Submersible Music: Drumcore 2

No sample-based instrument (or sample library) based on live drum loops is quite like Submersible Music’s DrumCore. Part REX player and ReWire client, part loop librarian, part songwriting partner, and part drum module, DrumCore packs a ton of usability and musicality into a simple, smart interface that helps you assemble drum tracks faster than it takes to rip a single construction kit CD.
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No sample-based instrument (or sample library) based on live drum loops is quite like Submersible Music’s DrumCore. Part REX player and ReWire client, part loop librarian, part songwriting partner, and part drum module, DrumCore packs a ton of usability and musicality into a simple, smart interface that helps you assemble drum tracks faster than it takes to rip a single construction kit CD.

WHAT IS IT?

DrumCore’s tagline — “Legendary drummers. Signature Grooves.” — sums it up nicely. You get 8GB of audio and MIDI loops and fills played by an impressive line-up of A-list drummers, each of whom performed on their own kit or kits, so you not only get a wide range of feels and styles, but also a variety of drum tones (including acoustic, electronic, and Latin sounds). Some of the heavy hitters include Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Alan White (John Lennon, Yes), Jeff Anthony (Sheryl Crow), and Zoro (Lenny Kravitz). Submersible also offers expansion packs based on individual drummers and styles.

What makes DrumCore an effective songwriting tool is its streamlined interface, which provides a smooth workflow. For example, loops automatically adjust to tempo in real time, so you’re free to try different tempo options without stopping. You can browse the material by style or drummer, and you’re not limited to the included content. REX files are fair game, too. As you find a loop or fill that fits the bill, press the Export button and it’s saved to your hard drive. This is a quick way to build up a group of related samples.

To add variation, the Gabrielizer randomization feature rearranges a loop’s slices as it plays. If you like what you hear, export it. If not, “Gabrielize” it again and see what happens. It’s all very fluid and makes the process of finding and working with loops more of a creative act and less of a chore.

DC works in stand-alone and ReWire modes, so you can pipe it directly into a ReWire-compatible sequencer. Once you do, you’ll be able to drag and drop files directly from DC into your host, as well as play individual drum kit sounds from a MIDI keyboard or drum pad (MIDI functionality will be added to stand-alone mode in the next incremental update). This is another area where DC shines: It provides a wealth of multisampled kits, so you can program your own grooves from scratch. Nice.

What’s more, DC’s librarian feature can tag and archive any REX, WAV, AIFF, SDII, and MIDI file with metadata, making DC a viable “hub” for managing all of your loops.

Drawbacks? Only a few. None of the loops are multitrack — they’re stereo only. I didn’t find this to be a dealbreaker, however. What threw me was the lack of uniformity among the collection of drummers. Some players offer many variations for each of their grooves, while others offer only one or two (or in some cases, none). Also, most of the grooves are just two bars long, which can be a limiting factor when you’re trying to assemble drum tracks that fit typical song structures.

CONCLUSIONS

The recording quality and performances are world class, the selection of grooves (available as both MIDI and digital audio) reaches beyond the typical loop library, and there are additional downloadable MIDI files on the website. Sure, there’s a strong collection of rock and funk loops. But you’ll also find New Orleans second line grooves, jazz brushes, swinging ride cymbals, driving country “train” beats, and more.

For songwriters, DrumCore is attractive on several levels: as a practice tool, writing partner, and a go-to resource to help kick-start the creative process. For anyone producing music for TV, DC is nearly indispensable. The convenience of having so many styles and drum tones available in one place is invaluable. Of course, the browser/librarian aspect is compelling for anyone with a large loop library.

So what’s it boil down to? If you don’t need multitrack drum parts à la Discrete Drums or Drums On Demand, DrumCore could be the only faux drums you’ll ever need to create convincing, live-sounding beats without hiring a real drummer.

(Breaking news: DrumCore 2.5, with several improvements added to the MIDI drum kit options, and a player-only version, DrumCore LT, will have been introduced at NAMM by the time you read this.)

Product type: Drum loop player/librarian with built-in time-stretching

Target market: Singer/songwritings and producers who want live-sounding drum parts that can be assembled into song structures.

Copy protection: Serial number and online registration.

Strengths: Diverse set of styles. Solid performances. Multisampled kits are included. Imports WAV, AIF, and REX files.

Limitations: Stereo only, not multitrack. Some styles don’t offer much pattern variation.

Contact: www.drumcore.com