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Friday, November 27, 2009

ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 VSTi RTAS AU

ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 VSTi RTAS AU

ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 VSTi RTAS AU


ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 (VSTi RTAS AU) (Hybrid DVDs -Windows and MacOSX)


Win and Mac| 19 GB, 5% Rar Recovery | RS.COM

Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0, ”The New York Studio Legacy Series”, is a professional sample engine for creating lifelike drum tracks on your computer.


Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 is a complete overhaul of the original dfh Superior engine with the same sound quality, attention to detail and musicality that has made the original Toontrack Music drum sampler line what it is.

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 includes custom MIDI played by legendary session drummer Nir Z accessed through the all new customized MIDI engine and arranger EZplayer pro, also features stand alone capacity through Toontrack solo.




Review

The current arms race in software instruments is nowhere more evident than in software drum machines, in large part because modern music is so dependent on percussion in all its forms, meaning that there’s always plenty of demand for new drum tools. DR-008 seemed like quite an instrument when I acquired it just a few years ago. But its virtues pale next to the recent and various incarnations of BFD, Battery, EZDrummer, Strike, Groove Agent, KitCore, DrumCore, Session Drummer 2, Addictive Drums, Jamstix, MDrummer, and more—including the subject of this review, Toontrack’s recently released Superior Drummer 2.0.


The fundamental approaches: simplicity versus control


There are two fundamental problems that these software machines address, and it seems that every virtual drum machine emphasizes one or the other—not both. The first problem is to provide effective tools to create recorded drum performances that are indistinguishable from the well-recorded output of a real drummer playing a real drum kit. (This is obviously less important for musicians whose drums aren’t supposed to sound “real,” such as musicians working in electronic genres.) Solving this problem demands a knowledgeable user as well as a very capable piece of software with lots of sound manipulation tools. The second problem is to make it easy for musicians who really don’t think like drummers to create those interesting, realistic performances—performances that avoid mechanical repetition in tone, attack, and composition—without having to learn how to think (and play) like a drummer.


These issues essentially define the audiences for drum machines, which are split into people who want lots and lots of control over the details of every drum used in a track, and people who just want to put solid drum tracks in their songs with as little effort as possible. (The least effort possible actually involves calling a good drummer with a good setup for performing and recording, and paying said drummer to cut the track for you. But doing that once costs as much or more as a decent software drum machine.)



Tools like EZDrummer, DrumCore, KitCore, Session Drummer 2, Jamstix, and Addictive Drums are obviously aimed squarely at the second problem and audience. They give people with limited drum playing or programming expertise well-sampled kits (in the case of KitCore, LOTS of kits) plus simple tools for creating arrangements in a range of styles from MIDI grooves or sampled loops. These instruments sound good to very good, but their main attraction is the ease with which a user can put together a respectable drum track.


Superior 2.0 is about control


Superior Drummer 2.0, Toontrack’s recently introduced top-of-the-line software drum machine, is much more about control than ease-of-use. (As the well-written manual says, “Superior Drummer® 2.0 delivers total realism in terms of sound quality, detailed control for programming and live drum performance.”) But the sophisticated users who choose this product over EZDrummer, Addictive Drums, or Jamstix are likely to find it straightforward enough for the job it does. The package includes the Superior virtual drum machine, which consists of a huge set of drum samples plus an instrument for playing and mixing them, plus the EZPlayer Pro MIDI file organizer, arranger, and player (bundled with plenty of MIDI groove content).


The tradeoffs in favor of control (as opposed to ease of use) begin with setting up Superior inside a DAW. Kudos to Toontrack for providing detailed instructions on how to do this within all of the major host applications. Even with those instructions, it took me a couple of tries (and a visit to the Cakewalk forum) to get Superior and EZPlayer loaded up and talking to each other in Sonar 7 PE. In other words, setup was not exactly E-Z.


The “construct” panel, where drums and kits are selected and tweaked, is the first thing that comes up in Superior. The memory and status section is a clear indication that memory control can be an important issue for instruments with as much content as this, especially if your DAW isn’t fitted with maximum RAM. (Superior 2.0 loads 580 MB of samples when the NY Avatar kit is selected.) As per previous comments, there are plenty of tools here for adjusting the sounds made by specific drums and drum mics. The range of controls for individual drums includes pitch, volume envelope, and “humanization” strategies, and these work effectively and as expected.


The quality and quantity of the samples in the NY Avatar kit that ships with Superior are, well, superior–a full install uses 20 GB on a hard drive—and the controls supplied can produce a wide range of excellent drum tones. As noted in the manual, instruments and kits from other Toontrack collections (for example, DFH Superior and the various EZX expansion sets) can also be loaded in Superior, as full kits or individual pieces. It’s also worth noting that Superior’s engine is designed out of the box to rotate samples, so that a given drum hit never sounds exactly the same twice in a row.



With all the samples and the tweaking options available, you’d expect Superior to sound damn good, and it does. Take a listen to the two samples of my instrumental piece “Morphine”. The first sample uses DR-008 with the Wizoo Live kit for the drums. The second uses Superior 2.0. I think it’s pretty clear which one sounds better.


Superior’s mixer is deep and logical


Superior’s mixer view is where users will spend most of their time with the instrument once individual drums are tweaked, and from the moment you enter it’s apparent that you’re not dealing with EZDrummer (or anything else that could be described as E-Z). The layout is complex, but not much different from the mixer a user will see in any pro or prosumer DAW. I had to do a lot of scrolling to the right to figure out where signals were eventually going—out of the box there are 17 channel strips allocated to various instrument mics, 16 to stereo busses, and 16 to stereo outputs, a configuration that is apparently fixed—but once I traced an instrument or two through, the overall flow was easy to grasp. The Toontrack manual offers plenty of insights on how to use these controls, including a detailed discussion of the “bleed” controls, but I suspect that many novices will be glad simply to select one of the 17 mix presets provided, at least for a start.


ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 VSTi RTAS AU



Every strip in the mixer can use any or all of 5 very good-sounding Sonalksis plugins supplied with Superior: gate, compressor, EQ, transient shaper, and filters (high and low-pass with resonance). Did I mention that these plugins are very, very good-sounding? Their presence is a major incentive to do all the mixing on Superior drum tracks inside Superior, as opposed to routing outputs to the DAW for further processing. It’s too bad that the plugins can’t be used outside of Superior, especially for those cases where other percussion tools and tracks are used in a mix. (I appreciate that it doesn’t make a lot of business sense for Sonalksis to sell its plugins for general use at a fraction of the combined retail prices for those tools.) It would be nice even to be able to route external signals into the mixer. It would also be nice to see reverb and delay added to the list of effects, although any commercial DAW user certainly has at least one decent reverb and delay in her kit.


EZPlayer is not entirely EZ


EZplayer Pro is the companion MIDI file manager and player that ships with Superior. It’s a useful combination of a MIDI file manager and a simple sequencer. The player includes the ability to build independent tracks (using MIDI grooves) and direct each track to a different instrument, not just to audition a single MIDI groove against a single drum kit. It’s significantly more powerful than the MIDI file player included in EZDrummer’s interface, or the one included with KitCore 2, both of which can only play a single groove within the single drum machine that hosts the player.


ToonTrack Superior Drummer 2.01 VSTi RTAS AU



And that, of course, is the best reason to choose Superior 2.0 in the first place. In that regard, I recommend strongly that prospective buyers check out the MP3 demos at toontrack.com. As always, check the forums on Toontrack’s site to get a feel for the issues users are facing. The “Production Tips” forum is the best place to start in this case…




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