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?
This 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.
- content: 1500+ instruments, 100+ kits
- format: standalone, VST, AU, RTAS
- price: $299
- product page: http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/SparkLE/intro.html
So how does it sound?
This 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.
I 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