Fifty quid doesn't buy you much in these times of recession, inflation and deficits. However, Toontrack has decided to throw us all a bone, and offer four vintage drum kits for £55. Sort of.
The Classic is Toontrack's latest EZX expansion pack for its EZdrummer/Superior Drummer software (£98.95/£219), created by producer Peter Henderson, and session drummer Chris Whitten (Dire Straits, Paul McCartney, The Waterboys).
It features multi-layered shell-pack samples of a Yamaha 9000 Recording Custom, a Craviotto Single-Ply Ash, and Chris Whitten's one-off, concert tom-equipped Noble & Cooley Horizon kit.
There are also four snare drums: a 14"x5" Noble & Cooley Classic; a 14"x6½" Ludwig Supraphonic 402 (sampled at two separate tunings); a brass 1940s 14"x6½" Ludwig and Leedy model; and a limited edition maple 14"x7" Craviotto. Cymbal-wise, you can choose metal from Zildjian, Sabian and Paiste. That's a lot of options, but it doesn't end there…
The Classic's samples can be loaded in two modes. The first offers close-mic, overhead and two sets of ambient samples for each part of the kit. Blending varying amounts of ambience with the close mics will take you from bone-dry to Bonham-wet.
The second mode is the Four Mic set-up. This gives one mic position for the snare and kick, plus a pair of overheads and the stereo ambient samples as a bonus. Using this mode narrows your scope for adjustments, but it also cuts down on processing power.
If the thought of hooking your electro-kit up to your computer is as appealing as, say, installing a wireless network, the built in E-kit mapping presets should put your mind at ease.
Think '70s and pre-Spandex '80s drum sounds and you're there. Load the Yamaha 9000 and keep the ambience low, and you'll be pulling out the Gadd-style grooves.
The Noble & Cooley Horizon gives a full concert tom sound with plenty of definition to each note. Selecting the coated head version adds more resonance, and dialling in some ambience to Phil Collins proportions is hugely addictive.
The Craviotto maple kit also works well with a lot of ambience. If you're after huge roomy sounds, it's the one to choose. Our only real criticism is aimed at the snare sounds.
The Ludwig 402's dual tunings offer the most character and versatility. The 14"x7" Craviotto could have delivered a heartbreakin' power-backbeat, but it's been sampled at a higher tuning. This results in more of a 'crack' than a punch, and dropping the pitch doesn't realistically cure it.
It's not the most versatile sample set available, nor does it claim to be, but The Classic pretty much achieves exactly what it sets out to do. Of course, you'll need one of Toontrack's host products to get started, but these samples will be a great add-on to anyone who wants to perform or record classic rock or blues with an electronic kit.