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Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on 14th January 2018
Version reviewed: 2.1 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 14th January 2018.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Okay, I really wanted to give this 6 starts and 8 stars. 6 for adaptability and 8 for fun to use. I did not pay full price, so that should be kept in mind - but I think its unfair to judge the product on a such a marked up price - when clearly it is no longer being sold at such a high price point. This is an intelligently produced product that has several things going for it. There are just a couple of items that a buyer might want to know about lest they imagine it to be more than it is. For $200 it is still probably a good buy for me, particularly because I'm a bit of a hi hat & drum pattern freak, and the main unique capability, as you will see from the videos around on youtube, allows access to the jamming of a drummer who's name I am not aware of, whose performances were intricately split up on a 1) per-kit-piece and 2) per note density per segment basis. To use them one uses a "Groove Generator" and has the option of turning on or off the kit pieces, and adjusting a slider for complexity. This is not the first place we've seen this functionality, but Mike did a great job of doing all the labor-intensive work and putting it into this effective package! Great for dabbling and working on sketches, where one wants to hear some stylized drum part options for a fledgling track.

I found a number of the product developer's drum choices and mixing approaches to be particularly good. Especially the high hats (particularly a few of the 10 that are included), which are particularly troublesome to locate - in a state that has uses across many genres. There are also about 15 ride cymbals, 38 snares, 7 kicks, about 10 toms including brushed toms. Included also are 10 fairly decent percussion sample sets. (When referencing instrument numbers, I don't actually know how many velocity layers each kit piece uses.) Limited editing of the mic mixes is sort of understandable. The goal here is to have a condensed product (uncompressed its around 3.41 gigs.) It is very simple to adjust the eq with the basic controls provided, and the developer claims they've dialed in the sweet spots with respect to those controls - something I can't entirely vouch for, but I think it may well be at least relatively true.

The drag and drop to DAW track function is fine, and creative. One can have it drag a bar, a fill, or one's most recent entire performance (I guess this means bookmarked by the pressing of the play/stop button or a play/stop latch key on one's keyboard.)

There are 4 areas that I feel are a bit lacking relative to a similar program.

1) Firstly, one cannot add grooves.

2) Second, there are only 6 swung fills. There are 43 fills in total. One can drag the fills into a DAW along with the grooves, and adjust swing.

3) When playing the program (hitting play on the Kontakt library itself) the groove is auditioned. The groove does not audition merely by hitting play in my DAW (Reaper). In other VSTs there are methods to get them to either play back or not play back, according to the DAW play controls.

4) No swing control. BFD handles it by using an overlay, a groove effect console, which adjusts everything in real time according to the settings adjustments.

5) Can't add to the groove or fill libraries.

6) Can't add one's own samples.

7) The Mic Mix should be a pair of knobs perhaps, or at least give more than 4 steps. It currently gives "Close, Room, Rock and Beast" Mic mixes. The difficulty is that "Beast" is more or less a bit like Led Zep's drummer. IOW its useful as a specific technique, not so much as a typical mic choice for a metal guitarist, as if on a smooth slider. There is a reverb control in Kontakt.

8) Not much control of the compressor function. The compression amount slider doesn't seem to produce noticeably compression effects, with respect to all of the drums. Perhaps a separate compressor setup is needed for some of the individual kit pieces?

9) Kit piece articulation is provided, but limited: Kick, snare, snare alt, snare side stick, brush sweep, hh closed, hh semi, hh open, hh foot (only four hi hat articulations is not a lot when realism is desired) Tom Hi, tom mid, tom low, ride 1, ride 2, ride 3, crash 1, crash 2, crash 3, crash 4, perc 1, perc 2, perc 3. You can select your percs from the following list: tamb 1, tamb 1 stick, tamb 2, tamb 2 stick, cowbell, woodblock, metal, snare side, snare side 2.)

I''m happy with the mixing and sounds, and the "Groove Generator", and this is an extremely portable library in terms of size and CPU footprints. I did find a particular groove which seemed to produce musicality errors (overlapping of swung values and non-swung values perhaps?) when adding and removing parts, with the complexity sliders adjusted, that seemed to get better when switching to another groove and then back. (The groove is called Teacher 110).

Bottom line is this; its true that it takes a great deal of work to hone in a specific mix for a specific track or to agree with one's ideal in tastes. This product bypasses all of that fairly effectively, if you are working on tracks that must meet some typical consensus of middle-of-the-road or hard rock.

The Groove Generator essentially takes a skeleton from a real drummer, doing his embellishments, and organizes these embellishments in such a way that they move (per individual sliders or one master slider) both in respect to the kit pieces included, as well as the overall density - a very useful mechanism for drum programming. But it would be nice to at least allow the user to add some swing to some of the grooves, and to provide a similar product to produce drum fills (ala Slicy drummer, fill in drummer, Drum Tools Performance Designer, etc), from a decade a go.

With those products (no longer available) one could achieve something totally flexible. One could generate (albeit not using a slider, but a button) new variations to any pattern, and could adjust the swing of any pattern from slight to major. With Fill-In drummer, one could do the same with fills, including match the swing of the fills to the swing of the parts (by using the same proportionate setting).

Those 9 above items are not really complaints. I can see where a small VST product house like Realitone has their hands full. They were mainly focused on the realism of studio-produced drums and certainly achieved something of note. There are a great deal of other products out there that have different sounding drums. The Jamstix product line has a different, admittedly much more controllable "complexity" manipulation - but basically you need to delve into a bit of deep thinking. Not everyone has that kind of time on their hands. Also, a bit of care with mixes and busing are helpful with Jamstix, and upgrading the kits to get additional sounds may be necessary depending on what you want. For a user who is looking for more instant gratification, this could be just the right product, with fairly well chosen and mixed drum pieces, a reasonable set of groove opportunities, and a reasonable collection of fills. Nothing insanely nuanced about it, but easy to fit into your tracks.

So for a decently mixed set of drums that takes no work to set up (and with the benefit of using embellishment from your other vsts and sample libraries to augment the result), the ability to sketch out a track is enhanced by owning this product. No, in reality one cannot tell it to jam and invent fills on the fly. Nor can one can't tell it to perform a series of changes gradually intensifying or de-intensifying the complexities of the various elements (which would be interesting). But then again, BFD didn't provide such a complexity slider for groove generation. Many drum VST products are either too much in a niche category sound-wise, or take significant work to master, and significant work to adjust for track needs.

So its a good job and the reputation for support is exceptional too I might add.

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