The improvements in DrumCore 2.5 make this stellar program even stronger.
The latest version of Submersible Music's DrumCore ($249, upgrade pricing also available) features some significant improvements, though none are earthshaking. For those unfamiliar with the product, DrumCore is a multipurpose drum application that's designed to help you quickly and easily assemble drum parts. It hosts a large and expandable collection of drum loops (both audio and MIDI) that were played by a group of top pros and are organized into GrooveSets, which include basic beats and fills designed to work together in the same song. The loops can be exported (and even dragged-and-dropped) into your recording application or synced using ReWire at a wide range of tempos. DrumCore supports all the major digital audio sequencers.
The software also offers a MIDI drum module with kits for each of the DrumCore drummers made up of samples from their loop-recording sessions. It lets you import WAV, AIFF, REX2, Acid, Sound Designer II, and MIDI files and allows you to organize all your drum loops in a central database. (For more on DrumCore's legacy features, see the review in the February 2007 issue of EM, available at www.emusician.com.)
Many of the new features center around the application's MIDI drum module. One of the coolest is called Pad Swapping. There are 48 individual “pads” in a given kit — 24 in the drum section and 24 in the percussion section — and now every component sound in each kit is interchangeable with its counterparts from different kits. That means you can move, say, Matt Sorum's snare drum into Zoro's kit, or make a kit with Michael Shrieve's kick, Sly Dunbar's snare, Terry Bozzio's China cymbals, Alan White's toms, and Luis Conte's guiro (see Web Clip 1).
Also new is drag-and-drop sample support within the MIDI Drumkit Editor window. This makes it possible to quickly set up a kit using your own or third-party samples. Just like the factory kits, each of the 48 pads in a user kit can have unlimited Velocity-switched layers. Setting the Velocity thresholds between samples is as easy as dragging a slider. I've always found multisampled layered sounds in drum samplers to be complicated and difficult to tweak, but in DrumCore it's a snap. Another new feature is the ability to hear the changes you make during a pad edit in real time, as you make them. Version 2.5 also marks the debut of DrumCore as a standalone MIDI drum module. This will be particularly useful for those who want to use DrumCore for live performance work. You won't have to open it as a ReWire slave within a sequencer host. That saves a lot of potential hassle and signal-flow troubleshooting onstage.
From DrumCore's main window, you can audition loops either in ReWire or standalone mode. Now with the new Queue Play mode, when you select a new pattern while another is playing, it waits until that previous pattern finishes and then continues playing the new pattern in time. You can also seamlessly switch between audio and MIDI loops, should you so desire.
Submersible offers a range of DrummerPacks ($79.99 each), which include additional content from many of the DrumCore drummers. Also available is DrumCore Deluxe ($670), which comes with nine DrummerPacks in addition to the basic collection and the DrumCore application. It's a lot more money, but you get a huge amount of very good content.
By the time you read this, Submersible should have released KitCore ($49.99, download only), an AU/VSTi/RTAS plug-in that contains the MIDI drum module (but not the audio loops) from DrumCore. KitCore Deluxe ($99), which contains all the kits from DrumCore Deluxe, will be out soon.
DrumCore 2.5 is easy to use and compatible with most sequencers, and it offers a ton of great drum performances. Submersible makes an ongoing effort to improve the product, and the company seems attentive to user feedback. The only real limitation I find with DrumCore is that it only offers stereo audio loops. There's no multitrack option, so you have no choice but to use the mixes provided. Although they are uniformly quite good, there are times when a song calls for a different amount of kick or snare, or more processing on an individual element. No doubt, multitrack capabilities would make the product more complicated (not to mention expensive and disk space consuming), but perhaps down the road Submersible can implement such a feature.
That said, I've been using (and reviewing) DrumCore since its initial release, and it's definitely my go-to application for drum-track creation. This latest update only makes it better.
Value (1 through 5): 4