Those who make music on their Macs have been waiting for sample-based musical instruments in VST (Steinberg) or RTAS (Digidesign) format to be rewritten for Mac OS X. Now it’s happening and that’s music to those musicians’ ears.
“While major recording/editing apps have been available for Mac OS X for some time now (Digidesign ProTools, Steinberg Cubase, Mark of the Unicorn’s Digital Performer, and Emagic Logic), sample-based software musical instruments have not,” Wheat Williams, an Atlanta, Georgia-based musician told MacCentral. “For this and other reasons, most folks making music on their Macs have stayed with Mac OS 9.2.2 until now. Most of us have gigabytes of musical instrument sample libraries, and we can’t use Mac OS X recording/editing apps if there’s no way to run our sample libraries with a Mac OS X sample player.”
Up until this month, practically speaking, there have been none. However, in the past couple of weeks, three major players have hit the market with Mac OS X software samplers: Steinberg’s HALion 2.0, IK Multimedia’s SampleTank 1.1, and BitHeadz’ Unity Session 3.1.
SampleTank plug-in from IK Multimedia has come to Mac OS X as of version 1.1. The sound module is available as an RTAS and VST plug-in on both ProTools 6 and Cubase SX.
The SampleTank plug-in for Mac OS X offers a sampler/synth engine with a 32-bit floating point processing and includes 450 multi-sampled sound banks. It can import the AKAI S1000/S3000 sound format and has several native sound libraries available. SampleTank 1.1 also offers: four effects per voice selectable among 20 DSP effects; sound organization with user defined folders and categories, as well as keyword searching; four dynamic sound parameters per voice; multi-timbral with 16 voices per module; 128 notes polyphony (per module); and four stereo outputs (eight mono).
SampleTank plug-ins for Mac OS X are available now as a downloadable upgrade for US$79 to all previous registered Mac OS 9 users — including those who used SampleTank SE, LE, and DJ/L/XL.
BitHeadz $499 Unity Session is Mac OS X compatible as of version 3.1. The update supports RTAS, VST, and AU in the operating system.
Unity Session offers a software synth and sampling environment. It combines the functionality of hardware samplers, analog synthesizers, and physically modeled instruments in one integrated environment. Besides Mac OS X, it also runs on Mac OS 8.6-9.2.
Steinberg recently unveiled the new version (2.0) of HALion, a virtual sampler for VST-compatible production systems. It’s due in the second quarter of 2002.
HALion 2.0 sports new filters by the synthesizer specialists at Waldorf and 5.1 surround functionality. The new 32-stage envelopes can be synchronized to the tempo of the host software. Favorite settings can be stored as a preset and loaded again for each envelope. Also new in HALion 2.0 is Step Envelope functionality, a freely configurable modulation source created for rhythmic sound progressions.
Version 2.0 of HALion 2.0 supports a range of sample formats, including import of GIGA sample libraries and Roland S770 import. There are also new Waldorf filters (12/24 dB Low Pass, 12/24 dB Hi Pass, Band Pass, and Notch), an increased number of layers per program, and enhanced modulation capabilities.
HALion’s disk-streaming engine allows the loading of sample libraries larger than your Mac’s available RAM. And version 2.0’s sound management system adds archiving options.
Other companies who have announced that they will be making sample-based instruments available for Mac OS X include Emagic, Native Instruments (Kontakt and Kompakt), Mark of the Unicorn (MachFive), and Plugsound.