Wow, here is something fun, this does not look, sound, or play like your typical drum machine. The Zoom ARQ AR-48 Aero Rhythm Trak is a vastly different approach to the concept of a drum machine, in fact it’s not just a drum machine it is full live performance suite in a small inexpensive package, improving upon the original ARQ 48.
Let’s start by talking about the drum machine part first, With the Zoom ARQ AR-48 you get 460 sounds including drums, synths, instruments, and vocals giving you a wide pallet of sounds to get your projects started and keep you inspired.
The ARQ 48 includes a 32 note loop sequencer you don’t have to visualize, you can see it, feel it, play it, you could probably throw it like a Frisbee (but please don’t). Most sequencers let you visualize 8 notes and to go further you need to use a menu to change banks etc… Not so with the ARQ 48, you can see on a ring loop every note and modify your sequences much more dynamically and without having to use cumbersome menus the result is faster workflow and increased creativity.
Interact With The Music
Take a look at most drum machines on the market or that have been produced historically, you’ll find that most of them, with some exceptions, regardless of their sound and features can be boring to use, difficult to navigate, usually have steep learning curves before you can begin to get moving and creating. Not so in this case, The Zoom ARQ series takes the idea of “intuitive” to a never before seen level. As most digital, electronic dance music is produced in a looping manner, it just makes sense to visualize the music in a circular or looping manner rather than the short linear fashion that most drum machines use of a small block eight to sixteen notes long.
Sixteen master effects give you an intense performance edge and pliability.
LPF – low pass filter
HPF – high pass filter
ISOLATOR – narrow band pass filter (useful for remixing and isolating vocals)
LPF + REVERB – low pass filter plus reverb
HPF + REVERB – high pass filter plus reverb
RELEASE – modulation effect
DISTORTION – overdrive
BIT CRUSH – reduce bit creating a crunchy sound or 8 bit sound
GLITTER – re sampled slicer
DELAY + REVERB
The performance pad portion of the drum machine contains 16 color programmable pads so you can assign colors that match your live set and make performance more intuitive. The pads are also velocity sensitive.
Chromatic / Scale Modes
Chromatic playing as well as scale modes give you either a straight forward chromatic way to play notes or select a scale and play notes that only match your desired scale.
The on board arpeggiator can enhance performances and sequences by playing notes in a particular order according to a scale moving in a up or down, random manner. You can shift the octave up and down as well to match the tonality of your track.
Here is something only the Zoom ARQ series provides, they call it the accelerometer ring, it contains the color coded programmable play pads. You can detach it and control effects in real time using motion sequencing, not turning nobs, playing a ring like a Nintendo Wii controller using the 3 axis points, this is completely unique innovation in drum machines.
Import Wav Files
The ARQ 48 can import wav files into it’s synthesizer engine’s oscillator, you not just importing samples you’re making them an internal sound that can be processed just liek the on board drum and synthesizer sounds.
When you’re in the middle of a performance and wish to pickup the accelerometer to begin tweaking effects, you don’t have to worry about accidentally playing a note on the pads because there is built in grip detection to prevent errant notes from being played.
It’s always a challenge for the designers of drum machines to decide what functions should have dedicated buttons and which features need to be accessed via a menu. With the ARQ 48 you get dedicated buttons for recording, play/pause, soloindividual tracks, mute tracks, split , arpeggiator , and to change effects.
You don’t just get an innovative cutting edge drum machine you get Ableton Live lite 9, Ableton is considered by many to be the top software for sequencing live performances and studio creation as well as sound design capabilities. While the full version is not included Ableton Live Lite contains the main bare bones features that most users use and provides you with an upgrade path to get the full version.
SD Card Slot
The on board card slot can store not just sounds but entire songs/sequences that can be triggered via the performance pads.
An external audio input on the ARQ 48 allows you to connect any audio source like you phone, laptop or vinyl records to be sampled or to be manipulated live in real time.
Battery power is an amazing new development in drum machines since you can take the drum machine to places away from any AC power and create beats where you want to. The ARQ 48 can be battery powered via just two AA batteries for up to 8 hours, that is unreal in the world of drum machines how they pulled that off that is a mystery.
Optional Bluetooth Adapter
The “wows” just keep coming, you;d think wit hall of the above features and new innovations they’ve gone far enough but you can also purchase an optional Bluetooth adapter to use the controller wirelessly. What this enables is obvious in terms of performance, fun, lack of entangling wires on your meat making workshop, small bedroom studio.