SampleTank update – major update for IK Multimedia’s sample-based virtual instrument

Download from iTunes App StoreSampleTank logoWith RAM at a bit of a premium in older iOS hardware, the iPad or iPhone is perhaps not the platform to expect the most sophisticated of sample-based instruments to exist. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of iOS music app developers from trying to squeeze as much performance out of the hardware as is possible.

IK Multimedia’s SampleTank is an excellent example; as a diverse source of sample-based instrument sounds, it does a very respectable job. The app was originally four-part multi-timbral and can easily be expanded with a set of very useable IAP add-on sounds. It also includes some very useful MIDI performance phrases.

SampleTank v.2.0.0 - a significant update to the app including a redesign of elements of the UI.

SampleTank v.2.0.0 – a significant update to the app including a redesign of elements of the UI.

Anyway, while the app was already a very good workhorse soundset, a significant update appeared on the App Store over the week-end as the app moved to v.2.0.0. There are a number of notable changes with this version, however, perhaps the highlight new feature is that SampleTank is now 8-part multi-timbral rather than 4-part. This is a significant change and means that a single instance of the app could easily be used for all your sample-based sound needs within a project.

There are some excellent IAPs with additional sounds within SampleTank including the Miroslav Philharmonik orchestral library.

There are some excellent IAPs with additional sounds within SampleTank including the Miroslav Philharmonik orchestral library.

This change is undoubtedly one of the reasons behind one of the further changes; a fairly substantial overhaul of the UI in the main screen of the app. While the previous graphical styling is retained (so the app does feel familiar for existing users), there has been a spruce up and some layout tweaks. This includes a new strip of buttons/tabs located towards the top of the screen that allows you to toggle between the eight different instrument slots. Tapping on any one of these then allows you to select the sound used within that slot. When used in a multi-timbral fashion, each of the eight sounds responds to a different MIDI channel and you can, from the ‘Live Pads’ screen, configure these (and other details) to suit your needs.

The 'live' mode provides a more performance -orientated means of interacting with SampleTank.

The ‘live’ mode provides a more performance -orientated means of interacting with SampleTank.

There are also changes under the hood and I suspect this is actually where most of the work has been done by IKM. In this version of the iOS app, the underlying sound engine from the desktop version of SampleTank 3 has, apparently, been ported over. I’ve only had a chance to spend a little time with the update – and it does sound great – but I’ve not been able to A/B the previous version with the new one in any great detail as yet. In this regard, however, the bottom line is the instruments within the new version of the app do sound very good indeed. There are plenty of sounds included within the base app and amongst the various IAPs that I’d be more than happy enough to use in a number of different musical contexts. As a palate of sounds for live work or for general composing/writing duties SampleTank is a great tool.

The other thing worth noting, however, is that the list of supported iOS hardware has also been updated. While iOS8.0 or later are fine, the hardware list is very much 64-bit. Given the comments below from a couple of readers, I suspect the engine improvements now mean the app is 64-bit only (unfortunately, I don’t now have access to suitable hardware to test this for myself). It would be helpful to existing users to see this stated a little more explicitly in the app’s App Store description….

The app includes both virtual keyboard options and drum trigger pads.

The app includes both virtual keyboard options and drum trigger pads.

That said, if you do have suitable hardware, as a general source of very respectable sounds covering almost all types of musical instruments, SampleTank is good value for money (the base app is currently listed at UK£14.99/US$19.99) and the new version seems very solid in operation. I had no problems with the Audiobus or IAA support in Audiobus, AUM or Cubasis.

The sounds themselves are a considerable step up from some of the General MIDI or SoundFont-based sound sources that also offer multi-timbral playback and, now apparently using the same sample engine as it’s big brother on the desktop, in an iOS context, it is most certainly one of the best all-round sample-based sound sets you can get. I’m a regular SampleTank user and it sits in my own personal ‘core set’ of apps on my iPad Pro. IKM also have a number of the addition IAP soundsets available so you can easily expand on the core sound set if you wish.

Anyway, this is a very good update from IKM that adds to the capabilities of the app and, while the loss of support for older hardware is going to disappoint some existing users (who will have to keep running the previous release), I can understand why IKM might have felt this necessary to bring the sound engine up-to-date and fully capitalise of the processing offered by 64-bit systems….

You can check out the original SampleTank review here and while this update contains lots of useful additions, the core functionality remains intact. However, the two videos from IKM embedded below demonstrate some of the new features including the ‘live’ mode features that demonstrates some of the ways you can use the multi-timbral capabilities in a live performance setting.


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    1. I get a ‘ sample tank not compatible with is iPad’ message on iPad 4 retina with ios 9.3.4 when attempting to install the update on a purchased version.

      • synfiniti says:

        Does this mean SampleTank v2.0 is now a 64-bit only app, not compatible with older iPads?

        • yes, it is 64 Bit only. Version 2.0 also breaks Audiobus and IAA compatibility, so for now, if you rely on these technologies, you might be better off not updating anyway.

          • Hi All…. the list of supported hardware on the App Store goes from iPhone 5S, iPad Air 1 and iPod Touch (6th gen) upwards so, yes, that does suggest that the app is now 64-bit only (unfortunately, I’ve now only got 64-bit hardware available to me at this end so can’t check for myself).
            However, I’m having no problems with either the Audiobus or IAA support…. the new versions seems to work fine for me via both routes using Audiobus, AUM or Cubasis…. Best wishes, John

          • Breaks AB and IAA? This is seriously irritating. If they can’t be bothered to include support two such vital things, I’d rather they didn’t update. Without AB and IAA, the app is effectively useless to me; an investment rendered down to a bunch of nice sounds that don’t go anywhere. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

            • Hi Nathan…. I’d be interested to hear from other users on this…. because, at this end at least, both AB and IAA are working absolutely fine….. best wishes, John

            • Yes, I don’t know where the original info came from, but it seems to have been misleading. The apps does still work for me under AudioBus, and as IAA. So, happy days are here again.

    2. My in app purchase of the sonic synth library isn’t reinstalling after trying three times.
      Good thing I only tried it as a test on my phone and not on my iPad.

      • Hi Daniel… I managed to restore a couple of IAPs without any problems…. Hope you have resolved this now? best wishes, John

        • I’ll keep trying again later. It says they have been restored, the sonic synth library says it’s been installed, but none of the sounds are anywhere to be found.

          • Ok. It was my mistake that I thought my IAPs were gone. On the iPhone you have to swipe a few screens around to change library. If I updated it on my iPad I would have seen the library selector right away…

    3. I’m very disappointed. Does’t work with iPad 4.

    4. Hi all. Luckily for me I have an I pad pro. Sampletank, the new version is running fine as an iap using Cubasis and Garageband. I have not tried audiobus, but Sampletank 2 is crashing now and again in standalone, mostly in the song creation mode. The live mode seems more stable but does still crrash now and again. I did get a bit heavy with it trying loads of different instruments, loading things very quickly in rapid order, which did send it into a spin . Also this is a big download, so you need space. I have only bought the drum pack from the pro packs, they sound great so far. Drums really do my head in and so far nothing has managed to get me into drum heaven, sometimes I really wish that the loops were more minimal, more Ringo and less busy shall we say. ( That applies to all drum apps/loops) But, there is some reggae to be had in the Sampletank drums. I shall try Sampletank with audiobus later.

    5. Hello all. Does this new update include audiopaste/audiocopy? I can’t seem to export to Cubasis. Can anyone help?

    6. Hi. Just an update. I have just been using Sampletank with audiobus for the last 45 mins with no issues to report. Sampletank has not crashed out once. It may be that they IK are ironing out some problems with the new version. Who knows?

      Did I miss something????!!!????
      Can someone help?

    8. Shame it will no longer work on iPad 4. Then again, maybe this is the excuse I needed to upgrade to a shiny new model… :) Does anyone know if the string samples sound any better with this new 64-bit SampleTank 3-based engine? I have the Miroslav IAP – any improvements there?

      • airmanchairman says:

        Today’s 2.0.3 update restores 32-bit support and includes several older iOS devices, excluding the iPhone 4S; the accompanying notes do not mention the iPad 3 as compatible, but I can report that it is happily downloading to my device where the earlier versions 2.01 and 2.02 threw an error and stopped the download. My iPhome 5 has also successfully downloaded this lates update, as the notes said it would.

        Good news all round; I always felt the sudden unannounced dropping of 32-bit support was a bit too premature, as the user base for this app is probably large and mostly in older devices.

    9. Big makeover and no AU support?

      • Hi Joaven…. I’m not so surprised at this point…. The SampleTank interface is a pretty sophisticated affair…. It would require some considerable re-working in order to ‘fit’ within the size of the AU sub-windows offered in the likes of AUM or Cubasis at present…. I think a lot of developers who have apps with more complex user interfaces will be playing a bit more ‘wait and see’ in the hope that the iOSAU format becomes a bit more flexible in the sort term before they take the plunge and invest the time required to re-work their apps. Unless Apple manage to totally mess up the AU protocol under iOS though, it has got to be the direction things go in…. Best wishes, John

        • I doubt too many ipads could handle multiple instances of Sampletank anyway. IK upped to output from four to eight so thats pretty big! But people love to complain about what it cant do. :( Works wonderfully on my ipad mini 2.

    10. A request for IKM (if you’re reading this): it would be awesome if owners of iElectric and iGrand could access their high-quality samples from sampletank. Can we expect this to happen?
      …oh, and another thing: pleeeeease add AU support

      • Does anybody know if the SampleTank pro Pianos are the same as in iGrand? Sampletank would have the chance to become a Masterkey Software, if some of he 8 Parts could be routed to external Midisources.

    11. Yes please, another vote for AU support now!

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