Audio Blast have released what they are calling the “ultimate 303-like sequencer”. I’m not so sure about “ultimate”, but Acid Box is a solid recreation with their own take on the interface. They believe this plug-in is simpler and more instant in a live situation.
We can’t seem to get enough of Roland emulations. There is something about the squelch of a 303, driven by a step sequencer, that has somehow made a home in our sub-conscious. My first reaction to loading up the demo of Acid Box was simply to smile as I wound up the filter cutoff. You can’t help but love it. But what can Audio Blast do to make Acid Box the go-to plug-in for those acid basslines?
Acid Box has 3 ways to play. You can use the internal sequencer synced to the host, or you can use it synced internally, or you can throw it out and sequence via a MIDI input. This also enables you to play the Acid Box from a keyboard. There are 4 banks of 8 patterns that you can load and trigger very easily. Patterns can be up to 64 notes, with banks of 16 being shown in the sequencer section. There’s a distortion section with 4 different distortion types, and a delay with sync and ping pong mode. It’s got all the usual stuff covered.
The layout of the controls is clear, the knobs are obvious and easy to handle. Although it does looks a little dated to me, and not in a fabulously vintage way. The sequencer section is not quite so well defined. It’s all a bit small and fiddly, the colour scheme seems to work against itself. However, all the information is there, readily available and easy to tweak.
There are some places where it gets a bit more interesting. The row of pattern tools at the bottom lets you quickly clear and copy/paste patterns as well as import and export. In amongst these utility functions is a fabulous random button which throws the patterns into chaos. You can select whether you want it to randomise just the notes, or the accents, slides or a combination. This button should be huge with its own section on the GUI! The step-shift and transpose buttons are also very handy. Another cool feature is that you can record steps from a MIDI keyboard in real time, either freely or quantized. So it’s really easy to either deliberately or randomly generate patterns. And then you can route the sequence to a MIDI output for controlling other gear – nice. One thing it would be good to have that feels missing is an indication of where we are in the pattern – there’s no running light.
Overall the functionality of Acid Box is great, with some nice tools without over-complicating the whole deal. I just wish it looked a bit better. Oh, and it sounds pretty brilliant to me.
Acid Box is available now as a plug-in for AU or VST on Mac or PC and can also run standalone. It costs €39.99 and can be sourced from the Audio Blast website.