Why Apple MainStage’s Auto Sampler Plugin is Flawed

January 22, 2015

Three years ago, Apple acquired Redmatica, the creator of the amazing Auto Sampler app. Today, Apple introduced MainStage 3.1, which includes a new Auto Sampler plugin based on the Redmatica engine. I was lucky in that I still had a copy of AutoSampler purchased before the acquisition. However, I was still excited to discover this new Auto Sampler plugin built into Logic and MainStage. After some experimentation I realized the new Auto Sampler plugin is flawed, and here’s why.
Auto Sampler includes almost all the core features of the original Redmatica software. You’re free to set your range, sampling frequency, sustain time, number of velocity layers, velocity response, looping algorithm, loop points, and one-shot. At first glance, it appears to be a suitable replacement for the original AutoSampler. The awesome penrose machine looping algorithm is even included.
So, you’re free to set the number of velocity layers and a response curve, but there’s no way to specify a custom velocity curve! In the original AutoSampler, it was possible to specify high and low velocities for each layer. This is extremely important if you’re sampling a piece of hardware with specific velocity layers. For example, if you’re sampling a patch with three distinct layers (1 – 56, 57 – 109, 110 – 127), how would you get an authentic representation with Apple’s new Auto Sampler plugin?
Well, there are two ways you could theoretically do this…

  1. Hope one of the preset velocity curves miraculously matches up 100%.
  2. Sample every single layer.

Option #2 happens to be impossible because the max number of velocity layers is set at eight, so you’re left with Option #1. Hopefully the patch your sampling has the same velocity settings as one of the preset curves.
I hope Apple decides to implement custom velocity layers in the future. I understand the need to simplify and streamline tools when necessary, but omitting such a necessary feature just doesn’t make sense. If someone is using a niche and advanced tool like Auto Sampler, chances are he or she has enough technical knowledge to set custom velocities if needed. I think it’s great that Apple has finally integrated auto-sampling into MainStage, but not being able to configure specific velocity layers is a huge drawback.


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