Gizmos: Native Instruments Battery 2

With the amount of people using PCs as sampler/sequencers larger than it has ever been, some software-based producers have been looking for a program that will give them the same banging drum sounds that hardware-based producers have been cranking out of Akai, Roland, and EM-U units for over 15 years. Enter Battery 2, Native Instruments' second version of their popular drum module, which has a lot of die-hard(ware) users believing the hype about software-based production. Battery 2 like its predecessor comes in AU, VST, RTAS and DX versions, so it can be used in Cubase, Logic, Sonar, and Pro Tools, or even Fruity Loops. (FL haters, please hold your groans until the end of the column.) The standalone feature in the program runs off of ASIO, DirectSound, MME or CoreAudio drivers, which is dope if you want to use Battery live, or if you just want to put together some kits without having to open a sequencer.

Improving on the original version, NI has given the user multiple editing opitions for each individual sample or loop loaded into 9 by 6 cells (expandable to 12 by 6 internally), including amp envelopes, 15 different filter types, compressors, velocity mapping, time stretching, as well as real-time sample-rate/bit depth editing, to help the lo-fi lovers get as grimey as they want to. What's that? You have programs and kits already made up on your MPC? No problem…Battery hasn't lost any of its compatibility with popular formats like Akai, Rex files, aiff and wav files, as well as SoundFont and Gigastudio formats. Battery does come with a drum library but I tend to steer away from preset kits however, some of the sounds in the 3GB library bang pretty hard… but the ones with names like "Techno Kit" and "Hip Hop Kit" affirmed my motto of preset evasion.

Finding your samples is so easy in Battery, mainly because it has a browser right inside it, so instead of having to access a menu to import sounds, you can do it on the fly while listening to a sequence. All you need to do is drag and drop. With sounds loaded into their own cell, you can then route them as you please, assigning multiple sounds to the same key for very-easy layering, or even through individual (virtual or actual hardware) outputs in both plugin and standalone version. All your sample editing is done in a little window that reminds me of the LCD screen on an MPC2000XL. Setting your sample starts and stops, amp envelopes, compression or saturation is all done in the same area, and with each parameter you tweak, you can see how your sample's waveform is affected in that window as you adjust.

I sold my MPC when Reason 1.0 came out, (which I believe Touch then purchased used from L&M…case and all…I guess I'm the guy he's talking about in "It's The SP-12".) and had to settle with doing drum editing in Soundforge, then sequencing inside Reason. If I ever wanted to CHANGE the way the drums sound…I've found Reason to be limited in that capacity, which meant having to close Reason…open Soundforge, edit, edit, edit…tweak, tweak…boost, save…then reload Reason, reload the kit, and reload the sound. Even then after all that, I always felt like my drums didn't hit the same way as they did on the MPC. With the improved Rewire capabilities in Cubase SX, I started using Reason more as a soft synth, instead of a sequencer…now with the introduction of Battery 2, I have completely switched to doing all my drums using Battery and all my drum sequencing inside Cubase. The samples in my own kits sound unreal and it's a hundred times easier to edit inside Battery itself and it saves a ton of time. I'm not saying that once a hardware user tries Battery that they'll be converted, but it will definitely impress a lot of them…and for all you software users, try this program out at LEAST once. Paired with an MPD-16 or one of the new Trigger Fingers, You'd think you were working on a MPC.