Thoughts on Output's 'Arcade'?

Discussion in 'SAMPLE Talk' started by august80, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. august80

    august80 New Member

    Oct 21, 2017
    Hopefully I'm in the right forum category - it seems to fit in the Spectrasonics Stylus RMX family and I guess a "sample library" of sorts.

    Just trying out the demo, curious what others thought. Seems to have a lot of potential for sound design and pulse design. You can pretty quickly turn a straight acoustic sample into something very cool / unique. Sample catalog seems to be absolutely enormous - like maybe too big to really ever get a sense of what's available. Browser tags are not nearly specific enough to narrow results down efficiently.

    The UI seems to be WAY too small - especially for browsing, and keeping track of what is loaded. UI should have an option to be twice as big, especially for people on large high-rez monitors. Also suffers from the usual Omnisphere design style where every feature is on a different page, so you have to constantly be clicking around to go from modulation, to effects, to library. I wish designers would realize a lot of people are high rez monitors, and would prefer multiple programming / fx features on the same page. This is why I like U-He design so much - efficiency speed, and you can see so many parameters in one view: filters, fx, modulation, envelope, etc. I don't need reverb or delay parameters to be a dedicated page that takes up 75% of the UI.

    Although library selection is large, there does seem to be some great content. And definitely like that it allows custom imports. With some improvements this could quite easily replace Stylus RMX for me...which is ancient, although has its uses. As far as I can tell it doesn't allow midi drag and drop like Stylus - still working through manual, but if that feature is missing that's a big miss. Also, FX section seems a little weak; filters aren't great, reverb / delays are a bit meh. Definitely a big point to Stylus RMX, which has a much more extensive FX pallet.

    100 day demo is cool, but do not like the subscription model after demo period. I'm guessing they went with this since the libraries have to be auditioned / downloaded. And with such a big catalog, and because they keep adding to it, they want steady user revenue to keep building that library. I get subscriptions when it's multiple products (eg. Composer Cloud), but not for a single instrument with a pretty narrow purpose. That will probably be a deal breaker for me once demo ends - it will really depend on how aggressive they are with improving overall interface, adding sounds to the library, and whether the quality is sustained.

    Anyway - anyone else trying it out? Again, I think it has potential - just some pretty critical issues I feel need to be addressed.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
    johnbusbymusic, StatKsn and Brueland like this.
  2. StatKsn

    StatKsn Active Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    I used it in one project and I probably spent 7-8 hours of working time with Arcade. Their sample set is unique. A lot of pulsing/single note strumming-ostinato type stuff which totally fills my needs. The average quality of samples and their pace of adding contents is more than good.

    Their stretching engine is quite good as well. Personally I am okay with the browser structure and tagging except that it is too small and pita to scroll (as I need to move the cursor precisely 1-2 points - I am not kidding) causing me a neck pain.

    The biggest downside is performance, namely RAM usage and lag spikes. One instance takes nearly 2GB (1900MB-1950MB or so) with no sample is loaded at all. Something seems to be wrong with Arcade's net code as well; while connecting the GUI freezes, but also the VST occasionally microfreezes the entire PC (Win7 x64). I experience a 10-15 sec long microfreeze when closing the instance too. It almost feels like their net code is Java Runtime...

    I also wish "play the demo" button works quicker since I have to wait 8 sec or so to preview each loop (sometimes it doesn't even work) despite that preview .mp3 is in the local drive. Practically, I had to pre-download everything in order to browse through the content.

    At the end of the day, as much as I like the content, I had to resample each soundsource in order to really use it. I can't add 3-4 instances of Arcade for 8GB just to use 4 or 5 loops pitchshifted. It does have potential but the performance issue is a critical showstopper as it is now.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
    sostenuto likes this.
  3. sostenuto

    sostenuto Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2017
    St George, UT USA
    Many thanks for your detailed comments! Plenty of time before deciding (Sept 20), so will continue to explore and monitor posts here.

    OUTPUT has lots riding on Arcade and I expect they will improve notably before early trial adopters must decide.
  4. Fleer

    Fleer No Method

    Dec 12, 2014
    Well I’ve evolved from interested user to avid fan. It’s a creativity source like no other. Just start playing with it and you won’t stop for hours. Not good for any social relationships you may wish to keep or foster.
  5. lastmessiah

    lastmessiah Member

    Aug 20, 2017
    What exactly is so great about it? It's kind of hard to suss what exactly it is capable of. Output is describing it as a "loop synthesizer" which to me seems kind of ordinary - being able to mangle loops and adjust envelopes and effects is nothing revolutionary, you can do that with anything.
    Quasar likes this.
  6. Fleer

    Fleer No Method

    Dec 12, 2014
    True. Moreover, I’m not a loop kinda guy. So it was quite astonishing to find myself liking it. Loving it. Since then, I don’t see this as a loop engine. It’s a building blocks engine, opening up new musical inroads. So for me it’s a kind of future instrument, to say the least.
    Heck, it works big time.
    Sopranos likes this.
  7. StatKsn

    StatKsn Active Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    At the risk of sounding silly, I think it's better to think Arcade in terms of its loop content and the design aesthetics rather than the functionality. You can say that any sample library is just ordinary because "it is just playing back violin samples and adjust ADSR and stuff" but obviously the sample is what defines them.

    I think Arcade's single note/ostinato/simple riffs centered content is quite unique, and I am saying this as a "loop guy" that has tons of loops (on average, loop packs are more about colorful, heavily processed [wet] rhythmic and melodic loops that contains a lot of characterful chords and scales, which has its use but not very versatile).

    I think the main advantage of Arcade being a standalone VSTi is that you can use it as a quick construction kit browser to get some instant inspiration, and hopefully add some of them as a secret ingredient to the track ("randomize samples" button would be awesome).
    Sopranos, sostenuto and Fleer like this.
  8. curtisschweitzer

    curtisschweitzer New Member

    Loving it, especially after I tried making a few loops sets of my own and found that the engine they've built for it has enormous possibility. Can't wait to do more.
  9. 667

    667 Senior Member

    May 20, 2011
    I subscribe to Noiiz because once you subscribe you can download everything and have a license to use it forever. If your subscription lapses the only thing you lose is the ability to download their new stuff. I like the fact that I'm not locked-in, and the value in that is-- ironically-- why I continue my subscription even though I've practically filled an external drive with their samples.

    Arcade is way, way too restrictive if you cancel. Can't do anything except play back old projects. Unless I'm misreading their website? I can't subscribe to this because I can't risk being locked out of the tool-- playing back old projects not good enough. I guess you're just supposed to re-subscribe if a client asks for edit/change, and $10 for that isn't terrible, but it's still really rubbing me the wrong way. If I subscribed for a year I've paid you $120, I should have something for that.

    Example might be Noiiz, above, in the music world. Or JetBrains programming tools which grant you a fallback license to the version that was live when you bought it (if your subscription lapses, you only lose the latest 'updates' but keep the version you bought initially forever).

    Hopefully Output will figure this out and improve the value. I'd rather pre-pay for 12 months and have something at the end of it than just burn $120 and have nothing but the world's worst rompler.

    That said I haven't tried it yet so maybe it's so great I'll be happy to keep it. I can see everyone in this thread who has used it seems to be really enthused about it. And I know Output and like their stuff. But I really disagree with this model when use is highly variable. For example the stupidest in the world (for me) is Slate subscription. I'm sure it's great if you need to mix something but for the other six months of the year what is the point of having 100 compressors and EQs. This is the same. Great when you want/need these loop based tools, but what if you're just really busy for six months and don't use it much? Again, if there was value left over at the end of the subscription, it would be no problem in this case. "Didn't use it much but still have basic functionality so I'm happy." Right now, you have nothing. This model sucks.

    And I say this as Output fan (bought their bundle so I have everything else they've ever made). Actually this isn't true, they exclude expansions so the latest, "Brass Knuckles", I'd have to pay full price for. But that's a rant for another thread ;)

    I wonder how much of it is legitimately a 'dark pattern' in the sense that it plays on your brain. It's well known that 'fear of loss' is worse than 'fear of not getting'. In other words people make worse, less rational decisions when they fear losing something than if they might get something, risk tolerance changes, etc. I wonder if all of these SAAS services are actually preying on this-- "if you let your subscription lapse you'll lose all this great stuff!" Hmm.

    I'd rather buy Arcade, have it work with samples I import, and then pay for the expansions separately. That would make me really happy actually.
  10. Dr.Quest

    Dr.Quest Senior Member

    Aside from some Ram usage I don't experience any of this. Previews are pretty much right away. Downloads are fast and I don't think I recall any freezes or micro freezes. I am on an older (2011) iMac with only 24G of Ram but have been able to run 4 or 5 instances with no problem.
    I love it and will no doubt continue once the trial period is finished. New content seems to come often enough and I love how easy it is to get variations so it doesn't sound loop based. My fav are the bongos and congas but I've used something from most packs at least once.
  11. LamaRose

    LamaRose Gato Mighty!

    Oct 26, 2015
    Heavy CPU usage on a 2015 13" MBP. Don't recall memory issues on my system - 16gb. Old fashioned I guess and just haven't warmed to the online/interactive content... but I def recommend the trial as it is a pretty cool tool.
    sostenuto likes this.
  12. LinusW

    LinusW Active Member

    Oct 23, 2017
    Kalmar, Sweden
    I did not find it intuitive. I like using loops but it was a bit annoying. It'd be easier to make something fresh out of the loops on my own through audio editing than using the built-in tools.
    Better to spend the cash on smaller sample packs or construction kits if you need something to twist.
  13. sostenuto

    sostenuto Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2017
    St George, UT USA
    No need for me to choose for around 30days. Will wait for any, and all, Output updates first, and may even go for a month or so.
    Monthly pay for stuff like Tidal or Spotify is routine, so subscribe is no big deal here. ;)

    Lotsa fun and creative stimuli so far …..
  14. OP

    august80 New Member

    Oct 21, 2017
    Yep - that is where I'm at now. Virtually every tool for manipulation can be replicated (and done better) with a decent sampler. I'm really finding not much use for it after a couple weeks, but there are some great textures in the library. I would honestly just prefer to pay a yearly subscription for the sound library, kind of like Samplephonics Noiiz; grab what I want and discard the instrument. They seriously need to completely revise the interface (and memory footprint!) for it to be a user friendly addition. Amazingly, 15 years later, Stylus RMX still got so much shit right when it comes to loop-type instruments that it's still entirely useful in 2018. Arcade has just made me realize how much I want Spectrasonics to update RMX with audio import, more extensive file format support and waveform view / edit.

    I do think Output makes some cool products, but this one needs some **serious** work. I would actually love Output to partner with someone like New Sonic Arts...their sampler / slice instruments (Nuance, Granite, Vice) are pretty innovative, have good UI, and are very snappy / efficient. Would love to have access to Arcade library with their sampler products.
    LinusW and sostenuto like this.
  15. StatKsn

    StatKsn Active Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Stylus RMX is still pretty good for rhythmic stuff. I am not using that much anymore as its GUI response is a bit heavy for my taste for a loop sampler and it doesn't do what I want to do (real-time pitchshifting and multichord) but it comes with a crazy good chaos engine.

    Speaking of Arcade, I already talked about this in the other thread, but I am a little perplexed that there is no "copy settings to the other layer" function. Basically I have to manually edit ADSR for every key. Also Arcade engine does support real-time pitchshifting, but you can't really automate it in an intuitive way. This and that essentially makes it impossible to make a progression/chord out of single note loops, so I just resample stuff, not using Arcade in the project as of now.
    august80 likes this.
  16. SoNowWhat?

    SoNowWhat? realised I can type here

    Jul 26, 2016 to me about these...ahh, social relationship thingys. ???
  17. Fleer

    Fleer No Method

    Dec 12, 2014
    They’re highly overrated o_O
    SoNowWhat? likes this.
  18. I haven't tried it but it bothers me that they call it a "loop synthesizer" when it just plays back samples.

    Output are always trying to describe their products as something "bigger" than they actually are. Like Exhale being a "Vocal engine" - like, wtf is an "engine" anyway? It's all marketing mumbo jumbo and it rubs me the wrong way.

    This coming from a guy who has all of Outputs products. But I will never get Arcade because it's a subscription service.
  19. brenneisen

    brenneisen Member

    Feb 23, 2017
    just millennial kids being what they are, Simon
  20. 5Lives

    5Lives Senior Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    I personally don't think it is that good. As others have mentioned, pity that it is a subscription service - but that's not my main issue since you can still keep stuff you've used in projects (somewhat similar to Splice, etc) and you can keep their sample player. I just don't think the loops or the sample player are that good though. The play has limited functionality and hard to really use IMO compared to something like Maschine or even Serato Sampler.

    I found it better to subscribe to something like Slice, mash up loops in your DAW and with something like Maschine or Logic's sampler, etc.

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