Resamplr's Sampler: Engine

2018-03-25

Synopsis

Engine is the solution to expensive, dated, and developer unfriendly sampler engines used in music production.

Project Type

ui/ux, desktop app, audio

Timeframe

3 weeks


Work in Progress

This project is still in the works, so please remember that the following is not representative of a final product! Descriptions and fine details may be absent. With that said, take a look.

Yeah, I know the title seems weird. Let me explain: Resamplr is my fledgling audio company. The flagship product is a low-cost sampler, or virtual instrument.

The current industry standard for digital samplers is Kontakt 5 by Native Instruments. If I'm going to be honest, it's not the best thing I've ever used. Sometimes industry standard software stagnates. So what's wrong, and how can we make it better?

What's Wrong?

There are several things things wrong with current solutions. I've summed them up into 3 big points.

  1. They're too expensive. Kontakt costs about $400 just to play things.
  2. They're not developer friendly. Creating a sampled instrument can sometimes feel like programming bank software in COBOL.
  3. User Experience is looked over. This goes for nearly all audio products. A lengthy manual is usually required.

The cool thing about this list is that we just described a target audience.

Who wants it?

No matter how awesome a product is, it needs a user base. Otherwise it won't succeed. Let's take a look at some common user stories based on the problems stated above.

  1. Established User

They want to use Engine in their production work. They already have libraries available to them. They know what sounds they wants to use.

  1. Creative User

They want to find new sample libraries for use in production. They are already in their workstation but need a new sound for a particular section.

  1. Engineer

They are creating a commercial sample library with the help of a recording professional. They are adept at code and prefer programming over GUI.

Engine is more likely to have hobbyist and non-professional users, since its most immediate selling point is the price.

User Flow

Although I often enjoy immediately delving into the design of a product, I find it's best to plan beforehand. To help, I created user flows to compliment each use case.

Wireframes

With the architecture in place, wireframes could start!

Issues

With these wireframes, I drew too much influence from the very product I sought to destroy, Kontakt. I scrapped the entire wireframe direction and tried something different. I needed to structure my wireframes solely around my user flows.

Wireframes Take 2: Hi-Fi Edition

Instead of UI elements everywhere, I decided on a tab system to keep all related elements at hand. This proved to be much more ergonomic. For colors, I kept to the branding I set with Resamplr, and my other plugin Animate.

This tab-based design has a great side-effect: it encourages type User 1 to mingle with the User 2 and 3 types. By displaying more advanced content alongside basic controls, we can slowly introduce a casual user into becoming a creator.

Below, the "section" tab is pictured. This allows users to "group" notes together, and assign a sample to a note.

Create it

Engine is my passion project, and I'm still working on it! This is very much WIP stuff, and I'm still hard at work on wireframes. In the meantime, you can take a look at my messy but somewhat-interesting API proposal. It's not exactly what one would expect to find on a design blog, but here's a link to it anyways.