Native Instruments Drumlab review

  • €99

"Mix-ready" drum ROMpler

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Our Verdict

Drumlab squarely hits the sweet spot between sonic flexibility and ease of use, and the source sounds, though low in number, are superb.

For

  • Sounds brilliant.

Against

  • Can't import your own samples.
Buying options

Adding to its already extensive range of drum ROMplers, Drumlab has NI bringing together acoustic and electronic sounds in an instrument library that prides itself on being "mix-ready".

Presented in a tile-based layout, each of the main kit pieces (kick, snare, hi-hats and three toms) features an acoustic layer and an electronic layer, while peripheral to these are tiles holding various single-layer acoustic cymbals and percussion.

The bottom panel gives access to various sound-shaping parameters, including the acoustic/electronic mix. The acoustic layers of the main pieces also feed to an overhead/room mic channel by a user-adjustable amount, while the kick and snare feature Top/Bottom and Out/Sub balance and a Trash control, which dials in a lo-fi close mic channel.

The electronic layers, meanwhile, feature a combination low/high-pass filter and up to 50ms of offset from the acoustic layer (although only in one direction). Volume shaping is on hand for all layers of all pieces via AHD envelopes, and although there's no dedicated mixer page, each tile hosts solo, mute, level and pan controls - although the fact that you have to select the tile, rather than just roll over it, to make them visible is annoying.

"Handily, you also get over 100 single drum presets, which load as individual Kontakt instruments"

The now standard array of high-quality NI effects are on board - reverb, transient shaper, compressor, EQ and saturation - available to each drum and mic channel, as well as the master output.

The sounds themselves add up to 58 multisampled acoustic instruments and 80 electronic layers, and a library of 60 kit presets is included to get things moving. Handily, you also get over 100 single drum presets, which load as individual Kontakt instruments.

While you can of course trigger Drumlab via keyboard or e-drums, it ships with a library of 900 excellent MIDI grooves that, although not editable within Drumlab, can be dragged out to your DAW or desktop.

Drumlab squarely hits the sweet spot between sonic flexibility and ease of use, and the source sounds, though low in number, are superb. Obviously, we would like to be able to import our own samples, but even without that, Drumlab's well-realised concept is a success.

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Tech Specs

PlatformPC/Mac
DescriptionDrum ROMpler promising mix-ready blend of acoustic and electronic sounds
Additional RequirementsKontakt 5 or Kontakt 5 Player
Features58 multisampled acoustic instruments; 80 electronic layers; library of 60 kit presets; 100 single drum presets, which load as individual Kontakt instruments