MOTU’s MachFive sampler, while perhaps not getting the kind of attention rivals from NI and Steinberg have, has had in its history some compelling features. Those features were in a multi-window interface, though, that not all of us loved – while I can’t find the review, I know when I covered it for Keyboard, I praised powerful editing features like the slicer but lamented the UI.

MachFive’s new UI looks radically different. The tabbed layout and modules and preset browsing all recall NI’s products, but there are new twists, too, like slick, readable waveform views, gorgeous EQ visualizations borrowed from MOTU’s DP DAW, and plenty of shiny. The results look far more usable, which means easier access to new sonic capabilities. And that’s good news, because it’s those features where things get interesting. Just a few highlights:

  • Granular stretching and re-pitch sounds, licensed from IRCAM. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve seen the Paris research center as a specific bullet point in product promo, but there are samples that sound terrific.
  • New scripting which MOTU touts for modeling things like strumming and fingering on guitars – and lots of other things, too. New sound content will take advantage of the scripting features. And, oh, yeah, if you’re thinking that scripting is available elsewhere, CDM’s nerdier readers will like this: the scripting engine is now in Lua.
  • Hybrid synth engine covering wavetable, subtractive, and FM synthesis. Earlier today, readers were talking about disappointment that Omnisphere, the massive sample-based synth, lacked samples. Well, here you go – here’s one strong sample/synth hybrid contender. (Omnisphere’s another animal, but that doesn’t make this any less interesting.)
  • Modular effects architecture, convolution reverb mean greater ability to apply effects, from buses to individual oscillators and keygroups.
  • Oberheim-style Xpander filter.
  • Tons of ready-to-use MIDI scripting.
  • Powerful arpeggiator and micro-tuner.

You also get 45 GB of sound content (wowsa), full-screen mode, an updated slicer/looper, and expansion of MachFive’s already-extensive support for third party samples, even including obscure old formats.

I’m intrigued: the intelligent new layer rule interface, the overhauled UI and sound engine, and then extensive micro-tuning and Lua scripting start to make me interested, even with intense competition in this arena. For experimental sound design, there’s some real potential here. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, pictures: