Comparin drum sounds: Groove Agent SE, BFD, Toontracks, etc.

Thanks, silhouette, that’s a very encouraging post. I really must get stuck into it. Cheers! :slight_smile:

By the way I like the sixties vibe of much of you soundcloud tracks.

Thanks very much! :slight_smile:

Hi all,
I’d like to chip in on behalf of the Toontrack stuff as well, I actually use EZdrummer 2 and Superior in tandem.
First I start with EZDrummer for the songwriting and loop choices, the way they present the loop browser is really awesome. You might think that the “talk to your drummer” tagline is hype, but it really works! The rock song I linked below has a groove in the quieter bridge that originally had no toms in it. I just told the program to add some toms and then tweaked the amount of hits to taste!
Anyway, I plug EZdrummer into Superior for sound and then take multiple outputs from Superior into the Cubase mixer and by extension into my analog board.
I only use Superiors built-in effects for specialty stuff, like transient designer and so on.

Here’s the aforementioned link to that rock project: https://soundcloud.com/benji-schaub/black-sheep
It uses the Music City USA expansion.

My 2 cents, cheers
Benji

Re: EZdrummer

Benji - or anyone else for that matter - do you find it restrictive that you’ve only got presets for channel and fx chains and can’t set up your own?

I love the sound of BFD3 but it’s too clunky to use so I hardly ever usr it.

GA4 sounds fine in a mix but a bit thin raw ('cept the Simon Phillips kits which are amazing), but my most used drums are the various Kontakt suites - which I can always rely on getting a result with.

You are right about elements of BFD3 being clunky. However, it is possible to create separate outs for all the kit pieces and ambient elements and create much more realistic fx processing set-ups. It is easy to set up parallel compression with individual elements, or indeed all of the the kit. This is impossible with Kontakt - or at least I have not found a way to do this effectively. Of course if you were using a real kit you would have to do all these things anyway and I find it interesting that the more effort you make to learn new ways of working, the more interesting the end results can sound.

I totally accept that personal preference plays an enormous part in this and many users want a quick and reliable way to get results. However, I don’t think that this is BFD 3’s strength. It works best when you make use of the complexities and are prepared to extend your own knowledge. This probably explains why I rarely ever use the Kontakt alternatives.

What you say is absolutely right. But some of us who do this for pleasure only have limited spare time to do it. I can record and rough mix a track to a listenable standard in 5 hours, I could spend that time just trying to figure out how BFD3 works, I just don’t get the time to reinvent how I work - unfortutately. Shame coz BFD3 sounds amazing.

Yep I totally understand. I have been working with BFD since the first version came out in 2001 I think. Scary! I guess I have a bit invested in it. Like my Strat!

Sorry, had a kid’s birthday get in the way of the forum… :wink:
Since I only ever use EZdrummer 2 for browsing loops and assembling songs, I don’t find it restrictive. I feed EZ into Superior, but even there I use mainly specialty processing, but do the (if necessary…) dynamics processing within Cubase and do most EQ on my board.
So it’s a neat setup: A drummer (EZ), a premix of different microphones per individual drum (Sup), a kit mix (including ambient channels!) and compression (CB), and in the end some final EQ of the kit (analog).
Note that on the board I keep kick, snare and the rest separate for eq-ing. Wish I had a GS-R24… :sunglasses:
This works for me!

Cheers,
Benji

I know there’s not really a shortcut to putting in the hours to learn this stuff, but do you have any tips for helping learn BFD? Any video tutorials or similar that you found helpful?

Steve.

Kid’s birthday? Ok, let you off… :wink:

I’ve still got a few days left on the EZ demo but see what you mean about song building. I love the way I can change power hand, drop an initial crash in or out, and bleed in more toms, snare ghost hits, or whatever, all without having to change the basic pattern. And searching seems much less of a chore. Nice idea of yours about routing into Superior. I’ve got BFD so I’ll have to look into that as a possibility.

Cheers, C

Steinberg are currently doing a 30% off price Groove Agent expansions, the Simon Phillips and Songwriters’ kits sound excellent - not bad for post discount £33. IMHO they are head and shoulders far better sounding than the pre-installed GA kits - closing the gap in audio quality to BFD3 significantly.

Checkout the audio demos:
http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/sounds_loops/vst_sound_instrument_sets/the_songwriters.html
http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/sounds_loops/vst_sound_instrument_sets/simon_phillips_studio_drums.html

Some of the other packs (Brits sounds etc) are just extra MIDI content for existing kits and as such don’t represent particularly good value for money, although I do believe Nashville includes a kit.

I am away at the moment but will try to remember to sort something out at the weekend. If I don’t PM me.

Hi Crotchety!

I can’t remember if I’ve read you’ve tried Jamstix 3 as a solution as well … but if not, well worth a go IMO. It is a “smarter” drummer than others by reputation. In practice there are an infinite number of loops, because what comes out of the machine is a product of 2 or 3 dozen drummers, each able to be paired with one or more of maybe 50 different styles … with each one of those drummers and styles having maybe 6-12 or more individual sub-controls … and the overall drumming (the “loop” if you will, but it isn’t really a loop one just searches for and brings up, it’s more like placing a want ad for a drummer in a certain style and auditioning them) able to be adjusted/controlled by at least one or two global modifiers.

So the possible permutations are (X)x(Y)x(Z) … etc. … maybe infinity!

As you can imagine, with all those points of control the beast is not easy to drive initially, but there are some good vids out there to get one started.

The sounds are good quality, but most people seem to route to BFD, etc. as well. For where I am now, I just route to Groove Agent, with plans to upgrade that at some future time.

If you ever do the JS demo and have questions, let me know, and I’ll do what I can if I can to help!

Groove3 (https://www.groove3.com/) have a good BFD3 Explained series of videos.

interesting. Nice to know, thanks!

@ Alexis…

I’ve heard some very nice things about Jamstix actually, as a general rule i like to program my own drums, being an ex drummer, but it’s sometimes nice to have a different perspective as occasionally i’ll use a loop or midi loop as a start or for a bit more inspiration. How do you find it to use?
It’s not hugely expensive so i see and it’s not like i need any of the drum sounds or sound expansion packs… :wink:

Hi matjones!

How do I find it to use? I have to say, at this time I find it great! The selling point is that it is like having a drummer that will do what you suggest, rather than a loop that needs to be accepted pretty much as is. You can pick a drummer (identified by first names of famous drummers, and Ralph has programmed drum characteristics to match - the John (Bonham) with a late pocket style, Stewart (Police) with simple kicks and busy snare (I’m not a drummer, don’t know his style and forget what his characteristic drum style may be, so I’m probably wrong in remembering those details), another named drummer who is known for XYZ, another (Keith Moon) known for being very very busy, another … etc., you get the idea. If one is up on current drummers and their styles, I’d think it’d be very cool to be able to zero in on that as a starting point.

Then once you pick a drummer you can pair it with a style - X styles of jazz, Y styles of Rock, Z styles of Calypso, N styles of Samba … etc. So, you could go straight and pick Charlie (Watts) doing 4/4 Rock Style, or be unusually creative and pick Keith Moon doing Calypso, or anything between - the choice is yours.

Then you can build a song from parts, with tempo changes if needed: Intro, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Silent, Breakdown, ending, etc. etc.

Then for each song part, or even more granular on a measure-by-measure basis, you can vary the characteristics of the Drummer, and also independently the Style. You can essentially tell the drummer: “I like how you’re playing in general, but would you mind please accentuating the toms a bit more than fills in the chorus compared to the pre-chorus, oh and also maybe increase the frequency of ghost snares there as well?”. Really, the amount of detail you can instruct the drummer in is almost infinite, or you can just set him free after picking the global drummer and style (as above) - the choice is yours.

There are a lot of GUI issues. They don’t affect the drumming itself, but can be maddening if one focuses on them - things like backspacing once deleting two or three characters; or having to click on a parameter to enter one value, close it, then click on it again to enter another parameter (as opposed to doing it all at once while it is open the first time), things like that. For me, I’ve used them as an opportunity to practice my Zen techniques, not letting things I can do nothing about from getting between me and my goal. (With success to a greater or lesser degree … ). A Version 4 is threatened to be released sometime soon, and these GUI issues will hopefully be decimated in number by then.

For a significant portion of users, based on the Jamstix forum, there is a significant learning curve. In my case there definitely was. For many many hours I had a hard time with it … it seemed to need to be tamed, the drummers were too “hey listen to me” in my book, and I couldn’t figure out how to calm them down. But probably the biggest thing was I was overwhelmed by all the programming choices, and I wasn’t able to get from the user manual or vids how to prioritize them in order of global >> granular.

Finally, it all of a sudden clicked with me how to do that, after watching a random video. I don’t know if it was the video itself, or the gods of drumming were satisfied with my blood sacrifice of time spent, but now it is pretty much a breeze (knock on wood, it’s only in the last session or two that I got to this point). And I love knowing that the drum track is as personalized as I want it to be, and that no-one else has a loop from another program that sounds like my drum track.

It also does other nice stuff. For example: import a “stale” drum loop from another program, ask it to be played by Drummer X , and in Style Y - the basic loop is preserved, but it sounds so much more organic.

That’s probably the best word to describe JS - the results are organic, as if a live drummer were playing it.

Sorry so wordy … !

Hey Alexis!

Thanks for taking the time and effort for that… much appreciated!

lol i very often find the same thing happens to me, i think it’s called ‘over thinking’ things, looking for something more complex than what’s actually there… it usually comes to me in the shower or on the bog :wink:

Bit skint this month but will have to check the demo out at some point, sounds quite intriguing!