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Posted (edited)

longtime bfd user exploring options/alternatives for quality drum sounds, which has been the single largest investment in any plugin for me.  priorities are;

  1. sound quality
    1. mostly -well recorded- "acoustic/organic/natural" sounds vs. heavily processed
    2. dynamics, # velocity layers are important
  2. range of sounds/expansions/libraries (more is better)
  3. ease of use (kit construction, kit piece design/optimization/layering, integration with a DAW)
  4. licensing/drm (ease of use?)
  5. stability

typical workflow includes a preset which routes all drum vst channels to the DAW for mixing/midi programming 

almost never use drum vst fx, although they have been useful at times in bfd

have yet to make use of any grooves/presets/song arranger/etc.

...

past experience includes anything bundled with Sonar/Logic. haven't tried whatever comes with S1. 

any thoughts, insights, comments appreciated. 

Edited by jackson white
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(porting a couple of "OT" comments from another thread)

@Tim Smith  "Can a listener pick out EZD from BFD3 or AD3 on a record?"

possibly, if they haven't been over-produced into a block of velveeta cheez and you know what to listen for. hard to imagine something like EZD/AD2 being used on a commercial release but BFD did get a number of credits (if the producer didn't think it was 'cheating'). 

@LAGinz  "If the only criteria were sound, I’d probably use BFD3 on most of my projects. To me its drums just sound more real and dynamically correct - whereas the Toontrack stuff, to me at least, has a very slightly hyped up glossy quality to it."

ya, same here. For straight up well -recorded- samples vs 'over engineered' alternatives, always found bfd cymbals in particular and their ambient channels to be best-in-class for "acoustic/organic" material  (i.e. not trying to emulate some classic sound). 

And there's other bits like top/bottom mics for at least one set of toms, haven't been able to find that anywhere else. 

...

Haven't given SD3 much of a shot yet as the demos on the TT site are a bit too produced to be helpful, but noting some of their kits feature "raw" samples.

Any comments/sound examples for the following kits would be appreciated.

  • NY Studio 1
  • NY Studio 3
  • Independent
  • Roots Bundle

The other issue is kits that have been mainstays in BFD are only listed as EZD2, which is why I was thinking about it,  but the perception is a difference in quality/dynamic depth. 

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Addictive drums have been working good for me.  It took a long time selecting the kit pieces that sounded the way I'm used to hearing drums but for a few years no I haven't had to muck about much. I'm used to real drum kits being Yamaha, Pearl, Ayotte or Ludwig. 

If you want examples all my songs are using AD2 

This one was played using a Yamaha DX 5 kit-  https://soundclick.com/r/s8ktrm 

Here's the whole collection so far. 

https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=1420844&content=songs

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Addictive Drums 2, EZdrummer 2, and MODO Drums are all I have, besides a few freebies.

They are all fine for me as far as backing tracks go. I'm not a drummer, so I find the options to endlessly tweak a kit for absolute perfection to be a huge waste of time.

I'm simply happy if the drums don't sound bad. I'm not looking for perfection! My ears can tell the difference between good and bad drums. :)

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I don't own it but Superior Drummer should be the best in terms of sound quality among other big names. Not sure if it's easy to use but it's more professional I think. I see many people mention SD as the best on other forum(GS).

I own Addictive Drums but if I ever wanted to buy something better then I'd be buying Superior Drummer. 

However, great drum sound can be achieved with fx like compressor and stuff unless original samples are really bad, so I am okay with what I have and I think there is nothing wrong with BFD. And raw sound from SD might not be magically good.

And also replacing the drum sound on mixing stage is not so uncommon so as long as you have good samples, the original drum VST doesn't really matter.

I heard Additive Drums doesn't not sound great in a mix or after some processes or it's kinda hard to get the right sound in a mix while with Superior Drummer you can get great sound in a mix. I also think so for AD.

Other option can be drum libraries for Kontakt.

Kontakt isn't necessarily meant for Drums unlike other ones I mentioned, but I'm sure there are great quality libraries and often people, including me, forget how great these are.

 

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Interested to know what genre(s) of music you are producing.

Some of the most iconic beats ever were programmed into machines that fell far short of their original goal of sounding like a live drummer.

When I'm working with sampled drums, I like 'em dry as a bone, so I can add my own FX. But I don't try for verisimilitude. My programmed beats are gonna sound like programmed beats regardless of what sample library I'm using.

As a drummer myself, I can usually tell the difference between programmed drums and ones that were played by a person in real time, although these days with drum "replacers" and whatnots and people thinking that every note has to sit exactly where expected on the grid, "real" performances can be made to sound less so....

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

and people thinking that every note has to sit exactly where expected on the grid, "real" performances can be made to sound less so....

I think that may be a shortfall for a lot of modern music recorded on a computer. Being a "slave" to the grid.

Back in the day, musicians used tempo changes at will, and even pushed or pulled the beat as they played according to artistic feel. As long as everyone playing together was on the same page, you could have an incredible "live" performance.

 

Edited by abacab
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Posted (edited)

 there's defiantly a huge difference to live recordings played by top notch musicians and any attempt to duplicate this ITB. 

when drum machines first came out our first reaction was "Man those sound terrible,  and the timing is too perfect so that will give people a headache"! 

It's why I'm still not a fan of any music style that uses drum machine sounds as a focal point to the music.  

But real drummers are next to impossible to facilitate in a home studio situation. I have a real set of drums as well as a digital kit but they take up half the room! So I'm lazy and just use AD2. 

Edited by John Vere
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21 hours ago, abacab said:

Any love for MODO Drum?

modelling could have potential but have not given it a shot for two reasons. other bfd users tried it and found the sound to be less "dimensional/realistic/usable" for the core genres we work on. and my impression is it would take a fair amount of time/expertise to model the drum sound you were looking for. the demo sound clips didn't do much for me, but open for a closer look if you know of a clip that sounds good.   

the recent disaster that is drm for InMusic has also strengthened our resolve to 'blacklist' any excessive overhead maintenance/licensing requirements  (i.e. IK, Waves, ... ) 

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20 hours ago, John Vere said:

my songs are using AD2

@John Vere thx, appreciate the clips, ur covering the same general territory genre wise, nice job on the tunes.

I tried AD2 on a track (Fairfax kit? which iirc is a Gretsch RB kit) but find it pales in comparison to the one in BFD. I tend to mix drums a bit more forward than you do and there's something about the ambience that makes a difference. that being said, I'm hardly what anyone would call an experienced mix engineer, still figuring it all out...

 

13 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

what genre(s) of music you are producing.

lately it's been pre-production for "emerging singer/songwriters".  a singer and a guitar all tend to sound the same. i try to help them develop a -unique- sonic signature, which is why presets haven't been very useful. they're mostly 20-30 yr olds and half the challenge is weaning them off samples, loops and smart phones, but to their credit, they seem to hear/appreciate/search for the "authentic vibe of the classics" based on the references they bring to the table.

styles are some form of roots rock, americana, folk, celtic, alt/outlaw country, 'modern' blues, "vintage" r&b, etc but at the core it's all about "acoustic/organic/natural" sounds played by human beings with a priority on a performance over perfection. 

producer references are the likes of Chuck Ainlay, Dave Cobb, John Leventhal, T-Bone Burnett, etc (as well as George Martin, Sam Philips, Al Schmitt). 

...

imho, drums sounds can make a pretty big difference in sounding like -something- vs anything...

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4 hours ago, John Vere said:

there's defiantly a huge difference to live recordings played by top notch musicians and any attempt to duplicate this ITB. ...

But real drummers are next to impossible to facilitate in a home studio situation.

yes, but working on that. my goto drummer recently relocated to LA and is working on a setup to track remotely. there's some limit to the sounds he can get atm, but he's building up a locker of mics, preamps, drums and we're working on different micing techniques and "acoustic modifiers" (stuff like hard reflective panels for a more live sound, etc).

however, not exactly cost effective for rounds of preproduction, so the preliminary core groove work still falls back on me. it helps to have had the fortune to play with a number of great drummers and pick up a few things to make a difference to capture a serviceable 'performance' to work with. 

 

14 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

As a drummer myself, I can usually tell the difference between programmed drums and ones that were played by a person in real time,

-every- time. i keep it simple to avoid getting called out too quickly. 🙂 I have found that better -sounds- make a difference though, and are more "inspiring"during the preproduction phase and thus the driver for this thread. 

 

5 hours ago, abacab said:

Back in the day, musicians used tempo changes at will, and even pushed or pulled the beat as they played according to artistic feel. As long as everyone playing together was on the same page, you could have an incredible "live" performance.

indeed! right on Duke, and -why- tracking rhythm sections live is the only way to go.

hopefully those days are still around to be appreciated.  the 'aha' moment for me came when charting out a Los Lobos tune and and having to create a custom tempo map with all kinds of contour to match what sounds like a locked down groove. The second came a day after tracking a session and wondering what the heck happened to my part, only to find out the assistant had "fixed" my take by aligning it to the grid/drum take (pro tools!! smh...) it  did help dial in what makes a difference for the groove. 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/9/2022 at 12:33 AM, Starship Krupa said:

working with sampled drums, I like 'em dry as a bone, so I can add my own FX

similar here, except that "dry" = "well recorded acoustic" drums. i'm assuming you're processing samples for effect, not sure anyone would call an 808 "dry" 😄. and to your point, can't think of a snare that hasn't been processed in some way. it's all about the right sound for the song. 

...

On 4/9/2022 at 12:31 AM, Quick Math said:

I heard Additive Drums doesn't not sound great in a mix or after some processes or it's kinda hard to get the right sound in a mix while with Superior Drummer you can get great sound in a mix.

bfd has always struck me as  "less over processed" if that makes any sense, or maybe better ambient recording/management and easier to dial in a unique sound for a track. i've tried AD2 but find i'm always trying to "undo" the sound (specifically the ambience) to get it to work and my skills haven't been good enough to manage that so far. 

On 4/9/2022 at 12:31 AM, Quick Math said:

great drum sound can be achieved with fx like compressor and stuff unless original samples are really bad, ... raw sound from SD might not be magically good.

And also replacing the drum sound on mixing stage is not so uncommon so as long as you have good samples, the original drum VST doesn't really matter.

i'd be very surprised if the SD samples were "bad", it's more a question of usability for a specific purpose. my opinion is there's too much of a 'polish' (= ambience) baked in, which is totally awesome if you need something good quickly, but i'm looking for something "rawer" which probably has more to do with the specific engineering for the samples. bfd did a nice job in this respect. The number of velocity levels is also a major factor for "dynamic" performances. haven't yet found drum replacers to be the right tool.  

...

On 4/9/2022 at 12:31 AM, Quick Math said:

Other option can be drum libraries for Kontakt

considered this (as well as other options), but do a lot of drum programming and have a strong aversion to their UI in addition to the limited options for the few libraries i checked out. 

and considered reaching out to Vojtech@Melda to see what plans he had for MDrummer, but my sense is his philosophy is more aligned with loop/sample based creativity vs "old school" recording techniques. his piano did sound promising though. it was also my suggestion on the PA survey. 

...

On 4/9/2022 at 12:31 AM, Quick Math said:

Superior Drummer should be the best in terms of sound quality among other big names

the perception for sure, but SD3 plus a couple of libraries is gonna run >US$750 which isn't exactly a trivial investment without a demo plus haven't been super excited with the sample clips in addition to the learning curve, setting up custom templates, managing existing projects in progress and losing some goto sounds. i.e. a DW kit which apparently is only available as an EZD2 add on. 

also noting that while it is well recognized, doesn't seem to be much of a goto for peeps here, so ya, maybe bfd will sort out their issues (but it's been over a year...) or maybe TT will have a fire sale, or someone in my network will dig in and give it a shot. 

but all comments are most helpful, thx. would love to hear any opinions for the following kits if anyone has them.

NY Studio 1

NY Studio 3

Independent

Roots Bundle

Edited by jackson white
clarification

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2 hours ago, jackson white said:

the 'aha' moment for me came when charting out a Los Lobos tune and and having to create a custom tempo map with all kinds of contour to match what sounds like a locked down groove.

Possibly mastering the tempo map feature in your chosen DAW is one key to unlocking a natural groove.

For example, if someone sends you an acoustic recording that was made without a grid or click track, and you want to import it into your DAW and add to it without altering the feel. You could record to the grid in your DAW if the tempo adjustments were all accounted for.

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Hello Jackson, this is a great conversation.

14 hours ago, jackson white said:

yes, but working on that. my goto drummer recently relocated to LA and is working on a setup to track remotely. there's some limit to the sounds he can get atm, but he's building up a locker of mics, preamps, drums and we're working on different micing techniques and "acoustic modifiers" (stuff like hard reflective panels for a more live sound, etc).

however, not exactly cost effective for rounds of preproduction, so the preliminary core groove work still falls back on me. it helps to have had the fortune to play with a number of great drummers and pick up a few things to make a difference to capture a serviceable 'performance' to work with. 

If you will eventually replace your preproduction drum tracks with real drums then....

 

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16 hours ago, abacab said:

the tempo map feature in your chosen DAW

the latest improvements to the tempo map in CW are most appreciated here. 

16 hours ago, abacab said:

someone sends you an acoustic recording that was made without a grid or click track,

where all starts for sure, but the initial demo is rarely solid enough rhythm wise or fully arranged. and why midi drums get used to work thru the initial rounds of development.  i have one singer who thinks she can hear +/- 1bpm despite being the most rhythmically dyslexic person i've come across in years 🙂. not exactly 'cost effective' to waste a real drummers time at this stage... 

4 hours ago, Jesse Screed said:

If you will eventually replace your preproduction drum tracks with real drums then....

more like if...  it's good enough for some next level of release and they can afford it.  the challenge has been the quality of demos coming out of places like nashville where it seems there's a killer producer in every garage (stocked with monster guitar players ...)

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On 4/8/2022 at 1:02 PM, jackson white said:

Any comments/sound examples for the following kits would be appreciated.

  • NY Studio 1
  • NY Studio 3
  • Independent
  • Roots Bundle

Here's a little demo based on Toon midi from EZKeys, EZBass and Drum Grooves.
SD 3 Demo
The Keys and Bass fade up as the track progresses so you can hear the drums "naked" and in "context".
All my tracks employ either SD3 or EZD2...

HTH,

t

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5 hours ago, jackson white said:

more like if...  it's good enough for some next level of release and they can afford it.  the challenge has been the quality of demos coming out of places like nashville where it seems there's a killer producer in every garage (stocked with monster guitar players ...)

If you are asking this forum you will get a myriad of opinions.  I think eventually you will have to pull the trigger, and you probably won't be happy.  This recording stuff is a bitch.  If you are trying to establish yourself as a competitive entity with the Nashville megalith, well damn.

If I had a nickel for every piece of VST that was supposed to turn me into a pro, I would have a dollar two eighty.

Develop your sound and fire away. ***** everybody else, unless you want to be like everybody else.

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Any love/hate for SSD5.5? Been using the free version for a while now, and think it's decent. Had been thinking about buying the full version for $120 to get a more complete collection of kits and grooves... but maybe EZD3 at $179 would be a better choice given the newness and whatnot?

Looking for something to quickly get acceptable sounding (kit+groove) drums in order to sketch out songs in genres I don't especially do (hard rock / metal), then drag the midi into CW where I can futz with it, do my own specific fills, etc.

SD3 at $399 and other similarly priced packages are not an option for me.

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