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Drumagog 5 Platinum Review

Brandon Drury —  February 9, 2011 — Leave a comment
Drumagog 5

Drumagog 5

Drumagog Features

Not my area.Go here.

My Old Method Of Sample Replacement

In the past, I had used KtDrumTrigger, a freebie VST plugin, to squeeze the MIDI data out of my snare close mic and output that to Superior Drummer 2.0.  It’s a pain as there is always some latency, the KtDrumTrigger plugin pretty much works like a gate.  That’s not a terrible thing, but it usually takes me 10 minutes to get all the snare triggering right.  Drum rolls are always a pain.  Then I have to record the MIDI output to a track to avoid the latency.  That takes the length of the song.  So it’s common for me to spend 20 minutes to get the damn snare replaced before I even get to the fun part of playing around with sounds.  If I wanted to replace the kick, I could pretty much double that time.  Toms were an ultra pain as tom triggering is quite a bit tougher to get right.

I didn’t realize that Drumagog 5 could do this same thing in about 3 seconds.

Drumagog 5 Platinum In Action

So on my first go round I grabbed Drumagog 5 as an insert on the snare close mic.  The snare was too loud.  I turned it down.  (Yeah, it was simple enough that I bothered mentioned I had to adjust the level.  That’s like a personal trainer telling you he tied his shoes first.)   The trigger was 95% perfect right out of the gate and this was on a drum track where the drummer was all over the place.  He was NOT a consistent drummer.  There were a few snare rolls that required me to move the Transient Detail slider thing a notch to the left.  Done.

The initial sound was pretty damn good.  I could have totally lived with it in the mix.  It was a 500% improvement over what I had with my EQ’d snare.  Granted, I didn’t think the actual snare SOUND was all that different from a “sound quality” perspective.  I don’t have too much problem getting snare sounds.  What WAS different was there was no bleed ruining the kick and overall fidelity of the kit.

I went ahead and added a bit more beef to match what I was going for.  This was not a “fix it” decision.  This was entirely an aesthetic decision.  For the record, I rarely leave samples alone.  I generally run them through the same drums compression and parallel compression I would any other close mic’d drum (although I now have the option of getting dramatically more aggressive if I so choose).  I think this is a major reason I rarely feel that my drums sound like the samples I’m using.  Some dudes worry about sounding like every other dude using EZ Drummer.  This can be a real issue with the more popular drum sample libraries, I guess, I but I avoid that mess.  The sonic qualities of the stock Drumagog 5 samples are fairly natural sounding so you won’t run into the “obvious signature” too often.

Drumagog 5 has enough different sounds that I suspect I’ll never get caught using “that one” sample.

I went ahead and tried out another rock snare sample that was included in the Platinum package.  I click on it.  It instantly loaded.  It sounded great.  Done.  I didn’t even bother trying any more out.  I had what I wanted.

Note:  You kids at home taking 2 years to do your own album may enjoy playing the preset game where you goof around for four hours and never decide on anything.  In my world, I’ve got deadlines I’ve blown and that kind of time to waste is a luxury I don’t have.  Once my criteria is met, I move on.  You don’t get extra credit in this biz for getting over 100% and the fact that the second Drumagog sample scored a 100% is either great luck for Drumagog or they’ve put together an outstanding library.

Fair Warning About Me

I come from the old school.  I’ve had hundreds of drum kits in my studio over the past decade.  I’ve seen it all from top notch DW kits that were tuned amazingly to $100 drum kits with $12 worth of duct tape on the snare leaving just enough room to show the penises that were drawn four years before.  (Seriously.  Those recording school ads don’t tell you that you’ll be working with drummers who change their heads every other Olympics and have a peculiar fascination with man rods.  I don’t miss those days. )

I don’t believe there is a perfect drum sound.  I believe there are perfect songs and there is a right snare sound for a given song, but I’m used to one drummer showing up with his kit expecting me to wedge it into the song.  Ironically, 99% of all drummers just say, “I want to sound like me” when I ask them what they want to sound like as if drum sounds on records are always natural.  (THEY ARE NOT!)

I see guys on the forum all the time who’ve developed outrageous levels of pickiness who say, “I couldn’t get a usable sound out of X sample library” when I consider X sample library  to be an absolute blessing and an outstanding tool.  If you fall under this category, I suggest you try out Drumagog yourself as there is no way to predict if you’ll like it.

Back To Drumagog 5 Platinum In Action

The problem with getting a modern snare sound is it needs tons of beef down low and quite a bit of crack up top.  If either of these is missing, I’ve got a problem.  There are times when the song is SCREAMING for a snare that needs quite a bit of EQ.  The problem is boosting 250Hz on a snare makes the bleed from the kick sound horrible and boosting 8k pounds the hihat bleed into your ear like an ice pick.  Drum samples have no bleed and that’s why I consider then one of the greatest mixing tools ever invented.  I use them anytime achieving the sonic vision of the song is more important than the “N” word.  Yes, I’m talk about “natural”.

Since the boom and harshness bleed from the snare was gone thanks to Drumagog, my kick drum and cymbals instantly improved by a factor of 10 zillion.  In fact, I had to push the overheads back up to get the cymbals feeling right.  That’s good because the more overheads I’m using, the more natural 3Dness the kit has.  When overheads are down it means I have an unideal situation (unbalanced drummer)….kinda like when you find out the chick you are dating is slutty in a bad way.  This applies to metal, country, and everything else.

Bringing the overheads up does up makes the natural sound of the snare a bit, which is another good thing when dealing with samples.  Samples can sometimes be a hair too pretty if they are up too loud.  You want the snares to be a natural part of the kit, but at the same time solve whatever problems you had before the samples.

I knocked just a hair of 8k out of the snare sample and had what I wanted.  Done.  I’d be shocked if anyone ever knew I used a sample.

Parallel Compression Only

Another really fun trick that I’ve gotten into here lately is only using samples on the parallel compression buses.  Even the best drummers in the world will give you snare tracks with bleed in them.  There’s no way around it.  If you pound anything with enough compression and bring it up in the mix, it will affect everything in your mix.  There’s is no way around that.  Bleed is just part of the drum gig.

However, if you get your natural drums rocking on your standard drum bus, and then using your sample replaced tracks to feed crushed-all-to-hell drum samples you get the best of both worlds.  I can get all the attack, sustain, chunk, and whatever augmentation I’m looking for from the samples in this fashion in a sneaky little way.  By blending them in subtly, the drum sounds come close to what I’m looking for without stomping to hard on the natural sound.  Drumagog 5 was perfect for this.

This is especially helpful with drummers who have expressed contempt for sample replacement.  Note: 91% of all drummers who “hate drum samples” say, “I love what you did with the drums” after sample layering.  Just don’t let the truth get in the way of their faith.

Expansion Options

There are numerous drum sample options out there in the gog format.  In fact, Igor from Invictus Audio sent me some metalhead gog samples just this week.  There are drum sounds out there for everyone so even if you don’t get what you need out of the stock samples, you WILL find a set of samples out there that do what you need.

Continual Updates

A good sign when dealing with software companies is the frequency in which they’ve updated their product.  Since I started toying with Drumagog 5 in November, there have been three updates that fixed pretty much every qualm I had.  Well done!  Drumagog has their shit together.

Additional Features

Drumagog 5 has a bunch of additional features that I found to be interesting, but not life changing.  YMMV.  Some samples come with separate room adjustments, pitch adjustments, etc.  For me, I was simply looking for a way to do what gates would do in a dream world.  I wanted the bleed gone.  I can get what I want from there.  Drumagog 5 does an outstanding job of this.

Conclusion

It’s a rare thing for a plugin to make this kind of impact with this little work.  Drumagog impressed me. Drumagog made my life easier.

If you are doing any kind of music where you need to EQ and/or compress drums, you most likely NEED Drumagog 5.

I’ve wasted years of my life using KtDrumTrigger.  I wish I could go back and buy Drumagog  5-10 years ago.  Life would have been better.  Clients would have been happier.  Quicky projects where I didn’t have an additional 20-40 minutes to replace the kick and snare could have benefited from the five seconds of work it takes when using Drumagog.  I can’t praise Drumagog enough for how quickly it is to use.

Of all the songs I’ve mixed with Drumagog, only about 10% of them actually required any tweaking at all in the trigger department.  It ranks up their with hookers in the instant gratification department.  No lying.  No flower purchases.  No watching Julia Roberts movies.  Instant satisfaction!

The sounds are excellent.  Most of them are of the natural variety, but the heavily processed samples in gog format are easy to find.

Drumagog updates their software on a very regular basis.  This a good sign of a good company that is going to take care of it’s customers.

Well done, Drumagog!

Saved Comments


paul999 – 02-08-2011, 08:13 AM
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I haven’t upgraded to the newest version yet but I am not missing anything from the old version. It is as easy as ever. I couldn’t imagine that I am missing anything. Great program.

brandondrury’s Avatar
brandondrury – 02-08-2011, 11:42 AM
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Yeah, I really underestimated how good Drumagog had gotten. I had tried it WAY back in the day. I’m always happy to be wrong when a gadget changes my way of working THAT much.

I’m sure my great grandpa said that this car fad would pass, too.

Brandon

feegs’s Avatar
feegs – 02-08-2011, 04:48 PM
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yeah i like Drumagog a lot. I have been using for quite some time and find its great tool for fine tuning the drums for any song, or to go wild if need be. Im lucky enough to have an awesome drummer who can really play and also knows how to tune his kit, makes life a bit easier. So for me its Drumagog tweaks for what ever the song needs. so easy to use and lots of great drum packs you can purchase from Drumagog aswell…but be warned once you try it you will have to have!

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Bigduggieface – 02-08-2011, 05:17 PM
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I have been slow to get into the drum replacement game, but I bought Drumagog 5 a couple of months ago. Now I’m hooked. What a great invention!

ccshred’s Avatar
ccshred – 02-08-2011, 05:43 PM
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Brandon,

Good stuff as always. This may be a newbie question from an inexperienced dude, but how does this compare to Superior Drummer 2.0, etc. in your opinion?

Thanks,

Clint

vtecdohcter’s Avatar
vtecdohcter – 02-08-2011, 08:19 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by ccshred View Post
Brandon,

Good stuff as always. This may be a newbie question from an inexperienced dude, but how does this compare to Superior Drummer 2.0, etc. in your opinion?

Thanks,

Clint
yeah brandon, i like to know it too.

brandondrury’s Avatar
brandondrury – 02-09-2011, 10:54 AM
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but how does this compare to Superior Drummer 2.0
Well, first off Superior Drummer isn’t really INTENDED to be a sample replacement tool. Toontrack has Drumtracker, which I tried for about an hour, had problems, and probably need to try again. S2.0 is THE drum sample library to have, but it’s more intended for programming and/or e-drum playing. It’s a comprehensive composing tool. Using it as a replacement tool is overkill and underkill.

Drumagog is not what I’d consider to be a composing tool. It’s a gadget for mix engineers who specifically want to replace sounds. It has an outstanding system for that.

These two differing programs do overlap in that they both ultimately play back drum samples. Drumagog is quite a bit more simplified in what it spits out. You essentially have one sample playing with no control over multiple mics and such. Some samples have a room mic function (most do not) but the room was way too big to be useful for anything I was up to.

In S2.0, it’s like you multi-tracked the drums. You have overheads, room mics, close mics, compressed mics, etc. From a tonal standpoint, the sky is the limit with S2.0 (although some people aren’t huge on their pre-processed drums in the default library, I freakin’ love ‘em. ). The additional libraries for S2.0 are outstanding alternatives to their default sound.

The stock sounds in Drumagog are very nice, but I don’t think they are intended to give the outrageous flexibility that S2.0 does. It’s a tricky debate. When all you are doing is replacing a close mic’d snare track, do you really NEED a room mic? I did like having that option with S2.0. In fact, there are many times when the room sound was all I’d use….basically like a really good reverb sort of thing….kinda.

On the other hand, if I just need a bleedless version of the snare, I find that Drumagog is perfect.

Drumagog does have a MIDI output option, that I didn’t not use. I suspect if I REALLY needed sounds that I couldn’t find in Drumagog, I could use one of my external libraries.

The time saved in replacing, regardless of the actual samples I use makes Drumagog absolutely ESSENTIAL, for my way of working. Taking 20 minutes to do a 3 second job is ridiculous. So unless another product has better triggering than Drumagog (I still need to try out Steven Slates “Trigger”) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Drumagog’s triggering is king.

Brandon

throttle’s Avatar
throttle – 02-09-2011, 08:06 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by brandondrury View Post
Well, first off Superior Drummer isn’t really INTENDED to be a sample replacement tool. Toontrack has Drumtracker, which I tried for about an hour, had problems, and probably need to try again. S2.0 is THE drum sample library to have, but it’s more intended for programming and/or e-drum playing. It’s a comprehensive composing tool. Using it as a replacement tool is overkill and underkill.

Brandon
I am one of those guys that use’s SD 2.0 for replacement. I currently use Drumtracker to write each drum to a “whole kit” midi file. I usually replace kick, snare and toms but always keep the OHs.

Once I get a final “whole kit” midi file together, I then throw SD on top of it and tweak away. I take it to the point where I fine tune some velocities in the midi file to try and better match the drummer’s vibe on the kit.

Once all that work is done, I finally print the SD 2.0 sounds to an actual wave file. It’s time consuming, but I am also one of those idiots taking two years to make his album! I have fun in wasting time

Quick question – how much better is gog for midi replacement vs. drumtracker? I actually like drumtracker and think it’s pretty flexible in that it allows you to set a min and max velocity etc. The only problem I have had with it is trying to do fast toms. Sometimes it get confused with all the bleed going on in the tom mics. The other thing I struggle with is playing a hi-hat part on the floor tom (not a real drummer so excuse me if I described it crappy). It never captures the true vibe of all the accents, upbeats vs. down beats etc. It’s a pain in the ass to tweak all those velocities just to get a tom to sound “real”.

How is gogs tracking in those respects? Is it pretty accurate? If so I may check it out just for writing to midi. I hope it’s less work to the midi file after it captures it.

What about the Slate tool you mentioned. Who’s played with that?

acealashley’s Avatar
acealashley – 02-17-2011, 10:11 AM
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It never captures the true vibe of all the accents, upbeats vs. down beats etc. It’s a pain in the ass to tweak all those velocities just to get a tom to sound “real”.
Welcome to the world of drum programming. Get used to velocity editing or get a drum kit and a good room to record them in…

Well, first off Superior Drummer isn’t really INTENDED to be a sample replacement tool. Toontrack has Drumtracker, which I tried for about an hour, had problems, and probably need to try again. S2.0 is THE drum sample library to have, but it’s more intended for programming and/or e-drum playing. It’s a comprehensive composing tool. Using it as a replacement tool is overkill and underkill.
While not intended, it certainly works for me as a replacement tool. I pretty much abuse drumagog when it comes to drum (anything). For example: I use fl studio for all of my drum programming. Everybody knows that in production, a big part of your life is wasted on revisions and fl studio kicks ass on programming a quick drum beat to throw over a riff. That being said, fl studio has shit samples. So I took the liberty of opening Reaper, the Reaper midi editor and started pulling my own samples from S2.0 and Slate drums. In fl studio I now gog a Slate china and splash. I also gog almost every drum (with ambient/OH/room blended) from S2.0. Now when I need to make a quick revision I don’t have to worry about it sounding like complete ass and it can be a ton more believable without any extra work. I use this technique at least once in all of my final projects.

I even go as far as goging just ambient/room/oh samples to make a room kit. Sometimes you just need that room to be there without having to over compress and it helps to duplicate your drum tracks and throw the ambient/room/oh gogs on them. Idk. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first to do this but it is a neat little technique to bring life to those terrible drum tracks some folks send you. Until we get some better IR verbs, that is. I would love those S2.0 or Slate room impulses… That would be sick.

mjt’s Avatar
mjt – 02-23-2011, 04:22 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by paul999 View Post
I haven’t upgraded to the newest version yet but I am not missing anything from the old version. It is as easy as ever. I couldn’t imagine that I am missing anything. Great program.
I really need to get started. I really need this capability. Sounds like it can really be an ass saver if something did not come out right in the original drum tracking. Also an impressive creative capability.
I have no experience with sample replacement so this will be a first. I would like control over individual percussion as in single tracking each. That being said I don’t know if Drumgog is for me. But ease of use may be better too start with.

-mjt

Jack-Drumagog’s Avatar
Jack-Drumagog – 02-28-2011, 10:44 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by ccshred View Post
Brandon,

Good stuff as always. This may be a newbie question from an inexperienced dude, but how does this compare to Superior Drummer 2.0, etc. in your opinion?

Thanks,

Clint
With Drumagog 5 Platinum, you can host any VST instrument plugin like SD2.0 with the new Plugin Hosting feature. This way you can trigger Superior Drummer samples and replace hits simultaneously, and do this without having to use MIDI out (which not only adds extra steps, but additional latency too). Check out our video tutorial on Plugin Hosting here: www.drumagog.com/video

Cheers,
Jack

embolus’s Avatar
embolus – 09-14-2011, 03:28 AM
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(Toontrack has Drumtracker, which I tried for about an hour, had problems, and probably need to try again)

I have drum tracker and did the same tried it quikly and then went back had a good go… I want my 2 hours back!!
Turning wave into midi, It was 100 times easier to open FL and click each drum pattern by hand…only took 20 mins.

Maybe im missing something but it didnt pick up the transient very well.

Lex.

 

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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