A month or two ago I got a deal on the Captain Plugins from Mixed in Key. Mixed in Key is perhaps best known for their plugin/application of the same name. They have also produced several other plugins under the Captain name.
For this post I wanted to walk through Captain Beat, which is part of the Captain Plugins series (which includes Captain Chords, Captain Deep, Captain Melody and Captain Play.
Captain Beat is a beat generator. You load it into your DAW, dragging into a MIDI track and the interface loads up like shown above.
Below there’s an example of some patterns that come with it. These beat patterns are grouped by Genre and tagged by BPM:
You can draw in the beats you want, or you can load up one of many different beat patterns. Or modify the patterns in the plugin.
The Basics tab allows for defining each instrument used in each beat element. Meaning that you can substitute different sounds for snaps, kicks, toms, etc. This can be with both the built in sounds. In theory you can drag AIFF/MP3 audios into these elements as well, although that seemed a bit buggy for me.
In the Controls tab (show above), the sound element can be tailored a bit with its attack, hold, decay and pitch. Volume balance and track panning is also available via this tab.
This tab allows for the export of the audio into the DAW. This can be managed in several different ways. The first is via a Channel Audio option. this outputs an audio sample of the given channel (kick, snap, etc.) Drag and drop it into the DAW’s audio layer and it drops right in.
The second option is to drag the channel (kick, snap, clap, etc.) as MIDI to a MIDI track.
The third option is copy out the entire beat pattern as one audio sample. Drag/drop it over to the audio track.
Finally, there’s the option of copying the Master MIDI. In this scenario the entire beat pattern is brought over in one MIDI track pattern. I tend to use this option the most, however if you want to isolate each beat element, you’ll want to use one of the first two.
There’s also an effects tab, which allows for some minor filtering, reverb, and delay. Personally I prefer to handle these elements in Ableton.
There are 4 beat patterns that can be stored in the system. You can of course generate an unlimited amount of beat patterns, but 4 is the amount it can hold for each instance of Captain Beat in the DAW.
These are divided into the categories Verse, Pre-Chrous, Chorus and Drop. These four are common among the Captain plugins and work together. If a Beat Pattern is setup in the Verse tab, that will correspond to the Verse tab in the Chord generator, the Bass generator and so forth.
I found some bugs. For one thing, on my Mac laptop, the left menu won’t scroll using the trackpad. This forces me to use a mouse, and that becomes inconvenient for me.
Another bug I found was that of dragging Ableton audios. While AIF files on the file system could be dragged into a sound element, to replace it, if the audio is part of an Ableton pack it seems it doesn’t load right. I imagine this is a permission problem with the files from Ableton packs. As 90% of my Ableton sounds are from Ableton packs, this becomes a problem.