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Toontrack releases new EZdrummer 2 expansion: Post-Rock EZX

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Toontrack has released Post-Rock EZX, a new sound library expansion for EZdrummer 2 recorded in Iceland’s iconic Sundlaugin Studios. This marks the fifth EZX since the EZdrummer 2 launch in 2014. [Read More]
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Toontrack releases Southern Soul EZX – EZdrummer 2 Expansion from FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Toontrack has released Southern Soul EZX, the fourth EZX sound library expansion since the EZdrummer 2 launch in 2014. They say: “Some studios are famous not only because of their body of work, [Read More]
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Toontrack releases Hip-Hop! EZX – EZdrummer 2 Expansion (and updates EZdrummer to v2.1)

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Toontrack has announced the release of Hip-Hop! EZX, the third EZX sound library expansion since the EZdrummer 2 launch in 2014. It costs $ 89. EZdrummer has also been updated to v2.1.0, offering [Read More]
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Toontrack releases Hip-Hop! EZX – EZdrummer 2 Expansion for Hip-Hop

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Toontrack has announced the release of Hip-Hop! EZX, the third EZX sound library expansion since the EZdrummer 2 launch in 2014. The Hip-Hop! EZX is intended to be firmly rooted in authentic, [Read More]
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Toontrack releases EZdrummer 2 expansion for hip-hop

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Toontrack has announced the release of Hip-Hop! EZX, the third EZX sound library expansion since the EZdrummer 2 launch in 2014. The Hip-Hop! EZX is intended to be firmly rooted in authentic, [Read More]
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Songwriter’s Corner: Toontrack EZdrummer 2 Review

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Reading comments on virtual drummer ( or guitar, strings, etc.) software, you’ll often find comments like “Just get a real drummer!”. Well, these people usually miss the point of tools like these. True, having a real (and good) drummer or guitar player is great, but in real life we don’t always have the time or the resources for that.

That’s why I love using plugins like EZdrummer, Toontrack’s virtual ‘instant drums’ solution. In our EZdrummer 1 review, we described it as “good sounding, powerful and very easy to use, with a nice line of expansion kits, an integrated midi file browser, a fair price. In short, a winner.”

The question is: how do you make a winner even better? Well, the people at Toontrack took their time (EZdrummer 1 was released in 2006) but EZDrummer 2 was definitely worth the long wait.
Some of the changes are immediately noticeable, others (probably even more significant) are ‘under the hood’. Let’s check it out.

Two new drum libraries
EZdrummer 2 boasts two new drum libraries, Vintage and Modern, which include drums from 5 kits plus several optional instruments.
The Modern library features drums from DW, Gretsch, Yamaha, Ludwig, Sonor, Tama and Brady (recorded through a Neve 88R console ).
The Vintage library is based on two old-school Ludwig kits, recorded through a EMI REDD 5.1 desk.
Scanning through them, you’ll be able to appreciate the quality of these kits and the pristine sound processing work. You would have to have an amazing room & top notch gear to replicate such good sounding drums.
The expression ‘they sound like a record’ is definitely appropriate here. These are ready-to-use kits that will add a professional touch to your tracks. I’m more of a vintage kind of guy, so between the two I found myself using the classic Ludwig kits more.
What if you want to keep the vintage snare and replace the kick with a more modern sound? EZdrummer 2 now allows to combine elements from different kits and add an extra percussion (hand claps, shaker or tambourine) on top of everything else.
You can also change pitch and volume for each element.

Song Creator & Edit Play Style: Power In Your Hands
In the “Drums” tab of the interface you’ll find a new, powerful feature: Song Creator. Here you can combine different loops and create complete song arrangements in a matter of seconds, and speed up your workflow using the song structure suggestions (arrangement templates like 12 bar, AAA, AABA, etc).

songcreator

Song Creator — Click to enlarge

So you got your structure in the Song Creator area, but you don’t like the hi-hat style? Now, you can customize the groove by selecting the Power Hand (the element where the drummer’s dominant hand is playing) AND decide how frequent the hits of each element are (Amount) and their Velocity. How cool is that?

powerhand

Browser & Search: Welcome Metadata!
The Browser will look familiar to EZdrummer 1 users. At the same time, it’s sweetly integrated with some of the new features seen above (right-clicking on the grooves will reveal handy options, like “Use with Song Creator”). Both the Browser and Search tabs make great use of the underlying innovations brought by EZdrummer 2.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the metadata! All EZdrummer 2 content has been thoroughly analysed and categorised and the result is a MIDI loop browser on steroids. This under-the-hood achievement is the foundation of one of the new coolest features: Tap2Find. Just drop a reference MIDI groove on the dedicated area, or tap on your keyboard/controller (or the drum kit on screen) to tell EZdrummer the kind of pattern you’re looking for. Then let the Artificial Intelligence do its job and in a couple of seconds you’ll get a list of loops related to the one you’ve played, with a matching index. You’re gonna love this. Check out the video below to have a taste of these new features…

Mixer

Click to enlarge

Presets — Click to enlarge

While EZdrummer doesn’t offer the huge (and sometimes overwhelming) number options of other virtual drums, extra features like the presets design show once more the efforts behind this software. Each preset is carefully crafted and features a specific FX section (powered by Overloud). The cool thing is that you get a mixer channel for each FX and/or you can see which channels are affected by it (like the EQ, in this image).
Needless to say, if you’d rather process the kit through your DAW’s plugins, you can use the advanced routing options offered by EZdrummer.
Just select Multichannel from the contextual menu and set up your DAW accordingly.

I’m an EZdrummer 1 user, should I upgrade?
If I were you, I would. With EZdrummer 2, you’ll feel at home and you can keep working as you did so far with the previous version. The interface will definitely be familiar, your old kits will still be there, and if you like, you can even ignore the new features and just focus on your traditional workflow. But, as we pointed out, the great sounding new kits and features like Tap2Find and Song Creator are definitely worth it.

One more reason: the entire line of sound library expansions (EZXs) is being modernised with new effect chains and graphics optimized for EZdrummer 2.

Basic Jazz MIDI add-on
You’ve just watched Whiplash and you feel like playing some jazz? Well, better start from the basics. The recently released Basic Jazz MIDI won’t make you a virtuoso but it’s a lovely collection of 8 and 16 bar variations of fundamental swing comping patterns in 3/4 and 4/4 time, all categorised by increasing intensity and complexity (with tempos varying from 90 to 200 BPM).

Basic_Jazz_MIDI_gen2

I found this Basic Jazz MIDI add-on very handy as I was working on a 3/4 song, using the Jazz expansion pack. I’ve liked its ride cymbal variations and snare drum/bass drum comping. The clear layout and the quality of the playing make this MIDI pack an easy (and affordable, 25€) choice if you’d like to add some jazzy flavour to your tracks.

Conclusion
If only all updates were like this! EZdrummer 2 shows that it’s possible to improve an already great software, using technology in the way it should be used — to make life easier for us musicians and producers.
Unless you need full control over your drum kits, EZdrummer 2 is an amazingly helpful tool that any songwriter/producer should consider adding to his own setup. If you’re already an EZdrummer user, the upgrade is literally a no brainer.

Price
$ 149; $ 99 — €139 / €79 upgrade for EZdrummer 1 users

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Toontrack releases Reggae EZX for EZdrummer 2

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Today Toontrack released Reggae EZX, the first sound library expansion for EZdrummer 2. The Reggae EZX takes the traditional sound and recording techniques of reggae drums and puts it in the [Read More]
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Toontrack updates EZdrummer to v2.0.2

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Toontrack has updated EZdrummer to v2.0.2 with new features, improvements and important fixes. New in v2.0.2: New articulations preview which also details MIDI note numbers available in the drum prope [Read More]
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Toontrack updates Superior Drummer to v2.4.0 and EZdrummer to v2.0.1

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Toontrack has announced the release of updates for Superior Drummer and EZdrummer. The Superior Drummer 2.4.0 update is recommended to all users but primarily to customers who purchased EZdrummer 2 an [Read More]
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Toontrack EZdrummer 2

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Read more about Toontrack EZdrummer 2 at MusicRadar.com


When Toontrack’s EZdrummer virtual drummer/drum kit plugin first appeared in 2006, it appeared to be nothing more than a cut-down version of their powerful and relatively complex Superior Drummer (then known as DFH Superior).

But its increasingly large library of excellent expansion kits has actually seen it develop into arguably the ‘bigger’ product. So it’s with no little excitement and anticipation that we find ourselves preparing to bash our way around the freshly released version 2.

Out with the old

“Much of the new library was recorded by Chuck Ainley at British Grove Studios via Neve 88R, EMI TG and EMI REDD.51 desks”

EZdrummer 2 requires 4GB of hard drive space. The Pop/Rock pack is no longer included for free, becoming a paid extra; but this makes way for a brand new, improved drum and percussion library, much of which was recorded by Chuck Ainley at British Grove Studios via Neve 88R, EMI TG and EMI REDD.51 desks. Yum!

For those upgrading, v2 replaces v1 but is fully backwards-compatible with regard to loading ‘old’ patches. It also now comes in both plugin (VST/AU/RTAS/AAX) and standalone versions.

Free updates are available for all EZX expansions, taking full advantage of EZ 2’s new features, with all of the old kit presets included alongside the new ones to ensure compatibility. Indeed, the only EZ 1 feature not in EZ 2 is the Humanize control, which is now permanently active.

So, what’s new? First, the software’s ‘engine’ has been completely remodelled to improve articulation and pattern flexibility. Then, while the pattern Browser, Mixer and Drums views will all be familiar to existing users, they’re now accessed via tabs, as is the new pattern search engine, which we’ll come back to shortly.

Also new is the integrated Song Track sequencer, used to compile library grooves, add to them by overdubbing, or simply start your own grooves from scratch, which can then be added to the User section of the library.

The sequencer expands upwards to reveal the Song Creator, which intelligently generates a whole song’s worth of sections (Intro, Pre Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Fill and Ending) from a single selected groove. It also combines these grooves into complete Song Structures (12-Bar Basic, AABA Short, AABA Long, etc, selected from a menu to which you can add your own layouts) that can then be loaded into the Song Track.

Of course, all or part of the Song Track can be dragged directly into the host DAW as a MIDI clip, and there’s the option to render the Song Track as an audio file. Double-clicking a Song Track block launches the rather awesome Edit Play Style window – see Edit Play Style.

Seek and ye shall find

“The Search page enables you to search for grooves based on their similarity to one dragged in from the Song Track or library”

Quite brilliantly, EZdrummer 2’s new Search page enables you to search for grooves based on their similarity to one dragged in from the Song Track or library.

Alternatively, you can use the Tap2Find feature to fuel the search engine with a quick performance of the sort of rhythm you’re after, tapped in via your MIDI controller or mouse – this is perfectly effective for regular beats but less fruitful for anything more left- field. The search results are helpfully rated with a Matching percentage ‘score’.

Of course, you can completely ignore the built-in groove system altogether if you prefer to program MIDI parts from scratch in your DAW, triggering the instrument just like any other.

The new kits and pattern library are arranged into Vintage and Modern drum kit categories, and a Percussion category. There are five source kits: three bright and punchy modern ones (DW, Gretsch USA Custom and Yamaha 9000) and two retro ones (1960s Ludwig and Ludwig Vistalite), plus some extra snares, and cymbals from Paiste (including the classic 2002 20″ ride) and Sabian.

You can freely mix and match kit pieces from all five, as well as any installed EZXs. The percussion sounds, meanwhile, comprise tambourines, shakers, maracas, cowbell and handclaps.

The kit sounds are excellent, and we particularly like the choice of seven snare drums (damped and undamped) in the Modern Kit, including a DW Edge, Ludwig 400 and Sonor Cast Bronze. All four Modern Kit kicks have a plastic beater option, too.

EZdrummer 2’s 29 presets include custom Mixer settings and a few ‘hardwired’ effects modules borrowed from Toontrack’s EZmix 2. Clicking through the effects at the bottom of the Mixer page reveals which channels are being processed by each one, and any adjustments made to their minimal controls are applied in varying amounts to each channel, as governed by the underlying preset. The number of effects in each preset varies considerably, and the modules include EQ, reverb, dynamics, overall drum pitch and mic bleed.

As with its predecessor, though, EZ 2 keeps user involvement in the mixing and sound design side of things to an absolute minimum, though you can buss individual drums to your DAW’s mixer for separate processing, naturally.

EZ does it

EZdrummer 2 makes creating convincingly realistic drum kit tracks an amazingly straightforward process. The new search engine, Song Track and Track Creator work very well indeed, and the superb groove editing setup give super-fast results.

What you don’t get, though, is the ability to manipulate the sounds themselves beyond basic pitch and level, but that’s what differentiates EZdrummer 2 from Superior 2, of course: the latter gives you fine control over a library of raw, ready-to-mix drum kits, while the former delivers pre-mixed kits out of the box. With that in mind, EZdrummer 2 is a very reasonably priced triumph.

Read more about Toontrack EZdrummer 2 at MusicRadar.com




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