When you begin recording knob movements or adding parameter automation, simple patterns can become startling. There's simply no alternative to trying each one. Otherwise, there are fewer compromises than you'd expect. We also think that there's now a strong case to be made for adding plugin hosting support, although with 18 onboard modules to chose from, live performers do have plenty of choice in this respect. Step Sequencer Spark 2 contains a dedicated built-in step sequencer which allows you to quickly get creative writing in your own patterns.
The only drawback is the lack of an audition function, which slows you down slightly. The Loop controls allows you to focus in on a particular section, you can change the loop size and move the loop position to find the area that you would like to work on. As before, you can import a rex and split the slices across the sixteen pads, but now single pad playback is also supported, opening up vast live looping possibilities. The software has three functional areas: a centre section resembling the hardware, a bottom part for editing kits, drums and effects, and at the top an area for the creation of patterns and songs. The options depend on the type of instrument — whether it's a sample, or whether analogue or physical modelling is involved. You can add and subtract modules, create your own patch routings, and assign up to 6 macro controls for immediate control.
Spark 2 also includes multiple physical models, which were developed with great care, to deliver the best in acoustic drum sounds. Let's take a close look at the Mixer. Once it did open up, I was greeted with a user-friendly interface that, while a little intimidating, looked exciting to learn how to use. It takes the best elements from analog drum machines, sample based beat boxes and cutting edge physical modeling; all of this is rolled into one easy-to-use, elegant package. Multiple Synthesis Spark 2 includes an extremely powerful audio engine which contains multiple synthesis modes.
The number 64 crops up a lot in Spark terminology. Finally I was up and running. So, I will occasionally mention some things that are of interest to Spark 1. In pattern change mode these 16 steps control which of the 16 pattern plays inside the selected bank which you can change by hitting the bank button and selecting any of the first four buttons which double as bank selectors. Spark 2 supports Rex files, allowing the user to use them in two different ways. At the heart of Spark 2 is a truly modular virtual analog drum synth, based on the one developed for Arturia's flagship synthesizer, Origin. Patterns are highly configurable in terms of the number of steps, resolution, and even time signature.
This is a drum machine, and mostly it behaves like one. However, Arturia reserves the right to change or modify any of the specifications without notice or obligation to update existing units. Used in the most tame ways, it allows you to create very dynamic and accurate acoustic sounds. To the right of the mixer window are Return1 — Return 2 and finally the Master track. With version 2, though, it has much, much more going for it than just that.
Using the Select button, turn the knob for the instrument of your choice and pick an option from a pull-down list. Its purpose seems harmless enough: to temporarily shorten a pattern. This would be compatible with both 32 bit and 64 bit windows. The manual's rendering of these, all in greyscale, is darn hard on the eyes, but that gripe aside, there's not much to confuse anyone. It allows users to edit existing patches, and even create their own patches. Delay is the delay time and feedback is the amount of delayed signal added back to the dry signal. There are further expansions available from Arturia's web site and if the included patterns aren't uniformly inspiring, the kits and instruments almost always are.
The Spark acts more like a traditional drum machine, its improved interface, sample library and modelling appealing in their own right. Space pan must be used on stereo sounds. Used in the most tame ways, it allows you to create very dynamic and accurate acoustic sounds. Arturia know a thing or two about bundling software and hardware together — remember the Analog Experience and Origin synths? The gray light on pad 4 is lighter than the others, which indicates the current real- time playing position. Similarly, to replace an entire kit, press and hold the encoder until it shifts to kit selection, then pick a new one.
Running it mostly under Logic 9. I queried this behaviour with Arturia and they confirmed that a problem had been reported with some units in the first batch. Its designed to make beats, make them extremely well and extremely fast. Sounds abound The Mixer is largely unchanged from the previous version, but is - again - a little nicer to look at, while Library is now far more usable. Using the select button and turning the dial allows you to filter your choices down to exactly what you are looking for.