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Review of
Native Instrument's Intakt

An Easy to use and Powerful Soft Sampler

By Tweak

Native Instruments Intakt Software Sampler (Macintosh and Windows)

Intakt is a state-of-the-art sampler specifically designed for rhythmic loop playback, manipulation, and mayhem. Intakt’s convenient one-screen interface features tremendous sound shaping abilities without disrupting the creative flow. Using multiple algorithms, Intakt automatically syncs to tempo, while an outstanding library of loops from Zero-G and East West provides sample source material for nearly any musical style. Naturally, Intakt provides a wealth of sound shaping options, including a first-class multimode filter, an envelope follower, two LFOs, effects, and more. Tweak: Works great in LogicPro 6 and 7

for a budget soft sampler for loops and beats

There are so many soft samplers on the market these days it can be hard to sift through all the features and make a reasonable guess as to which one is right for what you are doing. Just looking at the Native Instruments line, there is Kontakt, Kompakt and now Intakt.  You might wonder, did they really need another? 

Intakt is a lot like other Native Instruments soft samplers in it's look and it's ability to browse your hard drives for samples.  While it looks a lot like Kompakt, it goes far deeper in terms of what you can do. While Kontakt is still the king of the native instruments soft samplers, Intakt does some things that are hard to do on Kontakt--namely, time stretch, slice and edit BPM based sample loops to your sequencer's project tempo.  The cool thing about Intakt is how easy it is to perform these complex operations.  I just got it and I will tell you, without any equivocation, its a winner.

Intakt, like most NI software, can be used stand-alone or in your host sequencers as a VSTi, DXi or AU plugin.



Making an Intakt Instrument

Making an Intakt instrument is rather easy.  Lets say you are in a song and you want to add some loops.  You just open the browser, find the loops you want, and drag them directly on the keys.  You can have the same sample cover several keys or just one.  Then you can decide upon the mode for the sample--you have 3 choices: 1. Sampler, which treats the sample like a typical sampler does where the length gets longer as you lower the pitch and shorter as you raise the pitch 2. Beat Machine which works like Recycle does.  You can slice your loop into "hits" which are then spread along the keyboard so each slice gets its own key; and 3. Time Machine which time stretches each key so that as the pitch gets lower or higher the length remains the same.  This allows one to "play through" a sample on the keyboard--an incredible feature.  More on that in a bit.

Intakt automatically reads the tempo from your sequencer.  Once you tell it how many measures and beats your audio loop is it will alter the loop to fit the project tempo, much like acid and sonar do.  But here in Intakt, instead of laying them out on a sequencer arrange screen, you "play them" from a MIDI keyboard.  Sure, hold down a fistful of loops if you want and they stay in time.  For sequencers such as Cubase and Logic, that have no automatic BPM time stretching, Intakt adds the ability to use your library of audio loops in your compositions, without the need to rewire up the Ableton Live or some other looping application. 

Import Options: WAV, AIFF, REX1 and REX2 files, AKAI™ S-1000/S-3000, EXS™, BATTERY, LM4™ and KONTAKT instruments.
Library:  Comes with 1.2 GB of sounds
More info: Native Instrument's Site
Intakt is included in the NI Komplete2 Bundle

Native Instruments NI Komplete 2 Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)
Native Instruments created NI Komplete 2 for the musicians and producers who want to have it all: the legendary sound of the B4 Organ, the endless NINKOMPLETE2.jpgpossibilities of Reaktor 4, the award-winning Kontakt sample engine, the futuristic power of FM7. But it doesn't end there: NI Komplete 2 represents an infinite universe of sound, uniting every NI synth, sampler, and effect into a single bundle that will change your studio forever.

Read about more soft samplers

In the Beat Machine mode, where hits are placed along the keyboard, you have the awesome capability to recast your professional sounding audio loops in your collection to fit your music.  Just pretend you are using any other drum kit on your synths and lay down line of kiks, snares, hats in your sequencer grid using the audio loops slices as your drums.  People using recycle have been doing this for a while and will tell you its a great way to get powerful drums in your mixes.  Using recycle, however, is a multi-step process. (you have to slice and save as rx2 then import that into a softsampler).  Here, it's all done in Intakt.  Because you are triggering slices in your sequencer, you can use your sequencer's MIDI tools like quantize, groove templates and velocity to make your recast drum loop stand out.  

In the Time Machine mode you can do some really interesting stuff, like re-timing and re-pitching bass lines, melodic lines and even vocal phrases. A simple example is to take a whole vocal phrase and raise and lower the pitch while keeping the length the same.  This is incredibly easy and only takes about a second or two for Intakt to perform the number crunching to make it happen.  But why stop there?   For an advanced example, lets say your vocalist sang a nice melody of D, E, F and G in the key a D minor, but you want to make it sound exotic, like D, D#, F# and G. 

What you do here is cut the vocal line into zones where each word is a zone and assign each zone to its own key(s).  Once assigned, simply retune them or even more provocatively, assign each zone to spread over several keys so you can experiment with many different melodic structures.  Because you are actually "playing" each word of the phrase on a MIDI keyboard you can dramatically alter not only the pitch and timing but the feel of the vocal.  Of course, such a complex task will require some work on your part to set this up.  But I think its much easier to do this in Intakt than in Kontakt, or the emagic EXS and it is much much easier than attempting this on a typical hardware sampler.  


Each sample zone can have its own unique effects.  They include Filters, Lo-Fi, Distortion and Delay.  This is just the thing for hip hop drums and hits.  When all the effects are added together on a sample the result is grungy.  Don't expect and precision reverbs or clean ambiences. Nope, there is no Reverb.  With time stretching happening to such a degree as is possible here the audio can get grainy.  In Intakt, fault is turned to a virtue with effects that enhance the nastiness even more. There is also a global EQ/Filter which cuts and boosts really nicely, good for cutting bass and enhancing hi frequencies and adding a a sharp mid range peak or dip.  But FX are FX.  You want a clean sound?  Don't use them, use your higher end reverb plugins and processors instead. 

In Sum

A really cool thing as that you can use all three modes in a single Intakt instrument.  This is what makes it so flexible.  As you are writing a song, just call up an empty Intakt instrument and start adding the samples you want to tweak to the keyboard. its quite easy to mess around till you get some cool sounds and then you can sequencer them up and viola! You have some unique stuff happening.  It's this ability to make unique presets of from audio material and loops on the fly that has me saying "this plugin is great!"  I think it is particularly well-suited for hip hop and RnB sample cutting, but anyone who appreciates tweaking samples is going to love this product.


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Spectrasonics Omnisphere
Spectrasonic's Trillian
Superior Drummer
My Favorite Vintage Soft Synhts
Stylus RMX
Battery by Native Instruments
Albino 3
Guru Review
StormDrum Review
Korg Legacy MS20
Garritan Personal Orchestra
Altered States
FM7 and FM8
NI's Komplete Bundle
MOTU's Ethno
Are Hardware Samplers Obsolete?
Antares Filter
Logic's EXS24 Sampler
Kore 2 Review
Kontakt 3
Waves Gold and Platinum
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