Sonicware expands its LIVEN series with Bass&Beats, a portable feature-rich groovebox with a wavetable bass synth and a rhythm machine
With the LIVEN series, the young Japanese company Sonicware has a number of interesting compact Synthesizer grooveboxes at the start with unique engines fitting perfectly with the Korg Volcas, Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators, etc. The main differences: the size and the feature density. The LIVEN series are equipped with a lot of synthesis and sequencing power.
The start made the 8bit warps a Synthesizer with a versatile 8-bit engine. Then came the XFM which could convince with the same sequencing capabilities but this time with a modern FM synthesis approach. And for the latest Bass&Beats, Sonicware drives their LIVEN series to the wavetable synthesis world.
Sonicware LIVEN Bass&Beats
The Bass & Beats is the third in the LIVEN group and is a bass Synthesizer and rhythm machine. The bass synth engine consists of two independent wavetable oscillators with 32 different wavetables with unison, a sub-oscillator, and a noise generator with 10 types. The signal then flows in a rich resonant multi-mode filter (LP, HP, BP). The signal flow ends in a multi-effect section with a dimension effect, rapid tremolo (M. Gun), and a distortion unit for extra harmonics.
The wavetable bass engine also has modulation at the start. It offers a single LFO with detailed settings (shape, rate, depth, delay, BPM sync…), a single envelope with configurable curves and pre-delay, as well as two special assign knobs. Each of these can be mapped to any number of parameters. These can act as super macro control for several parameters, which can be very useful for dramatic sound changes in no time.
The wavetable synth has a built-in sidechain compressor that ducks the volume of the bass and the line-in audio. The amount of this effect is variable so you can dial it in to taste or turn it off when it is not needed. It also supports velocity from the sequencer or external devices. There are 64 factory bass presets onboard that cover a wide range of sounds.
The second part is a rhythm machine that is loaded with 150 high-quality rhythm sounds carefully selected for modern and timeless compositions. It uses samples and not synthesis. Not confirmed but it seems like you can’t change the samples, which is a shame.
Each rhythm track consists of 16 individual drum sounds. You can adjust them using different parameters including level, pan, pitch, decay, reverb send… Cool, you can also reverse the playback of the sounds. The engine gives you individual mute and unmute functionality with a single button for each sound. This allows users to introduce drum elements on the fly to build energy and create unique breakdowns.
And with a complete effect section (reverbs, chorus, delay, flanger, bit crusher…), you can refine your tracks.
The built-in sequencer for the bass and drum section (16 sounds) has many of the functions that we already know from LIVEN 8 warps and XFM. Sequences can have up to 64 steps with note length from 1/1 to 1/32, and save in 128 patterns in the internal memory. The sequencer also supports longer note ties, real-time/non-real-time recording and has many creative and workflow enhancer functions. This includes pattern chain function, track copy/paste, pattern copy/paste, transpose, and more.
Sonicware also added to the Bass&Beats sequencer a parameter lock function that allows you to record parameter movements in the sequences. With this, you can craft tracks more lively and varied. Plus, it gives you probably, configurable random playback and stutter.
For such a compact and budget device, the device offers a lot of pro connections right on the interface. You can find a stereo output, headphone out, line in, Pocket operator 2 series compatible sync in/out, MIDI In/out on 5-pin DIN, and a 9V power supply input. Alternatively, you can also run it on 6 AA batteries making it super portable.
At first glance another very “cool” extension for the LIVEN series. I am always impressed to see how many features Dr. Endo packs on such a small device. Other developers can learn something from it. The interface of the unit is very colorful and special. Bit crazy but refreshingly different. I like the Bass & Beats very much and I’m looking forward to the first reactions from the community.
Sonicware LIVEN Bass&Beats is available now for pre-order for $199 USD in a regular version with white keys or with black keys (limited edition). Pre-orders are estimated to ship in February 2022, general sale starts in May 2022.
More information here: Sonicware
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I’ve been super impressed with these so-called budget machines. I backed the original Warps and bought the FM. Both are great machines… With this one, you basically have synth pop band.