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!

Drum Session sounds GREAT!

I must admit I have not had the time to dive deep into drum Session, but I’ve put some good solid 2 hours into going through the UI and mostly listening. I just took a new position that I am so ecstatic to have, it’s a perfect fit for me. In my defense, the hours I’m spending at the day gig are long. Usually, I would be all over a great app like Drum Session.

Since today the first update rolled out of the iTunes store, I felt compelled to write about Drum Session before I updated. This is not a review just yet… Here’s what I know thus far:

It sounds fantastic!
It’s very simple to use
The MIDI piano roll portion of the UI is very solid.

The piano roll was updated in the Version 1.0.3 release today, but I’m still running the original version. I think it’s solid! I haven’t updated the app yet to V 1.0.3, I wanted to finish this blog before I had scrum release blues opinions.

What really stands out:

  • There is a plethora of drum kits in Drum Session. This is great because most of the samples are mixed with different reverb and compression levels. However most have a reasonably dry mix for each kit. That is really a feature I like A LOT!
  • Drum Session sounds so much better that any app I have heard since launching my iOS music creation experiment in March of this year. This is the KILLER Drum app I have been waiting for.
  • There’s a lot of choice for $24.99. It’s scalable for the price, It’s scalable for sound, It’s scalable for custom beat creating when you can compare to other apps available. That’s a huge value add for me.

The only feature request I have for you Derick Buddemyer if you read this is the font color in the UI. I’m not sure if this is because I am using the 12.9” screen of the iPad pro, but the dark font color against the dark grey background is difficult to see on the top buttons and the black piano keys of the UI. That’s the only feature enhancement I can suggest.

After 2 hours, I love this app and I think many others will too!

Things I’ve learned about iPad DAW in the last 30 days

In the last month I’ve been in the wood shed daily working with the new iPad, the Presonus interface and new apps. I’m having so much fun! I really think the challenge of the learning curve is something I needed and truly enjoy. Challenges for me like most people are great in life especially, musical challenges. Doing what you love and workig diligently at it.

Most of what I’m going to share is about are the apps I’ve purchased:

  • Bias FX
  • Bias Amp
  • Bias JamUp Pro
  • Bias Final Touch
  • IK Multimedia SampleTank for iOS
  • DrumPerfict Pro

Positive Grid’s Guitar Plugins are IMHO the best you can purchase for the Macintosh platform. Although I usually mic up Guitar amplifiersin the PC realm, I use Bias Peak with Logic and Pro Tools to re-amp and layer. Bias Amp sounds just as good to my ears as it does on the Mac. I am blown away by this app on the iPad. Bias FX and the amps in JamUp Pro are just as great on the iPad.

Final Touch was something that was somewhat of an impulse buy because it was on sale. I’m quite happy with this mastering suite and grateful I picked it up. I’ve loosely mastered two demos with it so far, the tracks really came to life nicely. On labor day I paid a whopping $4.99 for the app on sale, Positive Grid has amazing holiday sales. The Memorial day sale prices are still current, GO BUY THEM!

 

  • Bias FX- Normal Price $29.99 Now  $9.99
  • Bias Amp Normal Price $19.99 Now $4.99
  • Bias JamUp Pro Normal Price $19.99 Now  $4.99
  • Bias Final Touch Normal Price $29.99 Now $4.99

 

I’ve always thought SampleTank had great sound samples, the Neil Peart Drums are awesome. I’ve had the free version of SampleTank for iOS on my iPhone for years, I knew the sounds were solid. Since it’s on sale for $15.99 for fathers day I pulled the trigger. It has great organ and electric piano samples, I’m happy I purchased it.

DrumPerfict Pro is touted as the Superior Drummer 2 / BFD for iPad. I can tell you it is no such thing. Firstly, the drums samples are horrible, I mean really bad. I can’t believe this has the positive reviews it has. Drummer inside of garage band sounds light years better that DrumPerfict Pro.

Second, the user interface is a train wreck. It’s a mishmash of screens that have no rhyme or reason other than the grid screen. How could you screw up a grid UI yes? After thinking it over I am going to ask Marinus J.G. van de Molengraft for a refund. While I applaud his efforts to bring a product like Superior Drummer to iOS, he falls miles short.

Lastly, I just ordered an iRig keys 37 that should arrive at the end of the week. I’m pretty excited about that. I have some really nice samples but no vehicle to bring the sounds to life.