IK Multimedia SampleTank 2 review

SampleTank gets a refresh

  • £15
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Our Verdict

A frustratingly flawed app, but one that still appeals for live work.

Pros

  • Good for live performance.

Cons

  • Not great value for money. Limited editing options.

The mobile version of IK's powerful desktop workstation is boosted for v2, seeing an increase from four tracks to eight, a redesigned browser, support for audio loops, a new higher quality tier to the IAP instrument library in the shape of the SampleTank Pro series, and a multitimbral Live mode for use on stage.

The basic library comprises around 140 instruments, in 16 categories (Drums, Bass, Keys, Vocals, FX, etc), but this is expandable to over 1900 via the enormous online store.

Songs are recorded and overdubbed part by part, using your MIDI controller or the onscreen keys and drum pads, and each instrument category comes with an expandable (to around 1200) roster of transposable preset patterns.

You get a little bit of sound editing - Volume, Pan and Transpose, filter Cutoff and Resonance, and envelope Attack and Release - and up to four predefined insert effects per instrument, each offering just one tweakable parameter, except for EQ/Comp, which features Low and High shelves, a sweepable Mid band and a compression amount control.

There's also a shared master reverb with three 'types' to choose from, plus Level and Time knobs. The sound engine, lifted from the desktop SampleTank 3, sounds great and is impressively efficient.

Live mode takes out the 
sequencing, puts all eight slots on a 
single screen, and makes each layer's
 key range editable, for multi-timbral 
stacking and keyzoning. Sadly, layered
 play only works with an attached MIDI keyboard and not the on-screen one, which can't output in Omni MIDI mode - a bizarre omission.

SampleTank 2 is a solid-enough app, but there are quite a few problems. The most pertinent from a technical perspective is that there's still no editing of patterns beyond applying quantise, severely limiting it as a songwriting tool.

The IAP nagging feels relentless, too, with the many, many sounds from the main SampleTank library that you don't yet own installed with the app (1.6GB in total) but greyed out in the library menus, to tempt you into auditioning and buying them.

Irritating as a production platform, SampleTank 2's main strength is its potential for live performance. Even then, the number of usable sounds for your initial 15 quid is disappointing.

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