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Review of Superior Drummer 2.0

Toontrack brings new realism to Plugin Drumkit


Imagine your are in the control room of one of the world's greatest drum studios.  When you raise the fader on the overheads you hear this fantastic room come into play.  You hear shadings of famous drum mixes you heard on so many rock and pop albums, and you know you can tweak this console and make it give up the stellar sound you need.  If you are like me, this ability blows you away.  That is the feeling I get from Superior Drummer 2.0.


Toontrack Superior Drummer Software (Mac and Windows)
Superior Drummer 2.0 has been re-developed for optimized use with e-drums with more effective use of sample layers and much improved loading times. It will include custom MIDI played by Nir Z accessed through the all new customized MIDI engine and arranger EZplayer pro, it will feature stand alone capacity through Toontrack solo. From premium UK based software developer Sonalksis Superior Drummer 2.0 has been fitted with, 5-band EQ, high and low pass filter, compressor, gate and transient designer filters.

One of the problems with drum sample playback software is that they treat each drum as a mono audio channel.  While it is true that in world class studios drums may be individually mic'd up and mixed as separate channels, its is also true that every drum is not truly recorded in isolation.  There is significant bleed from one mic to another, and all drums are picked up more or less by the overhead  and ambient mics. Even the more advanced drum programs like Battery 3 restrict you to using common sends and returns to create a sense of the drum room.  Perhaps the most ear opening feature of Superior Drummer 2.0 is the ability to tweak up a mix from various drum microphone channels.  In its mixer you can set the exact amount of "bleed" each drum will contribute to the overhead "ambient" mics.  This might seem like a small feature, but in practice it cam make the drum mix breathtaking! 


click to enlarge

Toontrack DFH EZ Drummer Virtual Drum Instrument Software (Mac and Windows)
The Toontrack DFH EZ Drummer is a multi-microphone drum sampler designed for musicians and producers in need of a compact, affordable, easy to handle plug-in without compromising sound quality or control.
Toontrack Drumkit From Hell EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
The DFH EZX contains the essence of what Toontrack is originally all about. The commitment to excellence through collaboration with the best players and producers aimed at helping you to make better, more inspired music.

Toontrack Latin Percussion EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
The Latin Percussion EZX for EZdrummer contains the percussion sounds from the revolutionary, award winning pro drum sampler, DFH (Drums from Hell) Superior from Toontrack Music. The EZX includes MIDI files that will add that extra groove on top of your steady drumtrack.

Toontrack Vintage Rock EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
The Ludwig Drum Company had little idea what was about to hit them in the months following February 9th 1964, The Beatles debut U.S. Television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The band were a sensation and almost overnight everyone wanted to own a set of Ludwig drums just like Ringo's.

Toontrack Nashville EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
These days Nashville is so much more than just Country music. The town is a melting pot of writers and performers in genres ranging from the most cutting edge Hip-Hop and Electronica to the best of Country and Bluegrass.

Toontrack Claustrophobic EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
In collaboration with Sontronics Microphones and Evans drumheads Toontrack Music announces the Claustrophobic EZX. The Claustrophobic EZX marks a new step for Toontrack in driving the development of percussive samples.
Toontrack Twisted Kit EZX Expansion for EZ Drummer Software
So, two rototom frames form a tonal hi-hat, a duck call suggests an alternative cowbell, tack drums from China become rack toms and putting the hubcap of your very first car on top of your snare seems like the right thing to do.

Superior Drummer 2.0 comes with EZ Player Pro.  EZ Player pro is a companion application that stores and launches .mid files.  For example, after you tweak up your kit you can drag the midi files directly from EZ Player Pro into your sequencer, where they will be played by superior drummer. 



What Tweak Likes

What I like about the Superior Drummer 2.0 is the sound, and the feeling like you are creating a drum mix on a console.  The selection of drums and cymbals is also great, and the recordings are peerless.  Played on a keyboard, my hands instantly fell in love with the sound and quickly found nuances.  Played on a pad controller was also a nice experience.  Though I did not try, the software should b excellent for use with e-drums like the Roland V-drum systems.

I also like the view.  Not only can you see the drums you are adding on the screen, you can tap them with the mouse and they sound.  But before you get to excited, that little wireframe pic you see at the upper right of the GUI is not going  to let you  modify anything.  Its just a static pic that does nothing.  There is no v-drum like modeling going on, but more of an ingenious mix of samples of the same drums from different mic positions, exquisitely crafted.  That said you can adjust the pitch and amp envelope on the front screen.  In the mixer you can tweak up compressors and eqs on each drum or bus. 

 twisted add on

The optional add on "Twisted Kit" loads right into Superior Drums 2.0.  You can add twisted drums to the main kit

Finally, the GUI.  I do like it.  Like anything else you have to learn it, but its a lot more intuitive than Battery or Guru and looks a darn sight better than StormDrum2 (Play version). I do think the wizards at East-West could get an important clue here.  I do have a small wish that there was more floorspace so I could build bigger kits. I do wish they used a different font on the main screen.  Licensing and authorization.  You have a total of 4 installs and any two can be active.  I guess that is fair enough.  The Challenge/response system worked flawlessly. 


mixing console in superior drummer 2

What Tweak does not like so much

What I did not like about Superior Drummer 2.0 is the lack of percussion in this 15 GB set!  If you want congas, tambourine and shakers you'll have to ante up for the Latin add-on.  Geez.  That bothers me.  I feel a drum plugin must have at minimum a full GM set.  Note that other drum software, particularly Battery 3 and Guru, give you complete drum and percussion sets.  Second, the samples are all in proprietary format.  You won't be using those beautiful cymbals in Battery, Kontakt, EX24 or whatever.   Anyway, you should note that to get all the kits and percussion you'll be popping again for add-ons.  Not a problem as long as you know that up front.  The expanders can be bought at the toontrack's site for about $90.  You can get them cheaper at zZounds over in the right sidebar.

In the balance

There are a lot of drum plugins out there right now and they are all pretty good.  I think the person who will get the most of out Superior drummer 2.0 is one who really cares about having high quality acoustic drums in their songs.  This is not the kit for electronica, hip hop, dnb, trance, etc.  Its a great kit for straight rock, rockabilly, Country, traditional pop, jazz, in short, the applications when you want the sound of a real drummer playing real drums.  Of course you can tweak the kits to extreme with compressors and eqs and come up with a fresh electronica kit (and that could be challenge!) but these are not going to jump out of the box.  

Other Drum Software

Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) BPM Beat Production Software
BPM unites drum machine-style operation with advanced virtual instrument technology to give you the ultimate rhythm programming experience. Combine drum kits, sequenced patterns, sliced loops and instrument sounds to realize your rhythmic vision, mixing and matching any playing style with any drum kit. Or plug in your pad controller or MIDI keyboard to capture your live, groove-quantized performance directly in BPM.

Native Instruments Battery Sampling Software (Macintosh and Windows)
Battery 3 is the professional standard for drums and percussion. The latest version of the acclaimed drum sampler fuses an extensive library with functionality and simplicity. A powerful new engine and a host of sound shaping options deliver tight, punchy drums while the user-friendly interface guarantees instant access and complete control. Whether electronic or acoustic, Battery 3 will have your drums rolling in no time.

FXpansion BFD Drum Instrument VST/RTAS/AU (Macintosh and Windows)
The new FXpansion BFD 2.0 virtual drum library gives you a staggering 55GB of rare, vintage, boutique, and classic drum sounds that will punch up the quality of any recording. The BFD 2.0 sound library, which was recorded at London's legendary Air Lyndhurst studios, features each instrument captured in immaculate detail with multiple mic setups. Within the user interface, you have complete control over the mics like you would in a mixing situation. If you want to assemble your virtual dream kit, look no further than BFD 2.0!

Steinberg Groove Agent Virtual Drummer (Macintosh and Windows)
Groove Agent 3 is the third incarnation of Steinberg’s phenomenally successful Groove Agent virtual drummer VST instrument, and is a major step up from previous versions. Groove Agent 3 combines a huge library of drum and percussion sounds with a range of player technologies to give you dynamic, ready-to-go drums, beats, rhythms and percussion in only a few mouse clicks.

FXpansion BFD XFL Expansion Pack Software (Macintosh and Windows)
BFD XFL is the first add-on pack for FXpansion's BFD premium acoustic software drum module, expanding and intensifying the BFD system. BFD XFL's 5 DVDs arm you with 22GB of hyper-detailed drum components, all recorded with the same top-end studio gear and microphones as the original.


Spectrasonics Stylus RMX XPanded Software (Mac and Windows)
Spectrasonics has released a new “Stylus RMX Xpanded” product package which includes the acclaimed Stylus RMX Realtime Groove Module virtual instrument software, plus all five of the award-winning S.A.G.E. Xpander expansion libraries: Backbeat, Retro Funk, Metamorphosis, Burning Grooves and Liquid Grooves. The addition of the Xpanders’ 5.5 GB of outstanding acoustic drum and percussion grooves enhance Stylus RMX’s already massive 7.4 GB remix-oriented core library.

V-Drum Hardware

Roland HD1 V-Drums Lite All-In-One Electronic Drum Kit
Roland’s V-Drums are the most popular electronic drums in the world, but not everyone has the room or budget for a full V-Drums kit. Introducing the new Roland HD-1. Forged from the same technology as its predecessors, but streamlined for everyday use.



Tweak's Articles on Software

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What is a Software Sampler?
What is a Soft Synth?
What are Software Processors?
Spectrasonics Omnisphere
Spectrasonic's Trillian
Superior Drummer
My Favorite Vintage Soft Synhts
Stylus RMX
Battery by Native Instruments
Albino 3
Guru Review
StormDrum Review
Korg Legacy MS20
Garritan Personal Orchestra
Altered States
FM7 and FM8
NI's Komplete Bundle
MOTU's Ethno
Are Hardware Samplers Obsolete?
Antares Filter
Logic's EXS24 Sampler
Kore 2 Review
Kontakt 3
Waves Gold and Platinum
Software Plugins Price List


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