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"MachFive is the killer sampler that I've been looking for"

Darwin Grosse is a recording engineer, producer, musician and the mastermind (CTO) at Cycling '74, the innovative audio software company known for ground-breaking titles such as Pluggo, Max/MSP and Soundflower. In this month's issue of Recording Magazine (October 2005), Darwin reviews MachFive and comes to the realization that "I'm a rather demanding sampler user." How does MachFive stand up?

Have software samplers "arrived"?

"This is the best of news--with PC hardware continuously dropping in price while performance improvements continue at a mind-numbing pace, we may be at the point where a software sampler is The Perfect Thing."

A few surprises

"MachFive also offers a few surprises. First, it is completely surround-capable. If you have a sample set that might work in a surround environment, this plug-in begs you to bring it on! Second, if your host DAW supports it, you can route each of the sample sets to one of four output pairs, offering an amazing level of flexibility during mixdown. Finally, the sample engine provides the option of streaming your sample playback directly from hard disk, so if you are using huge sample arrays (something that is typical for string scoring), you don't have to take out a second mortgage for system RAM. The deeper you dig, the more impressive MachFive turns out to be."

Built-in effects

"The effects system is atypical for a plug-in; four definable and four preset plug-in slots are provided for each sample channel, along with four send effects and four slots for the master outputs--this easily outpaces the most complete hardware sampler."

"Given the flexibility of this effects system, an awful lot of production can go on at the sampler level, helping make MachFive much more of an 'instrument' than many others."

How MachFive sounds

"It may seem silly to suggest that samplers have a particular sound of their own--they are just playing back digital samples, right? Well, it proves to be somewhat more complicated than that: the playback sound is affected by the algorithms used for pitch transposition (when pitch-stretching a sample), the sound of the filters, the smoothnesss of the envelopes and the quality of the built-in effects. MachFive is, to my ears, the best-sounding software sampler I've heard, offering a 'rich, smooth' tonality rather than the 'bright/harsh' sound typical of many other software samplers."


"The programmability of this plug-in is where the real fun begins. MachFive offers a very sophisticated synthesis engine, allowing you to tweak and twirl your samples into something other-worldly. The mltimode filter is exquisite, with a range and smoothness that reminds me of the best hardware circuites, and the envelope-based modulation is both intuitive and creative."

Included sounds

"MachFive has a huge jump on its competition due to the quality of the samples; from tight drum kits to weird synthesizer tones, the 4+ Gigabytes of samples will give you plenty to work with."

The Bottom Line

"MachFive is the killer sampler that I've been looking for, and gets my hearty recommendation for premier placement in the Big Dog Sampler Sweepstakes."

For the complete story, pick up a copy of the October issue of Recording Magazine today, or visit the the Recording Magazine website.