Superior Custom & Vintage
Custom & Vintage is the second of Toontrack Music’s Superior sample libraries and comes with innovative virtual instrument plug-in interfaces -the descriptively named ‘Drummer’ and its siblings ‘Cocktail’ and ‘Percussionist’.
As the name suggests, the Superior virtual instrument has advanced features compared with previous drum samplers, producing less machine-like sounds. All the drum hits can be cycled or randomized so you never hear the same sequence of hits -just as a real drummer never hits the drum exactly the same way twice in a row.
The samples were recorded by engineer Peter Henderson, who has worked with such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck and Tina Turner. Henderson chose to separate the samples into soft hits, gradient hits and hard hits for velocity mapping purposes. The left- and right-hand hits of a snare drum, for example, are typically divided into 10 soft hits, 15 gradient hits and 10 hard hits for each hand. On playback, soft hits are triggered by MIDI velocities between 1 and 20, gradient hits between 21 and 126, and hard hits are triggered by a MIDI velocity of 127.
The drums were played by Chris Whitten who performed on the classic hits ‘What I Am’ by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians and ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ by The Waterboys, not to mention Paul McCartney’s Russian Rock and Flowers in the Dirt albums, so he should be able to hit a mean drum!
Toontrack has also gone to great lengths to get hold of the ‘créme de la créme’ of custom and vintage drums, including a 1920s Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum. During the recording sessions, the drums were screened off to give a drier sound, and three ambience microphones were used to provide more room sound. An extra track of mono ambience was also processed through a Helios compressor to provide a rockier ‘Bonham’ sound. In the plug-in’s Instrument Construction window you can even specify the amount of ‘leakage’ you wish to hear into the microphones from each drum -allowing unprecedented control over the sound of the kit on playback.
You will need to set aside half a day or so for the installation. I found it all a bit ‘fiddly’ to set up and use -and not explained very well in the documentation.
I own a vintage 1960s Ludwig drum kit with 1970s Zildjian cymbals and have recorded extensively with this over the last 18 months. The Custom & Vintage plug-in are every bit as satisfying, sound-wise, as the recordings I have made of my kit. And the beauty is that there are so many classic drums and cymbals to choose from. Strongly recommended!