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HBF’s resident producer James Trigo checks out Sample Magic’s latest plug-in Stacker – which is billed as a powerful drum layering plugin that uses sampling and synthesis across multiple layers.

Sample Magic’s jump into the Plug-in game has seen them introduce a selection of well thought out, high quality titles, each with their own unique, innovative approach. So with Magic AB and BLOQ to live up to, the latter used in my every day arsenal, will they continue the trend?

Firing up Stacker for the first time it was clear there was a lot more to it than other transient shapers and drum layering tools I’d used. It took bit of tinkering to work out the basics but after about 15 minutes it was clear this was going to be a very useful tool. Stacker provides you with seven faders, the first three for samples, the fourth for an oscillator, fifth and sixth for effects (delay and reverb) and a master fader.

Adding samples is easy, choosing from Stacker’s sample library or from your own stash from the drop down menus on each fader. There’s plenty of presets to get you going straight off the bat as well as thunder bolt buttons that generate a random sample or setting if you loose the will to tinker. Each sampler has two tabs, edit and FX, edit is where you can shape the sample to your liking with 8-point envelopes for pitch and amplitude, endless modulation options, with a ton of envelope presets to make pretty much any shape you like and controls for phase and stereo width.

The effects tab hosts a Clip Filter, 2-band EQ, LFO-synced Zero-Flanger and Digitize to change bit depth and sample rate, adding a bit of crunch to a snare or hi-hat. There’s also a scatter function that allows you to displace each sample by either ms or bpm to thicken up a snare/clap combo or create some interesting rhythmical shifts. There’s a global tab with low and high cut filters along with a resonance dial for each and a scope to view and audition your sound as you create it.

This really is just scratching the surface of what Stacker can do, with macros and the mod matrix I know there will be many an evening lost in this, even during this review I found time disappearing just playing with the reverb Pump Envelope settings. This is without doubt a great plug-in, my main issue now being, which Sample Magic plug-in to fire up first.

For more details and demo videos head here.

James Trigo

James Trigo is an advocate for the craft of making a good tune. Whiling away the small hours with his head in a sequencer, if he's not making music he's listening to it, and then writing about it. Come say hello. Free free to contact James here: onetwotrigo@gmail.com