Your Questions Answered:
So you're looking for a new instrument, and you've been pulled in by the “coulda been a billionaire” marketing video from Output Arcade. You're wondering whether it's worth the monthly investment, and if it's all really that good.
At such a low price per month, Arcade is a great pick up for most producers, and it's pretty likely that it will become one of your go-to instruments for quick loop content.
In this article we'll cover all the benefits and drawbacks of Output Arcade and answer the burning question, of whether Output Arcade is worth your hard earned music bucks or not.
What Is Arcade by Output?
Arcade is a cloud based sampler instrument, that contains a wide variety of sound banks, with an ever-updating library. It's $10/month, and uses unique sample triggering to create quick & engaging loops/melodies.
You can try Arcade free for 30 days over on the Output website.
✅ Phenomenal sounds updated daily, including cinematic grade pianos, orchestras, vocals etc.
✅ Intuitive sample kit mode, you can use to create quick, interesting loops & melodies
✅ Use like a synth, with 3 layers, modulation control, envelopes etc
✅ 12 unique FX to apply to layers, with mix window for individual, or master bus applications, as well as sends for effects
✅ Vast modulation control, with ability to apply macros for automation
❌ Subscription model is annoying. Would be great if you could purchase outright with a couple packs
❌ Online libraries, meaning you have to be connected to WiFi to use & download
Do I Need WiFi To Use Arcade?
Arcade is a cloud based sampler instrument, meaning you'll need WiFi to load the kits. This can be a pro, or a con depending on how you look at it. It saves hard drive space, but also means you have to wait a while for kits to load.
This can be annoying if you like to produce without WiFi on, so you have pure focus. However, it can be a blessing too, because you're continually getting updates with new, and engaging sounds.
Either way, you'll need WiFi for Arcade, and there's no option to install the sounds to a hard drive, which is a feature we'd love to see in the future.
Can I Use Arcade After The 30 Days?
You can use all of the kits you downloaded within the month you used Arcade, even if you're not paying for subscription services.
This is fantastic because, if you used Arcade to create music, then it means that it won't break your projects after the subscription ends, and you can periodically subscribe to Arcade when you want some new kits/inspiration.
It can be a bit overwhelming with all the sound libraries available, and this is something we personally do – purchase a month, download a bunch of kits we like, and when we get bored, subscribe again for new sounds.
Do I Really Need Arcade?
The short answer to this is, no. You don't need Arcade. But having it can vastly improve your workflow, and the quality of your beats. If you're looking for a tool that will help you create professional sounding beats quickly, then you can't go wrong with Arcade.
And, if you don't know whether it's worth it or not, there's always a 30 day free trial you can use to properly test it out, and decide from there.
It's not going to instantly improve your music, if you lack in other areas like: structure, drum design or mixing. But, it can be used alongside those skills to greatly improve your workflow and sound.
Arcade is an incredibly useful creative tool for sampling, and it's likely you won't get the same great-sounding results without it (or without spending a huge amount of time trying to recreate it).
Of course you could spend ages slicing samples yourself, and then putting them in a sampler, creating zones, adding effects etc. And, all of it would feel gratifying, fun and you'd get an awesome end result. But, that's simply not the purpose of virtual instruments like Arcade.
The goal of this plugin (in our eyes), is to get a quick idea, that already sounds really professional, so you can make a beat quickly.
Music is about capturing the moment you're in the creative zone, and Arcade can really help push you towards that zone quicker, and pull you out of the dreaded beat block.
It's not essential like an EQ or a compressor, but it'll sure as hell help you make some great music.
Will Using Arcade Make Me Sound Like Everyone Else?
No. Even if all 7 billion people were using the same sample libraries, you would only sound the same, if you were doing the bare minimum – drag & drop. You may sound similar. However, the whole point of music is to get creative with your sounds, resample them through effects, and change it up.
You'll never sound the same if you do this. But, if you just drag and drop, you'll never get a unique sound that's yours.
Sometimes plugins & sample libraries can still be overused and you may want to avoid them though. Due, to the sheer amount of sounds, continual updates, and option for control over modulation, pitch, and rhythmic abilities – you'd be hard pressed to listen to something and say “oh they've used Arcade and xyz sample pack”.
Like we said above though, it all comes down to how you morph your sound into something different. We urge you to tinker with the controls and make samples your own.
Arcade is just a tool that will help you get in that creative zone where you're inspired to make something unique, and putting in the extra work doesn't feel like running into a wall.
Is Output Arcade Worth It?
Yes. Output by Arcade is worth it. It's is a comprehensive sampler instrument that includes an array of jaw dropping sounds you can use to create unique, & interesting loops + instrument patches. It's the perfect tool for music producers who need a quick idea to get them in the creative zone.
If you make Hip Hop, Trap, RnB, or any kind of genre that's similar, you're going to absolutely love this plugin.
The loops & melodies you can create are often creations you never would have never made, if it wasn't for the intuitive workflow and sounds provided with Arcade.
There's endless amounts of control, and ability to layer sounds from different packs, with 12 different FX you can apply to each, modulation control and macro control.
We do feel that the $10/month subscription model is a bit annoying, and that you'd likely be better off just purchasing Komplete 12 instead. However, if you don't have the money upfront, and you like the cloud based model, where you can choose from an array of banks – Arcade is genuinely fantastic.
The amount of incredibly high quality sounds in Arcade is insane, and Arcade is consistently updated with new sounds daily. You'll be able to find a sound for anything you want, and layer them, or play them in a unique way using the sample kit mode.
It includes sounds from orchestra symphonies, to drum kits & weird, twisting ambiences. All in a neat plugin, with incredible attention to detail, and control. We'd suggest Arcade to any producer looking to get a quick, unique sound.
It's fairly similar to Kontakt, but with a unique & creative playing style, and a subscription model instead.
The sounds are incredible and can give you tonnes of inspiration, propelling you into the creative zone, and it has a wide bank of sounds that are perfect for TV, film, sound design and beat making too.
It really depends on who you are and what you need from it.
If you're a Hip Hop producer, TV, film or sound designer – we'd thoroughly recommend it. However, if you're more on the electronic side of music production, it's probably better to get some synths and different effects.
Check the free 30 day trial out, and decide for yourself. You might love it!
What Others Are Saying About Output Arcade
When you google “Is Arcade worth it?” you'll get a number of forum results with varying opinions.
The general consensus is that Arcade is a great plugin, but the subscription model is annoying. Some people chose to continue after the 30 days, and others didn't.
Pretty much every review on different forums said that you should try the 30 day trial before you get it. There's no harm in it, and it'll help you decide whether it's for you.
Below are some real user reviews of Arcade:
How Does Arcade Sound?
Arcade has a vast library of sounds, from which you can find anything your heart desires. From vocals, to drums, to entire big band orchestra sections – Arcade has it all, and it sounds fantastic.
It's so easy to use, and creates such an amazing sound, it almost feels like you're cheating most of the time.
It's made up of two different types of kits:
- Sampler Kits – samples you can play in different keys & tempos, across 2 octaves.
- Note Kits – acts like a piano with samples from the cloud library. Mix & match samples, layer them together and create an instrument out of it.
Every sample is professionally recorded, and sliced for you to play across the keys, and all samples can be pitched individually to change the key or vibe of your tracks. The intuitive sampler kits player can get you coming up with ideas quickly, and works extremely well if you're not a keys player.
The ability to layer, control envelopes, add FX, and change the note kits about is also something that can't be ignored – offering a synth like element to a sampler instrument (somewhat like Kontakt).
All the note kits sound exceptional too, but while we can tell you just how amazing Arcade sounds, we always think it's best to provide some audio examples of different presets, so you can listen for yourself and see whether you really want to pick the virtual instrument up.
Below are some examples of what you'll find in Arcade:
RnB Sampler Kit
Trap Sampler Kit
Piano Note Kit
EDM Bass Note Kit
Funk Sampler Kit
Sitar Sampler Kit
Note Kit Composition (by us)
Features of Arcade
Below you'll find the features of Arcade, what they do, and why they'd be useful for your productions. Let's start with some pros & cons.
Sampler Kits include 14 samples across 2 octaves. These have been individually picked so they sound good together and are all in the same key. They can include drums, melodies, polyphonic loops and more.
You play these samples on the white notes. The black notes are what Output call “Note Modifiers”. These modify the playback of your samples.
The Note Modifiers change things like repeat rate, speed of playback, loop time etc.
Note Kits are sampler instruments that you can play across the whole keyboard. They have 3 layers, and give you access to the “Layer Edit” window, where you can combine different layers from other kits in Arcade.
You also are able to change envelope settings and other things, which we'll go over in the next section
Layer Edit/Sample Edit
The layer edit function of Arcade is a mode you'll only see in Note Kits.
It's much like any sampler you'll use, and provides all the controls for, envelopes, tune, pitching, glide and an advanced area that has options for legato, flutter, and other cool controls that will help you to fine-tune your sound.
One of the best features of this section is that you can layer any of the note kit samples you have downloaded in Arcade, acting similar to oscillators on a synth.
Here you can combine a maximum of 3 different sounds to create interesting and unique patches.
Then you can control each envelope individually, add filters, tune them etc. It's fantastic for sound design, and is really easy to navigate + use.
When you use Sampler Kits this function turns into Sample Edit.
Using the Sample Edit window, you can clip, and cut your sample, changing the loop length; you can alter the pitch, add filters and edit the attack, release and volume of your sample. There is also possibility to edit the crossfade.
This is another feature exclusive to Sampler Kits. With Sampler Kits you play the sample on the white keys and have what Output call “Modifiers” on the black notes. These change things like repeat rate, speed of playback, loop time etc.
Inside the Modifier Edit, you have the ability to alter these modifiers and change them to your play style.
You have 3 play modes you can choose from:
- Resequence – a step sequencer for your sample.
- Playhead – lets you change speed, loop or reverse the sample.
- Repeater – repeats the sample at a beat division you choose (1/16th, 1/8th etc).
The mixer window is where you can change the volume of each of your sample layers, and add things like individual FX to each layer, or FX to the master channel and sends.
Here you can choose from 12 different FX, applying them to layers, the master or sends.
It's a great feature to have when creating Note Kits, as each sample layer will span across the keyboard. You may want something to be louder than the other, and the mixer can help make your patches sound more cohesive.
The mixer window changes around a bit when you change between Note Kits & Sample Kits, but it provides the same functionality.
The modulation section has 4 modulation options:
- Step Sequencer
- Custom LFO
Here you can modulate pretty much any parameter you'd like to in the layer edit section. It's useful to have and helps especially on Note Kits, where you'll want to add a bit extra depth to your sound.
In Arcade you get access to 4 different macros. You can apply these macros to any control you like, and they will show up on your Sampler Kit or Note Kit play window.
These are similar to macros in any synth, like Serum for instance. They are fully MIDI mappable, and allow you to change things on the fly when playing in a sweet synth line.
Arcade is a stunning sampler instrument, that has a huge sound library that is constantly being updated, daily. If you have the money, it's definitely something you should pick up. Check out the 30 day trial and see if it's for you.
We had an absolute blast using Arcade, but we didn't end up continuing our subscription. We pick up a month subscription every now and then to get new kits to use with it. You can use all the kits you've downloaded during the 30 days of use, which is a huge plus.
We'd honestly prefer if they were to offer a full purchase version of Arcade with the option to buy kits (like Kontakt), but it looks like a lot of companies are going the subscription model route.
Either way this is a fantastic sampler instrument, and you should definitely try it out to see if it's for you. It was really easy to make loops and beats super quick. It's worth it if you make money from selling music, and can afford the monthly subscription.
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.