MOTU MachFive Software Sampler for Mac and Windows

MOTU’s MachFive is an oft-overlooked software sampler option for both Mac and Windows. The sampler market is a crowded one, but MachFive does have some nice features, not least being a unique, one-screen interface. The sampler hasn’t quite kept pace with recent releases from Native Instruments, Cakewalk, and others, so this week’s release of version 2 is a welcome development.

New in this release:

  • 32 GB of sounds: Four dual-layer DVDs for a total of 32GB of sounds, with sample rates up to 192kHz. There’s a 24-bit 96kHz 8GB sampled piano, and a MachFive adaptation of the very nice VSL Orchestra. But that’s not the killer feature. Killer feature is probably —
  • Loop Lab: Edit and create loops in REX, ACID, GarageBand loops via drag and drop, with destructive and non-destructive editing down to the sample level.
  • Multi-platform: Now fully supports Universal Binary, Vista, and even 64-bit Vista.
  • More compatible: A huge array of sample formats load natively — no conversion required.
  • Tons of effects: Distortion, convolution reverb, and dozens of others.
  • Layers: “Layer rules” allow you to stack or organize sounds for performance/playing, and even import layers from GigaStudio.
  • New sound features: New integrated sound design features include multi-point envelopes and streamlined editing.
  • Integrated synthesis: This appears to translate to integrated synth sources, including basic waveforms and an additive organ emulator.

To me, Loop Lab could prove to be the feature that makes MachFive worth a look; we haven’t yet seen a sampler that makes a smooth transition between software looping capabilities and the looping and stretching features in the sampler itself. But if that’s not enough for you, MOTU is also positioning MachFive as the ideal sampler in terms of compatibility:

Specifications, including format compatibility

You can actually put a Kurzweil K2xxx or Roland S-700 disc into your computer and load samples from it, and MOTU is touting the level of compatibility with GigaStudio. That last point is especially interesting, because many film composers (a big part of the market for MOTU’s “cult hit” DAW Digital Performer) keep a Windows PC around just to access GigaStudio, and nothing else. (Composer Stewart Copeland springs to mind, though he’ll have to finish up his tour with The Police before he can take advantage of this.)

MOTU MachFive Product Page

Thanks to John Molloy for the tip!

Updated: Upgrades are actually free if you bought MachFive after January 20, 2005. (No, that’s not a misprint. They really are going back two and a half years.) US$195 otherwise.