Grace Sampler VST Plugin
Grace Sampler VST Plugin is now free!
One Small Clue has announced that Grace is now re-released as a freeware virtual instrument.
Grace Sampler was introduced in October last year, as a commercial product priced at $29. Now the full version of Grace Sampler is being offered as a free download on the One Small Clue website, without any feature limitations.
Grace’s user interface is very streamlined and clean looking, sporting a neat silver/blue color scheme that won’t become an eyesore even after several hours of continuous use. The instrument’s structure should look quite familiar to pretty much anyone who’s used a sampler before. It is laid out into four main sections: the patch browser on the left, accompanied by the sample editor, the voice controls and the modulation slots on the right. The sample mapping panel is tucked away in a separate tab, accessible by clicking the “Sample Map” button located right above the sample editor window.
Hovering different parts of the interface displays different visualization aids as an overlay on top of the sample editor window, which is a really cool touch. For example, hovering the mouse pointer over the filter section activates a spectrum analyzer overlay in the sampler editor, whereas hovering over one of the ADSR envelopes shows the envelope diagram.
The workflow is quite possibly the best trait of this wonderfully compact sampler instrument. Following a similar workflow ethic as the one we’ve seen in One Small Clue’s amazing Poise drum sampler, every possible action can be achieved in no more than just a couple of clicks. Building an entirely new preset from scratch is most often done in a matter of minutes. Compared to various more powerful sampler instruments on the market, Grace is an absolute joy to use.
To build a new patch, simply open the mapping panel and drag the samples onto the piano roll. You can also import the samples by loading a SFZ patch. Each imported sample will create a new sample zone and these can be stretched across the keyboard, stacked into velocity layers and tweaked using volume, pan and pitch controls. It is also possible to create multiple sample groups that can be layered together, however round robin is sadly not supported. The lack of round robin support (or random sample playback) is probably the instrument’s biggest drawback at the moment and it would be fantastic if one of the future updates would add this useful option to the plugin’s feature set.
The voice control section features standard sample playback controls, along with two filter slots (2-pole and 4-pole HP/LP/BP filters, a comb filter, ring modulator and a bitcrusher) that can be blended together in a serial or parallel connection, a pair of ADSR envelopes, two LFOs, a pair of rather flexible sequencers and four XY pads. Grace supports poly, mono, legato and latch playback modes. It works exceptionally well for adding portamento to sampled lead sounds. All of the available filter models sound very nice and the comb filter is loads of fun when used with percussive sounds and other short samples, especially if you modulate its frequency by an LFO.
Speaking of modulation, the mod section in Grace is really well thought-out and easy to use, even though it might seem a bit intimidating at first. To set up a modulation connection, pick one of the available modulation slots and then either CTRL + click a knob, or simply drag the outer edge of a knob. A light-blue colored shadow shows the amount of applied modulation. That’s all there is to it! You can also modulate a modulation source by another mod source, or temporarily mute a certain modulation source without deleting its assigned connections. Generally speaking, playing around with modulation slots in Grace is an easy way to add depth and variation to static samples, especially once the two available step sequencers and the XY pads come into play. The step sequencers are very neat, as they can be used to create cool glitched-out noises and even some basic arpeggio patterns.
Although most users will probably take advantage of the instrument’s quick and easy workflow to build their own patches from scratch, it’s worth noting that Grace comes with a fantastic factory library created by WaveShaper. It includes over 400 individual samples, covering electronic drum kits, sound effects, pads, and vintage synthesizer sounds.
The factory pack is distributed as an executable file which will automatically install the presets and samples into the factory patches folder. The quality of the provided sample content is absolute top notch, nothing short of what you’d normally expect to hear in a WaveShaper sample library. It is also a great way to get you started with Grace and to see some of its common features in action.
Grace in action!
Introducing Grace Sampler
Grace Review by BPB