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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I had been manually putting my drums together before I bought this, and after hearing a few pieces put together by people stating they used Jamstix, I had to go out and buy it!
It creates variations and fills in real time rather than rely of stringing MIDI files together, and it will jam along with either MIDI or audio from another track in your DAW which is a great feature. You can also put together your own patterns, either from a MIDI file or by dragging and dropping in a cell matrix.
First impressions were that the UI is not that user-friendly. This seems to be a common criticism of it and one that most people hope will be addressed in future versions. It's not that it's difficult to use, it's just that it's, well...ugly...
The sounds that come out of this are fine - very well sampled drum kits with a very realistic sound. If I had to criticize the sound it would only be that there is not enough variation between kits - maybe a broader range of kits would have been more useful. However, if you don't want to use the Jamstix kits, you can always get it to trigger another sampler that does have the sounds that you want.
Nothing wrong with the documentation that comes with this, but it is maybe a little difficult to understand because it uses screenshots of the UI. If the UI itself was more clear and well laid out, then I'm sure the documentation would seem a lot better.
For presets you get the various kits, the various drummers, and various styles. I think these could be expanded greatly, particularly the variation in kits and more than one example of each style. Having said that, there are plenty of tweakable parameters, so if you don't like it you can change it.
Customer support from Rayzoon is excellent - they have got it exactly right - if the customer has an issue they address it. There are far too many companies out there who are more interested in selling their product than dealing with customers.
Value for money? Absolutely! This is a steal at less than $100!
As for stability, I've had no problems with this at all. It's rock solid and isn't too resource hungry, even when you load some of the larger kits.
I'd recommend this software to anyone looking for a flexible, virtual drummer.
Jamstix 1 was developed from the idea of an "intelligent" jamming buddy, responding to the intensity of your playing in a life-like manner. In time it grew well beyond that, incorporating an arranger section enabling you to give your drummer detailed instructions of what to play, and when to play it. However, as a result of this organic growth the user interface was a bit convoluted, to say the least, and much labour was required to get the results you wanted.
Jamstix 2 has been redone from the ground up -- it's got the same basic ingredients and capabilities, but done in a completely different and much more user-friendly manner. In the transition, it has gone from being jam-centric to arranger-centric, a very good thing for me personally since I don't use the jamming features (much). Instead, I now have a number of competent session drummers I can really sit down and talk arrangements with.
Leaving the live input (jamming) capabilities aside, there are a huge number of things that affect the way a certain part (one or more consecutive bars) in the song structure is played:
- Load a style to decide the basic rhythm -- there are about 50 styles included at the time of writing. These styles are not just patterns: Each style is customizable through a set of controls that is unique to each style. Some styles offer only minor variations, others are really a package of similar styles where you need to go exploring thoroughly in order to realise the possibilities. The March style, for instance, have both foot and snare settings of "March", "Baiao", and "Gadd" -- allowing you to use it for everything from western marching band music to Brazilian Baiao to a creditable emulation of Steve Gadd's famous drumming in "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover".
- Within the style, the playing for a bar is layered into "groove", "accent", and "fill" aspects: Each aspect has its own set of customization controls, and fills can be played in solo or in combination with the other aspects.
- As if this didn't create variety enough, now it's time to choose between the 9 available "drummers". These are models of real-life drummer behaviours that greatly affect the end results. Each drummer has his own ways to add syncopation, accents and fills to the drumming. In addition, you also have access to a totally "brainless" guy, and one who is a machine. The latter is the only one not taking human limitations into account when playing, but does things you would normally need a trained octopus for.
- Still not satisfied? Then go into the bar editor and edit drumming events individually to correct those small annoyances in an otherwise good performance. Manual edits, as well as entire bars, can be locked from further changes by Jamstix.
- Are we done yet? Not quite - you can also add groove maps to all or part of the song, and make global shuffle and general timing adjustments. In addition, there is the possibility to load your own MIDI files and have Jamstix modify those instead of using the built-in styles.
Yes, Jamstix 2 is deep - VERY deep - but in comparison to Jamstix 1, you can get the overall structure of a song together and the drumming in the ballpark much quicker. It is also really easy to move things around in the song structure without as much fear of destroying what you already have and like.
How does Jamstix 2 sound? The answer is, any way you like. You can use only its included drum kits, or sub-host a drum sampler of your choice within Jamstix 2, selecting drums from both sources to work together - use the percussion from Jamstix 2 together with a percussion-less kit in Battery 3, for instance. You can also go MIDI-only out from Jamstix into a drum sampler loaded separately in your host/sequencer.
The basic version of Jamstix 2 contains just one kit, but it is very, very good and "live sounding", although it will not suit all production styles. The XL version also contains all add-on kits released for Jamstix 1, including brushed kits (necessary for some jazz & swing styles) and close-miked kits. Overall, the drum sound quality is really good, competing with the best of the dedicated drum sample libraries, although naturally a bit generic in nature. You should really consider the XL version standard, and the basic version a "stripped down" one.
Ah, the old stumbling block... This product really needs a lot more readily accessible how-tos and tutorials. Besides, the sheer rate of feature add-on and improvement means it's almost impossible to keep the manual up to date. But let's face it, the Jamstix users are an enthusiast crowd, and some visits to the Rayzoon support forums should be obligatory!
There, I've run out of space already with nothing more than scratching the surface. So I'll end just by saying that Ralph Z of Rayzoon is the friendliest and most dedicated man in the entire business. There! Go Buy Jamstix!
Jamstix, how do I love thee? Let me count off the ways! Drummer joke!
I use Rayzoon Technologies'Jamstix for about 1/3 of its intended purposes, and consider it invaluable. For those who don't know, Jamstix will allow you to create a drum arrangement (either from pre-existing patterns or those you program yourself). After you create your arrangement, you can have it follow along with your own playing (audio or midi) or export the midi data of the arrangement to your sequencer. It will provide you with drum sounds or host another VST drum module.
I am a singer/songwriter, so I'm not going to use the (admittedly awesome) play-along-with-Dave-Weckl type features. Instead, I program all my own beats and create arrangements which I import into SONAR. I then split each note to its own track and assign sounds from multiple VSTis to the various drums. How cool is that?
In case you're wondering why someone would use Jamstix when they program their own beats, I'll explain. Jamstix will add snare, tom, and crash accents for you, will vary the velocities of your snare and hats, and allow you to add fills (more elaborate than mere accents) to any measure. Intros and endings are also provided. All of this amounts to incredible realism. Jamstix allows you to control how much variation you get, and if you feel a fill or accent is needed in a measure but aren't happy with what you got, a couple of quick clicks will provide a new fill or accent. Sharp.
So for me, Jamstix is like having a drummer who will play what you want without having to discuss every little detail to death. The learning curve is moderate (harder than easy, easirer than hard). It has a few minor quirks, but don't let that stop you from getting it.
UI - I would give the layout of the UI a 10, and the color scheme... less. ;)
Sound - I love the included sounds. I might be more inclined to use them if there were an export to .wav feature (there has been some discussion of this on the Jamstix forum).
Features - Oh, my. Where to begin? To me, Jamstix is like two products in one. As I stated above, the way I use it is as a drummer who does exactly as he's told. It can also do the opposite, and surprise you as much as you'd like! It can assist you in sequencing or take over completely, your choice.
Documentation - Really pretty good.
Presets - Lots of patterns, fills, intros and endings. You can save your own patterns as well. I would like it if a few simpler patterns and fills were included. More of everything would be most welcome! Also, a way to easily create fills, intros, and endings would be nice (I say "easily" because it currently is possible if you want to learn the Dev's method and create them in code).
Customer Support - The best there is. I don't say that lightly. Both support requests and feature requests are handled with care and speed. I've seen feature requests implemented in as little as a few days. Feature Requests!!! If you are a software Dev, the model of Rayzoon's Ralph should be what you aspire to.
Value For Money - I pre-ordered at $89 (the regular price is $99). A pittance.
Stability - Never had a problem.
If you make music and your music has drums and you don't use a live drummer, get Jamstix. If you make a style of music that emulates a drummer, it's a no brainer. If you make electronic music, you should see what jamstix can do for you. Create drum parts and use the resulting midi data to fuel your experiments. Use your imagination.
I don't expect to see a better VSTi for quite some time.
Jamstix is the only program that I tried that actually sounds like a real drummer, complete with fills and random hits. The built-in sounds are okay, but you get the best result with a proper drumkit in a seperate sampler (like Battery or Kontakt).
I haven't used its real-time capabalities much, since I am not such a great keyboard player. I use it in Cubase SX and found that the program really shines when automating its parameters, most notably the probabilities of snare variations and crashes.
What I would like to see in this program is a better way to program new rhythms. The interface right now is a bit confusing and doesn't offer features to drill down to the low level bits. I'd love to simply have a pattern-editor in which I could assign the probabilities of each hit. This would be especially handy for programming fills, which are now derived from mostly unreadable text files. For now I usually just render the results to MIDI and then tweak them in my sequencer's drum-editor
Saving your own rhythms is a bit weird, since they use a keyword-based system that I find rather clumsy.
In conclusion, this program is a great way to quickly make drum patterns with a live feel to them. It could even replace a drummer for demo-purposes, as long as you're prepared to do some manual programming as well.
Oh man, im so honored to be the very first person to review Jamstix 1.2 here at KVR.
First of all let me just say that before getting Jamstix, I dreaded turning on my PC to play music with. Period. I know many folks out there feel the same way because many programs are just so un user friendly and so unstable that instead of inspiring you, they get in the way and there goes all your music inspiration. You feel that you just spent your whole time making something work, instead of making the most beloved thing we love to do, and that is music.
Having said all that, I can honestly and whole heartedly say, Jamstix is everything I have always dreamed of in a virtual Drummer. I have the full version and this program is so easy to use and understand, that I no longer feel afraid of making my drum tracks for my songs. For once, I feel happy to turn on my PC and start making music. The program is so stable and even since the demo, it has yet to lock up my PC.
I can go on and on, but I think you guys get the idea. Jamstix will get your inspiration juices flowing. I gurantee it !! If you are finding it harder and harder to get you to make music with your PC, oh man, you have got to check Jamstix out. I can tell you, for once, you're going to feel like I feel. You will look forward to turning on your PC, and start making music.
One awsome thing about any company is its customer service. I personally give Ralph at Rayzoon Tech, a Perfect 10+++ !!
And if you look at the forums everywhere, I am not the only one that feels this way. This to me is the best customer service ever !! From any developer. If you wonder what all the fuzz is about this drummer program, well, you can stay by the fence and wonder for ever, or you can do yourself an awsome favor and go get the most awsome VSTi for drummer ever made !!! Updates are constantly being made, and Ralph actually does look forward for customer ideas, and guess what? he actually does include them on updates. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Because I feel that this was the best money I ever spent for any VSTi and because of all the awsome customer service and support, I can humbly say that I nominate Jamstix as the VSTi of they Year !!!!