Thanks to ‘dswo” for this SampleWiz Review:
- Very expressive: easy and natural to get vibrato, adjust intensity. Changing octaves and key size is also well thought-out. All of this is well-demonstrated in the videos.
- Several first-rate synth and guitar presets. That’s a short description, but they really make the app.
- Some of the longer samples develop in interesting ways (e.g., guitar distortion)
- Legato mode allows you to take full advantage of those longer samples, so that distortion can build for a group or sequence of notes, not just one at a time
- Unlike some, I like the visuals. Since there’s no manual, it can be tough to find things the first time, but once you go through all of the buttons with help turned on, it all makes sense.You can tell that the interface has been fine-tuned for live performance.
- Hold function is powerful.
- The sound and visuals are both FUN. I have more powerful apps, but few that are so enchanting.
- Audio copy as well as paste. Not only can you work with samples FROM other apps, you can export samples from SampleWiz TO other apps.
- A loop can start anywhere in the sample, not just at the beginning. Result: there’s more scope for developing a sound over time.
- Resampling lets you build up layered sounds; again, very powerful.
- No one seems to like the looming wizard graphic, including me.
- No multisampling; this is the program’s only serious weakness in my view. Result: JR presets sound fine within an octave of the original sample note, but any further away and they no longer sound musical. I don’t say they’re unusable — but the JR richness is gone. To my mind, this makes the lack of MIDI support less important; without multisampling, you’re unlikely to move very far from the first keyboard screen. For examples, try the piano and violin samples. I don’t think you’d guess this from the videos.
- The other big lacuna: currently there is no way to record a session. That’s fine if you’re just jamming, but a lot of people are drawn to the iPad and iPod/iPhone because it lets them _develop_ music on the bus or train. Right now, SW is good for playing music, but it doesn’t make it easy to build music.
- As others have noted, the dark interface is hard to read outdoors; compared with multisampling, this would be relatively easy to fix.
- The preset count is swelled by some vocals (“Touch the wave,” “Why don’t you sample this,” “Thank you for buying SampleWiz”) that I don’t think anyone is likely to USE; one would have been enough to illustrate the sampling engine’s features.
- You can reverse a sample (+) in any mode, but you can only slow it down in granular mode. (Workaround: copy the sample to the clipboard, tweak it in, say, Filtatron, and export it back to SampleWiz. NOTE: This will work, but it takes you outside of the program. Part of SampleWiz’s magic is: you can seemingly do it all, in one program, with one interface.)
COMPARISON WITH OTHER SAMPLER INSTRUMENTS
+ SW has a much more expressive keyboard
+ SW has better synth presets
+ SW is half the price
– BM has multisampling
– BM can record sessions
– BM is multitrack
= Both have expressive interfaces (though TJ has a few more expression axes, and makes use of the accelerometer, which SW doesn’t)
= Both have excellent samples (though TJ’s are more varied, with better strings)
+ SW makes it easy to create a new instrument anywhere
+ SW can mash up samples in lots more ways
+ SW can play different parts of the sample
– TJ can apply more effects (e.g., reverb as well as delay)
– TJ has multisampling
– TJ can record sessions, layer loops
– TJ is a few dollars cheaper
THINGS I’D LIKE TO SEE IN AN UPDATE
- Multisampling would greatly extend the USABLE RANGE of these instruments. It’s also the most work to implement, both for the sound engine and the interface. (The existing interface is carefully laid out, so it’s not obvious where the extra buttons/knobs would go.)
Here are some features that might be easier to implement:
- Get rid of the looming wizard on the keyboard, allow for different color schemes
- Implement some kind of session recording feature (with audio copy, of course, so that you can paste the session into another app).
- Play background loops, like ThumbJam. Example: you create a pattern in iElectribe or Funkbox, copy it to the clipboard, and paste it into SW’s new loop player. While the rhythm pattern is looping, you play over it with the JR lead in SampleWiz. The great thing about this is, you get a lot of bang for your CPU buck, because playing loops is not a CPU-intensive task.
- SW already lets you play on two, independently-sized keyboards. If the hardware can handle it, can we also have two instruments?