Druminator by Audio Assault is a drum sampler VST that is compatible with AU, VST and AAX. Included in the drum kit you will find 2 snare drums, 2 kick drums, 4 tom drums, hi-hat and 5 cymbals. Initially when loading the VST the recordings of the sampled drums sounded great, very clean and very detailed. My only concern was how few there actually were. With only 18 playable notes on a keyboard triggering drums, I was hoping for more. On the plus side though I would prefer 18 playable notes of a good kit as apposed to 40 playable notes on 10 bad kits. You can however switch between 2 classic snare drums. A pork pie snare and a black beauty snare. Same applies with the kick drum this can be switch from kick 1 to kick 2. As well as 7 different presets for various genres. In the video below you can hear how each drum sounds both solo and in a simple drum pattern that uses most of the kits samples.
Druminator is priced at $75 which if it was to be sold as a wav sample pack would be insane as there is probably no more than 100 different samples in the VST. But here is where Druminator becomes a pretty decent drum sampler. Druminator includes a built in mixer, EQ, compressor and reverb. Whilst you only have a small amount of samples playable in a single kit, you can work with each individual sound to create a multitude of different drum sounds.
Overall the GUI looks great and wasn't buggy nor was it CPU intensive. The banked FX and EQ sections was a good idea and keeps the samplers GUI size down to a minimum. By keeping the samplers display size to a minimum does have it's drawbacks. As you can see in the image below the yellow parameter value indicator covers have of the dial, resulting in you not being able to see where you are positioning the dial past 12 o'clock. I also found the compact EQ and effects section quite difficult to navigate at first, thinking for instance that the parapmeter name was above the dial, when in reality it is to the side of the dial. The GUI in the back end could look quite daunting for beginners but once you get your head around it it is simple and very effective.
Druminator's mixer works well and includes a lot of good features. The faders can be a touch jumpy. If you have a delicate mix of drums and only want to nudge up a db or so you may find you click the fader and jump to a different volume first. To the left of the fader you can mute and solo each channel. Each drum sound on the drum kit has it's own channel as well as a master channel located on the far right. Below the mute solo buttons you can activate each FX. This will activate and allow you to use the EQ, compressor and reverb on the selected channel. Above the fader is room direct and overhead direct. By turning these parameters up you increase the selected mic volume. Located at the top is a pan parameter which allow you to position the drum in your desired stereo feild. The toms have 4 pans which allows you to control the position of each tom on the kit. I thought this was a nice feature and reduces what would normally be 4 channels down to a single channel.
The EQ was ok, as an EQ in the box outside of this sampler it would get the light of day with 99% of producers or engineers. As an EQ within the sampler it's fine. I would rather have an EQ in the sampler than not however good it is. If you need to brighten the snare you can, if you need to add more body to the kick you can. Easy to use and get your head around. The EQ includes a low cut and high cut which worked well for removing harsh frequencies as well and low end rumble. The 4 band EQ below took some getting used to as I'm used to working with SSL EQ's. It set out backwards to 95% of EQ's I've ever used. The top section isn't the high frequency band it's the low frequency band and works downwards to high frequency. So this EQ actually goes, low, low mid, high mid, high. Maybe this sounds natural to some to myself it's backwards.
Druminator's FX section was brilliant. The compressor worked really well and was surprisingly versatile in the way that I was able to achieve a wide range of different sounds use just the compressor. Was pleasantly suprised with this and would happily use this as a native plugin if ever Audio Assault did one. Be sure to remember to turn the mix up, as default it's off and you will work your way down the compressor making no change to the sound as I did first of all. I would personally had liked this 100% wet mix and the threshold fully up not triggering the signal. The drive section as well was good. You can achieve a subtle tube like distortion or go hard and destroy the drum if you wish. Again mix is set to off so be sure to increase the mix first before increasing the drive. Below this is a transient design which again was very good. Add snap to your drums or increase the tail amount. A very nice feature which producers often forget about. The punch and clip parameters I personally didn't like using but that's more because I'd prefer to add punch through different means and clip isn't something I'm keen on doing. That being said they are great features to include for sound design. The FX rack is excellent 10/10.
The reverb at first glance looked like overkill. Usually in drum sampler like this you don't have half the parameters this reverb has. But after playing with it the scope of sound you are able to achieve is vast. The reverb is located at the top where you have everything a convential reverb has. A nice feature you don't often see is the EQ below. It's nothing like the 4 band EQ in the EQ section which would be overkill but you have a low cut and high cut, as well as control over the low, mid and high frequencies in a specific band.
Mapping is a great feature as you can map your drums to a controller or electronic drum kit you have. The preset section at the bottom allows you to map your drums to various different software drum machines such as Addictive Drums, EZ Drummer, BFD, Steven Slate and Superior Drummer. This is a nice feature as often you'll write midi in the drum samplers and want to hear what they sound like in comparison in Druminator. You can also save your own presets which I did as I like to move away from the GM mapping and use my own mapping which I can comfortably play on a keyboard and my drum pads.
- Samples sound great
- Includes 2 popular snare drums
- FX section is awesome
- Massive amount of control in one VST
- Detailed mapping with presets
- Rooms mic and overhead mic volume control
- Overall decent sounding kit
- Full kit including 4 toms and 5 cymbals
- Small library of sounds for $75
- Parameter value hovers over dial whilst turning it
- Not enough variations of sounds (1 or 2 sounds per drum)
- Only one kit
The conclusion is..... for the $75 you aren't getting a great deal of sounds but what you are getting is a great VST which a lot of functionality that will allow you to create a vast amount of different drum kits. The FX section is great and works well, difficult to read and understand at first but once you get your head around it it's simple. You can get a great sounding drum pattern in midi using Druminator but my main concern was that it began to sound robotic and clearly digital because of the lack of sound variations. No live drum ever hits the snare drum exactly the same every time. I enjoy using Druminator and it will find a place in some tracks but it's never going to be my go to drum sampler because of the limited sound library. Maybe in the future additional sound libraries can be purchased and added to the sampler.
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