Addictive Drums 2 and OddGroves.com

I have now fully migrated over from Tooncrap’s inferior drummer to XLN Softwares Addictive Drums 2. There are specific downsides to all the virtual drummer plugins I looked at. The final decision came down to Addictive Drums 2 and Steven Slate Drums 5. Both products have the equivalent quality sound of having a properly mic’d up drum kit in a live room. Both have MIDI content of live drummers playing in real time that can be kept as is are altered by a number of methods such as a MIDI controller or even just a mouse. The important thing is they sound just like a real HUMAN Drummer not a drum machine. 

The final decision came at the use of iLok pace DRM (digital rights management) for Slate Drums 5. The entire Pace system is built so poorly I’ve had to wipe entire operating systems to rid the OS of the intrusive bug ridden software. I made a decision 10 years ago that I would not use software that required iLok pace DRM. I stand by that decision, it’s saved me thousands of dollars over the years. For the record, if Slate Drums 5 offered its own DRM like everyone else does I would have gone that route. 

Addictive Drums 2 is not without its issues. AD2 has a sub mixer like all popular virtual drum software has where each drum has its own microphone. With AD2 they did not mic each one of the cymbals which is my preference. Only the overhead stereo and wall microphones on the sub mixer pickup cymbals. While placing each drum on its own separate track resolves that issue I generally use a plugin such as this for demos not full productions. This makes arranging songs more cumbersome and time consuming. As for me, at the end of the day, as long as it sounds good I’m willing to put in the time. 

Speaking of sound……

One of the kits I purchased with AD2 was recorded at Sound City where Nirvana Nevermind was recorded. Being a native Angeleno raised in Los Angeles Sound City has always had a reputation for having a very good sounding live room especially for drums. The list of Records recorded there in past includes:

Fleetwood Mac, Rumors

Foreigner, Double Vision

Tom Petty, Damn the Torpedos

Pat Benatar, Crimes of Passion

Rage Against the Machine, self titled

Tool, Undertow

Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Hot Minute

Kyus, And the Circus Leaves Town

Slipknot, Iowa

Mastodon, The Hunter

Everclear, Return to Santa Monica

Just to name a few. This studios pedigree is well known in the industry and by many artists such as Dave Grohl who produced the documentary Sound City about this studio. Go listen to any song from any of these above titles and you will hear amazing sounding drums in the mix and if you haven’t seen Sound City yet you can see it on Documentarytube.com

Step two of this plan to migrate over from tooncrap was to purchase some creative content to load up to Addictive Drums 2. I’ve had some OddGroves libraries that I have used for almost a decade. OddGroves.com is not only a MIDI content company but it’s also literally a Jazz fusion band from Sweeden. I came across the band on YouTube maybe 7 years ago and was blown away by the guitarist Per Ulfhielm’s tone. His guitar tone is brilliant as well as his playing! I didn’t find out they published MIDI content for virtual drums until a bit later. The company was just starting out back in those days. 

The drummer in this band is a Berkley College of Music alumni Magnus Brandell who is a monster player and the session player on most of the OddGroves.com MIDI libraries. Most of the OddGroves catalog of MIDI groves are in odd time signature but not all. I like to write tunes in odd time signatures so their MIDI grooves are perfect for me. Plus using these libraries is like having Magnus Brandell in the live room on a kit. Like I said this guy is a monster of a player. 

There you have it. Replacing Tooncrap inferior drummer was a lot of work. Staring at a User Interface of a company that has just screwed over a great number of their user base in a cash grab would have been worse. I’m trying my best to refrain from making this entire entry about a software company that’s a bunch of greedy asshats. I wanted to move on and work with companies that conducted themselves in a professional manner thus, XLN Audio. 

This change also gives me the opportunity to share how great of a company I think Oddgrooves.com is. Per Ulfhielm and Magnus Brandell are a class act that are really good at helping their customers. Per has answered numerous emails over the years usually in less than 10 to 12 hours. The email I sent him at the beginning of the week was a page of questions. He wrote back quickly letting me know he had received my email and that he would answer later on in the day. The email came back over to me at 10:00PM from his time zone which I really appreciate. If he’s working that late you know he cares about his clients. 

I’ll leave you with a little bit of Per and Magnus playing in their band OddGrooves not to be confused with the OddGroves.com MIDI grooves. Same blokes but different products. Enjoy!

Cool Free DAW Drum Plugin

I haven’t purchased the new Drum plugin to replace ToonTracks Superior 2 or should I say Tooncrap (lol) Superior 2. If you remember previously myself and a decent chunk of the Superior Drums user base are not happy without industry standard upgrade pricing but rather a greedy cash grab. ToonTrack charges the user base full price for an update to version 3.To put it bluntly screw that! While I’ve already decided on Addictive Drums as a replacement I wanted to see if any cool freeware was out there. Surprisingly, there was more than I anticipated. 

One that really stood out was Power Drumkit 2. Power Drumkit 2 works just like Superior, EZ drummer, Steven Slate, Addictive Drums, BFD , etc. It has one good sounding kit and serendipitously a lot of MIDI groves that are drag and drop just like the industry standard plugins have. Did I mention Power Drumkit 2 is FREE? Yes, the whole version is Free in both AU and VST versions for Mac and PC. 

After instal I did have to reboot before Mac OS / Logic X would pick up the new Audio Unit. A simple read through the FAQ answered this quickly. I think the samples sound good especially for Rock but more importantly they are not all compressed. There is a sub mixer like all the paid drum plugins have but with a simple compressor for each drum. While I prefer to use the compressors I own this is a nice feature. 

The media / grooves / MIDI work just like all the paid versions, drag and drop into the DAW. Once in the DAW you can quickly change up the MIDI for fills and nuances. One of the cool features is you can compose the whole tack during playback and pull the entire percussion arrangement into the DAW. I like that workflow quite a bit. One other plus is everything works, I’ve found no bugs which is not usually the norm in freeware. I’ve had a  lot of fun playing with this plugin the last few days. 

Overall I think this is a really cool plugin and my hats off to the developers Daniel Mitschang-Manda and Kurt-Schumacher who continue to work on it. There is a donation page which I would encourage you to donate if you’re going to use the plugin. Let me know what you think about Power Drumkit 2 in the comments below and enjoy the video walk throughs. 


Having an old Mac Around can be handy

Having an old Mac around can be handy. In my case a late 2012 MacBook Pro. I have the older version of Master Writer which is A very overpriced piece of software but one that has no competition in the Music industry. Yes there’s a few apps out there that do some of the Tasks MR does but nothing really comes close. I want to preface this with noting that the owner of Master Writer. Berry is one of the most disingenuous people I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. I in no way endorse him or his company, on the contrary if you decide to do business with Master Writer know it’s all about separating you from your money.  

However, If you write lyrics it’s the only software I’ve found that can actually assist without overthinking your creativity and keeping to your original vision. I guess I would describe the software as something that doesn’t get in the way of your flow. 

Master Writer 2 while feature rich is a train wreck in the technology department. It runs on the JAVA platform which the originators no doubt were talked into by the developer. You can’t even resize the UI window. However the features and tools built in are useful, brilliant and well thought out. My largest challenge is having an OS that will not only support JAVA but also a 32 bit application. The answer for me was to purchase a Mountain Lion disk from Apple:

Mountain Lion

Once I installed Mountain Lion I updated the version of Java and installed Master Writer. The challenge and accept process was difficult because master writer wants to force you to update to their cloud solution. I wasn’t going to be forced and I made it clear that lawfully they could not make me do so. This is and always has been a major downside of master writer and it’s owner. The upside here is I can take the MacBook Pro anywhere and I really don’t use it for anything other than writing (Journals, Day Job, email etc.). 

Sometimes keeping that old Mac around can be beneficial. Most times dealing with charlatans is not. 

The first track in a new DAW – iPad Pro 12.9 Review

In the past when adopting a new DAW, that first track was always the real learning curve. I am amazed at how much functionality from Logic Pro (X) is in Garageband 2.2 for iPad. I have my first scratch track put together. Musically it’s really bad, but I learned a lot creating it. I really dove deep into the MIDI arranging aspect, I have to say I am quite impressed.

What Garageband for iPad has from big Brother Logic X:

  • Drummer – This is the full Drummer from Logic X. Darcy is just as funky as she is in Logic.

 

  • Sampler – No it’s not the EXS 24, but having a bona-fide sampler in a Garageband environment is pretty amazing.
  • Full MIDI editing just like in Logic X.
  • Automation – Yes really, the automation is the fully robust exact method Logic Pro Uses.

Check out this video of the automation on an iPhone:

If you’re a Logic Pro X user, you know that feature is the real deal that resides in Logic Pro.

In creating my first project, I found myself finding many portions that I’ve previously mentioned of the UI to Mirror Logic X. I could not find a screen shot of the new Garageband iPad MIDI editor online, so I took one directly from my iPad pro. You can see, it’s the same MIDI UI in Logic X:

Garageband for iPad MIDI UI interface

Garageband for iPad MIDI UI interface

 

The thing I’m enjoying obviously is the Logic Pro UI elements, but with the added touch capabilities. It makes the learning curve so much less difficult! It’s been 10 awesome days since I brought the iPad Pro home, I am very seriously impressed. Not just with the iPad itself, but with how powerful the new 2.x version of Garageband for iOS truly is. This DAW is no toy! I’ve had it on my iPhone’s for years, in the past it was a novelty IMHO only useful for electronic music. However I can clearly see that this is the future of DAW, not just as a controller but as serious hardware.

The sounds of the virtual instruments are solid. There’s a few that don’t meet Logic X’s standards, but the bulk are the same great sounding sampled technology Apple’s Logic Pro is known for. The 4 speakers are bloody amazing! Rather watching NetFlix or arranging MIDI, audio it is really something that really blows me away. The sound quality absolutely stomps the latest Mac Book Pro by a far margin.

When I was watching the Key Note on 9/09/2015 I thought “wow who would pay this much for an iPad and not just buy a MacBook Air?” One thing I can say now is Processing Power, this iPad has MAD PROCESSING POWER! According to Apple iPad Pro is faster than 80 percent of the portable PCs shipped in the last 16 months. I’m certainly a believer….

Until Next Time…… Stay Thirsty my Friends!