Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: Driven Machine Drums Sample Library

Library:Driven Machine Drums
Format: Kontakt, EXS-24, GURU, WAV, AIF
Genre: Any genre that needs electronic drum sounds with character
Distributed by: Tonebuilder
Price: Driven Machine Drums - $77, Driven Machine Drums Deluxe - $87. Free 30 day trial.
Demo: On product page

When I got my first sampler, one of the first things I did was to go through my CD collection listening for as many isolated drum hits as I could and sampled the crap out of them. In fact, in my early days, pretty much every drum sound I used was from somewhere else. Before too long, I had dozens of kits made up of kicks, snares, and percussion sounds. None of the sounds totally matched, but they each had their own unique character due to when they were recorded, what it was recorded on, who produced it, etc. Some had audible tape hiss, some sounded grainy and overdriven, but they all sounded interesting. Sure, I had some actual pristine sampled drum kits that shipped from the factory, but I never really used them much because I preferred the character of my hodge-podge kits sampled from my record collection. In a way, this collection reminds me of that, which I know might not seem like a compliment, but it is. Before I tell you why, though, let's see what the deal is with this collection...

Tonebuilder is a new name on the scene, and right off the bat, they've made quite a splash due to some of their less conventional policies. First of all, although this is a download, it's a limited edition. Tonebuilder is only going to sell 997 copies of the library before they take it off the market. Aside from being a clever marketing tool, I could see this appealing to people who have been hesitant to buy sample libraries in the past based on the fear that "everyone else is going to have the same sounds as I do". Tonebuilder's other interesting and very customer-friendly policy is their 30-day money back guarantee. You buy the collection and you have 30 days to use it to your heart's content to decide if it's right for you. If it isn't, you send Tonebuilder an email, and your money is refunded. This is a very generous policy and one that places a lot of trust on the consumer to be honest. Don't abuse that trust, okay?

So what is Driven Machine Drums? It's a collection of nearly 1,700 24-bit drum and percussion samples from a variety of sought-after drum machines and samplers all processed through different analog coloration devices. Think of it in similar terms to Goldbaby's popular tape-processed drum machines, but with a wider range of coloration. According to Tonebuilder, here are the sources for the samples used throughout:

Elektron Machine Drum, Symbolic Sound Kyma Capybara, Eventide H8000FW, Korg ER-1, E-mu SP-1200, Oberheim DMX, Emu Mo Phatt, Yamaha DX200, Roland TR909, TR808, TR707, TR606, Vermona DRM-1 MKIII, and Jomox MBase 11

Thermionic Culture Vulture, Anamod ATS-1, Neve 1073 Preamp,
Atlas Pro Juggernaut Twin, A-Design EM-Gold, Source + Plus Tube Amp,
Empirical Labs Distressor, Moog MF101, and Mutronics Mutator"

So, some pretty nice kit, in other words. The collection is available in two versions, both of which contain the exact same sounds, the only difference is the formats they're offered in. The standard version maps the sounds into 26 kits for FXpansion's Guru and offers the samples themselves in both WAV and AIF format. The deluxe version adds mapped instruments in EXS-24 and Kontakt format for $10 more. To be honest, I find this pricing structure kind of odd in that it sort of penalizes you if you use EXS or Kontakt. Just offer all the formats in a single package and settle on a single price. (Of course, you can always buy the cheaper version and map the samples to your sampler of choice yourself, too).

The samples are all helpfully organized into folders for Claps, Claves and Bells, Hand Percussion, Hats and Cymbals, Kicks, Other Percussion, Snares, Toms, and Unknown Electronic. These samples are all organized into kits by sound type, such as 'Analog Deep', 'Analog Soft', 'Analog Hard', etc.

So how do they sound? Great! The processing is really nicely done and everything sounds very punchy and crisp. Even the sounds that come from more dated-sounding sources sound current in the way they've been compressed. As I hinted at in the beginning of this review, each hit was processed in its own way. While this collection is a lot more consistent-sounding than my old home-made kits, each sound is different in its own subtle way. Some sounds are crystal clear, some are muffled and crusty... in some instances you can hear the noise from the processing gear itself. I think this is GREAT. It's not something that will clobber you over the head, but it just adds a very subtle something special to the sounds that, to my mind at least, is a lot more interesting than drum samples that are pristine as a pretty princess. At the same time, the processing is subtle enough that you can still customize each sound further with your own additional processing if you want. The sound selection is fantastic too... there are really very few "duds" and everything seems very carefully chosen. Overall, a very professional-sounding collection from a very promising new sample developer. [10/10]


Unknown said...

my only gripe...

1700 drum sounds?

I use the stock battery 3 sounds, ultrabeat, and the waldorf attack for most of my drum sounds (and occasional drums from my synths) and I often find I have too many samples to choose from already to find exactly what I need

with a massive sample library like this I feel like i'd go insane

most of the influential electronic artists only had a handful of samples to work with when making their drums, and got their signature tones from creative processing of these few sounds.

I'm sure these samples sound great but I'm not sure I would ever get through the first 100.

But I digress...

Ronnie said...

There is a lot of variety in this library, Joey. I agree that too many options may work counterproductive but 1,700 isn't all that much.

I agree with Tom, very few duds in this library.

Btw, Joey, check the free samples from Driven Machine Drums and see how you like them.

Ronnie said...

Sorry I meant to paste in a link to my review of DMD.

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