You’ve got to respect BeatKangz: here’s an independent company doing something new in the world of hardware drum machines. Their design is blinged out like crazy, the polar opposite of a minimalist MachineDrum, but with easy access to the controls you need. It’s a box that has personality in a world of gear that often doesn’t. The team has at least some experience, too, having made the SB-246 drum machine for Zoom. (Okay, I hadn’t heard of it before, but it looks like a fun toy for about $200. Here’s a video review.)
I have to say I’ve done a pretty terrible job of covering their upcoming Beat Thang, mostly because, well, I just don’t know anything about it, beyond seeing the videos everyone else had. (And yes, I’ve heard the complaints about the fact that I haven’t been covering it.) So I’ve been waiting for some news about the actual hardware shipping.
Unfortunately, the shipping gear isn’t here just yet. The good news is, Beat Thang hardware is now promised for October, with a pre-sales price of US$999. The bad news is, for now you’ll have to live with a “virtual” software edition. What looks like a very cool hardware interface gets translated directly to the screen – where it just doesn’t make as much sense to me. It may just make you want the hardware all the more. (Full disclosure: I’m biased. I’ve never been a fan of software that emulates hardware. Even less so when you have the actual hardware to look forward to.) It could be really useful to someone who owns the hardware – if you’re on a bus with your laptop and can’t grab your hardware BeatThang. For hardware lovers, though, it’s a bit of a tease.
Still, if you’re starved for BeatKangz news, at least this gives you more of an idea of what to look forward to – and the workflow features look impressive indeed. My guess is they’ll use software sales to fund production. If you’re already committed to this concept, your US$149 spent on the software gets you a $149 off coupon on the final hardware – nice idea.
Feature set details from the company:
- One octave pad layout with 8 banks so you can bang out beats or play the keys.
- 16 tracks so you can create patterns that can be performed and remixed on the fly.
- 16 layers of velocity sensitivity for emotive performance.
High Quality Sampler & waveform editing. Sample your own sounds using your computer’s built in mic or line input.
- Edit sample start and end times. Process samples using features like normalize, reverse and resample.
- Easy to use Realtime Sequencer. Create patterns in real time using quantize, swing, individual bar lengths, tap tempo then string them together in SONG mode.
- Mixer with built in FX Change track, pad and pan levels.
Add 24bit reverb, delay, flange, phaser, pitch shift, old record and many more.
- Add BANG with onboard mastering.
- Export your songs as .wav files or save them to your Beat Kangz Playa Thang equipped iPhone or iPod Touch.
I’ll say this: I’m intrigued. These guys may in fact find a sweet spot between the software drum machine capabilities out there and hardware, in a freestanding unit that doesn’t require a computer. So, while I doubt the software will satisfy impatient drum machine fans, we’ll know soon enough if the hardware is something special.
The Beat Thang Beat Machine [yeah, this is the non-virtual hardware link)