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Very Cool Little Drum Synth
MicroTonic is about ten years old now, but that doesn't stop it from remaining one of the cheaper and best little drum-synth plug-ins you can get. There are no samples here; that's not the idea. Synthesis is the name of the game here, and each of the eight instruments have exactly the same flexible architectural starting point from which you can make an array of different percussion sounds. In simple terms, each individual percussion sound consists of a mix balance between an oscillator and a noise source. So, for example, if you were creating a kick drum, you'd probably mostly favour an oscillator-heavy mix, and if you were creating a hi-hat, you'd favour the noise source more. The oscillator can be pitched over a very wide range (and, crucially, accurately too, so that the fundamental is an actual diatonic note) with a choice of three waveforms, and it can be pitch-modulated; you can also EQ it, distort it, change its attack and release and so on. The noise source has fine envelope control, and can be filtered in low, band and hi-pass modes. The 16-step sequencer is simple but works well, and the step length can be changed, which should keep all you awkward Autechre fans happy! Over the years, a number of improvements have been made, such as a feature that lets you morph between two states, and the ability to copy MIDI to track in your DAW. Teenage Engineering have also made a pocket operator which uses Microtonic as its sound creation brain - the PO 32, which is an innovative way of liberating the sounds from the software domain. https://www.teenageengineering.com/products/po-32
But by and large it's remained the same for many years, perhaps because Magnus pretty much got it right the first time around. You can think of it as being a sort of simpler version of what the Elektron Machinedrum is, in software form (although the two sound nothing like each other). MicroTonic sounds a little like the drum sounds that Cabaret Voltaire or the early Human League used to use - think early Mute records releases too. It sounds like an early analogue drum machine. It can't do big 'rock' drums, for example; you'll need the real thing or samplers if that's what you're aiming for. It's a niche plug-in, but what it does, it does effectively and distinctively.
Great drum VST
Bought it because I bought the Teenage Engineering Tonic Pocket Operator which can use patterns and sounds from this. Was also looking for a drum VST and this has been a pretty useful though very in depth and takes some figuring out to get the most out of it.
The 808 that's not an 808
Microtonic is a drum synthesizer plugin that does synthesized (i.e. 808-style) drums flawlessly. The step-sequencer is easy to use yet versatile. The synth engine for each voice allows you to do kicks, snares, hats, toms, cymbals, claps, bells, and anything else you could want from an analog-style drum machine. MIDI control of the plugin, from triggering individual notes to switching patterns, involves simply sending notes to the plugin and this system works well.