Since its initial release, Submersible Music's DrumCore has offered users an innovative software platform for drum-track creation. The application, which runs standalone and syncs to your sequencer through ReWire, provides a large library of easy-to-audition audio loops, one-shots, and MIDI loops, most of which were performed by one of a dozen well-known drummers including Zoro, Alan White, Matt Sorum, and Sly Dunbar. The loops and other content can be exported through DrumCore's interface into a range of sequencers.
You also get numerous editable MIDI drum kits, an inventive interface design, the ability to import and organize third-party samples, a randomizing function (the Gabrielizer) that works on audio and MIDI loops, and more. So impressive is DrumCore 2 ($249) that it won the EM Editors' Choice Award this year for Drum Machine/Module (Software).
With additional loops, improved import and export capabilities, a more flexible MIDI drum module, ReWire sync, and more, DrumCore 2 has made drum-track creation even easier.
For a look at DrumCore's basic features, see my review of DrumCore 1.0 in the March 2005 issue of EM (available at www.emusician.com). Before focusing on DrumCore 2, let me briefly summarize the major additions to version 1.5, which shipped in early 2005. Most notable in that release was the debut of Windows XP support (the program was initially Mac only) and the Drummer Pack optional expansion packs, which feature extended collections of loops from some of the DrumCore drummers.
Version 2 (or 2.1 for Intel Mac users) adds a number of useful improvements. You get additional content, including 5/4 and shuffle grooves from Terry Bozzio, more jazz-brush loops from Jon Bishop, additional pop grooves from Ben Smith, odd-time-signature loops from Alan White, and country loops from Nashville session drummer Lonnie Wilson. (An expanded Lonnie Pack, offering a wider range of beats, is available as a Drummer Pack, as are packs from Terry Bozzio, Matt Sorum, Sly Dunbar, Zoro, and, by the time you read this, percussionist Luis Conti.)
The MIDI drum kit feature has been upgraded significantly. It now gives you multiple ReWire outputs, and the individual drums can be edited for pitch, pan, and volume. With these changes, the kits (multiple kits are included for each of the 12 DrumCore drummers) have become a very powerful feature, offering a wide range of excellent sounds for triggering over MIDI.
Also new to version 2 is support for REX2 and Acid-format loops. You can now import such content into DrumCore, and it will show up similarly to the factory-included content. (Since version 1.0 you've been able to import AIFF, WAV, and SD2 files, as well as MIDI files.) Submersible encourages users to import all their drum loop data into DrumCore and use it as a centralized, searchable database. The importation process requires several steps, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy.
On the export side, the program has always let you send loops directly into a range of sequencing programs, including Digidesign Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase and Nuendo, MOTU Digital Performer, Apple Logic and GarageBand, and Mackie Tracktion. In many cases, you can just drag-and-drop from the DrumCore interface.
Version 2 adds another option: you can now export REX2 files from within DrumCore, including all the DrumCore content. This is really handy for working with a sequencer that supports REX2 files, like Pro Tools, because you can export your drum loops and then later change tempos if you want (see Web Clip 1).
DrumCore has long supported ReWire for audio routing, but now it supports ReWire sync, which makes it possible to audition content from the DrumCore application along with your sequence, before actually importing the loops. It also lets you sync up to any host tempo, even if it's not a round number. For instance, DrumCore will sync at 124.32 bpm and allow you to export loops at that tempo. Cool.
At the Core
I auditioned DrumCore 2 mainly with Digital Performer 5.1 and Pro Tools 7.1, and I found it to be a solid performer and a great drum-track creation tool. Version 2 is more flexible, more content rich, more reliable, and simpler to use than earlier releases. The improvements to the MIDI drum kits have made it into an awesome MIDI drum module as well. If I had a wish list for the next version of DrumCore, it would include more fills for each individual groove, and support for multitrack drum parts. The latter would offer users the flexibility of mixing and separately processing the looped drums, which would be very useful.
DrumCore 2.5 is due out this February. Improvements will include streamlined drum selection in the MIDI kit, the ability to run as a standalone MIDI instrument, and more.
Value (1 through 5): 4