IK Multimedia's newly updated one-stop sample shop is bigger and better than ever.
We last looked at SampleTank back in the SOS August 2015 issue. With its easy-to-use interface and broad, very useable sound palette, SampleTank 3.5 provided a workmanlike virtual instrument that would make a great starting point for those building a music production system. It perhaps lacked the glamour, cutting-edge quirkiness, or sample-editing depth of some more targeted, genre-specific virtual instruments, but the sounds span orchestral to EDM and it ticks the 'jack-of-all-trades' box very firmly. That's not a criticism; simply an observation because, for certain groups of potential users, that's exactly what they are looking for.
IK Multimedia have now introduced SampleTank 4 with new features and new samples. So, what does v4 bring to tempt the music producer looking for that perfect sound source workhorse?
Let's start by confirming that the underlying SampleTank concept remains firmly intact. Alongside the collection of samples, therefore, it provides a sample-based virtual instrument with 16-part multitimbral capabilities, support for multi-layer, multi-articulation, sampled instruments, and playback of audio and MIDI loops (patterns). However, while IK have delivered lots of new features and refinements to the user interface, they have also done a pretty good job of retaining SampleTank's 'easy-to-use' tag.
SampleTank 4 is now available in three editions; SE, the 'standard' and MAX. All use the new front-end but are supplied with different sizes of sound library. For this review, I had access to the fully-loaded MAX version which offers 250GB of samples spread across some 8000 instruments. For the SE and standard versions, those numbers are 30GB/2000 instruments and 100GB/6000 instruments respectively, reflecting their different prices. SampleTank 4 runs as both a stand-alone application (useful for live performance) and as a multi-format plug-in.
Usefully, the IK website has a PDF document that details the content provided in each edition so you can see exactly what you will get. The expanded content offers plenty of 'new for v4' samples including acoustic pianos, bass, brass, strings, guitars, acoustic and electric drums, percussion, synths, voices and woodwinds. Users also get access to some content from earlier SampleTank releases with, again, different selections for each edition.
This is a virtual instrument that all but the most...