Arturia Spark Vintage Drum Machines review

  • €99
  • $129

What can Arturia's Spark offer second time around?

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Our Verdict

We'd really like to see Arturia tidy the Spark interface up; there's a ton of functionality here, but it all feels a bit confused.

For

  • Excellent retro sounds…

Against

  • …in a slightly confusing package.
Buying options

The second release in Arturia's Spark line (which operates standalone and as a VST/AU/RTAS plug-in, and doesn't require the original Spark or the Spark hardware controller) should offer an improvement, comprising as it does nothing but the sounds of 30 classic drum machines.

Included are the Roland TR-606, 707, 808 and 909, Korg KPR-77, DDM110 and 220, Simmons SDS, E-MU SP-12 and Drumulator, Boss DR-55, Linn 9000, Oberheim DMX, Yamaha RX5 and many more.

Two sound-generating techniques are used throughout: drum synths are emulated using Arturia's tried-and-tested True Analog Emulation system, while PCM- and EPROM-based boxes are recreated with samples.

The audio quality is good (on a par with any other decent 'dry' emulation), sounds can be freely mixed and matched between kits (upto 16 at once), and each sound features six bespoke editing parameters, often adding to those of the original hardware. The step-sequencer, meanwhile, does a great job, although the window really needs to be resizable, since the endless scrolling through it soon becomes tedious.

The Spark software is still less intuitive than it could be thanks to the inclusion of the central Spark controller representation screen, which combines the functionality of the other two windows but isn't as accessible as either - how we wish it could be folded away.

Still, the sharper focus of Vintage Drum Machines makes it a more meaningful package than its progenitor, as does the reasonable asking price, and it certainly qualifies as a comprehensive library of classic electronic drum sounds (but you may well already have quite a few of them in your sample library).

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Tech Specs

Min Processor Speed (GHz)2
OS RequirementsApple Mac OS X 10.5 or later Microsoft Windows XP or later
PlatformPC, Mac
RAM Required (GB)2