This virtual acoustic drum kit comprises three kits (with two snares in each) plus tambourine, cowbell, sticks and claps.
NI's lossless sample compression crams the 17GB sample into a tidy 7.4GB disk footprint, and with up to 25 velocity layers and six alternates per hit, producing convincing drum parts is simple, as long as you know how to program them.
If you don't, Kontakt 5's MIDI file playback capability means you can choose from over 3500 patterns and fills spanning 11 typical genres.
Spread across four tabs (Grooves, Options, Kit and Mixer), kit elements can be auditioned and tweaked from the main graphic on the kit page; options include Attack/Hold/Decay envelope, overhead and room send levels, and tuning. You can also select alternative snares and unload elements to save memory.
All kit elements get mixer channels, including stereo and mono overhead and stereo room. There's also an aux send with convolution reverb. Channel strips include four inserts (Solid G-EQ, Solid Bus Compressor, Transient Master and Tape Saturator) with configurable order.
In use, the kits (Garage, Session and Stadium) cover broad territory and the powerful EQ and compression mean you can do lots of sound shaping. The reverbs are also very serviceable (although editing them requires entering Kontakt's Edit mode).
Using the grooves is easy - just audition and then drag them into your DAW. Pattern swing, tightness and velocity can be adjusted (this modifies the MIDI data before you drag it), but there's also an adjustable 'live' randomiser (volume, velocity, time, pitch and tone) for adding feel during playback.
On the downside, we'd like a high-pass filter on the EQ and although there's control over snare top/bottom balance, both sounds share a mixer channel, which is slightly limiting. Furthermore, there's no control over round-robin behaviour and kit elements can't be mixed and matched.
Even so, we found Session Drummer very slick in use and speedy to tweak, with some excellent on-board grooves.