Categorized | Hardware, Plugins

Arturia SparkLE Hybrid Drum Machine review

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Hey what’s up fam, back with another treat for ya!

Ever since I saw the new SparkLE drum machine at NAMM I was obsessed with it.

I loved the form factor and build quality so you know I was excited when Arturia sent one over for review.

Let’s just get into it!

So what is SparkLE?

arturia_sparkleThis is a “scaled down” version of their Spark creative drum machine instrument.

It’s a software/hardware hybrid dedicated to giving you the full experience of a hands on drum machine and groove box.

The SparkLE is much smaller and sleeker than the standard Spark controller, but still has plenty of hands on control.

You get 3 types of synthesis with which to create or playback sounds and samples.

You have tons of room for all sorts of patterns and you can even string them into songs if you wish.

It works standalone as well as a plugin in any DAW you can imagine.

Quick Specs

So how does it sound?

Reel to Reel Tape RecorderThis thing has some nice full sounding drums! The virtual analog section allows you to playback and recreate many classic and vintage drum sounds including the popular 808, 909, and other TR machines.

But not only does it do synth drums well, it does acoustic just as good thanks to it’s sample playback and physical modeling engine.

The modeling engine also allows you to get in and experiment with new sounds and textures to create your own drums, percussion, and fx sounds.

The sounds are full, punchy, dynamic, and inspiring just to name a few things!

The built in effects allow you to sculpt your sounds how you see fit and having it’s own mixer lets you get the levels just right.

I can see this being useful to people who just want a really great drum machine with tactile control, as well as sound designers that are looking to create new sounds and drums for their instruments and libraries.

Especially with the physical modeling and virtual analog synth engine…which of course, is based on the same TAE technology that they use in their vintage synthesizer plugins.

So what’s the bottom line?

Even if you don’t think you want a new drum machine….take a look at this!

The bottom line is this thing is super fun and inspires plenty of creativity.

4andhalfsubsI give SparkLE 4.5 out of 5 subs, it’s truly a well constructed instrument with a powerful software brain that invites you to dig in and explore.

There are a few things I would like to see maybe in a software update, like the ability to quickly change the volume of a specific pad by pressing a combination of select+pad+turning the volume knob…I think that would be super fast and useful.

I would also like the option for a count-in when recording, and I do miss the fact that there is no tap tempo button, maybe they can add that by using select+play/pause.

On the software side, I would like to be able to mix the synthesis engines on one pad, so I can layer a sample with a virtual analog drum sound or mix in some physical modelling with the other two.

But overall, this thing is really just plain fun to use, once I installed it I just kept playing with it.

Not to mention it’s super sexy! Man it’s built like a true piece of hardware and doesn’t feel like it would break if I dropped it, the knobs feel good and the body of the unit feels solid.

Throw in the fact that it has MIDI import/export, and you can export the patterns as wav files directly into your DAW or sampler, or wherever you wish…it’s truly a useful creative instrument.

I definitely suggest checking it out: http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/SparkLE/intro.html

I know they sell the software on it’s own, and it’s a very powerful drum machine software, but having the hardware to go with it just takes it to a totally different level and is a must have.

I look forward to seeing how they continue to develop this product, maybe some of my ideas can make it into future versions. (Arturia, if you’re looking for testers…I’m here!)

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think

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101 Responses to “Arturia SparkLE Hybrid Drum Machine review”

  1. Alexis Macatula says:

    I’d use Emagic Logic’s environment to send MIDI notes to that software/hardware.

  2. SoundsAndGear says:

    cool

  3. nekkron99 says:

    You gonna make me spend money man. smh

  4. rOOk3mk says:

    Thanks, I’ve been curious about the Spark line for awhile. Its target demographic should really like this. Aside from an lcd screen and sampling, I like the form factor more than the Mikro.

    • saintjoe says:

      Yeah, this isn’t something I would compare to Maschine at all, I definitely enjoy it’s form factor and on a strictly size basis it is more sexy than the Mikro which I also have. But this thing is just something different than that, it really just feels like a classic drum machine with it’s own vibe, good stuff!

  5. jonniy goyim says:

    @SoundsAndGear bro when is available? to buy it same as ableton push not ready shipping yeat

    • saintjoe says:

      I see some on eBay already from dealers you may check there and get it a little cheaper, as for the stores it just depends on when each store will get their shipments.

  6. Johnny Geib says:

    Ok, this one is kool!! I want one. Thanx for the review.

  7. Emotionz223 says:

    u get free gear, promote it and im pretty sure you’re getting paid by the companies…Um how can i do this lol

    • saintjoe says:

      I don’t get everything free, and I definitely don’t get paid by the companies lol. I do get some stuff for review, but my expense sheet is quite large as well lol, however this is what I do so…it’s all part of the business. I just started off reviewing stuff I had already purchased and it grew from there.

  8. elsherdoo says:

    It looks tight! thanks for showing me this…

  9. RedlionProductions says:

    How do you export tracks out of it?

  10. SoundsAndGear says:

    There’s an export option in the library menu

  11. HipHopBluesman says:

    Have you reviewed Spark yet? I’m interested in the stand alone features in that. This looks dope though, just something classic about this new piece of gear, if that makes sense.

  12. SoundsAndGear says:

    Nah I haven’t reviewed Spark, the software is pretty much identical, I can even change it so it looks like Spark, it’s just the hardware itself that’s different in terms of the amount of knobs and buttons on it.

  13. RetzyWilliams says:

    When you get any drum pad in front of you, it’s like you’re so at home with it, you generate interesting sounds and beats quickly. Fun to watch!

  14. SoundsAndGear says:

    thanks man, I’ve been banging on pads and drum machines for a while LOL…this thing is fun man

  15. Lee kolenky says:

    Hey how would u set it up so u can record into ur saw ???

  16. SoundsAndGear says:

    load it as a plugin in your daw, I may do a video on loading it in a daw

  17. palo569 says:

    glad you are back man, when will you review the arturia minilab?

  18. SoundsAndGear says:

    back from what? lol…I will probably do a review on that too I liked it when I saw it

  19. PtownCaDaBay says:

    wuz up bro i have been thinking of getting Spark for like a year now but now the sparkle is out i am getting that . just one ? is it smaller than mashine mikro .all so nexts wednesday i am ordering one and sense you have inspired me to buy a few thing maybe you can get credit for this one i am going to buy .may be arturia will let you keep that one .i don’t know how that works but i thought i would put that out there .

  20. SoundsAndGear says:

    Yeah it’s smaller than the mikro, really sleek and nice. It’s a great product, would be dope if I could keep it lol.

  21. PtownCaDaBay says:

    i am planning to run it in ni mashine and set up the 16 midi channels. that should get nasty .maybe you can do a video on that .power of mashine and the power of spark !

  22. Quest8222 says:

    Nice review St. Joe! I’m diggin on this hybrid gear. When I’m creating I want the options of software with the immediacy of hardware and I think Arturia “gets it” in that department.

    Two questions, can you load your own samples or do you have to use stock and buy other Arturia kits?

    Also, can you layer multiple samples onto one pad?

  23. Uprightest says:

    Awesome review Joe!

  24. SoundsAndGear says:

    thanks for watching bro!

  25. SoundsAndGear says:

    thanks for watching bro!

  26. tony bennett says:

    Yow fam not because I don’t write a comment that don’t say I am not supporting your program I all ways because you comes straight to my email. anyway i must say that i like that sparkle machine, everything is just getting small and powerful in this time so bless up u self fam and keep do what you are doing..

    • saintjoe says:

      No doubt fam, I appreciate the feedback, I just like the companies to see what you guys have to say about their products :)

      Thanks for the support!

  27. Elohim says:

    As always great review; just what I needed… I just ordered it from Zzounds and got it for 249.99 and grabbed the komplete 9 ultimate upgrade! Follow me @elohim_013

    • saintjoe says:

      Nice man, that’s what’s up! I’ve had a few people tell me they picked one up after this review! Make sure yall let Arturia know lol :)

      Thanks for the comment fam!

  28. Nick Waterson says:

    First drums sounded like early LL stuff…..

  29. Nick Waterson says:

    First drums sounded like early LL stuff…..

  30. SoundsAndGear says:

    yep lol

  31. dj jambone says:

    Thats nice Saint….

  32. notsogood says:

    What up Saint JoeI think I read that you had to send the SparkLE back after the review so… do you like it enough to go ahead and buy your own SparkLE.It’s one thing to say you like it… but it’s another thing to go out and buy one.So do you plan on buying a SparkLE?

  33. SoundsAndGear says:

    yes I plan to be buying one for myself

  34. seanacemusic says:

    what up St Joe, is this thing portable, can i take this with me on a plane w/o my laptop… can i sample , can i drop my own samples/sounds in there via usb? can i save my stuff to some type of sd card etc..??? thanks bruh

  35. SoundsAndGear says:

    no, it’s a controller for the software you can’t use it without the computer. I would have loved it even more if it was standalone unit but then it wouldn’t be only 299 lol.

  36. SoundsAndGear says:

    no, it’s a controller for the software you can’t use it without the computer. I would have loved it even more if it was standalone unit but then it wouldn’t be only 299 lol.

  37. mgarandsniper says:

    hey Joe can I ask you something about this?

  38. SoundsAndGear says:

    what’s up?

  39. mgarandsniper says:

    thanks.is this good for playing drum loops or better for making drum beats?Can you make a sample using ableton and drag that to sparkle?is this pretty much for drum sounds only?hey thanks alot

  40. mgarandsniper says:

    thanks.is this good for playing drum loops or better for making drum beats?Can you make a sample using ableton and drag that to sparkle?is this pretty much for drum sounds only?hey thanks alot

  41. notsogood says:

    Thanks for the reply Saint JoeI know you can use SparkLE as a plugin in your DAW… But how many tracks does the SparkLE’s sequencer have standalone?

  42. SoundsAndGear says:

    its 16 tracks, one for each sound/pad

  43. doingittoodeath says:

    what can it do that you can’t do in maschine

  44. SoundsAndGear says:

    They are just different types of products, it’s more based on the drum machine model than the sampler type instrument. There’s not a lot of options so it’s just straight forward in terms of making sounds and creating grooves.

  45. SoundsAndGear says:

    you can load whatever you want inside of it, you can load loops if you want but I don’t believe it will automatically timestretch them

  46. mgarandsniper says:

    hey thank you.on samples is there different settings like cut off or poly to choose from?I only have enough to get this or quantam leap ra so im not sure yet thank you for your reply.

  47. SoundsAndGear says:

    there’s no poly setting but you can set choke groups, you do have filter cut off and a few other things. Really depends on if you’re looking for a drum machine or not, Ra is dope for sure.

  48. doingittoodeath says:

    i gotcha thanks

  49. Presto THE REAL JMILLZ says:

    Wow!…I’m diggin that … Like the look

  50. SoundsAndGear says:

    yeah it’s nice fam

  51. notsogood says:

    What up Saint JoeMaybe you could make a video of using SparkLE as a plugin in Maschine… and make a quick beat using both… just to show guys that are thinking about buying SparkLE but already have Maschine how the two can work together.

  52. SoundsAndGear says:

    Yeah in Maschine I would just use it as a plugin and trigger it from Maschine’s pads mostly.

  53. aikighost says:

    Can it host VSTs?

  54. SoundsAndGear says:

    no

  55. PtownCaDaBay says:

    wuz up joe / i am having trouble setting up 16 midi tracks from spark as a vst in mashine .do u know how to do that? cuz i have been trying but i can’t get it to work and i know your the man with mashine so i thought maybe if u have the time you might be able to help.any help would be greatly appreciated . thanks bo stay up !

  56. PtownCaDaBay says:

    wuz up joe / i am having trouble setting up 16 midi tracks from spark as a vst in mashine .do u know how to do that? cuz i have been trying but i can’t get it to work and i know your the man with mashine so i thought maybe if u have the time you might be able to help.any help would be greatly appreciated . thanks bo stay up !

  57. SoundsAndGear says:

    you can’t use multiple midi channels in maschine

  58. PtownCaDaBay says:

    thanks i wuz still trying to get it to work .so i guess its a rap for that .what daw would you suggest .i wuz thinking of getting logic pro or abortion live .i did use fl butt i won’t use it anymore .

  59. SoundsAndGear says:

    fl is fine, ableton I use as well as studio one, don’t use logic but it’s fine also

  60. Baddboy2000 says:

    SJ: Thanks for this great review. I wanted to see this device up close for sometime & you have delivered. “This Is Awesome”. I have to get this immediately. “Another Great Review From S&G.com”

  61. Myke says:

    Hey can you export a whole song out of sparkle or just a pattern? I bought it and like it but I cannot get more than 1 pattern to export out of it at a time. I am in song mode arranged a song and am stuck.

  62. Oscar Aullon says:

    Maybe the question is: Do you need to host Vsts? ;)

  63. SoundsAndGear says:

    Possibly ;) But I do understand why the question was asked.

  64. Oscar Aullon says:

    Sorry, I meant that if the software of SparkLE is enough huge and you have 3 synthesis engines: Virtual analog, Physical Modeling, Sample playback, maybe you have all you need in a one, and you don’t need to host vst because you can build any sound you like. ;)

  65. SoundsAndGear says:

    I knew what you’re were saying, I just understand why someone would want to know if it hosted vsts, the sequencer is fun and would make you want to load and sequence vsts in it :)

  66. Dan Koerner says:

    I think Arturia is one of the more underrated hardware manufacturers around these days. I really dig the SparkLE hybrid drum machine. Here’s a video walkthrough of it.

  67. Luke Tieppo says:

    Can someone tell me whats better the Spark or SparkLE ??? twitter me @Tiepps

  68. Kennedy Ribeiro says:

    Hey Saint Joe, it’s been a while. I have noticed that I can control it To some extent with a regular midi controller keyboard. How do I set it so that I can play the same sample Like a bass Sound across The pads or on the midi controller?

  69. SoundsAndGear says:

    the software on the maschine and mikro is the same, it’s just the controllers that are different

  70. GiuseppeCdH says:

    oh. Thank’s for your quick replay :)!! I’ll surely come back in this vid when this baby’ll arrive

  71. SoundsAndGear says:

    yeah you can put whatever sounds you want on the pads

  72. Johnny Santiago says:

    does it have the same amount of kits and instruments on the big brother “SPARK”

  73. SoundsAndGear says:

    yes, it’s the same software/sounds just a different controller and you can change the software interface to look like the SparkLE or the big Spark

  74. AlexxLow says:

    Great review, i’m definitely buying one!

  75. SoundsAndGear says:

    cool, thanks for watching!

  76. SoundsAndGear says:

    no it’s not a sampler, you can load samples into it, but you can’t sample in realtime and it’s not made for sample, slice, etc.

  77. J-N-H-M says:

    yeah its Snuggish

  78. SoundsAndGear says:

    thanks for watching

  79. Helen Jackson says:

    I have both sparkLE and minlabs. Both are useless pieces of crap.Minilabs crashes every tenths or so times you chnage between voices.Its impossible to use inside a DAW as it crashes if you even look atit like you want to changes a setting. I upgrade SparkLE from 1.6 to1.7.1, boy what a mistake. The midi controller software crashes justby opening the program. The actual SparkLE program has an”unsupported sampling rate” error and no way I can see to change thesampling rate. When I tried to rollback to 1.6 the sound is distoredand crap. I have contacted Arturia 3 times in the last two weeks andthe most sensical reply I get is from an automated email system. Inconclusion, hardware = junk, software = useless, support = non-existant. Don’t waste your money or your time.

  80. Analog Eric says:

    Arturia = Fiasco

  81. Nadeem Nadly says:

    Well reviewed. What is that audio interface you use behind you? That yellow thing.

  82. Hexdrine Vaari says:

    Good review, thanks man

  83. Chaosga says:

    What’s better, SparkLE or the Original Spark? When it comes to other drum machines. SparkLe vs. Maschine, which is better? Or is that apples and oranges? If so why?

  84. Jonathan Patrei says:

    Saint Joe,How can I create a beat using different kits on this spark LE? I can create using one particular kit but once I try to switch kits, I can’t play the beat I want to work on…Thanks a bunch for your review and help!

  85. Nick Huggins says:

    Nice review, did a good job showing how it works in a short amount of time!

  86. Kory Drake says:

    Yo bruh I love the machine but I’m trying to record into my logic while make the beat cause when I can turn on the virtual interface I can’t keep the pattern or sequence I played into my beat machine how do I do that without losing it

  87. sad-ako says:

    Spark le is better i bout spark 6 months before this was released. The things i wished would have been done better have in the spark le. Not sure about the machine though

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