The first drum machine I ever bought, a Yamaha RX-11, set me back a cool $1,500. So I was understandably skeptical when I heard Acoustica’s promise that Beatcraft would turn my PC into a drum machine for less than $50. After spending several hours with the program, I must admit that I’m impressed.
The program gives you the option of building rhythm tracks based on predefined drum kits, or you can create your own using the provided samples and loops. The drum sounds seemed excellent to this drummer’s ear, and there’s plenty of variety to fit just about any musical style. If you run out of sounds, Acoustica sells two expansion packs: More Drums, Volume 1 ($15) and More Drums, Analogania ($20).
Creating a rhythm track consists of three basic steps: Assemble your drum kit from the in-depth library of drum sounds (all manner of bass drums, snares, toms, hi-hats, and crash cymbals; plus a full set of percussion instruments), create a series of rhythm patterns, and then assemble the patterns into a full-fledged song. Everything is accomplished either by pointing and clicking or by clicking and dragging.
Patterns are created in the Pattern Editor window, in which each drum is placed on its own track. Tracks are subdivided into measures and beats, and you trigger each drum by setting its volume on a particular beat. In addition to volume—indicating how “hard” the instrument is struck—you can also apply audio effects, such as left-right stereo panning and reverb, to meticulously sculpt your overall sound.
Once you’ve created your patterns, you move down to the Sequencer window to assemble them into a song: Simply drag the patterns from the Pattern Editor into the Sequencer. The final step renders the sequence into an audio file in WAV, MP3, WMA, or OGG format. You can even tag the file with copyright information (the name of the sequence, the date it was created, your name as artist, and comments).
The entire process is highly intuitive; you definitely don’t have to be a musician to enjoy creating music with this program. I wouldn’t hesitate to use to create rhythm tracks for song demos or for a guitarist or keyboard player to jam with. --John Wind
+ Drums: Intuitive user interface, excellent drum samples, well priced
- Tums: MIDI support
For a high-res version of this screenshot, click here.