Drumagog is a drum replacer, an effects plug-in that automatically replaces audio drumbeats with samples of your choice. Say the kick track in your latest song is too loose and flabby. Just feed the audio to Drumagog and replace the flab with new, tight kicks from Drumagog's built-in sample library or your own personal storehouse.
Drumagog comes in four flavors: Basic (limited functionality, $199), BFD (limited functionality and BFD compatible, $199), Pro (full functionality, $289), and Platinum (full functionality and BFD compatible, $379). I'd strongly recommend going with the Pro or Platinum version because many nontrivial features are missing from the limited versions: variable pitch, MIDI support, autoducking, advanced triggering modes, and so on.
On the PC side, Drumagog requires Windows 98 or later and will run as a VST or Digidesign Pro Tools LE or TDM plug-in. On the Mac side, it will run under Mac OS X as a VST, AU, or Pro Tools LE or TDM plug-in. Under OS 9 it will work only as a VST plug-in. Each instance of Drumagog took a bit more than 4 percent of the CPU on my 2.33 GHz Pentium 4 PC.
Drumagog''s Main page shows replacement samples on the left and basic controls on the right. In many cases, that''s all you need.
Drumagog is easy enough to use. First you must segregate all your drum parts so that you have only one part per track. You then insert an instance of Drumagog as an effects plug-in on each track and choose a replacement sample, and you're in business. Often Drumagog's default settings require no further adjustment. But if they do — for example, if some of the original beats fail to trigger crisp replacements — you can fine-tune the sensitivity and resolution using an intuitive graphical x-y pad.
Drumagog's controls are presented in three pages: Main, Samples, and Advanced. Main is home base; you use it to choose replacement samples as well as to set levels, triggering sensitivity, resolution, filtering, drum hit position, blend, pitch, and onboard synth parameters. If your project is clear-cut, Main may well be the only Drumagog page you'll have to visit. The Samples page is where you manage (view, create, edit, and audition) sample maps. You use the Advanced page to set specialized parameters such as latency, MIDI I/O, autoducking, dynamic tracking, stealth response and crossfade, and automatic sampling-rate conversion.
Most of the drum replacement controls are standard, but a few deserve special comment. Drumagog supports three kinds of multisampling, and the capabilities are fabulous. You can trigger dynamic multisamples (differentiated by volume), random multisamples, and positional multisamples (differentiated by hit position). You can also mimic beats played by the left and right hands. Stealth mode lets audio below a set threshold pass through unchanged; you can use that to preserve parts of a track while replacing other parts. Finally, autoducking lets you get rid of bleed-through, in which one part is audible on another part's track.
Pros and Cons
Drumagog has a lot going for it. The GUI is well thought out, and details like the graphical x-y pad are user friendly. I like that you can easily load your own samples and create custom dynamic, positional, or random multisample maps. And I really like how it scales in complexity according to the user's needs. Beginners can plug and play. Intermediate users can avail themselves of sophisticated features like multisampling. And professionals can use the advanced triggering controls to ensure that each beat is replaced flawlessly.
Of course, there is room for improvement. There is no undo and no pop-up help, both of which are sorely missed. Timing was fine in Cakewalk Sonar, because it supports plug-in delay compensation, but in Sony Acid, I used the nonfixed-latency version of Drumagog, and timing was an issue. For the most part, samples loaded quickly, but sometimes they took surprisingly long (five to ten seconds). And I found the factory library of replacement drum samples a bit dull.
If you do a fair amount of drum replacement therapy, Drumagog Pro is a must-have, or at least a must-try. (You can download a 14-day trial version.) Though not the only game in town, Drumagog is more full featured than most, offering much finer control of triggering and multisampling. And it has cool extras such as an onboard synth to add spice to your beats; stealth mode; and dynamic, random, and positional multisampling. If you want to breathe new vitality into old audio drum tracks, Drumagog is a great way to go (see Web Clip 1).
Value (1 through 5): 4