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Black Magic is a unique loop workstation with the ability to generate diverse loops with a single mouse click. Furthermore a loop can instantly be recorded out to WAV, automatically named by BPM and timestamp. The idea developed to make sample based loops an easy and fun process, as loop creation is generally a time consuming process.
Black Magic can also be used as a standard MIDI drum machine and also has the ability to jam with the individual sequences in real time. It has 10 Samplers each with its own sequencer and many adjustable parameters. It uses standard WAV files and ships with a large library of samples, but users can easily add their own. There is also an FX section which includes a Compressor/Limiter, Delay, SoundScaper, Flanger/Filter and Drive as well as many Modulation options including randomizers, a Modulation sequencer and an LFO.
Black Magic looks deceptively simple on the surface and can be used easily without delving into the details too much, but underneath there is a vast amount of tweakable parameters. Each sampler has its own settings for 14 parameters such as Cutoff, Resonance, Volume, Pan, Pitch, Release, etc., but there are also a set of Master controls for these settings which are additive/subtractive. These knobs provide instant gratification and can change the sound dramatically as well as being automated (like most controls in BM). There is also an overview Mixer screen which allows seeing all levels for 12 of the Sampler parameters and allows a great way to randomize just the pitches or cutoff values for instance.
Each Sampler has its own 32-step sequencer which can be triggered via MIDI and has adjustable step size, which allows for complex overlapping rhythms to be constructed. There is also a useful alternative to randomizing the sequence which uses a pre-defined set of presets which is randomly selected. This allows much more usable rhythms to be created as opposed to the standard randomizers (which are also available). Another useful feature is that Octave 4 and 5 of the MIDI controller affects a selectable parameter such as Master Pitch or Master Cutoff in real time which adds a whole new world of creative possibilities, for example playing a tune with the current loop.
There is a Kit feature which allows grouping installed samples together and saving as a kit, this then allows quick selection of those samples in the future. The Kit screen provides a useful overview of all current samples where they can also be selected and randomized. Samples are stored in folders, and those folders appear as banks within Black Magic and there is the ability to lock the bank. So, for example, selecting Snare drums and locking the bank will mean that when randomizing only Snare Drums will be selected for this sampler slot.
The FX Section has Soundscaper which is a diverse delay/reverb style effect, a Stereo BPM Delay, and a Flanger which can be switched to Filter instead, the LFO has a large amount of wave shapes available. Each sampler has its own set of sends for these effects. There is also a Compressor, Limiter and Noise Gate which happen just before the Master Volume Level, the compressor is great for a heavy compression sound that is popular these days.
Black Magic Lite is the free little sister of Black Magic. Even though Lite has fewer features than the big version, all of the important ones have been retained, so it is a fully functional synth in its own right. Upgrading to the big version, you will get a large collection of included samples, the ability to use your own and a hard compressor, amongst many other things.