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.)

beatthang

Pimp my drum machine: Hardware lovers likely won’t accept a virtual software substitute for this – even as a preorder treat.

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:

beatthang_virt

  • 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 Virtual (For Mac & PC)

The Beat Thang Beat Machine [yeah, this is the non-virtual hardware link)

  • Damon

    I like it. Hope it lives up to the promise. Gear that is fun to look at tends to expand my senses when it comes to using it. Like it is more fun talking to a girl you find attractive. And you can tell by the contoured shape and design that it should feel stout and solid. Visually, it kind of grabs my Renoise sense of excitement. Minus the elegance, but clearly businesslike in caricature way. Course, toys that can actually generate quality sounds are probably the best of both worlds, appealing to both one's inner artist and one's inner childlike wonder. Imagine gear designed by Pixar. There could be nothing better.

  • CV!

    Fun to look at?

    as opposed to "nice to look at" maybe?

    Looks like an MPC's fat dwarf cousin, with a skin problem!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, if that's true, I want the skin problem that makes me light up in crazy patterns and glow blue, a la Tron. ;)

  • dyscode.com

    US$149 for a stand alone Software that does nothing different than any other drum software out there. Sorry Sir but I expect something a little bit more.

    So since this does not support ayn Plug-In format, it ONLY use full to the people buying the hardware.

    Oh, and I got BOOM for free with my ProTools 8 that does essntionally the same thing.

    But if the put it (not the player only) on the iPhone for $20 I am in.

  • derrick

    looks more like a toy than anything else to me

  • READYdot

    If you don´t like it, don´t bother commenting. I think that is more than important that such a thing will succeed on the market, to show the big ones how to do it. I´m not saying this thing is the best ever, nor am I saying that it looks like a toy… come on, show me one groovebox that actually looks good… well!? There is none exactly. The software-move can be discussed, but it surely is a possibility market-technical. I wish them all the best with their machine!

  • quantize

    Not to defend this software, which as a stand alone app seems completely pointless to me…but BOOM in Protools 8 is laughably less featured than even this.

    BOOM

    1. cannot import custom samples..

    2. reverse them

    3. add fx etc…

    4. has no waveform display..

    just for a start…so make sure you choose your comparisons well..

  • http://www.myspace.com/minusro MInus

    READYdot, i think the Elektron Machinedrum looks really good.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, right, as software this isn't so interesting – especially since there's a one-to-one translation of the hardware interface.

    I also like how Elektron's stuff looks. I find it amusing how much this looks like the opposite.

  • http://the-beep.de Beep

    So they have the software ready?

    I assume the hardware is just a your standard lo-fi PC running the software than!

    I like hardware to have a character. If this is just a PC-box thing im not into it.

    BUT this is great if you have the gear. You can work on stuff on the road and when youre at home get creative with the hands-on thing and transfer the stuff easy.

    Although the pricetag is a bit high.

  • Eric

    "kidz, don't try this at home"…think he was referring to the stuff on the tray behind the laptop.

    I think it looks great, just as that forbidden-to-mention-thing from germany, wonder why the hype is so big on this mpc, is it beacause of the hip hop adjusted samples or is it the DIY-spirit from the entrepreneurs?

    I find it quite intresting to follow these (p)reviews, they all tend to divide people into corporate loyalty groups, or marketing at its best.

  • Ernie Jackson

    With regards to BOOM – the worst thing is that it doesn't start when when PT8 starts!!

    But please everyone – let people develop their product! Ableton was wack when it started – now look. Can't do without it.

  • Saroyan

    Looks like the kind of musical instrument they'd play in late 1980's science fiction movies. I sort of like that.

  • Damon

    Ok, I'm an optimist. Way cool until proven otherwise.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Damon: Ha! Well, you know, I don't think any of us would get very far with any ideas WITHOUT that attitude. Yay, optimism.

  • http://www.deework.com deework

    like a car tuned for christmas.. but really nothing new that not allready exist..

    nevertheless… nice to see something a little more funky that Akai does… it will sit perfectly in a hiphop video . :)

  • dyscode.com

    @quantize

    hey man, I chose Boom because it is as much as interesting to me as Beat Thang: not at all.

    @READYdot

    "If you don´t like it, don´t bother commenting."

    yes, this is how democracy works.

    You nailed it man! OMG

  • Mallyone

    I'd like to nominate this for "Highest production values in a short film". From the dirty dishes in the sink to the mid-film texting…
    :) .

    I'm with everyone else on this one, it looks nice and I'd like to give it a try, but they don't seem to be busting out of niche with it.

    m1…

  • gwenhwyfaer

    dyscode, maybe READYdot is British. That seems to be exactly how democracy works over here. At least, if you ask New Labour. *sigh*

    The Beat Thang looks a fair bit more interesting to me now they've put some specs up and eased off a bit on the image pounding… but even so, I'm struggling to see how it could justify a $1300 (after release) price tag. Yes, it's portable, has 256MB RAM, has effects built in and has a nice shiny screen, and yes it's a slightly different spin on the MPC idea (with some harking back to the ASR X), and batteries in something a bit beefier than an MPC500 isn't a bad thing… but the thing is, the competition isn't other hardware, is it, now they've released the Virtual?

  • Damon

    I feel vindicated…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, maybe it's the economy or something, but I still think the better idea was that dirt-cheap model they did for Zoom. After all, "lower-end" hardware gives you all the things a computer's not: it's mobile, it's simple, it has a fixed workflow, it's cheap, it's fun, it's not, you know, Maschine or an Ableton drum rack or what have you. It's too bad they didn't find some spot in between. Now I'm tempted to go find the Zoom box just for the heck of it.

  • Lord Toranaga

    concept is great price is too high.

    right now it is vaporware.

    The fact that the put out a "software version" make me believe the hardware will never materialize.

    I hope it does come out, & I hope I can buy one used eventually.

    I have always wanted a more modern version of the ASR-X

  • timmy tanner

    READYdot: I hope they succeed to0…but whats the problem with commenting if you dont like it.. surely thats what comments are for??? To state your opinion>

    Anyway I think its ugly and it makes me wonder how much of the asking price is wasted on pointless decoration. Its only you thats going to be looking at it. Equipment is MEANT to sound good and be useable.

    The video I saw on matrix synth made me laugh.

    'In this vid, we chop up a sample and make a beat within 10 minutes.' Well I can do that in ableton in 1 minute

  • Andreas

    My main focus in this matter is still the way these guys are promoting their product(s). I don't know how you americans see it, but with european eyes they are absolutely hilarious!!! I think they're worth the attention.

    But I'm cool with whatever drummachine that get your juices flowing – mpc, md, 808, spectralis or this shiny blue box.

  • decrepitude

    Aside from the blingy accoutrement, there are some significant features worth pointing out which imo would compete very respectably against the MPC line:

    - 64 gb of streamable content from hi-speed SD memory. That's huge. (The reason I never stuck with the MPC's was the 128mb limit. I'm guessing some DFD-type stuff is happening in the background with short bits of each sample pre-loaded into the 256mb ram.)

    - rechargeable lithium ion battery

    - 16 layers of velocity sensitivity

    - 3.5 inch color video LCD screen

    The marketing hype is a bit funny, but these guys know the demographic all too well. Have you ever been to the MPC forums? Nuff said.

  • J. Phoenix

    If you build a better mousetrap, people will beat a path to your door.

    If you promise a better mousetrap and take people's money in advance for this future mousetrap, they will still beat a path to your door.

    I first found out about the Beat Thang here: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-i

    I always figured the lack of CDM coverage meant you'd read the thread too at some point.

  • corticyte

    looks like a kids toy

    function over form please, and definitely NO BLUE LEDS!!!!!!!!

    :)

  • Pingback: mnlg vs Linn Drum II: The Saga Continues | AvantUrb

  • http://beatkangzbeatthang.com Beat Thang

    I'm waiting for this, I am biased, not because I made it, but because I actually like the idea and want to see it succeed.

    I agree with the article though, I have the virtual, and while it's a dope little program, fun to use, it makes me want the hardware even more!

    I like that I will be able to move everything I do now, over to the hardware. I think this company is going to surprise a lot of people.

    I write about and review gear on various websites, and this one is indeed interesting. I've had a chance to talk to them personally, just trying to get some info behind all the marketing, videos, etc, before I started covering it…and they are indeed a real company, with some serious plans.

    I definitely want to see them succeed, and I am routing for them, but I am a consumer just like the rest, so I can only share what they share with me….unless I can sneak my way into the inner circle :)

    by the way, I am an mpc 4000 user myself, and this thing still gets me excited. I like that it's portable, I like that it runs on a rechargeable batter, and I like that the software and hardware work together.

    The sounds are actually usable, however it's still a sampler so you can do what you want with it.

  • Pingback: PaulWilliamsworld.com » Blog Archive » BeatKangz Beat Thang Drum Machine

  • Reggie

    I think that it has potential depending on the versatility.

    I like that fact that young musician brotha's are creating it.

    I like tha fact that it's compact and can run on a internal battery like a laptop, make beats in the car while the lady shops…Lol.

    I would suggest they check the competitors, see what makes the MPC-1000 so popular with the JJ os

    and Roland SP555 for DJ's with loop & live record simultaneously.

    I would also make it as a VST software to open up in any DAW and integrate, drag samples,loops, patterns, songs in to it from any computer.

    Also it need's to have more individual outputs, 6 minimum, they can even sell an additional connector peace that gives you 6 to 10 outputs with some digital outs & ins as well.

    All and all, it would be worth checking it out when it comes out

  • johny

    this thing is a piece of crap, it aint standalone software, it aint even got midi mapping, or a sequencer edit view. these guys cant even get their coders that work for them to write the code good… this thang is lacking, dont waste your money, and more important, dont waste ur time on this company..

  • Lmano

    How about we not waste our time listing to petty toads who spew baseless garbage and actually read some reviews about the product?

  • johny

    im speaking truth. i got the software, it is trash, i dont use it, beat kangz promised updates that never happened, they promised a lot. that is my review on the product you worthless toad.. dont waste your time or money on this, or you will learn the hard way. read the reviews on future producers. com, or even go to the beat kangz forum and see how many people are unhappy.. lol