Synthesizer/Sampler (Software)

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS TRANSFORMATOR 2.0(Mac/Win; $298)We had a particularly tough time picking this year's Software Synthesizer/Sampler winner. Though we


(Mac/Win; $298)

We had a particularly tough time picking this year's Software Synthesizer/Sampler winner. Though we liked the connectivity that BitHeadz's Unity DS-1 provided with other applications on our desktop, when all was said and done, Native Instruments' Transformator 2.0 got the nod.

Transformator doesn't simply model a hardware sampler; it is a "sampler construction kit" that includes a wide range of modules to use in building the processes and functions you want. This is a very efficient approach to sampling on the desktop, as it ensures that only the specific tools you need for a certain task are currently running and drawing resources from your CPU. Of course, with Transformator, no assembly is really necessary because you can pick and choose from dozens of included samplers, or you can download the contributions supplied by other users at the company's Web site.

In addition to familiar sound-processing functions such as LFOs, filters, and delays, Transformator offers other, far less common processes including a granulator, which can splice and dice sounds in numerous ways, and a formantor, which can make truly gender-bending alterations to a sound. The resynthesis module can perform extremely accurate time stretching without changing the pitch of your sample, among other feats.

Sliders, buttons, knobs, and switches are available to customize the look and feel of your sampler designs, and a host of settings allow you to track and tune your system's performance while running the program. And to top it off, a printed manual is included that has excellent tutorials and clear descriptions of every module at your disposal.

Transformator is available as a stand-alone program, or you can purchase it in a bundle with last year's Editors' Choice Award-winning software synthesizer, Generator. (The combination is called Reaktor.) This great program will transform the way you think about sampling.