This week we are excited to begin shipping the eagerly anticipated ´Beatstation´ from Toontrack Music. Beatstation is the complete workstation for recording, creating and editing instruments and is Toontrack´s first foray into tonal sampling. To find out more, we spoke to Toontrack´s Brad Bowden – sound designer extraordinaire, recording artist and member of cutting edge group ´Sub Id´ – about his involvement in the product´s development.
What was the inspiration behind Beatstation?
To combine the features and functionalities that our customers were requesting the most. As a team, we wanted a hybrid instrument with a simple workflow that would allow the user to access to their own audio, midi, and rex files seamlessly with all of our existing EZX+SDX libraries.
What was your own involvement in the development of the product?
Co-Creator. Beatstation came to life through a series of conversions between myself and Andreas Sundgren. We would brainstorm together and slowly got it to a point where we knew what it should be. From there, it was introduced to the rest of the team and we all collectively began development. I am also the lead sound designer/producer.
How long did it take to develop and how many others were involved?
We´ve been discussing it for a couple of years now, but I guess you could say last year is when a few of us "officially" started on it full time. Whenever we release a product it passes through everyone in the team, this is how we ensure excellence and maintain a breakneck production schedule. The team at Toontrack is an amazing group and we all love what we do! I have been blessed to be a part of the company for many years now and look forward to the next line of applications and instruments that we are currently developing. We´re 20+ rare individuals in the company, 10 years in the game.
Who is Beatstation aimed at?
Anyone interested in a simple yet sophisticated sampler/virtual instrument/fx processor/midi+rex manager. Beatstation will excite the most seasoned producer as well as those looking for an entry point into modern music production.
How would you describe Beatstation to someone who has never used a virtual instrument before?
Assuming they know a little about music and are interested in creating their own tracks on a computer, I would tell them it is anything they want it to be because it can be used/set-up in so many different ways... It can be configured as a multi-octave synthesizer, or a 4 piece acoustic drum kit, or a 24 piece electronic drum kit with heavy fx processing, or a two-octave sub-bass, or a full menu of REX loops all set to trigger and loop in different ways. It can be set up as a combination of any or all of the above. It´s extremely flexible and customizable making it difficult to define in a singular way.
Ultimately I would explain to them that they can play sounds in three basic categories Drums, Bass, and Lead. I would explain that it has everything they need to produce their first hit! The core library includes thousands of samples, midi grooves, rex loops, single and multi-instrument presets spanning a variety of genres and styles. It has everything from Concert Bass Drums, Vintage P-Basses, Rhodes, Analog Synths, Guitars, Drum Machines, Horns, Vocals… There is a lot to draw from!!
Which features will be most appealing to those who are already using virtual instruments and/or are existing Toontrack fans
Having the ability to use samples from their personal collections that can be layered with sounds from our EZX+SDX libraries. That has been the most requested feature from Toontrack users from day one. We hear you guys!!
What´s your personal favourite feature of Beatstation?
I can´t name a single feature.That´s a tough one to answer... Probably the fact that Beatstation is simple and fun. Most VI´s lose that one.
For real though – things like being able to create fully chromatic, multi-layered, Lead and Bass Instruments from single samples or rex slices via a single mouse click is always handy. The included MultiFX package that we brought in from the aces over at Overloud is worth the price alone. That coupled with the included FX/MIX presets by our brilliant head of sound design, will leave you with more time to create music because you´re spending less time dialling the sound. Cheers to that!!!
Some of the ways in which REX loops can be randomly triggered, layered, and manipulated has raised the brow of a couple big producers I´ve shown it to recently. The built-in recorder for instant sampling is really sick too! The swing or flam knobs for midi massaging are beyond past due to anyone in the DAW world! Did I mention the exhaustive mute-grouping and side-chaining capabilities? I have to admit, the custom skin creator is super fun and it´s nice to choose what you´re about to stare at during your next session. The user being able to access all their existing EZX´s+SDX´s in Beatstation will breathe new life into all those beloved kits. I discovered a couple of months ago that it can even be used for randomly generated ambient and percussive music.
Do you have any top tips or tricks for those customers who have just received their copy of Beatstation and are about to get started?
For additional BTX downloads, tutorials, product info, or any other product related questions, go to www.beatstation.com. Other than that, just have fun!!