Review of Motors by Umlaut Audio


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Review of Motors by Umlaut Audio

Motors by Umlaut Audio is a tool specifically designed to generate rhythmic pulses quickly and easily, improving the workflow of media composers. With its dual-layered engine, random source button, and layer offset function (along with dozens of other parameters to tweak), Motors offers a lot of ways to combine and sculpt your sounds, providing a seemingly infinite well of inspiration and ideas for adding modern and experimental motion to your music.

Motors sells for $99.00 from Umlaut Audio


Motors demonstrates a very efficient use of space in its user interface. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your outlook. For some, it can be a bit overwhelming to look at on first glance. There are lots of small knobs and some buttons that don’t look like they would be clickable. However after some time diving in, the controls become a lot less intimidating.

Motors’ one and only control panel tab has a lot going on. The top half is dedicated to the dual layer setup. Blue controls on the left edit layer 1, and red controls on the right affect layer 2. If you click the “Layer Link” button in the center, then from that point on any changes you make will be mirrored on both sides. The circle in the center is a knob that crossfades the volume between the two sources. Also in the center is a randomizer button that changes the sources, but preserves all the other adjustments you’ve made, and a Layer Region link button. By default, any key you press in the blue region will also trigger in the red and vice versa, but this can be turned off so you can play different notes on the different layers.

Each source has controls for pan, volume, attack, release, a fully functional filter, some delay and reverb sends, and the “layer offset” feature, which slides the different loops to the right by a specified amount, allowing for rhythmic variation. You can also use keyswitches to change the speed of the each source. There is a quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note variation of each loop, and you can change between them on the fly thanks to the keyswitches.

The bottom half of the interface is a simple FX rack. Each layer has its own independent effects, or a global option if you want them to apply to both sides. The individual effects include EQ, Tape Saturation, Distortion, Lofo, Transient Shaper, Compressor, and Modulation. The sends include two different delays, and two convolution reverbs.

Clicking the small “Mod” button on the right reveals 3 different modulators. There are 3 slots, and each one can be either an LFO, Envelope, or Step Sequencer. The picture above shows all three. They are fairly rudimentary in functionality. The envelope has a full set of ADSR knobs, a velocity knob, and a target. For the LFO you have Rate, phase, fade-in, waveform, and target/amount controls. Finall the step sequencer allows you to vary the amount of steps and the rate, as well as amount and target. The targets on all 3 can be set to Pan, Tune, Cutoff, or Resonance. That is both global or layer-specific. Finally, in this area you can activate input quantization to make sure all of your notes are perfectly in time if playing live. The “Legato Variation” function will let make the instrument monophonic, allowing for note changes in the middle of a pattern without retriggering the loop.

The Sound:
With a total of 80 loops/sound sources, there is a huge variety in this library. All sources are labeled either “Organic” or “Processed”, so you can get an idea of what kind of sound you might get when you pick one. Organic sounds are things like mallet hits or string staccatos – anything you could record in real life. The processed sounds are mutilated and electronic in nature. You can get some fun results by setting up effects and filters, then using the randomizer to shuffle your sound sources.

Umlaut Audio was kind enough to pack in over 140 presets which are curated as either “Clean”, “Complex”, or “Experimental”. These are great starting points, though I often found myself immediately turning off all of the reverbs, as they are somewhat muddy. The processed sound sources are definitely the more interesting route to take in this product, as they seem to modernize any music they touch. Of course with so much variety packed into a small library, none of the sounds are incredibly detailed or deep sampled – but they don’t need to be. The magic of Motors comes from the rhythm engine and many sources of modulation. The raw sound sources are simply a starting point from which you create new and edgy sounds. This library is without a doubt a great tool for composers who need to write a lot of music by creating inspiring loops and pulses to build tracks around.


Umlaut Motors is a 2-layer pulse designer with 80 sound sources, 13 types of filters, and 9 types of effects. There are over 140 presets built in, and the entire library takes up only 1.22gb of drive space installed. Motors requires the full retail version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher

Motors sells for $99.00 from Umlaut Audio

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