EastWest's new ProDrummer series sees the soundware company venture further into the pop/rock mainstream with a pair of sampled drum kits housed in its own Play engine (VST/ AU/AAX/standalone).
Its two volumes are available individually or as a bundle, and employ the talents of producer Mark 'Spike' Stent, EastWest's own Doug Rogers, and drummer Steve Sidelnyk for Vol. 1 (approx. 60GB of kits and grooves), and producer Joe Chiccarelli and ex-Soundgarden drummer Matt Chamberlain for Vol. 2 (40GB).
They're available via EastWest's new Composer Cloud subscription service, as well as regular one-off purchase.
ProDrummer's tabbed interface comprises a Player page with interactive drum kit graphic and MIDI pattern sequencer (the Song Builder) at the bottom, a Mixer page and a preset Browser page.
The Mixer includes EastWest's SSL FX Global Suite (SSL Channel EQ and Dynamics, Transient Shaper and Stereo Compressor), Expanded Convolution Reverb with 726 additional presets, and Amp Simulator, plus Ohm Force's superb Ohmicide. The SSL Channel and Stereo effects are used on a number of presets, but most sounds have been recorded with processing applied, provided as additional channels in the Mixer.
Volume 1 includes Gretsch kicks; snares by Slingerland, DW, Gretsch, Ludwig, Yamaha and Orange County; toms by Gretsch and DW; and Zildjian cymbals. Volume 2 features kicks and snares by Craviotto, Ludwig, Slingerland and Gretsch; extra snares by Tama and Dunnett; toms by Ludwig and Gretsch; and cymbals by Istanbul and Zildjian.
The kick inside
ProDrummer presets come in three formats: Regular, Lite (LT) and Powerful System (PS). PS presets include extra round robin articulations, as well as double articulations, which use pairs of samples derived from successive hits on the same drum. Lite presets ditch a number of the extended articulations, while Regular presets feature a good selection of alternative straight hits and played flams for snares and toms.
The recording rooms vary in scale, with East West 1 and MixSuite's Tracking Room delivering the biggest sounds, and MixSuite's Kitchen being the tightest space. Presets within the same location folder generally use the same kit components, with differences in the sound coming from the Mixer blend and processing.
A click of the Drums button in the bottom bar reveals the kit piece overlay graphic, and if more than one option is available within a kit (mostly for kicks or snares), this is where you choose between them.
Unfortunately, you can't freely mix and match drums and cymbals between presets as the room ambiences wouldn't match. To make up for this, there's also a Hybrid Kit for each Volume that includes all kit pieces but without their associated ambiences.
These limitations, combined with the basic per-drum parameters (tuning and level is your lot - there are no envelope controls or per-mic bleed options, for example) are a weakness compared to other 'pro' drum kit instruments; nonetheless, ProDrummer offers some of the most 'track ready' drum sounds we've heard, and loads of excellent MIDI patterns.
Although its load times are long and system burden can be heavy (with the PS presets), ProDrummer has real sonic character and individuality.