Toontrack’s EZdrummer, released in 2006, is known to be a quite effective percussive tool. It’s not oversized like its bigger brothers (Superior Drummer, Bfd, and so on), it’s powerful and very easy to use at the same time, it has a nice line of expansion kits, an integrated midi file browser, a fair price, and it sounds good. In short, a winner. It’s true, the default kit is not the most exciting drum kit of the world, so you’ll probably need to get one of the expansion banks soon. These are quite cheap anyway, and I’m sure you’ll find one that fit your needs. The Nashville and Jazz kits are both excellent if you’re looking for more traditional sounds. Especially the Jazz one has an incredibly warm and inspiring tone (listen to the example MIDI files featured in the package). Of course I would not replace a good jazz drummer with a software, but if you need to work quickly on a few songs, or (and that’s my favorite approach) you’d like to experiment and add a “taste of jazz” in a different musical context, I’d say get this expansion bank without thinking twice (since you’re there, check out also the Twisted Kit, if you love Tom Waits‘ rough sounds, you’ll love this!) .
If you’re not a great drummer (I know many EZdrummer users are guitar and keyboard players) you can get some help from the MIDI files included in each expansion bank. Don’t expect them to be a comprehensive library though. Especially the jazz expansion ones are more a showcase for the product. If you’d like to add more usable MIDI files to your EZdrummer library my advice is to check a few third parties’ libraries: there’s the good old “Jazz” one from Groove Monkee, and recently the guys at Platinum Samples have released a collection, called Real Jazz.
In their words: “The grooves have been recorded over a five-day session by John Emrich on a Yamaha DTXtremeIII Special electronic drum set. No quantization, mouse clicks, or pastes were used – we leave that to you”. Lots of well played stuff in this library, it should cover all your jazz needs for awhile! 2 Beat, 3/4, 5/4, Walk, Shuffle, Ballad & Jungle grooves played with sticks & brushes at different tempos. This library is actually a perfect match for BFD users, but it can be used with EZdrummer and GM compatible devices as well. In EZdrummer it requires a minor adjustment to change a note to allow for any non-GM standard notes (for the sweep). It’s a bit tricky, and the best solution is to use two EZdrummer instances, to make the brush sweeps work as they should. The support at Platinum Samples is helpful and fast, if you need it. The Real Jazz MIDI library is 35$, more or less what you would pay for a good pair of brushes, not bad ah?
Going back to EZdrummer, until now this software was focused on more or less traditional drum kits. But the game has changed with the release of Electronic EZX, an expansion bank featuring “classic, circuit bent and resampled electronic drum sounds”. The list of gear used is simply impressive and it’s perfectly represented in the above three words. It makes no sense to rewrite the full gear list here, so please have a look at the product’s page and be ready to salivate!
Richard Devine (the lead designer), Josh Kay, Brad Bowden and Mattias Eklund did a great job on this product. Lots of different drum kits (more than 30, and easier to browse now thanks to the recent EZdrummer’s GUI updates), a decent number of MIDI files (created by Richard Devine himself) to show the library’s potential, an integrated fx section in the mixer (echo, subtube, tape, etc.) which can add some more character to the sounds. Just add a touch of delay and compression with your outboard/plug-in of choice, and you’ll have a great sounding electronic kit in a few seconds. I’d just love to have a 1:1 hardware controller, it would be even funnier to create beats (actually the latest 1.1 software release for NI Maschine could be a good solution, I’ll have to check it out)! I like the fact Electronic EZX is not (only) about the usual stuff. There are some unique samples here, custom models that you won’t find anywhere else. I love for example the Foley and the HR-16 Bent kit, and in general those kits on the dirtier side. If you’re looking for further informations about the modified models, check out for example the Devilfish’s 303 page, the Alien-Devices RY-30 page or the Burnkit Hr-16 page. Actually it’s a pity that the EZX Pdf and the Toontrack website do not tell more about the making-of this library, I’m sure it’s been fun. If you’re an EZdrummer user (Superior Drummer is supported too) looking to add some electronic sounds to your percussive palette, at 69€/$ you can’t really go wrong with Electronic EZX. And even if you, like me, have all sorts of drum plug-ins and libraries (from MicroTonic to the nice electronic kits included with NI Battery), you could end up opening EZdrummer and Electronic EZX quite often, given its immediate usability and the unique sounds.
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About The Author
Founder & main editor here at ANR, 'non-musician' and music-tinkerer. His first keyboard was a cheesy Yamaha PSS-270. He still loves it.