Disclaimer: I wanted to give this software a 4.5 rating. I do believe future revisions will push it up to 5.0. However, 4.5 is not an option. I had to choose between 4 and 5, so I went with 5.
INTRO Nuance v2 by New Sonic Arts is an inspiring compact creative sampler with a fast, intuitive workflow. There's no bloat. It's light on CPU and heavy on performance. It more than lives up to its joyous promise of being quick, capable and fun.
INTIAL IMPRESSION Upon the first launch, seasoned sampler users might find themselves a little unsure about how to navigate around the interface. Luckily, there are helpful hints that pop up and the GUI soon after becomes intuitive and extremely inviting. It's minimalist, but it does all the right things and does them well. It can also consolidate, simplify and streamline a user's setup by assuming virtual drum machine duties. It's got the pads and kit features, including multiple layers per pad, round robins, choke, etc. The Pad View enables users to load and/or construct kits. The Piano mode returns the user back to a standard sampler with standard keyboard assignment and mapping.
IN ACTION If it's what's inside that counts, Nuance definitely has a lot going on under the hood as evidenced by its performance. If looks do matter, well. .. this is a fine looking piece of software. Check out the website. It's elegant and ultra-modern, just like their software's GUI. Side note of little importance. .. I like their logo. The tilted N encapsulated in a ring is cool and catchy. .. easy to see in the dock.
WORKFLOW I've come to realize that there is no one way to flow that work. Users can keep it simple by dragging in single samples (simple instruments) or drums into the padview. In this way, the file browser and My Samples database becomes workflow central. Or, more advanced users can get a bit more complex by building their own multi-instruments and relying more on the map editor and detailed editing functions. That flow might look more like this:
1. Drag sample(s) onto the interface 2. Loop and key assign/map zones via pulling edges around 3. Switch to the Mapping View to set key, velocity range layering, multi-sampling, adjust start/end points, fades and looping in the wave editor. 4. Layer as/if desired 5. Globally edit Pitch, Pan, Volume, FX and modulation in groups or layers. Note: Modulation can be manipulated and then dropped in. 6. Assign to Cycle Groups for sequential round robin triggering. 7. Save.
Nuance fosters a super fast basic workflow; yet, the advanced features and power is as needed.
FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT IT • Neat (compact), user-friendly interface with a truly "effortless workflow" • Small footprint and CPU friendly • Loads all the common audio files, and saves patches in its own format with an option to embed referenced samples • Drag-n-drop in and out • Inspiring and Musical • Sounds great • Simple, yet powerful layering, Amp Env, Pitch, Modulation, and FX • Modulation is flexible and assignable via a drag-n-drop features into the Modulation Matrix or onto target parameters. For many, this might be a game changer. • Step/Table Sequencer provides rhythmic, tempo-synced modulation and the XY Pad connects between the Assignment Manager and the Modulation Matrix. • Round robins for more realism • Built-in Choke feature for hats and other choke-able instruments. • Batch edit • Batch tag samples and filter for lightning browse/selection. The database neatly organizes a sample library within Nuance, which speeds up usage. • Quick loading of sampler patches • Helpful speech bubble hints = shallow learning curve • Stand-alone and plugin versions • Responsive developer • Priced right.
REQUESTS* • Pitch detection • Advanced time compression/expansion • Crossfading between Zones • Key-Mapping by filename • Random round-robin • Transport and/or audition button for stand-alone version • Name or color option for pads • Detailed video tutorials.
HEARTFELT THOUGHTS If you love the feeling of falling in love as much as I do, you'll dig Nuance. It's like the best chocolate imaginable. .. a few simple ingredients. .. smooth, tasty, and not too sweet. So far, I see many positives and endless potential. Hopefully, this honeymoon stage is everlasting.;-) Nuance is a piece of software that I've been searching for. .. inspiring, fun to use, and not an overly complex mess. I don't foresee myself outgrowing this fine software. Like any good relationship, I hope we grow together. Nice job, New Sonic Arts. You won my heart; hopefully, that leads to some beats.;-).
SUMMARY Will it do everything the mega samplers like Kontakt, HALion, and MachFive does? NO! Will it do a better, faster job at the most important thing. .. help users make music? YES, I believe so! The full feature set of Nuance will not be as deep as the mega samplers, but it will blow away standard samplers. Nuance combines simplicity to enable users to work fast, but does not have the limitations of some simple samplers. The power is there if/when needed. This baby is streamlined and will sample circles around the big bloated beasts!! Nuance is cleaner, less confusing, and enables musicians, producers, DJs, etc. to focus on what matters instead of wasting time being frustrated. Without hesitation, I give Nuance two pulsating thumbs up. Check out the free demo.
Note #1: I'd also like to check out their other offerings, i.e. Granite (granular texture generator), Vice (loop slicer), and Freestyle (stage and studio).
Note #2: If you cannot live without pitch detection and advanced time compression/expansion, I suggest complimenting Nuance with Serato Sample. They make a great team.