Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 Review

The people at Toontrack were cool enough to send me a copy of Superior Drummer 2.0 for review. I’ve heard a ton about it by reading on the web and I’ve watched lots of videos and heard demo songs created using Superior Drummer 2.0. Needless, to say I was pretty excited to get my mits on it and try it out.

Superior Drummer 2.0 comes on 5 DVD’s. Install was relatively painless and authorizing the program wasn’t too bad either. There are four different modes of custom installation, from the 4Gb basic install up to the full 20Gb sound bank. I had used EZdrummer in the past and Superior Drummer 2.0 seems like a huge step up from that. There are a ton of settings in this puppy. Actually, the interface seemed a bit daunting at first. Took me a while to figure out what was going on.

They’ve completely overhauled the dfh-Superior engine so it’s optimized for use with electronic drum kits, makes even more effective use of sample layers, and loads much faster than before. Plus, the sounds are top notch. Toontrack created the brand new Superior Drummer 2.0 engine expressly to showcase the sounds, instead of just releasing them as an expansion pack.

You can get great sounds right out of the box or you can lift the hood and tweak almost every minute detail to your liking. Superior Drummer 2.0 is primarily a mic-centric program, so learning the mics and how to mix them is key to getting your sounds. In terms of mic’s that can be accessed it’s got overhead, close, mid, and far ambient mics, mono ambient and an ambient bullet mic that can all be tweaked in and out to tailor your sound. It’s pretty amazing how many different sounds you can get out of one snare just by playing with the mics.

The mixer has your standard groupings, bus assignments, detailed bleed control for every instrument, and allows for 16 channels of output into your DAW. It is possible to do all of the drum mixing within Superior Drummer, saving valuable DAW resources. The Sonalksis FX are rather efficient, but when you do a complete drum mix inside Superior with 20-something plugins of course they hit your CPU like native plugins would.

One difference between EZdrummer and Superior Drummer 2.0 is that the midi engine is no longer a part of the drum engine like it was in EZdrummer. To use the included midi grooves you need to install EZplayer Pro (free with Superior Drummer 2.0) and place it just ahead of Superior Drummer 2.0 in the fx chain and then all will work as expected.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 Features:

  • Recorded at Avatar Studios
  • Drums played by renowned live/session drummer, Nir Z
  • Custom MIDI engine
  • EZplayer Pro arranger
  • Functions stand alone with Toontrack Solo
  • Optimized for use with e-drums
  • Effective use of sample layers
  • Improved loading times
  • New built-in effects by Sonalksis

System requirements are:

  • Windows XP SP3 or newer, 2 GHz Pentium 4 or Athlon processor with 1 GB RAM (multi-core CPU with 2 GB RAM or more recommended)
  • Mac OS 10.4.11 or higher, 2 GHz G5 with 1 GB RAM (multi-core CPU with 2 GB RAM or more recommended)
  • 4GB free hard disc space, DVD drive (25GB free hard disc space, Sequencer application and professional soundcard MIDI controller such as keyboard, drum pads or electronic drum kit recommended)

Superior Drummer 2.0 is compatible with:

  • Ableton Live
  • Acid
  • Cubase
  • Digital Performer
  • Fruity Loops
  • Garage Band
  • Logic Pro
  • Mackie Traktion
  • Pro Tools
  • Reaper
  • Samplitude
  • Sonar

Superior Drummer 2.0 works well with electronic drum kits as well, and tracks all the stuff the electronic drums can transmit, like cymbal chokes and hihat foot splashes. I’ve done some testing, like seeing how many degrees of open to closed I can hit with my hihat pedal, or mixing jazz percussion stuff from other libraries in with the Avatar kit that comes with it and it performs excellent.

When downloading the latest update to version 2.2.1, you will get the integrated MIDI grooves browser, just like in EZdrummer. The update also adds a mapping/stacking function, which is very useful for the users with E-kits out there. When downloading the latest update flr the Avatar sound library, there is tons of mixer presets included, for the users who don’t have the time or experience to mix on their own. There is additional MIDI for download, when registered your EZplayer Pro and also from the Superior Drummer 2.0 product page. All of the above is of course free for registered owners.

Toontrack has some great videos up on their. Take a look at some of these, the videos will show you how intense Superior Drummer 2.0 really is. It probably has more bells and whistles than you will ever use, but it’s nice to know they are there if you want to dive in.

Overall, I think Superior Drummer 2.0 sounds amazing and is very intuitive. It is a must if you are looking to have realistic sounding drums without learning to actually play them yourself. It doesn’t require that you are a midi programmer or a computer engineer to run. You can have great sounding drums right out of the box without a huge headache. I would recommend Superior Drummer 2.0, check it out!

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