Toontrack Hitmaker SDX: What is it?
For anyone in need of great drum resources, Toontrack has you covered. The entry-level EZDrummer suite provides anything but entry-level sounds, while Superior Drummer 3 takes the drum sampling concept to dizzying heights, benefitting from the ability to add extensive and highly crafted expansion packs, to create a hugely versatile library.
The company's latest Superior expansion is the Hitmaker SDX, which secures the talents of producer Hugh Padgham, alongside the virtuosity of drummer Norman Garschke. Hitmaker draws inspiration from some of Padgham’s career highlights, with references to Genesis, the Police and ‘that’ Phil Collins drum sound. You know that legendary drum fill on In the Air Tonight? Yep, that sound…
Many of those original sessions were undertaken at Townhouse Studios in West London, which regrettably shut its doors to recording some years ago. So Padgham and Toontrack decamped down the road, to the equally prestigious British Grove studios, recreating many of the Townhouse environments and capturing some of the most identifiable drum sounds in pop history.
While there are several references to those classic sounds, with stylish and exacting drum grooves to accompany the sonics, don’t go thinking that this is merely a nostalgia-fest. There’s a colossal amount of sampled content, all of which extends to six full kits, with individual drum swap-out options, and a host of electronic sounds.
Eleven drum machines have also been sampled, along with electronic Simmons kits, with playback through a PA system to capture ambiences associated with so many hit records. There are 400 electronic sounds in all.
So regardless of your penchant for pop nostalgia, this SDX will provide a worthy source of great new drum content, to accompany the already plush and included Superior library.
Toontrack Hitmaker SDX: Performance and verdict
The first kit in this suite of six is named the Center Stage Kit, and hints heavily at the infamous Phil Collins sound. While the kit itself bears much of the responsibility for the sound, it is the use of ambient room mic’ing which adds much of the colour.
• Native Instruments Studio Drummer
Three beautifully recorded kits from Pearl, Yamaha and Sonor.
• Toontrack Decades SDX (opens in new tab)
Another beautifully crafted expansion pack, including five kits with a clear American slant.
In line with all Toontrack SD3 libraries, the mixer section provides an enormous amount of flexibility, with multiple kick, snare and ambient mic channels. Both Toontrack and Hugh Padgham have curated a series of wet production-ready mixes, which deliver many of the identifiable sounds linked with this library.
The inclusion of entirely dry mixes does serve as an excellent starting point, though, if you just want a great kit sound that you can use in your own production.
Other kits in the series draw inspiration from drummers such as Manu Katche and Vinnie Colaiuta, known for their work with Peter Gabriel and Sting, respectively. But one kit that stands slightly left-of-centre offers the superbly tight sound associated with Stewart Copeland; the Reggae Rock Kit.
Replete with high-pitched drum heads, the hi-hat sits proud sonically, with that beautiful sharpness of tone, that was so stylised by Copeland’s amazing playing with The Police. The set is completed by four Octoban tube-shaped toms, which Copeland was known for regularly exploiting on his fills and intros.
This is a very stylish and usable suite; the broad range of drum timbres are usable in so many mainstream scenarios, it’s probably wise not to get too hung up on the musical associations which act as the Hitmaker’s calling card of the past.
The electronic elements are equally sophisticated, with iconic patterns from Collins and Genesis tracks. If it’s your whim, you could very happily recreate the sound of those tracks with alarming accuracy, but once you’ve got that out of your system, this library will serve you so well, as an exemplary and complementing package, to other drum sounds in SD3 or the wider SDX series.
MusicRadar verdict: Whether you want something nostalgic or just some great-sounding drums to use dry, Hitmaker provides some of the best content in the Superior SDX series.
Toontrack Hitmaker SDX: The web says
"It’s difficult to be anything but seriously impressed by Hitmaker SDX. The sounds are undeniably excellent, and the selection of presets makes it easy to apply all the necessary effects and room ambience options that characterised Hugh Padgham’s approach."
Sound On Sound (opens in new tab)
Toontrack Hitmaker SDX: Hands-on demos
Toontrack Hitmaker SDX: Specifications
- SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: For the full installation you will need approximately 94GB of free hard drive space, plus an additional 94GB is required for the installation process. 8GB RAM (16GB RAM or more recommended). A working Superior Drummer 3.3.3 (or above) installation.
- CONTACT: Toontrack (opens in new tab)