Been on the lookout for decent drum sounds for a while. Been pondering over sample based drum synths, but that felt too limited, I'd like to build them from the ground up. The xox style machines were too limited in scope and it didn't quite click with the sound of some other synths.
Enter Drumspillage, I've been using this for a few months now and it really starts to grow on me. To start with the interface, I like it, it's uncluttered, logically laid out and it's just extremely inviting to dive in and dial in new sounds for hours at an end.
The more important part, sound, this is were it really starts to shine. It can be as deep, punchy, gritty or gentle as you want it to be. It doesn't impart it's own flavor to the sound, it's actually very clean, which is good as it's my goto drum synth for any occasion. It really sits well in a mix, and doesn't need to have a lot of additional processing. Both the extreme highs and extreme lows are there, undistorted, and without any other artifacts.
One thing I really like is how quick you can make a sound exactly to your liking. Let's say you want a typical 808 style kick, the deep, long booming type of kick. Choose one of the bassdrum models, dial in a long release on the envelope, and sculpt it to the finest detail. Want a click? No problem. Want some more grit? Use for instance the FM slightly to give it a more lively feel.
It is, in fact, something that sets it apart from the rest. The amount of useful, high quality, sounds you use 90% of the time. Kick, hats, snare, clap? Got it, and delivers with aplomb. Not that you're not able to go into more experimental territory. Drumspillage delivers just the right tools to get those 90%, but offers enough flexibility in its synth models to go (far) beyond drum sounds.
See, you have a selection of different models, each catered to a certain type of sound. A model in Drumspillage is just a set of oscillators and noise sources, but all interconnected in a different way. Some offer FM capabilities, others a selection of noise sources, each with their own filters. Don't be fooled with their names though. For instance, I've been able to get a nice tom sound from the Clave model.
After the model, you'e able to mangle the sound further with a distortion unit and filter per pad. They'e essential in dialing in sounds, and can be modulated with the envelopes and LFO's.
Speaking of which, they're very well thought of. The envelopes are nice and snappy (as they should!), you're able to set the ADR as note divisions (synced to the host) as well as time. The slope curvature of the envelope is seamlessly adjustable.
It really feels like a lot of thought and love has gone into this synth, and it shows. It's full of smart features on both performance and synthesis.
If I have to fault it, it would be that at times, I'd wish it had some more modulation routings. All destinations are fixed, albeit well chosen.
At heart, Drumspillage is of course a drum synth, making synthetic sounds. Although much to my surprise I have been able to get some natural sounding percussion, toms and bassdrums out of it. But the ability to load samples would have been a great addition. It's available now in Minispillage2, but I hope someday it will make it to its big brother as well.
Last but not least, the developer is quick with responding, and even a bug I happened to encounter was resolved within an hour. Updates enhancing the functionality are frequent. I didn't encounter many problems though, and it has been very solid. CPU usage is average, I find it to use about as much as Massive (of course both depending on polyphony). But hey, you can freeze the pads inside the synth!
As you could have guessed by now, I'm digging this synth. I think it deserves praise, so that's what it gets from me. And I believe that, if you're on a Mac, you owe it to yourself to at least give the demo a try.