Rayzoon Jamstix 4 is the indisputably best "virtual" drummer VST there is. Initially I would have taken a few weeks to a month to really get an idea of what to think of a VST, but it only took me 24 hours with Jamstix 4 to know that I found something much more special than any other Drum VST there is....
When you hear the word drum VST, SD2 and EZdrummer often are the first names to come to mind. If you know how to program midi, the traditional options are great. However, not everyone can do that, and some multi instrumentalist artists only need a drummer as they can play all the others instruments themselves. This has been my problem as a classically trained pianist, flamenco guitarist, and metal guitarist, I have tried all of the old "drag and drop" MIDI groove VSTs.
Someone finally mentioned Jamstix 4 to me last week, and upon watching the video, I was in a state of shock because what I had been seeking for endlessly on forums, social media and everywhere else not only existed, it was in its fourth incarnation. mDrummer by Melda and Strike 2 by Air effects (Avid), and while they are great VSTs themselves that try to imitate the A.I. of Jamstix, they do not come close to what kind of automation is possible with Jamstix 4.
While it is a stand alone program, you cannot expect such a perfect piece of software to encompass ALL things at the basic level, and so it is great to use as a module for something like Superior Drummer if you get the basic version. In other words, you can write and arrange everything (live as well/on the fly) and you can play it back as well through the VST itself, but if you can send it to a drum program with your preferred drum "instrument" sound files, then you have that option as well - which is incredibly useful and open minded of the creator.
Melda's mDrummer is great for composing a MIDI track, but it is not a virtual drummer, and its live mode and general GUI is not easy to use. On the other hand is the overly simple Air Strike 2, which is a great BASIC tool for writing drum parts for guitarists or musicians who don't know how to program or write MIDI drums well. It offers a variety of styles and choices, and sounds, but not only are you "stuck" with the library of drum sounds they offer, but you cant route/send it to your favorite VST, forcing you to use the VST first, send out the midi, and then place the MIDI file in the arrangement of your other drum VST. Rayzoon was very smart for allowing MIDI bussing to VST's that a customer may have paid $300 for because the sounds are great...but what was missing was the "brain" of Jamstix.
As I said, since the digidesign eleven rack came out, Ive been searching for the perfect VST, but no one ever told me to look at Rayzoon. It's hidden secret of studio musicians, and now I know why I haven't heard of it since I've started to look for DAWs about 15 years ago: if people KNEW that studio musicians could "write' drums" that come out this perfectly with just about 5 clicks, producer fees/costs would go down quite a bit.
Im an advanced musician/instrumentalist, and for years I've struggled to write drums with VST's included MIDI grooves, downloading metal expansion packs, searching far and wide for the "perfect virtual drummer," and no one ever told me about Jamstix when I asked about 50 times over the course of 10 years on 10 different musician forums, "is there a VST that can automate composition?" - the answer is a resounding YES. It can do every style of music that you have the desire to record. Rayzoon's Jamstix 4 is the best drum VST ever made, and I am sure the $300 edition that has more sounds and sound files would make this the only drum VST you would ever need.
With that said, if you happen to be a metal guitarist looking for a metal drum VST, this is the only real choice if you want the best. With the metal pak add-on, this virtual drummer has a sound library worthy of competition with any metal drum VST, like the metal foundry. In fact, the drum VST is so good, that routing isn't necessary to another drummer, even if the metal foundry was at one point the gold standard for home recording metal musicians.
This is the only VST I've ever tried that goes so far beyond my expectations, that I had to inform the company that they are genius - literally. Get Jamstix 4.Read Review
I have several good, and even great drum VI's, both free and paid. But Jamstix surpasses them all. Jamstix enables you to make drum tracks for all types of songs, and not have to buy bunches of MIDI packs. Or spend eternity on editing.
Jamstix is awesome for turning static MIDI loops & patterns into dynamic, realistic drum tracks. You can manipulate every aspect and nuance of a MIDI loop in every way imaginable. Easily add fills of any sort, hi-hat patterns, tom fills....on and on. You can make sections busier, or more sparse. You can play with the dynamics at will, and even play with that elusive "pocket feel" (nuanced timing in the beat, basically) It's very difficult to explain all it can do in a compact way.
Jamstix can emulate the playing style of many different drummers, and you can even mix and match their styles- per kit piece. Also, there are many different styles/music genres to pick from. The flexibility and versatility is the best I've ever come across, by far. And you can build whole songs, fast- once you get the hang of a few things.
Now, there IS a bit of a learning curve. Sometimes it's tricky to know what exactly Jamstix is going to do with a loop, at first. But after 2 or 3 days of tooling around with it, I have it doing more than any other drum VI that I've used in the past. Already.
I personally do like the included drum kits (and mixer), but if you have other drum VI's whose sounds you want to use, Jamstix can easily drive those.
The interface is very unique. I really like it, but certain people pass on Jamstix because it's a bit different than most drum VI's. I say, let these people miss out! I don't want them to have access to my secret weapon anyway.
There are many great to excellent drum VI's out there, but Jamstix is definitively my top pick.Read Review
There is no other machine or software that drums as realistically human as Jamstix. Out of the box it will do some strange things because you don't know what you're doing yet. An example of that would be not changing your DAW host BPM to a speed that's appropriate for the R&B style you just chose. There are a lot of control "surfaces" and many of the adjustments interplay with others so it takes some time to learn how to direct Jamstix to drum for your song optimally. Get on the forum and the developer Ralph and other experts will give you exact instructions on how to achieve your goal.
I recommend the Jamstix Studio bundle. It includes almost all the "drummers", "styles" and samples. I have Superior Drummer but tend to use the Jamstix "kits". They sound quite good, I'm especially fond of the Bonzo Pak kits.
I have BIAB, Jammer, pattern books and drum MIDI collections. I've programmed from scratch, played in parts on a keyboard, played parts in from pads. Jamstix is a better way. I use it to practice bass styles, backing for practicing covers, laying down drums for original compositions and for live jamming via a foot controller.Read Review
First up, let me say that I am no drummer, but I do know what I like when I hear it. And this is the first piece of drum software that I have tried that I was able to get something that inspired me to go deeper. This is almost like having several drummer just sitting around and waiting for you, not only that but no ego's to get in the way. Seriously though, this is a fantastic piece of software, not the easiest to use or the quickest to learn, but if you spend some time with it, the manual and if needed their forum, you will be rewarded with the ability to pretty much do anything you need with drums and percussion.
Some of the more impressive features to me are the fact that Jamstix patterns are always human playable. The included algorithmic 'drummers' do indeed have their own character and flare, which adds interest. The fact that it can drive other drum programs, import and export MIDI files, and it can create drum patterns driven by a audio file input are all pretty hefty tools. Drum kits can be edited, as can the generated patterns. Overall there is just a lot of value for the money here and a lot of power for song creation.
The only reason I didn't give it a 10 out of 10 is the GUI, it's not exactly terrible, just a bit hard to understand at first. A bit intimidating if you will. But, some time with the manual clears most of it up rather well.
Now they say you should always save the best for last so here it is. What I find to be the best thing so far about my purchase of Jamstix is by far the customer service. It is top notch, very prompt and friendly reply's and quick turn around times to any questions I have asked.
Would I recommend Jamstix to anyone looking for Drum software?
Absolutely I would.Read Review
A week later and everything still applies. A great piece of music software from a responsive indie developer.
Just started working with it this weekend; about 16 hours total. Its been a long time since a piece of software for my DAW left me totally gobsmacked so forgive the long post.
I've been evaluating Jamstix along with TabTrax using Toontrack SD2 and SaviHost to get a sense of workflow outside of Cubase for just creating drum arrangements that I can save for importing into Cubase after I have a basic groove and rudimentary arrangement worked out.
I'm not a great drum programmer; it's never been as intuitive as actually playing a simple backbeat on a kit. Therein, however, lies my dilemma. I can play solid enough rudimentary backbeat but not much more. I also don't have the room in my flat to set up my Roland kit nor would my downstairs neighbor much like it. As a result I've been searching for a relatively intuitive way to lay down drum parts. It appears thus far that Jamstix will allow me to adopt the kind of workflow I was struggling to achieve using EZplayer and TT Solo. I've only just scratched the surface of Jamstix and it feels like it will only become more useful the deeper I get into it.
I found a drum tab that had the general vibe I was going for to seed my drum part.
Pasted the drum tab into TabTrax and auditioned it inside TabTrax to make sure the tab wasn't wonky.
Saved the tab as a MIDI file with TabTrax.
Opened Jamstix using SaviHost and chose a kit from TT SD2
Imported the MIDI file I saved with TabTrax.
Auditioned the Jamstix drummers and then...
... it got really interesting.
The parameters Jamstix provides to mold a drum part into something suitably inspiring is amazing.
After the drum track was where I wanted it in Jamstix, a very good start, I saved it as a MIDI file, opened Cubase, imported the file, worked out a simple bass guitar part to start getting a better sense of things, recorded the bass part so I don't forget it, then did a little drum editing in Cubase, went back to the bass part for a bit, and so on.
I had some pretty serious reservations about using tabs or canned MIDI files; anything that I didn't put time and effort into programming or playing myself. Jamstix requires plenty time and effort, however, to make a track your own. Once a MIDI file is loaded into Jamstix you can start working with it to make it your own. Starting out with a simple Richard S. or Charlie W. style backbeat you can gradually add accents, cymbals, hi-hat, toms, embellish, take away then add again.
Working from a converted tab was successful so next I loaded a MIDI file from the Steve Ferrone Platinum Samples MIDI Groove Library and after working with it for about an hour I knew I didn't have to concern myself about feeling like I was cribbing. I compared the file that I derived from the MIDI groove to the original, there was a significant difference. It retained a family resemblance and the vibe I sought out to begin with but it was quit distinct from the original. I even listened to the bass part with the original MIDI file and it still worked, albeit, in a very different way. The analogy I'll use is a drummer coming in, laying down a groove, and after working with him for an hour or so, getting the part where I want it to be without completely ignoring his creative input.
I spent most of my 20's playing out and recording in garage/indie bands with drummers who couldn't stop "jamming" enough to critically listen to the song the band was playing or even in between songs to listen to suggestions that would allow a more sympathetic approach to the needs of the song verses their ego.
There were, however, a couple of exceptional drummers who would listen, try well thought out variations, not just "jam" along, and actually be a partner in helping the band write and arrange. They didn't fall into the stereotype of, "What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?" They were solid musicians not "just" drummers. Working with MIDI files and converted tabs in Jamstix vs other programs that use loops or emulate drum machines reminds me of working with those exceptional drummers as apposed to the chuckleheads.
IMO, TabTrax + a couple of supplemental MIDI Packs + Jamstix + TT SD2 = the best you can get when you can't get a good drummer with a well tuned kit.
My complaints thus far are few. I tried to get Jamstix to play from inside Cubase and it didn't work until I used jBridge. It would also be nice to have expansions that only include players and styles without any Jamstix drum kits. Small complaints to be sure, however...
Toontrack SD2 is my primary drum program and I have all the SDX libraries, only two of the EZX. Jamstix doesn't include drum maps for any of the TT SDX libraries outside of NY v2. I've already modified the Allaire kit mapping in Jamstix for Music City, renamed it accordingly and saved it but it appears that not all articulations are available for mapping.
To get started with Jamstix for $99.00US is a bargain. Add a MIDI library for $30-$40, and TabTrax for another $30 and you are still in bargain territory.
Here's the best part of Jamstix:
Timely feedback and support from the developer; the best I've experienced since I started patronizing indie developers.Read Review