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Software Review BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

Software Review BEATCLEAVER by Oscillicious

Mac OS X and Windows PC,  Words by Drew Spence

"Warp and repitch your samples with a new state-of-the-art 
time stretching engine. Four presets for stretching different 
source material like drum beats ensures your transposed and 
time-stretched samples keep their character. Better yet, 
BeatCleaver preserves transients so your drums remain punchy 
and crisp."
BeatCleaver audio chopper logo

A chopping choice!

I remember the early days of beatmaking when your music didn’t have an exact tempo, well it did but it was determined by the ‘proper sounding pitch’ of the main sample. Whatever speed made it loop right was the setting for everything else around it. With the amount of remixes and exacting sub-genres to land in, controlling tempo is more important now than ever before. Beatcleaver by Oscillicious promises to give us BPM freedom while preserving quality and punch.

The standalone software (No VST) presents an open window with several slicing options at the top. I chose file Open Audio and was taken to an included library of 13 drum loops ready for editing. They are sponsored by MPC-Samples.com and have an authentic mid 90s bend. I jumped straight to my own library and started working on a 120 bpm loop. I was able to shoot it up to 127 with no problem. Next was dropping it down to 100 bpms in order to convert this loop into a hip hop drum kit. Once again, we had no problems. So far, so good.

My next task was bringing in a raw sample, running at an unknown speed and adjusting the starting and ending points. Easy enough. I was able to add slice points while the sample was playing by hitting the shortcut S. After, I adjusted my new slice points manually with a simple click and drag. The highlight of Beatcleaver is the amount of control and quality-preserving options you have for time stretching. In most cases, the preset settings will get the job done -once you’ve set ‘cleaver for drums (percussive) or music (harmonic). You can even select a smaller area to work on (getting it perfect) and then apply that edit to the entire sample. And finally, there are fade settings for the beginning and end of slices to eliminate any pops and clicks.

Beatcleaver screen capture

Simple interface for audio chopping

Chopping as a Way of Life

Aside from the straight studio tool meant to change and adjust the tempo of samples and loops, there is another use for chopping up music for in-studio or live production. You cannot miss the header that says Slice in 4, 8 and 16. Perfect for those of us who want to chop longer sections of music into parts and then retrigger those parts in a new order. Whenever you hear a drum machine or beat tool discussed, the invariable question of “how does it chop samples?” always surfaces.

Quite well is the answer. You can dial in slices by bars or beats and cleave all the way to 64 slices or gross quarter-of-a-bar. This is also a simple choice for live producers or DJs who want to chop their songs into smaller sections for live triggering. Seeing how the iPad is so cumbersome with import and export options, it makes sense to prepare the material on your main platform and transfer the finished bits after.

I have used Propellerhead Recycle to chop music into pieces and then drag and drop the slices into Native Instruments’ Battery to emulate a common MPC workflow. Now, with every DAW having some kind of sample container that combination is a very expensive solution to simply prepare chops of audio. Obviously those two products do a lot more, but for quick and easy chops or, um cleaves, Beatcleaver is going to be a winner at only $29.

MIDI Ins is in

You can use MIDI input to control the triggering and choose the base note. This option increases the usefulness and allows you to demo your chops and arrangements before final export. I have spoken to one of the designers and Beatcleaver has a few surprises coming. The only one I am cleared to tell you about now- is the coming ability to manipulate individual slices and add effects. Yes! There are a ton of other updates and added features coming so even if you don’t plan on buying Beatcleaver today, it makes sense to follow their blog and stay on top of this gem. http://oscillicious.com/blog/  (twitter @oscillicious)

Aside from my fantasies involving features including the kitchen sink, it would be nice to see a preview option so one can audition loops and samples before import and an automatic slice tool, based on some kind of detection sensitivity control.

Beatcleaver supports the formats AIFF, Flac, M4A, MP3 and WAVE and exports to WAVE and AIFF. 16, 24 and 32-bits at 44.1 KHz. Beatcleaver retails for only $29 and is an instant download and also has a free trial version available. More info http://www.oscillicious.com/beatcleaver/

Oscillicious also has a groove station called Jam Deck, a synthesizer called Sodasynth and a modular-samples-based instrument called Analog Extracts that is also a VST. Check them out http://www.oscillicious.com/

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