Let me say right off the bat that I like Kitcore. It’s outstanding what can be done with computer recording and $99 these days. I already own Superior Drummer 2.0 and Steven Slate Drum Samples. Both of which I love, but both seem to cover different sides of the spectrum. The Steven Slate Drums remind me of a Tank. They are big, thick, and mean as hell. They are not for the meek and if you use them wrong, they will literally kill you. The Superior Drummer 2.0 drums are a little more “light on their feet”. I guess a person could say they are more articulate. While Superior Drummer 2.0 can certainly be used for the heavy stuff, it can also use your Mom’s fine china without breaking it, too. Both of these sample sets have a scooped midrange which I naturally gravitate towards with my own personal tastes. Both Superior Drummer 2.0 and the Steven Slate drums allow for ample room sounds. I love the ambiance on both of these sample sets (ambiance is fixed on the Steven Slate samples but can be tremendously increased with compression trickery, while Superior Drummer 2.0 allows infinite options in regard to room processing with it’s room mic tracks).
Then along comes Kitcore. Kitcore isn’t really intended to be as comprehensive as Superior Drummer 2.0 and it’s price reflects it’s simplicity ($99 @ Musicians Friend ). How does Kitcore, costing a fraction of the price, stack up?
The install for Kitcore went extremely well. It was as simple as clicking on their installer, choosing a custom location for the samples, and off we were. The install went perfectly.
Ease Of Use
Like most of you, I don’t consult the manual until I feel a real need to. While I’m hardcore about pushing beginners to utilize the manuals for their recording software, everything was so simple in Kitcore that I didn’t ever feel the need top open the manual while using it. Since I’m reviewing Kitcore I decided to take a look and I have to admit that I really didn’t learn anything new. Of course, I am very familiar with my own recording software, MIDI, and several other drum sample packages.
Using Kitcore was simple. You load up a drum kit. If you want to use a loop, you click on a loop. You hit the “Play” button to hear what that loop sounds like. If you like it, you drag it into your recording software making sure to route the output of your MIDI track to Kitcore. Done. It really was that easy! Kitcore automatically adjusted to the tempo with my recording software, so that made life easy too.
Big Name Loops
Kitcore comes with loops played by drummers that I knew the name of and I don’t know too many names of drummers. I was given access to a few expansion packs and being the kind of guy I am, I installed them all at once. So I really can’t say for sure what comes in the basic package and what doesn’t. Regardless, it was cool knowing that I was listening to high energy tracks by rock drummers like Matt Sorum, Matt Cameron, and John Tempesta. There were other dudes in there that I’ve heard of as well.
Then again, any idiot can get permission to use somebody’s name. Fortunately, even though I’m not a big loop guy I found these drum loops to be highly usable. Scratch that. They were FUN to use! There were zillions of loops. I don’t like trying out 10,000,000,000 loops and never actually achieving anything. However, I found these loops to be a great way to stimulate creativity. The cool part is all I had to do what drag them into Cubase and I could manipulate them, if I so choose (which I didn’t). I could even run the loops to other drum samples if I chose to.
While I could program loops if I so choose, it was nice already having the groove already figured out. I didn’t have to worry about pushing or pulling the snare and all the boring busy work that comes with making MIDI drums sound natural.
I think they did a great job selecting the loops / performances. You had your basic kick, snare, kick, snare (which I naturally gravitate towards) and there were loops where I said “What the hell is this???”. There were plenty of loops in between.
While Kitcore does not deal with bleed in any way and it doesn’t have a fancy mixer like Superior Drummer 2.0, it does allow you to route each drum to it’s own output. This is great because it allows processing of individual tracks within Cubase which I’d be lost without. So for the beginner, this may be preferred. If you don’t want to do deal with all sorts of crazy mixing techniques to squeeze sounds out of samples, don’t. Just use Kitcore.
What I like about Kitcore is it sounds big in that big-without-much-ambiance kind of way. The Kitcore tracks sound like they would chew up a big spectrum in a mix which I would expect would allow them to cut through a dense mix with ease. They don’t sound overly hi-fi or overly pretty, but they sound good in a mix. I’ve heard people complain that Superior Drummer 2.0 is hard to get right in a mix. I can’t say that I’ve ever had that problem. I think it’s more of an issue that Superior Drummer 2.0 is meant to be hi-fi mid scooped right off the bat while Kitcore is meant to be chunky. I believe that some guys will prefer the sound of Kitcore.
I found that Kitcore had a meat and potatoes kind of sound to it when I first fired it up. It was good meat and good potatoes, but it wasn’t anything too flashy. The more tracks I added to Kitcore, the more I liked it. I don’t think I would be happy if this was my only drum sampler simply because I like the mid-scooped big room sound way too much. However, not everyone is into that sound nearly as much as I am. I can say that since I already have Superior Drummer 2.0 and Steven Slate drums, the Kitcore sounds are a VERY welcome addition that would be get their fair share of us.
In terms of tone, the kicks and snares remind me more of what I often hear with the BFD2 stuff. The BFD2 stuff has a big-without-ambiance kind of sound in it’s midrange for its kicks, snares, and toms. The BFD2 stuff is known for its outstandingly pretty sounding cymbals which I don’t think that Kitcore quite matches, but the vibe I get is the overall sound of Kitcore was intended to be more in line wtih the BFD2 stuff. Not bad for 1/4 the price!
I did find that some drums did have plenty of ambiance on them. The Matt Sorum Kit had a gigantic sounding snare that would work very well in a Guns N Roses style tune. The ambiance didn’t strike me as being as “rich” or natural as what I’m used to with Superior Drummer 2.0, but regardless of how it was achieved I could see it getting the job done for sure.
I get the vibe (and my experience shows this) that Kitcore was designed to work within a mix. The drums were tracked to sound great within the context of a mix and aren’t quite as impressive when you hear just the drums. In the end, the sound of the drums in the mix is the only thing that matters, so I’m not complaining. Job well done!
Here are few little pieces of ruckus I threw together using Kitcore.
Acrylic Drums – Basic Rock HOHH Groove
I used a bit of SPL’s Transient Designer to increase sustain on the snare. I applied basic 2bus processing of compression and a bit of high shelf followed by a Waves L2 brickwall limiter
John Tempesta 007 Drums – John Tempesta JT Brx Groove
I used a URS 1980 Compressor 0.1ms attack, 76ms release, 10:1 ration, 12dB or reduction max as parallel compression for the kick and snare followed by the usual 2bus processing.
Matt Cameron MC Rock 01 BOR Rd 02
No drum processing, just the usual drum bus processing.
For $99, Kitcore gives you a ton of drum sounds and a ton of loops that can get you going in no time. The program installed perfectly and was super simple to use. While the sounds are a bit drier than I generally prefer they worked extremely well in a mix. I could see myself layering the snare from Kitcore with my other sample libraries for more midrange chunk.
I highly recommend anyone in the market, for a low-cost, good sounding drum sample package with loops to check out Kitcore.
Users who aren’t so experienced at MIDI Sequencing and drum programming will love the loops!