Did you think that Battery or DR008 have been the answer to your question for a good drum sampler? Well guess what - you asked the wrong question! This VST/RTAS/AU/ReWire/DXi/Standalone instrument from fxpansion takes Steinberg’s concept of a virtual drummer (groove agent) to a professional level. The superb sounding 9 GB big, sample content was recorded by Steve Duda (engineer/producer for e.g. NIN & A Perfect Circle) and includes 7 drum kits (from DW, Ayotte, Lucite, Ludwig, Slingerland, Pearl & Leedy) and additional kit pieces (from e.g. Premier, Radio King, Porkpie, Tama, Noble/Cooley & even stuff from unknown manufacturers) with up to 46 velocity layers per hit. Every hit was recorded simultaneously through eleven high class microphones.
Now to have full access to this sample library fxpansion created BFD which is able to adjust the volume of direct-, overhead-, room- & pcm-mics separately. The first sample library to offer control over the room sound was Toontrack's 'Drum kit from hell' (with direct and room mics), but BFD goes way beyond that. You can even move the stereo ambient mics around and spread them. Furthermore you're able to adjust the balance between the snares' top or bottom mic, or the bass drums' inside and outside mic (only the DW bass drum has no second mic - but Steve promised to look into this and maybe add this if possible).
With BFD it's very easy to (re)compile new kits - you just need to click the button corresponding to the kit piece you want to change and choose from a variety of drums or cymbals. While it's not possible, and due to BFD's paradigm of multimiced drums senseless to load your own samples, fxpansion will release expansion packs for BFD in the near future. So, this way even kit pieces that are still missing, like drums played with brushes or mallets, or simply more drum kits to choose from will be available soon.
A feature unique to the BFD is the ability to change the velocity correspondence of each kit piece, so even if you simply create your rhythm tracks in your host's piano roll (midi editor) you can decide at which velocity 'the drum is hit' without changing the velocity of each drawn note. BFD is even smart enough to handle humanization in both timing and velocity, while a relaxed, French looking guy and some kind of robot dude will help you to achieve your aims.
When you're host supports multiple outs you can either use the BFD Stereo (Stereo Master output only), BFD Groups (four stereo outputs - Direct Master, Overhead, Room and PZM) or BFD All (mono out for every kit piece and stereo outs for Overhead, Room and PZM). The last one gives you the freedom to process every kit piece separately, which may become very handy during the mix.
Last but not least BFD offers you an integrated Drummer (the Groove Librarian) who's capable of almost every style you could imagine (again - even if you might find a groove the BFD is not [yet] capable of you can go to the fxpansion forum on www.kvr-vst.com and request it). You can either tell the drummer, by pressing the corresponding key on your midi keyboard, what to play or when; or simply set some guidelines (e.g. a break every fourth bar) and let BFD do the rest. You're of course still able to play it like any other drum sampler via midi notes.
Since BFD uses disk streaming technology you should have a fast computer with enough RAM and an even faster hard drive to benefit from all the features it has to offer. But still it's possible to tweak it that it runs on Laptops with slower hard drives, when using the 'RAM only' option. This way you'll only hear the first seconds of each hit (depending on how much RAM you're able to assign to BFD). I've tested BFD on a Dell Latitude with 1,6 GHz pentium m, 512MB of RAM and a 5.600rpm hard drive - and while composing I used the 'RAM only' function and whenever I was ready to render the track, I just clicked on the 'bounce' button and had a wonderful sounding drum track. Still I think that an option to listen to the Direct Out only, or to reduce the amount of velocity layers in order to lower the disk load while composing, would have been very cool.
All in all this is the best acoustic drum module I've seen. I'm blown away by the sound and the possibilities this monster has to offer. Sadly you can't test it, for its sample library is simply too big to make a downloadable demo possible. But if this got you interested you can go to www.fxpansion.com and download some of the audio demos and maybe take a look at the shockwave demonstration, or you can go to fxpansion's forum on www.kvr-vst.com in order to ask some users about their opinion or maybe listen to songs they've made using the BFD. I am a user and I am addicted. BFD ROCKS !!!