ShortcircuitThere are a great many VST Instruments and effects available, and a lot of them are free. While there are many paid samplers and some of them are really excellent, free samplers seem to be somewhat hit-and-miss and I had become rather tired of testing them out to find they were unfriendly, didn’t offer many facilities, or were just plain bad.
Shortcircuit changed all this. It is a free VST download for Windows, and has pretty much everything you would need from a sampler – it offers great stability, lots of features and an unbeatable price tag. The modulation matrix that it offers means you can control almost any parameter with just about any other parameter, and with three LFOs and a handful of great effects thrown in (two of which can be applied to each sample), it would be possible to create great music using just it and nothing else.
There are two possible downsides to Shortcircuit (well, three if you’re a Mac user, as it’s not available to you, alas).
Firstly, it has been discontinued – while it is still available for download, it will no longer be supported or developed by its creator, Claes Johansen. Claes is one of the developers of a sequencer called Bitwig Studio, and as a result of this immense effort, Shortcircuit has been left behind, and the planned Shortcircuit 2 was never completed. Having said all that, this isn’t the end of the world – I am yet to find a serious issue with it, other than limitations which I wish weren’t there, but if you take it for what it is, it is excellent.
Secondly, it has a problem in an educational context in that one of the effects in it is named in a profane manner. This could mean that a great tool for learning and music making would be unavailable to those using it in a school, and the Music Technology A Level book contains information to edit the plugin (with Claes’ permission) to alter it to a benign one.
Shortcircuit really is a great tool – I don’t think anyone using a computer to make music should be without a sampler, and it doesn’t get much better than shortcircuit, so pay a visit to vember audio to download it and give it a go.