Toontrack is an industry leader in high-fidelity drum production suites. Through their products Superior Drummer 3 and EZ Drummer 2 they provide self-contained plugin-based or standalone drum sample libraries. EZ Drummer acts as the entry-level software for producers looking to use out-of-the-box pre-mixed and processed drum kits. The base software comes with 5 fully mixed and processed kits as well as additional percussion elements. This acts as a starting point with 2 separate sound libraries, modern and vintage.
In addition to the base program, Toontrack offer a wide range of “EZX Expansions” which contain different kits, mixed and recorded by a wide variety of engineers in several different studios. These are themed to specific genres with several different flavours of kits, for example, Metal Machine, Made of Metal, Modern Metal and Death Metal all cater for different styles of metal production with kits recorded by industry engineers such as Andy Sneap, Mark Lewis and Jason Suecof.
EZ Drummer provides the user with a clear interface, the main page contains an animated drum kit that the user can interact with, clicking a drum or cymbal to trigger the sample. this allows easy auditioning of individual instruments to create the perfect kit. In addition to the drums tab the user can further tweak their sound using a basic mixer tab, with faders and panning for each drum group as well as a simple effects chain with one knob operation for reverb, compression, cymbal and head pitch as well as mic bleed. This allows the user to tweak the predefined drum libraries more to their taste while being somewhat limited to the predefined processing.
A unique selling point of EZ Drummer is its “song creator” feature. here the user can use the browser tab to search midi packs, included in EZX Expansions and standalone midi packs, and drag and drop blocks of premade midi files into a timeline in the plugin and arrange their song completely in the plugin. This allows producers to quickly arrange an outline of their song using the provided midi files which can be dragged and dropped into their DAW of choice to edit further in their drum roll.
The pros of EZ Drummer depend on the users’ needs. the song creator, robust midi library and quick setup of the predefined drum sounds make EZ Drummer an excellent creative tool when arranging and composing music and is ideal for producers that want Pro Quality drums with little work to get them to sound good. The drawbacks to this however, are that user editing of individual drum sounds are limited, meaning that in a world where more and more producers are turning to in the box solutions for drum production these sounds can sound overused and lack the tweaking capabilities of other products to create a more unique drum sound. Another point of note is there is no support for 3rd party samples, which limits the scope of user customisation further.
In part 2 of this analysis I will look at Superior Drummer 3, Toontrack’s flagship drum suite, comparing the differences between the two as well as it’s pros and cons.