# FXpansion GURU (249 $) - complete Loop Workstation with advanced beat slicing, step sequencing, sample editing and other features.
# Native Instruments Battery (179 EUR) - state of the art Drum Sampler.
# Linplug RMV (139 EUR) - drum synth & drum sampler with huge sampled and synthesized drum library.
# Audio Damage Tattoo (79 $) - latest drum synth (no samples, drums are synthesized) & sequencer with strong randomization features. Nice value compared to price.
# FXpansion DR008 (99 $) - 8 year old :) but still powerful drum sampler & drum synth with 96 pads.
# Ableton Impulse / Drum Rack - intuitive and user friendly drum samplers available only for Ableton fanboys ;)
All of these plugins are top quality but at the same time they're expensive. How about free stuff, then ?
# E-Phonic Drumatic 3 - nice free drum alternative (but much more limited) for Sonic Charge Microtonic drum synth.
# Tatapoum 4 - drum sampler with quite strong step sequencing features. Actually, it nicely surprised me when I first tested it.
There's also Computer SR-202 distributed freely with Computer Music magazine, there's Odo DR-Fusion drum sampler and that's pretty much it.
Are there any 'Akai MPC series' software clones ? :) You know, 16 pads, amazing workflow, good features, pure fun ? There is one option, quite unknown to be honest. It's Poise, from One Small Clue, 16 Drum pads sampler, heavily inspired by Akai MPC series. The official website states:
"Direct, straightforward, no frills and no bloat! Poise aims to make working with drum samples quick and painless, allowing you to focus on making music. "and it's all true. Poise was designed to be quick, intuitive, powerful (and at the same time simple) and painless alternative for these "big" loop workstations.
First - GUI. Not too big and not too small. It's very clean and it's skinnable. I like the dark one skin but I'm sure that you'll find the one you like (ie. with white background). Overall, design gives nice feeling.
Sample Browser is the first thing that got my attention because "small details" start here :). All you need to do is to use "add folder" option, choose your drum samples folder and you're set. Then you can drag & drop samples (Poise supports WAV, AIF, SND formats) on the drum pad and have some fun. So, where are the "small details" ? :) Each folder is opened with one click not double click. You can quickly preview each sample thanks to included preview function - there's even a knob to set the volume preview...
Bigger details ? Layers. Just drag and drop up to 8 samples per drum pad and play them in round robin, random, layered or velocity switching mode. Isn't it great ???! Another one ? Outputs. There are up to 16 outputs, so you can route (send) each pad to it's own channel bus (in your DAW) and add a touch of reverb or compression. This is really huge. As Ableton user, I use this feature all the time with Ableton Drum Rack.
Going back to small details. Each layer on a pad can be tweaked separately or grouped. You can copy or swap one pad to another. There are hotkeys available (turned off by default) to improve the navigation even more, ie. F5 Opens/Closes browser.
There are of course sample editing features like Amp Envelope, Pitch Envelope. You can change the overall volume, balance, pitch of each layer. There are effects available: Distortion, Low Pass / High Pass Filter and Ring Modulation. There's also small and neat "reverse" sample option.
I was trying to find some weak sides but it's not that easy - Poise is a complete drum sampler :) It comes with 30 drum kits - honestly, I don't know if they're good or bad because I used my own samples all the time :) You can load / save your custom drum kits using Poise DKT format. Well, there's one downside - it's Windows only plugin.
Here's a nice video (I'm not the author) which covers most of Poise features.
Ahh, almost forgot ;) The price. It costs 49 $ which I belive is very fair price. We have a quite unique plugin here. All Akai MPC lovers will love Poise and those who never tried such workflow will find it great too. Up to 8 samples / layers per pad is really an amazing feature. Poise definitely has great value compared to price. If you're still not sure, there's demo version available.
PRICE: 49 $
More info: One Small Clue - Poise