MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2009 (#42)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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104 MacDirectory REVIEW TOONTRACK > SUPERIOR DRUMMER 2 There are many software-based drumming solutions on the market. The two competing approaches are prerecorded loops and MIDI-based samples. While much can be said for former, they cannot compete with the editability and flexibility of the latter. One of the best of these is Superior Drummer 2 from ToonTrack. SD2 can be used in loop-like fashion or you can record your own tracks using a keyboard, pads/sensors, or by importing existing MIDI tracks. Prosumers or songwriters can assemble a fantastic drum track in minutes while engineers can create custom automated setups with a degree of fine-tuning and control that is simply amazing. This control includes a wide selection of mics, mic placements and bleed, with up to a half dozen full featured channels with multiple busses, and a set of first rate effects from Sonalksis that include a 5- band parametric EQ, high and low pass filters, compression, gate, and transient designer filters. SD2 comes with part one of ToonTrack's New York Studio Legacy Series samples, which were recorded at the legendary Avatar Studios (formerly Power Station) in one of the best drum rooms on the planet. A victim of a combination of high- end home studios and high-end real estate values, Avatar closed its doors in March, which makes these samples not only special in their own right, but also in their embodiment of an aural ambience that launched countless hits for some of the biggest names in music history. While many sample packages top out at around 4 GB, with SD2 you can choose between 4 GB and a full 20 GB install of fast loading, great sounding samples. While not included with Superior Drummer 2, part two of ToonTrack's Legacy set (which requires SD2) is also available. Recorded at New York City's legendary Hit Factory and at the amazing Allaire Studios in the Catskills (which has an amazing cathedral-like ambience) this 12.5 GB collection should be considered a must- have. Other collections are also available. The samples are only the starting point. Controlling all this percussive firepower is Superior Drummer 2 itself (the engineering component) that, as with the bundled browser/track editor EZ Player Pro, is accessed via your audio workstation of choice. The SD2 interface includes a construct window and a mixer window. The former is where you build your kit and it provides a drummer's eye view of the selected kit as well as various controls, popups and other key elements. This well organized interface provides access to the desired samples, kits (factory as custom), beaters, etc., and the ability instantly change out individual pieces on the fly and you can trigger the drums remotely or by mouse click. The second part of the interface is the mixer window. Add a drum to the kit and a series of mic-specific channels is added to the mixer, making it possible to fine tune the placement, bleed and ambience per individual drum as well as a selection of mics for each placement. Also included are a number of busses per channel for highly focused effects and signal processing. The factory presets are great right out of the box, but the user is free to tweak or create an infinite number of custom presets. The third component, EZ Player Pro, provides a lot of power in a small package, making it easy to demo and assemble great sounding and highly complex sequences on the fly without skipping a beat and using as many tracks as you wish. Canned and user defined sequences are available via a columnar interface that also provides the option of splitting the combined kit into separate tracks if desired and edit at will. Once your sequence is built, you can then drop it into a track in your workstation for playback or further modified as desired. This truly is a superior product in its overall design, in the amazing degree of control and in the quality and depth of the samples, which simply must be heard to be believed. Whether you are a songwriter, or a studio producer, or a gigging drummer with a need for a highly versatile and great sounding kit, Superior Drummer 2 is well worth a serious look. WORDS BY TREY YANCY Product Superior Drummer 2 & New York Studio Legacy Series Vol. II Made by ToonTrack Price SD2 $349 (upgrade $129), NY Studios Vol. II $179 Pros Unbelievable samples, amazing control, excellent MIDI sequences Cons Slightly awkward installation Rating ★★★★★

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