Long renowned for their innovative approach to music, the Image-Line / Maxx Claster duo has once again stormed onto the scene and kicked it in the nuts. Drumaxx is a refreshing breath of air in a field that has become a bit stale.
Drumaxx is neither a 'drummer in a box' or an emulation of a hardware classic; rather, it is a drum machine that has succeeded in defining its own characteristic and tone. The plug-in employs a physical modeling (as opposed to a sample-based) approach to sound generation and the benefits of this are quite obvious as soon as you load it up.
The GUI is well-marked, easy to navigate, and easy on the eyes. IL / MC has earned the reputation of producing GUI's that are the perfect blend between art and functionality. The pads are split into 2 banks and simple mouse click navigates between them.
The sound is the defining characteristic of this plug-in. It is not a hardware knock off; rather, it has its own unique sound that can be attributed to its innovative approach to the design of the audio engine. The modeling control portion of the unit offers the user a cornucopia of tweakability; giving it the ability to produce a wide array of sounds. Though I must admit, getting 'natural' drum sounds out of it has alluded me thus far, I have been able to get drum sounds ranging from 80's synth pop (e. g. Soft Cell) to gritty industrial (e. g. early Skinny Puppy).
Drumaxx has a solid offering of features and goodies. In addition to the modeling controls previously discussed, it offers a step-sequncer with swing control, a per-pad panner, an equalizer, a limiter, and a preset management system. The glaring absence is the lack of a solid modulation system. A fully assignable modulation matrix with a healthy assortment of ADSR envelopes and LFO's would be an awesome addition to the unit.
The documentation adequately explains the major features, but at only 8 pages it is a little bit light. If a couple of sound-design tutorials were added and the explanations were slightly more detailed, this would be improved.
Like Harmless, this plug-in offers a bank of presets that are all usable. Instead of providing thousands of presets that lack distinction and usability, IL provides a complete bank that showcases the diverse nature of Drumaxx.
I did not require any customer support with this plug-in; quite frankly, it worked right out of the gate and has not broken as of this writing. However, I have used IL's support forum and ticketing system in the past and have found it to be top-notch. I have no reason to believe that will change for this plug-in.
At a minimum price of $13.00 U. S. D., this plug-in would be a steal if it was only half as good as it currently is. However, given the fact that is as good as it is, the price makes it a super steal. You would be hard-pressed to find a better value.
As previously stated, it has not crashed or underperformed in any way. I have used it in the current versions of Reaper, Energy XT, Orion, Acid Pro, Fl Studio and VST Host without the slightest hiccup or undesired behavior.