Drumcore 3 is a combination of a drum loop player, a loop librarian and a drum machine with MIDI grooves.
The included sample library is huge and now incorporates Submersible's Urban GT expansion pack, which specialises in RnB drum sounds. There are two main approaches you can adopt: use Drumcore to audition and render drum loops for use in your DAW or as a sample player.
With the first approach, you use the standalone Toolkit application or the plug-in to audition the drum loop library. This library is easy to search, too – Drumcore 3 has a greatly improved browser and now you can search by style, feel and drummer as well as by scrolling through the collection.
The plug-in automatically syncs to your project tempo (Toolkit needs to be set manually), sometimes switching between different recordings of the same loop to avoid timestretching artifacts.
Previously with Drumcore, you would then export the loops as audio files and re-import them into your DAW. However, in Drumcore 3 you drag-and-drop your selected loop from the Drumcore window directly onto an audio track in your DAW. Drumcore then renders the loop as an audio file for near instant use. This is a huge time saver over previous versions and works very well in Logic and Pro Tools.
The Gabrielize button applies 'rules' to your selected drum loop that give you variations on the original part. It's difficult, if not impossible, to predict what Gabrielizing will do to your loop, but it's a nice idea and certainly gives you scope for experimentation.
Gabrielizing often resulted in choked or clipped drum sounds for us, but occasionally we hit on something special that made us take our drum part in an entirely new direction.
New to version 3 is LiveDrummer. This sets out to provide greater realism for drum rolls and cymbal performances – moving the LiveDrummer slider adds extra dynamic variation into the groove, and goes some way to getting rid of machine-gun-style playback. Very useful.
You can also use Drumcore as a MIDI drum sample player. It has over 100 kits with acoustic, brushed, electronic and Latin sounds that you can trigger from your DAW, or directly from your MIDI controller. Better still, you can drag-and-drop MIDI files from the plug-in onto your instrument track to trigger the Drumcore plug-in.
Most of these files replicate the playing from the audio loops themselves, enabling you to create interesting hybrid drum parts. Fancy combining Sly Dunbar's playing with Lonnie Wilson's drum kit? Now you can.
You can assemble bespoke drumkits in the Toolkit app, but we found it to be far from intuitive. It is possible to replace individual hits within the kit, but you either have to select a hit from a different pre-existing kit without any kind of description of the individual sound, or replace individual sample layers using a regular system dialogue box. This issue, coupled with the fact that we found no way to audition the hits, meant we lost interest very quickly.
There's no question of the quality of the results you can get from Drumcore. These loops and drum hits were recorded with the best drummers around, and leap out of your speakers.
Honourable mentions go to the superb contributions from Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction, Porno for Pyros), Sly Dunbar (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh) and Alan White (John Lennon, Yes).
But these are simply standout loops from a fantastic collection. If drum kit loops are your thing then these are the best in the business.
Take a listen to what Drumcore 3 can do:
Matt Sorum kit
Sly Dunbar kit