top of page

Algonaut Atlas 2: AI Sample Manager and Drum Machine Plugin

As musicians, we're often looking for new sounds to incorporate into our repertoire, collecting massive libraries without taking full advantage of them. It's easy to accumulate more files than we know what to do with. Samples get stashed away and abandoned over time. If sorting through sample libraries feels like a chore, Algonaut's Atlas 2 could be the perfect solution for you.

Atlas 2 uses artificial intelligence to match similar percussive sounds in your collection and make it easier to sort through them. Select sample library folders from your hard drive and Atlas will detect the timbre for each audio file, grouping them together in point cloud clusters.

Owning a big sample library isn't a prerequisite though. The software includes 1500 drums samples to start with. To expand your existing sample library collection, check out sites like Splice and ADSR Sounds.

In this article we'll provide a general overview of Atlas 2 and how it compares XLN's XO plugin. You'll also get a peek at one of Algonaut's other innovative AI projects, CosmBot, designed to streamline access to Ableton tutorials with an artificially intelligent clone of music producer Tom Cosm's mind.

Building and exploring sample maps in Atlas 2

Once you've downloaded the free trial of Atlas 2 and scan your sample libraries, you'll be able to start navigating the maps. There are several ways to listen to your samples on the map. You can click on individual nodes, use the WASD keys to navigate up-left-down-right and play automatically, or switch on hover mode and use your mouse to review the sounds rapidly.

Earth Mode: This view of the Atlas is set to a grid with larger circles. Hovering over the samples is easier this way because the surface area of each dot is bigger.

Galaxy Mode: The galaxy view positions samples closer or farther to one another based on their similarity. Within a snare collection, deeper tones will be in one section and high pitched snares in another.

When uploading your sample libraries, indicate the file types you want to use. All the major extensions are supported, including wav, aif/aiff, FLAC, MP3, and OGG. You have the option to import drum sounds only, with the help of the app's AI.

Once your map has rendered, Atlas 2 offers a 16-pad drum rack with preset assignments for each trigger. As you generate new kits, a collection of samples will be swapped in for the previous sound. Snares are replaced by new snares, hi hats with new hi hats, and so forth.

As you find instrument pairs that work together, you can lock those in and target specific pads that you want to swap out. If cycling randomly through your sounds isn't delivering the results you want, scan your map manually to find the samples you want. The visual layout is far more intuitive than your computer's file folders.

The Atlas 2 drum sequencer

The Atlas 2 sequencer sits alongside your drum rack. Each row in the 16-step grid corresponds to one of the samples in your kit. Above the sequencer you'll find some basic controls for playback and tempo, including a tap-tempo feature for detecting the BPM.

Adding triggers to the Sequencer

To get started with programming your beats, click and drag along a channel to add or remove triggers from the sequence. A mirror edit feature is located just below this area; you can use it to select increments for automatically adding notes. The number "2" will add the same trigger will be added every 2 beats. Expand the length of the sequence to 8 or 16 beats to support longer increments.

You can similarly change the number of steps from 16 to 32, with the option for triplet subdivisions. To give the beat a more human feel, turn the shuffle dial until it falls into the pocket.

As you create sequences you like, save them to the library and you'll be able to easily retrieve them at a later time using the new sequence button. If the sequence is close to what you were looking for, you can use the variation option to add subtle changes, or pull out the big guns with random chaos to generate something completely different.

The Atlas 2 sequencer also supports polyrhythms on a per-channel basis. For example, your sequence might have 16 steps, but you can scale back individual channels to smaller subdivisions. This usually works best with subtler sounds like hi hats, where odd-meter patterns won't disrupt the overall groove and time signature of the sequence (compared to a kick drum, for instance).

Isolating individual channels to adjust values

When you click on an individual channel name, the sequencer expands vertically to expose more options. You can mute or solo a channel, make changes to the velocity of individual steps, and nudge the timing for the notes to align with the rest of the sequence. Cut, copy, and paste these values onto other channels, or use the variation/random chaos features mentioned earlier for the channel values.

Each drum pad includes a sample panel with controls for panning, filters, delay, gain, shape, and pitch. These preferences can be favorited and recalled at a later time. Atlas 2.3 introduced additional controls for modulation, shown below.

Advanced sample controls
Atlas 2.3: Advanced sample controls for modulation

Syncing Atlas 2 with your DAW and export MIDI/Audio

Atlas 2 plays nicely with most digital audio workstations and sequencers like the Ableton Push and Launchpad Pro MK3. In your audio/MIDI settings, select a device from the Active MIDI inputs list and you'll be able to use it directly within Atlas.

Once a sequence is ready, export the full mix or individual stems as MIDI or Audio. The active channels with trigger information will be selected by default. Unused channels are omitted unless you deliberately include them.

For audio exporting, click on normalize to bring all of your samples up to the same volume level. Be sure to indicate whether you want to export a loop or the full sample with tail. From there, click render and drag the final audio to your DAW or a folder on your hard drive.

XLN Audio's XO: Alternative to Atlas 2

XO by XLN audio is the main competitor product to Atlas 2. The video above outlines the difference between these two sample sorting apps. It was published in 2023, so the feature comparisons are up to date.

Both applications organize your samples into point cloud maps, but XO provides only one map. As we mentioned earlier, Atlas 2 supports the option to create and save multiple maps. This allows you to build sound worlds around different libraries and potentially navigate through them more efficiently than with XO.

The design of each product's sequencer is quite different. You'll get a maximum of 8 tracks to work with in XO compared to the max of 64 pads in Atlas 2's drum rack. To be fair, most beats don't call for 64 samples but it's nice to have the option to add as many as you need without being limited by the plugin.

Atlas 2 offers a greater variety of sounds in their preset libraries, including bass plucks and one-shots with a more musical quality. These have been woven into the loop library, making for a diverse collection of sounds.

As of June 2023, both apps offer free trials followed by a one-time purchase. XO costs $129.99 and Atlas 2 costs $99.99. If we're comparing XO and Atlas 2 strictly by their feature sets, Atlas easily comes out on top.

Cosm Bot: Algonaut's new AI music instructor

CosmBot Interface

In June 2023, Atlas's developer Matt Weir released his first ever AI music instructor, Cosm Bot, as a free browser application.

The Cosm Bot model was trained for exclusively on tutorial content from YouTube influencer Tom Cosm. Tom is an Ableton certified trainer with over 10 years experience teaching and 780+ tutorial videos. Some of his content extends for more than eight hours!

Browsing a catalog of this size would normally feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. If the answer you're looking for wasn't baked into the video title or description, you might have a hard time finding it.

With Cosm bot, users simply type in a music production question and retrieve quick answers, annotated with timestamped reference videos. In the example below, we asked CosmBot how to create loops with Atlas 2. Here's what it provided:

Algonaut AI music instructor

To go deeper into Matt's work, check out the and follow him on Twitter here. We hope you enjoyed this overview - sign up to the AudioCipher newsletter to stay up to speed on the latest AI music apps!

bottom of page