beats and moods. It’s a product that serves all producers regardless of studio size or project budget. Through and simple and powerful structure, you will be cocooned in endless production ideas. So beware, because this complex beast beat machine will literally launch you into artistic oblivion. I assure you it will be a creative and fun ride.

Here is the list of gear utilized in the creation of Beastation library.

1. Circuit Bent Yamaha RY-30 by Alien Devices.
2. Clavia Nord Modular G2
3. Clavia Nord Lead 2X
4. Clavia Nord Lead 3 Keyboard
5. Circuit Bent Custom HR-16 bit by Burnkit 2600
6. Circuit Bent Speak N Spell by (Glitch Machines).
7. Circuit Bent Speak N Math by (Glitch Machines).
8. Circuit Bent Casio SK1-Fragment - Richard Devine Custom
9. Circuit Bent Synthax Cataract - Heavily modified Richard Devine Custom of the Texas Instruments Touch & Tell. (Glitch Machines)
10. Circuit Bent Talking Teacher (Substitute Teacher) by Glitch Machines
11. Circuit Bent Logic Bomb Ultra-Casio SK-5 - Richard Devine Custom.
12. Glitch Desk & Custom box by John at Highly Liquid, for the Circuit Bent Modifications to the Roland TR-707 Drum Machine and Casio CZ-101.
13. TR-606 Drum Machine custom mods by Tim Adams.
14. TB-303 Devilfish Modifications by "Real World Interfaces" Robin Writtle.
15. TR-808 Drum Machine Modified by Richard Devine & Josh Kay
16. Elektron Machine SPS-1UW mkII
17. Elektron MonoMachine SFX60 mkII
18. Alesis Andromeda
19. Access Virus TI polar & Snow
20. Symbolic Sound Kyma System
21. Eventide Harmonizers H-8000FW & H3000DSE
22. Korg Chaos Pad KP3
23. Alesis Ineko Effects Unit
24. MFB-522 Analogue Drum Machine (Drum Computer)
25. MFB-Step 64 CV sequencer
26. MFB-Synth II
27. MFB-Synth Lite II
28. MFB Filter Box
29. Cwejman S1 Mk 2 Analogue Synthesizer
30. Arp-2600 modified by Phil Cirocco at C.M.S
31. TC Electronic FireworX effects processor
32. Jazzmutant Lemur Touch screen controller running NativeInstruments Reaktor 5, and Max/MSP
33. Doepfer Monster Case with modules fromHarvestmann, Livewire, MakeNoise, Plan-B, Cwejman, and TipTop.
34. Akai MPC 60
35. Circuit Bent Yamaha DD7 by Glitch Machines
36. Circuit Bent Commodore 64 by Waterhed- running Cynthcart.
37. Circuit Bent Atari 2600 -running Synthcart.
38. E-MU SP1200
39. Dave Smith Instruments-Prophet 08
40. Waldorf Pulse
41. Ensoniq EPS+
42. Shadow Hills GAMA Mic Pre
43. Neve 8816 Summing Mixer
44. SSL G Series Buss Compressor
45. Thermionic Devices Culture Vulture
46. Roland RE 20 Space Echo
47. SPL Transient Designer
48. Tanberg 1/4" Analog Tape Machine
49. Universal Audio 2192 Master Audio Interface
50. 1950s Fender P-Bass courtesy of Victor Wooten
51. Caputo Custom 5String Fretless Bass courtesy of Victor Wooten
52. Lakland Limited Edition 5String Electric Bass
53. Fender Rhodes
54. Wurlitzer Electric Piano
55. Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar
56. Hofner Very thin ClassicElectric Guitar
57. Gretsch 1987 Maple Kick Drum
58. Ludwig 1965 Super Classic Kick Drum
59. 18" Pearl Reference Series
60. 22" Ludwig Maple Psychedelic
61. Footstomps
62. Cajon
63. 22" PB Kick Drum
64. Pearl Concert Bass Drum
65. Ludwig Vintage Black Beauty Snare Drum
66. Ludwig Supraphonic Snare Drum
67. 13" Tama Steel Snare Drum
68. 12" Tama Snare Drum
69. 8" Yamaha Steve Jordan Snare Drum
70. 14" Pearl Solid Maple Snare Drum
71. Leedy Piccolo Snare Drum
72. Meinl Large+Small Woodblocks
73. 14" Tama Art Star Snare Drum
74. 14" Premier Gen-X Snare Drum
75. 14" Ludwig Chrome Brass Snare Drum
76. Mountain Rhythm Snare Drum
77. Group Clapping and Snapping
78. 13" Zildjian Hi-Hats
79. 14" Zildjian K + A Hi-Hats
80. 14" Masterworks Meritamon Hi-Hats
81. Meinl Medium2 Shaker
82. Meinl 8 Shake Large
83. Meinl Caxixi
84. Meinl Plastic Maracas
85. 14" Sabian AA Hi-Hats
86. Low Boy Hats
87. Tibetan Cymbal Hi-Hats
88. Spoke Hi-Hats
89. Chinese Tom
90. Deagan Doorbell
91. Japanese Temple Bowls
92. 10" Premier Gen-X Tom
93. 10" Gretsch Custom USA Tom
94. Meinl Collection Series Bongos
95. Meinl Wood Professional Congas
96. Meinl Timbales
97. 10" PB Tom
98. 12" Pearl Reference Series Tom
99. 12" PB Tom
100. 12" Premier Gen-X Tom
101. Meinl Fibercraft Congas
102. Meinl Woodcraft Congas
103. 14"Premier Gen-X Tom
104. 14" Pearl Reference Tom
105. 16" Slingerland Radioking Tom
106. 14" PB Tom
107. 16" Premier Gen-X Tom
108. Chinese Drum
109. Taos Drum
110. Djembe
111. Zildjian K Ride Cymbal
112. Zildjian A Ride Cymbal
113. Tibetan Cymbal Hats
114. 20" Sabian Ed Thigpen Crystal Ride Cymbal
115. 22" K Zildijian Constantinople Ride Cymbal
116. 20" Zildjian 1960 Ride Cymbal
117. 20" Sabian Finger Ride Cymbal
118. 17" Zildjian Dark Crash
119. 18" Paiste Signature Fast Crash
120. 16" Paiste Signature Fast Crash
121. 16" K Zildjian Dark Crash Thin
122. 18" Istanbul Crash
123. 18" Paiste Fast Crash
124. 18" Sabian AA Medium Thin Crash
125. 17" Zildjian Fast Crash
126. Tambourine
127. Bean Pod Shaker
128. Metal Castanet
129. Triangle
130. LP Large Cabasa
131. LP Small Cabasa
132. Emsing Custom Crash
133. 20" Paiste Full Crash
134. 13" Sabian AA El Sabor
135. LP Shake it
136. Meinl Rhythm Cans
137. Meinl Lemon Shaker
138. Meinl Afuche
139. Pearl Glockenspiel
140. Meinl Big Triangle
141. Rhythm Tech Triangle
142. Meinl Apple Shaker
143. Meinl Smaller Egg Shaker
144. Meinl Vibraslap
145. LP Vibraslap
146. Waterfall
147. Taylor Acoustic Guitar 612-CE
148. Gibson Les Paul Studio

For more information about Toontrack's Beastation visit www.beastation.com.

Check my other Toontrack products review:
EZdrummer - http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/3423.html
Drum Kit From Hell EZX - http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/3457.html
Claustrophobic EZX - http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/3503.html
Electronic EZX - http://www.musicgearreview.com/article-display/3545.html

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