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Plugin Review: Waves CR8 Sampler

Waves' CR8 Sampler brings a whole new level of functionality and creative potential to the world of samplers, and does it all with more elegancy and style than any of its competitors.

Every DAW on the market comes with a stock sampler that's at least good enough to handle whatever sample-flipping or sound manipulation job that you need to do. So do you really need another sampler? Probably not, unless of course the new alternative offers miles more functionality, elegance, and ease of use; all of which Waves' new budget sampler, the CR8 Sampler, delivers in spades.

So let's dive into what's most exciting about Waves' latest and most cost effective production tool...

A Topdown Look At The CR8 Sampler

Waves CR8 Sampler

The sampler

Having relied on Ableton's stock sampler for the last decade of my career, I'm used to having powerful features tucked away in innumerable menus and feature tabs. But just looking at the UI of the CR8 Sampler shows all of its most powerful features and parameters all in one place.

Here you'll see a lot of the commonplace features that every sampler have. You have your crossfades, regions, ADSR envelopes, filters, and more. But you also be able to access the plugins more powerful features as well, like the sequencers and warping, from the same panels. We'll dive into there features a bit later, but what's most important right now is their ease of access and manipulation (a feature that has long frustrated me about more conventional samplers).

My Favorite Feature Of The CR8 Sampler

Waves CR8 Sampler

The offset parameter allows for some truly creative sampling options

Creating textural sound-beds and glitched-out ear-candy elements are the two things that I most commonly reach for samplers for. Combing a sample for interesting artifacts, similar to granular synthesis, and further affecting the result of the sampler playhead as it combs through the audio yields results that have become monumental to what I consider "my sound."

 Which makes the fact that, until CR8 came into my life, I couldn't automate or map Ableton's sample start parameter to macro knobs or automation lanes. My workaround involved some tricks with Omnisphere, but that seems incredibly clunky now that CR8 allows me to do all of this and more through the sample offset in only a few clicks and with a lot less tax on my CPU.

CR8 Keeps Things In Time

Waves CR8 Sampler

Warping algorithms are power ways to keep your samples sounding natural

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DAWs offer some powerful warping modes that allow you to affect and stretch the audio in creative ways, and it boggles me that those warping modes rarely transfer into the DAWs samplers. But the CR8 offers five different warping algorithms that all affect the sample times, artifacts, and more.

This gives you plenty of flexibility when playing harmonically-rich instruments across various octaves while also allowing more transient-heavy instruments like drums or plucks to maintain their crisp punch.

Overall, this is a great quality of life feature in this sampler that I really wish more plugins offered. 

Mixing And Layering With The CR8

Waves CR8 Sampler

CR8's mixer allow for complex stacking of whichever sounds you choose

While this is by no means a make-or-break feature, this sampler's easy-to-use mixer was a pleasant surprise to see. Whether you're looking to stack a few synths and shots to creative a wild and unique lead instrument, or simply looking to layer a few string or pad sounds together to creative a thick and evolving harmony patch, this sampler does it all.

Being able to independently modulate each layer, pan the separate sounds, and more is one of the reasons why this plugin might become my go-to sampling tool. 

It's all about the little things in life.

Final Thoughts On Waves' CR8 Sampler

This piece of gear should definitely be on everyone's radar; full stop. 

For only $10, this sampler offers more quality of life features and functionality than many of its more expensive competitors. Plus the fact that the color scheme of the UI is very easy on the eyes!

As an added bonus, CR8 also comes with Waves' free Cosmos plugin which comes with over two gigabytes of royalty-free samplers to help bolster your sample library and for you to start manipulating right away.

Learn more about this powerful sampler on their website here

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