Drum samples and programming have come a long way since the 1980’s Casio sound. In fact today’s market is filled with hyper realistic drum samples. There are a ton of incredible ones to choose from. How do you choose? For me it must be convincing, flexible tone options, easy workflow, and have a deep inventory of midi grooves. I’d be lying if I didn’t say Superior Drummer has been my go-to for a long time. I never thought I would use anything else. After spending a lot of quality time with Addictive Drums 2 I find myself using it frequently.
My review isn’t going to be about how much better it is from the previous version or to compare it to all the others on the market. I want to review it in the sense of what can it do for your production this very moment. Let’s overview it as a brand new product. If you aren’t familiar with working with virtual instruments they can be difficult to learn the GUI sometimes. XLN has done an excellent job laying out the GUI making it very intuitive and easy to use. Let’s dive right in.
Addictive Drums 2 has a ton of expansions to choose from. As you can see above you can scan through them all quickly to find the sound your tracks will need. The range of tones are quite impressive all the way from the legendary Fairfax Studios to vintage dry kits. Each studio having samples of a many different kicks, snares, toms, etc. You can do a quick overview of the kit to get an idea of how it sounds by clicking on the explore icon. You can either hand click the drum components to hear them or listen to short clip samples provided.
The kit and edit window for the drum kits is where I have a lot of fun as an engineer. XLN has made sampling and layering the drums very straight forward and simple. Each kit component has its own box where you can try different samples at will, solo, and mute as you please. They’ve included flexi slots that allow to layer in an extra snare or whatever you may need. Along the bottom half of the GUI is the mixer for all the channels for you to tweak as you wish. When you click o the edit icon you will open up a swiss army knife of mix tools for tweaking each channel as you like. All you have to do is click on the channel in the mixer to start hammering away. You have envelope shapers, pitch shapers, EQ, compression, tape saturation, bleed controls, and even mic noise emulations. Everything sounds fantastic to boot! After this you can add up to two FX and send them via send returns to any channel you need. This includes being able to blend a reverb and delay together and your choice of room, hall, plate and ambient reverbs.
Now since I’m not a drummer or at last I don’t claim to be one. I’m always looking for a good midi groove library. Addictive Drums 2 has a lot of bases covered including pop, rock, metal, reggae, and jazz styles to name a few. The grooves are easy to thumb through with a preview function allowing you to hear the groove and even see the midi layout before dragging it into your DAW. It has a gallery section you can click on to go by expansions if you wish along with a shortlist that allows you to drag your favorite grooves into a quick folder for you. Next to this you’ll find a transform tab that lets you alter the groove by changing the velocity, accents, and even slight timing variations. I find this a very powerful tool to make the grooves your own and add to the authentic sound you’re trying to achieve. It’s really a lot of fun messing around with this function. I’ve spent a lot of time getting carried away in the fun help bringing more creativity to the production.
I’m happy I discovered Addictive Drums 2. It’s an integral part of my production arsenal now. If you’re in need of some authentic drum sounds along with a great midi groove library this may be your answer. You can scoop up Addictive Drums 2 for $199 USD and add expansions for around $89 USD. This is a great deal considering what you get. You can even add midi libraries for as low as $19 USD. Do yourself a favor and go check out the guys at XLN Audio!