I have been a user of Toontrack’s Superior Drummer for some time now and as a professional composer and producer I have always found the extensive nature of Superior Drummer to be fantastic, predominantly because you have so much control over every aspect of your drum track. I hate the idea of my drum and percussion tracks being the same as everybody else’s, so the ability to mutate existing kits, or build your own kit, whilst having control over all aspects of the playing, is essential for me.
There is an ever increasing library of expansion packs, or 'EZX' packs as they are described by Toontrack, to go with Superior Drummer. (Actually, the dedicated Superior Drummer expansion packs are named 'SDX' packs, but 'EZX' expansion packs are designed for both Superior Drummer and the slightly less flexible (but still very impressive) EZdrummer software).
These expansions are excellent and very useable, although they won’t appeal to every Superior Drummer owner. There’s no point in buying the Jazz EZX, for example, unless that’s the style you’re after, although the Jazz EZX is a very good EZX that I have used on numerous occasions in my own work.
When my Inbox ‘pinged’ to the tune of an e-mail from Toontrack telling me about the new ‘Pop!’ EZX, I was straight onto the website to take a look, and now with a fresh copy installed on my Mac, I have had a moment to road test it.
TOONTRACK POP! EZX - FIRST IMPRESSIONS
One of the main things that I love about Superior Drummer, in general, is that it is incredibly easy to mix and match your sounds. So, the first thing I did was to load up a preset kit to see how it sounds! I have to say that it sounds exactly as you would expect; full of punch and beef but with a nice sizzle on top... in other words, exactly as a pop kit should sound! However, if you’re not happy with a particular component, you can go to the drum itself and change it for something else, as you can see from fig.1, where I opted to change the snare.
[caption id="attachment_4116" align="alignleft" width="531" caption="Fig. 1 - Changing the Snare"]](https://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/community/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Pop-EZX-Change-Snare.png)[/caption]
TOONTRACK POP! EZX - SOUNDS
The choice of sounds from this expansion pack is very impressive. There are loads of acoustic drum samples, but there are also plenty of electronic sounds too and I was delighted to see the old guard timbres from the Roland TR-808’s and 909’s, which are just as much a part of the Pop culture these days as the traditional acoustic kit. Of course the beauty of these sounds, perhaps unlike other libraries, is that during the recording process, some wonderful outboard has been employed. I saw references to LA3A compressors and EMT plate reverbs, amongst others.
It was also great to see so many additional percussion elements, including claps, clicks, shakers and tambourines - all essential components for many Pop tracks. The claps are especially impressive as each set of claps delivers a new sample, so there is no nasty repetition, added to which the claps are made by humans and are not the 808/909 analogue kind, which is refreshing from the norm.
Many of the timbres in the Pop! EZX are described as ‘Hybrid’, as they are a mixture of layered sounds. I particularly liked the acoustic crash cymbal, which had been beautifully mixed with the classic 808 crash. You could just make out the 808 crash tail as the sound decayed to nothing. Lovely!
TOONTRACK POP! EZX - PACKED WITH MIDI!
The other point that pleasantly surprised me was the wealth of MIDI data that you get with this pack. Some of the other EZX libraries that I have are nowhere near as generous, and of course once the data is in your DAW, you can tweak it and change it to fit your desired track. It’s always good to see MIDI drum tracks with speed suggestions and specifications, rather than a one size fits all approach, and there is plenty of choice here - (Fig. 2) slow grooves, mid and uptempo grooves, and a good choice of styles from Hip-Hop to Rolling Rock.
[caption id="attachment_4148" align="aligncenter" width="937" caption="Fig. 2 - Pop! EZX Library"]](https://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/community/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Library.png)[/caption]
TOONTRACK POP! EZX - SUMMARY
To call this EZX 'mainstream' is possibly the biggest understatement you could make. It doesn’t get more mainstream than this, and unlike some other EZX’s that might have limited use, this pack will be of great interest and use to anyone who is writing songs (especially Pop songs!), or just wants a really good set of sounds that will compliment the mainstay of sounds that are already in Superior. If I were buying SD for the first time, Pop! would be the next item on my list as a must have!
A highly recommended product for any SD user.
For more information on Toontrack Pop! EZX, click the link below or give us a call on 01202 597180.