For making BT-style beats, I don’t think there’s anything out there that competes.
Pros – Immediate and yet with endless possibilities
Cons – No swing capability
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Breaktweaker is the second collaboration child of BT and iZotope. Running on the heels of the successful Stutter Edit, this is an evolution of sorts.
Breaktweaker is a 6 channel drum sequencer, combined with ‘isometric’ polyrhythm creation, and the signature BT micro edit function coupled with an assortment of other effects.
You’re provided with a large bank of samples and presets to get you started, separated into usual genres of dubstep, electro, minimal etc. All useful sounding stuff. Once a set is loaded up, the 6 notes up from C1 will play each channel as a one-shot sampler. From C2 up for 2 octaves, each midi note will trigger a sequence saved to the preset. Simple, intuitive and clever. If you want to tweak the sounds, you can load up single sounds to each channel, and a click opens up a window enabling you to alter the layering of sample and (fairly powerful) synth. You can also load and layer your own combination of samples and synth into each channel, which is killer. Each channel can be muted, soloed, panned and faded, with the output going to a sum, or separately.
The sequencer GUI is a 6 channel grid to bar division of the host DAW. A mouse click will set a note; you can then pull it up and down for volume, and stretch it from left to right. From there, you can apply the micro editing to the hit that you’ve selected.
The sequencer is set to 2 bars, but you can incrementally (bar divisions) lessen the exact length of each sequence with a slider running under every channel. This is compounded by the fact that you can change the playback speed of each channel from a third to 3 times the speed, thus creating the isorhythms that can potentially sound amazing, but unless you’re careful end up sounding like a complete mess!
ST st st stuttermachine
The micro edit engine is hallmark BT. His typically clinical slicing technique has been made available to every single note that is laid down in the sequence. Dragging the mouse round in the window that opens up when you select a note, will get you headed in the direction of bouncing and stuttering sounds that you hear in most of BT’s music. And if that’s the sound that you’re looking for, then this is really the absolute best way to get it. It’s so easy to create really good sounding stutters, that can be sliced by division all the way up to a ridiculous triplet 1/1024th of a beat. There are different parameters to play with – slope, pan, determining whether the slicing will affect the time in hz or beat divisions, pitch or speed. There are different curves – from the BT bouncy stutter, to straight sine wave, or completely random slice lengths. On top of that, you can control the fade – in or out, and you can add an effect from a selection of bit crushers, aliasing, distortion, etc.
This engine, combined with the isorhythmic length changing, and the sample/synth layering are really to me the strengths of Breaktweaker. For further instructionalism, here’s a brilliantly over the top video explaining Breaktweaker’s potential:
I loved the simplicity of Breaktweaker. I thought that the immediacy of creating beats, and mangling them BT-style was very attractive, and kept me entertained for a long time. For making those kinds of beats, I don’t think there’s anything out there that competes. I loved the layering of samples and synth, that really expands the sonic potentials for your rhythms to limitless. However, I was a little disappointed with the lack of one simple element that I really think iZotope should work on for future iterations. There is NO swing capability. I’m sure it’s to do with the complexities of the Microedit engine, but sometimes you really need some swing to capture groove. A small but necessary element that makes a little dent in the otherwise excellent (albeit pricey) Breaktweaker.
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About The Author
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.
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