Combining the ease of use of a traditional drum machine with the sound- sculpting prowess of a sampler, Native Instruments Battery 2.0 is one of the best software-percussion tools available. Built around a clean interface that has become the de facto standard for all products in Native Instruments' pro-audio line, Battery is approachable and simple to learn. Once you load sound into the matrix-style interface, the fun begins. Each sample cell has an enormous amount of sound-tweaking flexibility, boasting tools such as compressors, multimode filters, LFO, customizable envelopes, and resampling effects. Also included is a mapping editor for layering up to 128 sounds together. Other controls include tune, saturation, bit control, and hertz. We liked the free-form envelope controls, which make it a snap to custom-tailor sounds to your specs. Our only complaint with Battery is that it really can't do much without a sequencer or some other MIDI device to drive it. Thankfully, Battery interfaces with RTAS, VST, Audio Units, Core Audio, Core MIDI, Dxi, ASIO, and Direct Sound, giving you plenty of options for hooking up to other programs. With its multitude of features, we can easily recommend Battery to both newbie beatheads and old-school pros alike.