Mixosaurus Kit A is a Kontakt-compatible sample library whose entire 122GB content is devoted to a single drum kit with extremely versatile performance options.
Mixosaurus Kit A is a massive drum library that recreates a single drum kit and emphasizes detail and flexibility. The 122GB library contains approximately 80,000 24-bit stereo samples and ships on either an internal hard drive ($699) or a FireWire 800- and eSATA-compatible external drive ($799). Kit A runs in the latest version of Native Instruments' free Kontakt Player and in Kontakt 3.5 and 4. It comes with note-mapping templates for Roland and Yamaha e-drum kits, Toontrack Superior Drummer and EZDrummer, FXpansion BFD and General MIDI.
ONE KIT, TONS OF VARIETY
Kit A furnishes a single kick (with four beater types), one snare (with three muffling types), one hi-hat, four toms, three crash cymbals, two rides, a splash and a China cymbal. But don't get the impression that this kit is sonically inflexible, because there are choices galore.
Numerous articulations are available for each instrument. For instance, the snare delivers the full dynamic range of hits for the center, edge and halfway in between; rim-shots in three positions and rim only; and all again in muffled versions. The hi-hat alone includes 29 articulations, with various combinations of tip, shank, crash and foot — all with seven levels of foot pressure that you can control with MIDI. The list of variations in articulation goes on and on to an unprecedented degree.
Every sample offers as many as seven alternate versions, practically eliminating static-sounding grooves with even the most mundane programming. You can choose patches with fewer alternating samples (demanding less RAM) or even one sample per hit if you prefer a stiff drum-machine feel.
Additionally, you can select from three different overhead microphones (small condenser, ribbon and vintage tube M/S) per drum. Kick mics are available inside and outside, and snare mics for top and bottom. Each hit was also recorded through a stereo PZM room pair and a stereo chamber that you can mix with the dry samples to create your own sound. You can load kits in your DAW as a stereo pair or in a 16-channel output configuration.
Mixosaurus uses extensive Kontakt scripting to offer an enormous range of control over each individual sound and over the entire kit. You can independently set each drum's level for the dry signal, from the overheads, and from the room and chamber returns. You can also modify each drum's dynamic response. An elaborate Delay page allows for some very creative grooves, and you can individually tweak the envelope release times to control note length in each microphone output. Extensive filtering and distortion algorithms allow you to mangle sounds to your heart's content.
All this sonic power comes at a price to your system resources, and the upper capabilities of Kit A are at the edge of current computing power. Mixosaurus provides Economy patches that use fewer samples, as well as other versions with fewer or no editing capabilities. To get the most out of Kit A, you'll need an up-to-date computer system and a good understanding of Kontakt resource management. Most likely, you will do your initial work with Economy kits and fewer alternate samples, and then render out your audio files with the more detailed kits later.
All that detail in sampling and programming really pays off because Kit A sounds phenomenal. This is the first library I've worked with that I could believably create both a slamming rock track (see Web Clip 1) and a subtle jazz performance (see Web Clip 2). The seven levels of alternate samples put Kit A in a class by itself for realistic performance subtlety. Dynamically, the soft hits are authentic; you really feel the transient punch at loud levels, and everything in between is faithfully represented. The overall tone is neutral, so you are free to process it in your DAW to your stylistic taste. Kit A is really only limited by your drum-programming chops. It includes a variety of expertly programmed grooves to get you started.
I wasn't crazy about the sound of the studio chamber for reverb; however, I appreciated not having to fight an ever-present room signature and being free to put the kit in whatever convolution “space” I choose in my DAW.
Although older computers may struggle with the bigger kits, you'll solve most issues with a fast processor, lots of RAM and the improvements in Kontakt 3.5 and 4. If you want to program realistic drum tracks that sound great and your computer has the resources to support Kit A, you won't be disappointed.
Overall rating (1 through 5): 4
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