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

Arturia SparkLE Hybrid Drum Machine review
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103 Comments

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
  3. 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.

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  4. 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!

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  5. 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 .

    Reply
  6. 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 !

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  7. 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?

    Reply
  8. 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..

    Reply
  9. 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

    Reply
  10. 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?

    Reply
  11. 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

    Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
  13. 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.

    Reply
  14. 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

    Reply
  15. 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

    Reply
  16. 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?

    Reply
  17. 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.

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  18. 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

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  19. 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.

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  20. 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.

    Reply
  21. 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.

    Reply
  22. 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 !

    Reply
  23. 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 !

    Reply
  24. 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 .

    Reply
  25. 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”

    Reply
  26. 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.

    Reply
  27. 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. 😉

    Reply
  28. 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 🙂

    Reply
  29. 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.

    Reply
  30. 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?

    Reply
  31. 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.

    Reply
  32. 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?

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  33. 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!

    Reply
  34. 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

    Reply
  35. 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

    Reply

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