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Jazz/funk drum libraries

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  • Jazz/funk drum libraries

    Hi All,

    I am an acoustic drummer that plays mostly funk and jazz, recently forced to the electronic kit by quarantine. I am loving being able to play again, but the kits on my Roland TD-4 are pretty awful sounding. I am looking at good VSTs for jazz and funk drums.

    I am not interested in any features involving loops / stylized automated playing, I only really care about the quality of the sound libraries and how expressive they can be when played. I have a presonus interface for MIDI input to Studio One so I would like to be able to do some recordings as well.

    I have done quite a bit of reading and listening, arriving at this short list of favorites:

    1) EZ Drummer 2 / Superior Drummer 3... expansion packs of great interest are:
    - Jazz EDX (or Roots SDX)
    - Funk Masters EZX
    - Decades SDX

    The above expansion packs sound quite great to me, and I know SD3 is an amazing piece of software. My main concern is the high upfront cost ($400 for SD3 + $200 each for the SDX packs), and the likelihood that I would not use a lot of the functionality of SD3. There is a huge appeal in the plug'n play nature of EZ2... My main interest is composition and playing, and I worry that with SD3 I will have to spend a ton of time mixing/EQ etc. to get a nice set of kits I can play. I do have some experience mixing drums, but that's not really the goal here. Can anyone comment on how playable the presets are for the Roots and Decades SDX packs? The Funk Masters EZX sounds quite nice for the classic funk sound, but I am not sure about a more modern funk/fusion option. Outside of the expansion packs listed above, do people have good success building custom kits for modern funk / jazz fusion with the SD3 core library?

    2) Addictive Drums 2, expansion packs:
    - Modern Jazz
    - Funk

    Modern Jazz sounds pretty good to me, although I can't say I love the sounds from the Funk expansion pack on the website. Maybe I would need to play around with the settings to get it dialed it; does anyone have experience with these libraries? It seems like AD2 has a more straightforward approach to setting up and playing.

    3) Drum Tree (Premier Sound Factory)
    This library definitely seems to have a lot of jazz samples, and compatibility with the free Kontakt player is a huge plus compared to many other libraries that would require the full Kontakt 5 subscription. Listening to the samples, I don't get as excited as I do with the Decades or Roots SDX... Has anyone directly compared one of these to Drum Tree?

    Seems possible that you get what you pay for with SD3 and SDX expansions, but I am new to eDrums and vsts. I do want to be cautious about over investing and spending more time mixing/dialing in settings than actually playing.

    Advice and input is greatly appreciated, thanks!

  • #2
    The beauty of EZX libraries is you can always use them in SD3 if you find EZ Drummer too limited. I'd vote for the EZ Drummer 3 pack from Thomann or Best service.

    It may not be on you radar but UK Pop EZX works well with some of the tighter snares.
    ATV aDrums, ATV aD5, eDRUMin, Presonus Quantum 2, SD3


    • #3
      I would go with decades, especially for the cymbals und dry kits and hi-hats, and Jazz 18 inch bass-drum. Playability is very good.....
      In terms of mixing, experiment simply with the faders and bleed of the kits, this is very easy, also use the pitch slider to the right tab and mute sounds to a certain degree with the tab. For my taste the (cool!) Yamaha jazz kit is unfortunately tuned quite low and too muffled you cannot get it to the BeBop tuning range of my favorite Peter Erskine Bfd jazz kit (which plays not that cool).

      Best sounding jazz cymbals are imho from Decades (Istanbul 30 Anniversary Gegerle, extremely complex, low, lush and washy a lot of sustain), Bfd Peter Erkine Zildjian Armand, K (dry Custom) and signature (higher pitched, rivets) and Stanton Moore Crescent signature line (higher pitched, less washy, less sustain). Cymbals can be tuned to a quite wide range inside Superior.

      Be aware that tweaking is only possible to a certain degree, I.e the tuning/sound of the kit piece has to be already in the realm you like it to be, when you tweak too much with eq or tuning tab, it does not work any more and the sound falls apart.
      A heavy muffled kit cannot be transformed to a ringing one, the muffling applied to an acoustic kit while recording is cooler more natural sounding than (an envelope tab) processed ringing kit.

      Decades is not particularly bright recorded/mixed, could be an issue, when you use cheaper closed headphones which tame a lot of treble or you are used to some highly processed, brittle and treblier 80s-90s recordings.

      In any case try Fostex Th-610 to at least experience non congested, non harsh headphones with a good treble representation, which also do not distort/alter sound and do not fall apart/alter sound in different volume ranges.

      Be sure (after choosing the appropriate key map for Roland td4) to use the velocity tab to the right to tame hotspots (highest hits) or raise volume of certain kit pieces like foot chick or sidestick separately (volume tab) which is always necessary.

      IMHO ezx packs do not play as well especially in terms of snare and hi-hats (more machine gunning, more erratic less dynamics control). Use latest sdx packs.

      For whatever reasons I find Superior’s stock 3.0 Ludwig kick, toms and snare (more Led Zep or choose another Bassdrum like Hansa’s Camco for 1976 Parliament live concert.
      Decade’s Paiste and New Beat Hi-hats and Hansa’s Mass Twin toms and Camco Bassdrum the best realistic and dynamic playable kit pieces with my Td 50 I ever experienced.

      Best funk snares are Ludwig Supra damped and Ludwig 4*14 of Decades played in lower velocities, cranky, treblier Stock Gretsch aluminum and the deep dry muffled snares of Hansa.
      Last edited by Ribot; 06-26-20, 05:21 AM.
      Desktop PC I5 Asus, Asus P8Z77, RME AIO, RME ADI2pro, RME Digiface USB, Mac Air 2014, Zoom Tac2r, Apollo Twin MKI Solo TD30, Vh13, Drum Tec pro pads, BFD3, Henry Hirsch, Peter Erskine, Evil Drums, Superior 3.0, Decades, Cubase 10, Reaper, Ludwig 67 Kit all sizes from 22, Ludwig Cob, 4*14, Slingerland 50s, Paiste Modern Ess, Zildjian Constantinople