Cinematic percussion library
Fig. 1. Damage offers lots of cool-looking screens, so it’s hard to decide which ones to show. This shot displays part of two instruments: the top one is set to the Stage page, and the lower to the EQ/Filter page.
Attention, sound designers: I know you have to meet a deadline, and don’t have time to read this review. So, here’s the short form: You want this. Damage, distributed by Native Instruments, is an instrument for Kontakt 5 (full version or the free “player”) that includes hard-hitting loops and percussion kits. I expect to be hearing both in a lot of movies.
Get Looped There are two loop flavors. Loop Menu presets are sorted into four construction kit-type categories with acoustic, industrial, “mangled” pop, and “tech” inflections, but which never stray far from mayhem. Each has a “full” mapping that fills the keyboard with loops, along with three additional mappings of individual loop elements. The full mappings facilitate quick soundtrack assembly, while I found the elements useful in more standard musical applications.
Single Loops deconstruct the loops into slices triggered by MIDI notes, like REX files. You can play the individual slices from the keyboard, or drag the MIDI pattern into your DAW, then stretch or re-arrange slices.
Get HitDamage has 58 percussion kits, arranged in five groups: Epic Organic Drums, Ethnic Drums, Metals, Hybrid FX Kits, and Damage Kits. The last two have slightly different interfaces (described below) than the first three.
Get Crazy If Damage stopped here, it would still be a way-cool sounding library. But it’s a virtual instrument, and each of the loops and kits has three pages of additional processing.
The main page has five master effects (distortion, lo-fi, reverb, delay, and compression) and a four-stage amp envelope. Another page, EQ/Filter (Figure 1), offers three-band parametric EQ, a “Punish” knob, highpass filter, and lowpass filter (both with resonance controls). With kits, these controls can apply to a complete preset as well as individual drums.
As to differences among the third pages, with Loop Menu presets, this page provides eight effects, enabled/disabled by eight MIDI notes, whose parameters you can program—very useful. With Single Loops, a Loop Modifier page provides realtime loop modification options, played by MIDI notes— randomize, reverse, drop, or freeze slices; you can also pan individual slices, and do other tricks. It’s deep.
For some kits, the third “Stage” page lets you move individual drums around in a soundstage with 35 discrete positions. This feature goes way beyond panning, as ambience comes into play when the instruments are moved “further away.” It’s brilliant. Other kits include an effectsprogramming page that is configured like the one in Loop Menu presets.
The main page for kits includes a mixer section with sliders for Close (miking), Room, and Hall except for the Hybrid FX and Damage kits, where most kits replace the mixer with an Amp Sequencer (basically a step sequencer for gating; you can select the sequencer patterns with MIDI).
Get Damaged Damage is inspiring. The more time you invest in learning its features—especially realtime manipulation—the more amazing the results.
If you need cinematic percussion, Damage is a must-have. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote Peter Gabrielmeets- Trent-Reznor music around it, and took over the world.
STRENGTHS: Superb sound quality and production. 30GB of material (uncompressed). VST/AU/RTAS, 32/64- bit. Lots of realtime manipulation options. Useful processing. Easy to use on a basic level.
LIMITATIONS: Exploiting all of the included features means a learning curve.