I might be old, but new plugin releases don’t get me very excited anymore. Often it’s just ‘more of the same’ and frankly, hype and marketing. This is why when I read about Scaler 2 being “the next step in working with scales, chords and melodies in your DAW”, I was a bit sceptical. Oh boy, how wrong I was!
Scaler 2 is a (VST/AU/AAX) plugin for composers and producers, which makes it easier working with scales, chords and melodies. I have never used the original version, but according to the developer (Plugin Boutique), Scaler 2 is a major update. The software has been redesigned from the ground up with over 200 new chord sets, hundreds of new scales, lots of new performative features and 30 new instruments.
Scaler 2 is a deep and feature-rich plugin, more than I initially expected. It can be overwhelming at first, so take your time exploring the interface, the manual and the videos.
I think tools like this have different targets; from the inexperienced musician without any music theory background to electronic music producers and songwriters, who are looking for new sources of inspiration. In my opinion, Scaler 2 can be a valuable resource, if not a lifesaver, for all of these target users. Here’s my experience with it…
I’m not a classically trained musician, but I certainly know my way around chords and harmonies. Yet, there are times when I feel stuck, and we all know how frustrating it can be. This is when it’s handy to have a tool like Scaler 2. I mean, it’s not a magic plugin that does the job for you. Yes, v2 comes with tons of ready-made chord sequences you can use with a couple of clicks. That’s great, but it’s not where the magic lies, at least for me.
To me, using Scaler 2 is like having an assistant that can capture and elaborate on my ideas. It starts with the intuitive MIDI/audio detection, where the software basically listens and records my creative output (be it a couple of chords or a longer sequence). After the detection, I can start working with the scales option, and things start getting interesting. Not only I can see and hear different scales, but I also get shown the chords belonging to each scale (with further options for chord types, voicing, etc.) . In short, with a few clicks I am able to visualize and hear harmonic options I wouldn’t have necessarily considered. At that point, I can start trying using these suggestions in the context of my original idea. And that’s where the fun starts.
The new Keys Lock and Melodic expressions features can be a great source of inspiration. Keys Lock helps users to create emotive melodies by locking keys to your chords (consider it a sort of advanced one-finger chord option), while the Melodic expressions (with phrases, arpeggios and rhythm patterns created by real pianists and musicians) bring Scaler way beyond more traditional chord tools.
Let’s say I have a four-chord sequence, and I don’t know what to do with it. It’s not bad, but it’s kind of going nowhere. I can throw those chords in Scaler 2, and in a few clicks, I can get suggestions for related new chords, try different variations, change the chord voicing and grouping, check some modulation options. What’s even better, I can easily create new patterns of chords and see what works. All this (and more) within my DAW, in perfect sync and with the bonus of using Scaler’s own palette of sounds or any other plugin as sound generator (be it a Kontakt library, Alchemy, etc.).
To have a better idea of what I’m talking about, I would recommend watching this in-depth video overview:
Scaler 2 feels powerful and well-designed. In this review, I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do, and I feel like it might become a permanent guest of my DAW template.
It’s relatively easy to use, a constant inspiration source, and it works great with all the other instruments/libraries I have. Plus, it’s got those nifty little touches that make me fall in love with quality software. For instance, how often you get the option for changing fonts and visual theme in a plugin?
Whether you’re just starting composing music or you’re a seasoned producer, I would recommend checking out Scaler 2. Again, it’s not going to magically write a hit or a movie cue for you, but it will make you capable of creating one. Or at the very least, it will help you expand your musical horizons, which for me is something precious.