In The New York Studio Legacy Series Vol. 2 drum kits, you can load alternative instruments (kit pieces) in many of the kit positions.
The first expansion pack dedicated to use with Toontrack's Superior Drummer 2 (S2) software has arrived! (See the S2 review in the May 2009 issue of EM, available online at emusician.com.) The New York Studio Legacy Series Vol. 2 (Mac/Win, $149) provides full-length samples of multi-miked drums recorded at Allaire Studios and the now-defunct Hit Factory N.Y. The two sample libraries (one for each studio) were crafted by engineer and producer Pat Thrall, producer Neil Dorfsman and drummer Nir Z, all of whom have worked with numerous prominent pop, rock and R&B artists. Once you register the libraries at Toontrack's Website, you can also download a new 342KB MIDI library comprising grooves performed and recorded by Nir Z for EZplayer pro (the MIDI playback and arranging program included with S2).
As with the Avatar Studios content supplied with S2, you can choose to install either full or basic (stripped-down) versions of the Vol. 2 libraries. Full installations of the Allaire and Hit Factory libraries weigh in at 7.4 and 4.1 gigabytes, respectively, whereas their basic installations — which include fewer microphones and only limited bleeds — are 2.3 and 1.3 GB in size, respectively. You can store the content on any internal or external hard drive.
HERE, KITTY KITTY
Both libraries' default drum kits are played with sticks, and include kick, snare, rack tom, hi-hat and two floor toms. The Allaire kit also has one ride and three crash cymbals. The Hit Factory kit loads with more cymbals — two rides and six crashes — and stick clicks (used, for example, for count-offs). Of course, you can always use S2's X-drums functionality to combine kit pieces from each library (or any other Toontrack library) to build a bigger kit.
Keep in mind that the foregoing discusses only how many kit positions load in the default kit from each library; it doesn't detail all the alternative traps or cymbals you can choose for each of those positions. For example, in the Allaire library alone, you can swap the Gretsch 18×22-inch kick drum for a Ludwig 16×22-inch or any one of four other kick drums (see Fig. 1). The two libraries combined offer a choice of eight kicks, 13 snares, six rack toms, seven floor toms, three hats, 16 crash cymbals and three rides.
Integral to each library are the microphones used and their positions on each kit. (Each mic channel appears automatically in S2.) You'll be happy to note that the producers used top and bottom mics for snare drums, inside and outside mics for kicks, separate mics for each tom and hat, and a supersized helping of overhead and ambient mics. In all, the Allaire kit offers a whopping 19 mic channels, and the Hit Factory kit includes 16.
The libraries also provide a selection of combined presets (presets containing both drum kit and mixer setups). The Allaire library offers 24 combined presets, whereas Hit Factory includes only 13. Many of the factory-combined presets drastically change the sound of each kit in useful and novel ways as they incorporate drum and cymbal substitutions, creative mixer routings and effects processing (using the excellent Sonalksis processors included with S2).
SAMPLES AND GROOVES
I generally liked the Allaire library best. Its selection of kick and snare drums covered a wider range of tones than what is provided in the Hit Factory library. The latter library offers only two different kicks, but you can always substitute another X-drum kick from the Allaire or any other Toontrack library if you need something different. Both libraries sounded great overall and captured the flattering room tones of the respective studios they were recorded in (see Web Clips 1 and 2). The toms and cymbals in both libraries had long, natural decays, and the hat work sounded realistic.
If you're not a drummer, you'll especially appreciate the new Nir Z MIDI files included with your purchase of the Vol. 2 expansion pack. Nir Z's MIDI grooves are among the very best available. I counted 623 MIDI files in total, all mapped to stick hits. There are 439 files in 12 songs in straight 4/4 time, 118 files in three songs in swing 4/4, 39 files in one song in swing 3/4, and 27 files in one song in straight 7/8.
Bottom line: The New York Studio Legacy Series Vol. 2 offers quality drum sounds, outstanding MIDI grooves and enough flexibility to make a yoga instructor blush. If you own S2, buying this expansion pack is a no-brainer.
Overall rating (1 through 5): 4