EZbass sounds great but does not - in my opinion - live up to Toontrack's EZ line of applications.
I am a loyal and happy Toontrack customer. My Toontrack product manager tells me I own 93 Toontrack products. I have had nothing but great results with EZdrummer 2, EZkeys, and EZmix 2.
I do not find EZbass easy to use at all. I've watched the Groove3 course for it, and while I found the course informative, I never reached a point where EZbass was anything other than frustrating for me to use. My dream bass player is probably Adam Clayton, so it's not like my expectations are inordinately high, either.
I tried importing a chord progression from EZkeys and got puzzling and unusable results. I tried programming by hand and found it frustrating and unrewarding (and unusable). I tried playing in parts on the keyboard and concluded that if I had to do that, I'd rather be using something else.
I am aware of and happy for the MANY satisfied users of EZbass.
One final observation: The exclusion of a simple (or even complicated) way to create parts exclusively for a four string bass - as opposed to five string - is mind-bogglingly inexplicable. If I were to list my top seven thousand albums of all time, none of them would feature a five string bass.
I encourage other EZbass users - especially satisfied ones - to review this instrument.Read Review
This plugin is great if you're looking for a quick application of effects with a few clicks. Its a great time saver, and the actual chains are high quality. However, I would wait for a sale; I copped it for $38. At that price, its solid.Read Review
Stunning, as expected. Legendary sounds created by a master. If you read the description then you'll know what to expect. And these kits deliver exactly that. I'm a big fan of the 70s era rock. So for me this is nothing short of fantastic! Think Zeppelin, Stones, Hendrix and you are in the ball park. Also included, as usual, are a bunch of very useful and well played grooves. Winner.Read Review
I came at this from the perspective of wanting to know if I, as a BFD3 owner, could benefit from Superior Drummer 3, sufficient to justify paying the additional $400. It is interesting to compare the two, now that I own both.
From having both Superior Drummer 3 and BFD3, BFD3 sounds better for a number of things if it is properly dialed in. Excuse me if there are errors; this is from memory. In BFD3 the realism of cymbal swell for instance is superior, excuse the pun, to the SD3 smoothing algorithm.
It appears from my first few days in SD3, also, that the Groove FX of BFD3 are a little superior to the "apply swing" and dynamics adjusting tools in SD3. Why? Because apparently you can apply to selections, preview and undo in BFD 3.
I believe you can do almost as much in SD3, except it appears you cannot, at the click of a button, "preview" the changes that correspond to those features in BFD3, while editing them. You can do this in BFD3 which is awesome, because it allows you to hear many adjustments without having to go around clicking the undo button all the time. Also BFD3, I believe, has 100 or so undo steps available. SD3, per their manual, appears to support only one. (Or they should be more clear in the manual).
Also, BFD3 does a better job, apparently, of allowing for quick editing of the MIDI map - because once initiated, you can press a series of MIDI keys to map all the articulations in a drum piece - no mousing and menu-digging. BFD3 also features an editable kit with visuals that reflect infinite possibilities (except I think there is a limit of about 32 pieces.)
On the other side of the argument, Superior Drummer was a great purchase for me. I am glad I have both. But Superior Drummer is the result of work with a pro at mastering drums. The levels-matching makes switching out your drums and finding the right balance in your particular preset for your particular need extremely easy. Frankly I will be using both, with SD3 as the core for working in genres that are either mostly rock, or rock and electronic. I will add sounds from BFD3 in this case. If I'm doing something with percussion however, SD3 has nothing whatever in that field, except some of the plunky stuff from SD2, and a couple of claps, and a cowbell. BFD3 has an expansion that is quite a good percussion library with a number of very useful and realistic pieces.
Ultimately, for me, as a core kit, and also especially for working with Rayzoon Jamstix 4, you can't beat the feel of having your own master drum engineer to set up your initial playground of sounds for you. BFD3, while it has equal sounds in many cases, and sometimes better ones (but variety is welcome in professional situations anyway), requires constant attention in terms of levels because not only are the stock presets not the best in representing the most-used sounds (they are better at variety than SD3..)
But IMVHO the individual kit pieces load (stock) with variations in room and ambience and overhead, that should have been more standardized rather than attempting to highlight the character of the piece - because while I understand it, it is simply too difficult a work flow and too tempting to fiddle with improving sounds. Because you have a lot of variables, mixer routings, variations in groove velocity per preset, and so on. So not only should there be refined kit presets, but it also helps to have each piece well-dialed to correspond with the other samples in the library. SD3 did an astoundingly successful job on this.
I still think the sounds are a bit more rich in some cases in BFD3 - but more time spent with SD3 is in order.
I haven't begun to use the song creator feature in SD3, nor have I done much with the groove editor. BFD3 has a few more options for note entry in the grid (it still lacks some basics also) and can paint rudiments which is very cool.
Another distinction between the Superior Drummer 3 and BFD3 is that the sounds in BFD3 are dryer if you want to go in and add ambience more creatively. Not that you can't go entirely dry with the Superior Drummer Kit pieces. But I think the moment you begin to bring in some of the authentic sounding recorded ambience, they are suddenly quite awash in ambience, whereas even when you add overheads, room mics, or ambience mics into the BFD3 sounds, you get the sense that the original sound is recorded with mics that are well isolated, so that you can back off those mics and still get left with a very full and snappy sound. On the other hand, with SD3, backing off reveals that part of the character coming from the ribbon and condenser mics is somewhat critical, versus the directs - I like what BFD3 and SD3 did; each has its place. But in terms of coloration, I find that the direct/close mic sound of SD3 is a little enhanced/washed out already (depending on if this is a good mixing trick, or getting in the way of your creativity) by the mic characteristic and the placement. I'm no expert on how drums are mic'd. It would be interesting for another user of both products to respond.
[Actually I did find a comment on a forum by a more experienced SD2/SD3 user, who expressed this concerning the new Rock Foundry SDX, which has been released after the release of SD3, and perhaps has some similarities].
Song Creator: I tested this out first with my own user MIDI files, and couldn't get it to work. It kept producing the same parts no matter which of my beats, reggae, rock, and funk..., I dragged in. I was befuddled so I did the same thing with one of the included grooves. Presto, it worked as advertised. If this is true, that user MIDI isn't going to work well with Song Creator, then its nicely geared to match the other feature, of SHOW WEB SHOP MIDI. This whole thing is very disconcerting because to me it was totally implied that user MIDI could be used. And creating a bunch of song parts from Toontrack grooves, that follow the genre choices of Toontrack, isn't so supportive of musicianship and creativity that I strive for in my workflow. I'm not a drummer, nor do I have a drummer in my band, and so I have little use for Tracker (which allows converting user drum tracks to SD3 tracks). Albeit if a person purchased the whole Toontrack MIDI library, ultimately there would be some overlap between some desired rhythmic patterns, and the ones Toontrack happens to have created. But I am hoping this is some sort of user ignorance or software problem, and that user MIDI will eventually work great. We'll see. I will update this review if I hear back from Toontrack...
One other comment in passing. SD3 essentially only has 4 hi hats, albeit with some brush and rod artics. You have plenty of kicks and snares. You have cymbals enough to go around. Why not have 7 DISTINCT hi hats. C'mon guys, add some more variety, or this review will not be discredited.
Finally, SD3 looks outstanding, and not only can be sized fully (even in Reaper) but windows can be detached in it.
Hope this helps anyone wishing to have a comparison.Read Review
Despite my rating of 8, Beatstation is the best drum sample player I've used, and I've used a bunch of them. Beatstation has tons more features than just drum sample playback, including bass and lead sections, and REX and MIDI file loading and playback. I recommend checking out the full feature list via Toontrack's website or online demos.
If you use EZ Drummer or Superior Drummer, Beatstation is a no-brainer. Beatstation will load your samples and MIDI libraries from either of those products and their expansions. It will also load all your .wav samples that you have all over your hard drive. Sometimes when I want to layer sounds under an EZ Drummer part I've created, I'll copy the MIDI to a new track and load up Beatstation with samples I want to use to augment whatever kit I'm using in EZD.
Even used by itself, layering of drum sounds is what Beatstation does best. You can have up to five samples per pad, each with its own volume, pan, pitch, and envelope. Just loading two samples to the same pad and playing with their envelopes allows me to use the attack from one drum and the body from another. Suddenly I'm a sound designer! Velocity can be toggled on and off per layer.
The big hidden feature that I use most is the EZ Mix style effects. Each pad can have its own insert effect, but like I said, these are EZ Mix style effects, so its actually a chain of effects designed for your kick or snare or cymbals or percussion or whatever. There are also two fx sends and those effects are simpler, like just compression or just reverb or just flanger. You can send the whole pad (up to five layers) to the send fx, but each layer also has controls for the sends too. Between the envelopes and pitch control and all the available effects, it would be super easy to take 16 generic drum samples and make your own original drumkit.
As for why I didn't rate this a ten, there are a couple of things that could use a little improvement and one thing that needs a huge improvement. The main thing is the appearance. Despite having many available skins, they all are garish or have graphics that can interfere with easy reading of the interface. As I once shared with a Toontrack employee (apparently to no avail) the skins look like 1990s Geocities web pages (anyone of a certain age will know what a slam that is!). While I love the envelopes, the little envelope window is so small that it is hard to grab the points with my mouse (and I use a big monitor). Lastly, I'd like to see the dropdown FX menus replaced with menus like their other products have.
Beatstation is an amazing piece of software, and despite my criticisms, I prefer it to all the other programs of its kind that I have used. I gladly overlook its few shortcomings because they do not affect its functionality. I hope Toontrack give it a little TLC soon, because in my opinion the way it looks is the only thing keeping it from being as successful as it is good.Read Review
EZMix-2 by Toontrack is a pro-designed multi-effects mix tool that makes it possible for users to quickly and effortlessly accomplish sweet sounding songs.
After a painless purchase, download, install and authorize process — users will launch and quickly notice a sleek modern two part GUI featuring and Main Interface and an Effect Rack. There is instant access to many presets that are intelligently organized. At the bottom are meters, gain knobs (in/out), and two control knobs that function in accordance to the selected preset. The right side has a tuner up top and with outboard gear, amps, etc. below. The color scheme of the IU is easy on the eyes and provides just enough contrast. Note: Users will need initially need to mute their audio out to avoid feedback.
WHO THIS IS NOT FOR!
I usually start my user reviews on a positive note, but in the case I'd like to address the elephant in the room and get it out of the way! Here goes —> If you like diving deep into every nuance of your mixing and mastering with total control over each parameter by virtue of several plugins, advanced routing, etc. — This plugin in not for you! If you feel it's "cheating" to inexpensively enjoy the expertise of award winning engineers and producers — This plugin in not for you! I completely respect anyone with a passion for total creative and artistic control over each and every element of their sound, but that is not what (and who) this plugin is designed for. You may very well feel frustrated by the inherent restriction of the controls. If the restrictions outweigh the convenience, than this is not for you. But wait! I may be wrong. Some eMusicians, producers, etc., may have a couple different ways to work depending on the project and situation. There are times when they might need to quickly sketch-out a mix. With that in mind, I think almost anyone could use EZMix-2, some more often than others.
Do you want to focus your time on writing music or mixing and mastering?
WHO THIS IS FOR!
Back in the day, when eMusic began, I quickly wrote and recorded a lot of songs — some good and some not-so-good, but I was prolific and had fun. My set-up and workflow were simple and effective. As technology advanced, possibilities became endless, and unfortunately things also became extremely complex. I had trouble completing a song until launching EZMix-2 came along! This plugin is cleverly designed to help users focus on creative process instead of getting bogged down by the technical part of it all. It is perfectly suited for anyone in need of creating a great sounding mix/master without getting caught up in endless parameter choices. It's hard to get bogged down with only two knobs (after choosing a preset)! I'm sure my struggle is by no means unique. I'm sure there are many songwriters cursing their DAW as I type this user review. If the conveniences outweigh the limitations, than this is for you.
An audio software package of this nature, begs the question — Will everyone who uses this sound the same? This is an understandable concern, but the answer is NO! That's not how this plugin works. It does not transform tracks into something homogenized; it merely optimizes your specific, unique sound to be more in line with your chosen genre. To quote a fellow online forum member," It is a tool and how you use the tool decides the outcome."
Everyone has a different approach and workflow. EZMix-2 functions best if tracks are recorded dry and processed on the back end. Some players, especially metal guitarists, prefer to record with their effects fully engaged, i.e., tons of distortion.
EZMix-2 makes mixing and mastering easy and saves time! It simplifies the process, and the time vs. performance ratio is phenomenal. Users will no longer spend countless hours making micro adjustments like compression and EQ changes; yet, it doesn't do it all automatically. Users will have to do a bit of pre-mixing to get things rolling. After setting up a rough mix, the plugin simplifies the needed tasks by providing expertly designed effect chains that are optimized for specific styles of music — "enhancing the sound of the tracks." All in all, simple two knob signal chain processing is provided without having invest time and money on the setting up chains. The functions of the two knobs varies quite a bit depending on the preset. After selecting a preset, there are two control knobs to negotiate with text to the side revealing what each one does.
EZMix-2 is a great stress reducer. It's designed to be loaded on each track during mix-down, making the need for other plugins optional. Inserting EZMix-2 on a master fader can make a world of difference on the overall tone of the track. The plugin creates a painless mixing environment via mixing presets for inserts, busses, aux sends, and effects. The software ships with an excellent assortment of built-in presets. When looking for the perfect sound, users can simply scroll through the presets in real time until one catches his/her ears. For fine tuning, the two big knobs usually allow the user to access the vital parameters of the preset. Users can create a Favorites List. There are dozens of add-on expansion packs available at a reasonable price that are tailored for specific instruments, genres, and styles.
EZMix-2 also includes guitar and bass amp/cam simulation settings that will be convenient and useful for many users. The acoustic and electric sounds are excellent. There are a few dozen top-notch amp presets, ranging from clean chime to dirty blues to over-the-top overdrive. I especially dig the clean presets, and the dirty is also spot on. I have a dedicated amp modeling plugin, but it's nice to know this plugin provides a nice option for my guitar tracks if/when needed. Drum bus presets include parallel compressors, tape simulators, room reverb, etc. For vocals, presets deliver anything from a clean presence to warm to lo-fi. The mastering settings provide just the right amount of whatever is needed to spice-up the overall mix without adding unwanted noise and/or artifacts.
I read somewhere that the effects modules were designed by Overloud. If this is true, that would explain the excellent sound quality.
• Sleek interface
• Dongle free (plugin can access user's account and authorize automatically)
• Simple, yet powerful in every conceivable way — easy to navigate
• Shallow learning curve (not surprisingly — it is called EZMix)
• Many useable presets (three or four hundred, I think)
• Flexible preset search engine
• Great for individual tracks and/or overall mix/master
• Sounds great — especially on drums, loops, and vocals
• CPU friendly with low latency
• Excellent developer with an amazing track record.
• Include extra expansions with initial purchase
• Scalable and/or resizable GUI with snap back to default
• Lock/unlock delay tempos to host
• Parameters could be a little more visual.
EZMix-2 is the fastest, least expensive way to accomplish high quality mixes and mastering. To quote another reviewer,"[It's like there's] a little bit of magic in that EZMix bag of tricks." A phrase that comes to mind is INSTANT GRATIFICATION! I highly recommend EZMix-2 to just about anyone producing eMusic in any genre. It's capable of helping users accomplish pro-like results in a snap. However, in most cases, using this plugin won't threaten the cats at Abbey Road, The Record Plant, Sun Recording Studio, etc. Still, it might be a great tool for everyone else! It's priced right, especially if you catch the bundled expansion packs on sale. I give EZMix-2 a mighty pair of thumbs up! Great Stuff.
Rating: Consider this a 9.5!Read Review