Review of Battery 3 by Native Instruments
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Review of Battery 3
by Native Instruments

Add quality sampled drums in the virtual domain of your sequencer

by the Tweak

 

Original Battery interface

Battery, recent screenshot

Note the huge number of cells now available in the Battery 3 interface

 

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Multiple Outs (with appropriate audio driver and interface)
  • Sounds Fantastic!
  • Huge Collection of drums, cells, kits (Battery 3)
  • Flexible internal FX routing (Battery 3)
Cons
  • None as of version 3
Native Instruments Battery Sampling Software (Macintosh and Windows)
Battery 3 is the professional standard for drums and percussion. The latest version of the acclaimed drum sampler fuses an extensive library with functionality and simplicity. A powerful new engine and a host of sound shaping options deliver tight, punchy drums while the user-friendly interface guarantees instant access and complete control. Whether electronic or acoustic, Battery 3 will have your drums rolling in no time.

Tweak: Battery is a great drum sampler plugin.  I like it and use it in nearly every song.  It goes way beyond your typical synthesizer drum kit, and it can load sampled kits from some sample cd roms and improve upon them. 

Read more at the Native Instruments Site

Everything they said is true.  If you are into sampled drums, hits, and rolling your own kits for your sequencer, I cannot imagine a better soft sampler than Battery.  Soft Sampler?  Well almost.  Battery has no recording function, so you are not going to be able to run a mic to the kitchen while the significant other smashes vases, celebrating your new toy.  But no big deal there, you surely have a little applet that records wave files somewhere on your computer.  That's all you need to turn Battery into a full fledged digital sampler.  This article originally reviewed Battery 1, but has now been updated to include Battery 3's new features.
 

Using Battery

Simplicity itself.  Much simpler than any hardware sampler.  Just open a directory on your computer to where your drum samples are and drag 'n drop into one of the "cells" in Battery's grid.  While the cells default to notes C1 through F5 on the keyboard, you can assign any note you want to any cell. In Battery 3 you can add more cells (up to 128) if you need them, even color code them if you want.  The cell is one of those little squares you see in the screenshot.  You can do a lot because each one is independent if you want them to be. 

You don't have to use the editing features in Battery.  You can just call up different kits, and roll your drum patterns in your sequencer. 

What Battery cannot do

This type of drum interface does not have drum machine pattern making functions, like Guru or a typical drum machine has.  It just lets you place samples along the keyboard so you can play them, and lets you edit the sound of each drum dramatically.  It is ideal for people who know how to make their own drum patterns in their sequencer of choice. 

If you want a drum software instrument that has pre-made patterns and a pattern editing grid and a variety of kits that works like a drum machine you should look at Guru (review).  Guru also slices and allows effects to be applied to individual drums.  However Guru's 2GB library cannot compare to Battery's 12 GB library and its kits are not as detailed.

Battery 3 Upgrade

Here's a list of new features in the Battery 3 upgrade.

Comprehensive and powerful drum sampler based on a next generation sample engine

New 12 GB sample library: over 100 drum kits with over 23,000 individual samples and over 2,600 categorized drum cells covering all musical styles

Improved workflow and usability, fast and intuitive access to all parameters. 8 step-by-step video tutorials included

Fully customizable cell matrix: freely definable rows and columns with up to a total of 128 sample cells

Improved cell effects and a new master effects section

Performance articulations: roll, flam, buzz, right hand, etc.

Beat synchronisation with loop import for Apple Loops, REX, Acid Wave and Beat Creator

Time stretching feature per cell for creative sample manipulation

Graphical waveform now allows samples to be edited on-the-fly

Sample Purge keeps RAM load to a minimum

 

Battery 3 has an awesome collection of samples, perhaps the most definitive library of drums ever made.  If you liked Battery 1 and 2 you will certainly love 3. 

 

Importing Sounds

Battery 1 could import Akai files, Reaktor .map files, SoundFont .SF2 files, LM4, Loopazoid and MPC2000 files.  Battery 3 adds: MPC samples and programs, Halion. REX (including rx2), Gigasampler containers, Sound designer II, Acid, Apple loops, EXS24 and Beatcreator files.  Oh and of course Kontakt 2 and Battery 1 and 2 files as well.

 

Tweakable stuff

In the first Battery, for each cell you could define a volume envelope, pitch envelope, assign sample start, use a bitcrusher, increase or decrease overall "shape" (sort of like a one knob compressor), and tune it.  This alone was impressive. 

With Battery 3 you can go another step by adding FX to individual cells (or groups of cells if you want) and mastering processors to the whole kit.  The Effects include reverb, delay, saturator, Lo-Fi, Eq/Filter (yes, with resonance), Compressor and more.  Each effect has ready made presets and the reverb has a series of impulses.  Much like you can in a synth, you can route sources to destinations, like LFO2 to Filter cutoff.  There's some interesting possibilities here such as routing "Random Bipolar" to Tuning, for a random pitch change within a cell, to the more common Mod wheel to Filter.  The upshot of all this is you can treat your drum sample element just like a synth treats a waveform, and in that lies the power under the hood of Battery 3.  I have never seen more flexibility in a drum sample player, as much as any hardware sampler, and many times easier to get the result you want.

The samples can be set to loop mode, and you can do some really strange loop stutters.  Yes, you can really go out there if you want.  But if you don't, you'll be happily surprised when you hear what Battery can do with a lifeless, mediocre drum sample, and when you map out a whole kit of these, the results are truly impressive.  Gone are the days when you are locked into preset drum maps from a synth or sample CD.  If you want the kick louder and at a lower pitch, the snare snappier, the hats tighter, these are all easy adjustments to make.  Best of all, you can swap out a snare without changing anything else to ensure you have the best on for your song.  And don't forget, you aren't limited to just drums either.  Any sample you want is fair game.  You can stretch samples across the keys too if you want if you wanted to sample some synths. You can reverse the sample if you want.  I think Battery would make a great sound effects mapper and do well for avante' gard sound art masterpieces.
 

 Battery 3 Slice and Audio edit features

Battery 3 will also slice loops into hits and in my tests, it does it very well.  You have exacting control of the slice points and can edit audio directly on the sample. This lets you slice up any material you want as you can apply fades, reverse, cut, copy, paste, crop, loop remove dc offsets, normalize--all the basic things you might otherwise need an audio editor for. This saves an unbelievable amount of time if you are creating individual hits out of your loop collection.  This is destructive editing here, you are actually changing the sound file.  Battery intelligently makes you re-save a copy the loop before you commit a destructive edit, which helps keep the originals in your loop collection unscathed by your editing.

Routing Features

If you have a multiple output audio interface, and a sequencer that support them, you can assign different drum cells to different outputs.  Ah yes!  You can route your snare cell to all the plugin reverbs on your system if you want and keep the kick loud and dry, or to a different effect.  How does this work? In Battery's "options" menu you sell it how many busses you want.  Then you map the cells to a bus.  In the sequencer, you simply route the bus to a different audio out. Why is this important?  It allows you to separate your drums into several tracks with a different effect on each. 

 

To sum up

Battery is a great drum sampler plugin.  I like it and have used the original Battery in more songs than I can count.  It goes way beyond your typical synthesizer drum kit, and it can load sampled kits from some sample cd roms and improve upon them.   If you are really serious about drums but can't quite afford a sampler, Battery is a godsend.  Even if you do have a full rig of samplers, you will appreciate Battery's speed at building custom drum maps and the sound it delivers. Battery 3 furthers the tradition with a effects, routings and an incredible library of kits.  You can tweak this machine hard and it will give you some awesome audio.  This is Native Instruments at their finest hour.  It is so good I am considering developing a CD Rom of drum sounds for it. 
 

All the Best,

Rich

 

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Links

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