The new Drum Kit Designer plugin can be controlled by the Drummer instrument or simply programmed via MIDI

The new Drum Kit Designer plugin can be controlled by the Drummer instrument or simply programmed via MIDI

Drummer

One of the major new additions to Logic is the inclusion of the new Drummer instrument, described as a “virtual session player”. Pick a genre, choose from ‘drummers’ with different styles, customise the sound of the drum kit they’re triggering and then let them loose to build up a rhythm track.

drummer bioThe feature has a lot in common with the Smart Drums instrument found in the iPad version of GarageBand. There’s no doubt that this is where that Forstall-influenced light-hearted approach to design oversteps the mark slightly. Cartoonish graphics and cringeworthy biographies for the virtual drummers don’t quite seem at home in ‘pro’ software.

Whether the Drummer feature will be useful to many dance music producers is debatable. The 14.5 GB of bundled drum patterns and audio content are overtly aimed at rock, R&B, alternative and ‘songwriter’ production, all of which they handle well, but it’s worth noting that the new Drum Kit Designer plugin can also be triggered by any MIDI pattern, not just the Drummer instrument. There’s huge scope for the drum sounds to be used for ‘live’ drum patterns in a dance music context.

The opposite is also true; the Drummer engine can be used to trigger any plugin, including rival drum ROMplers like Toontrack Superior Drummer, or even drum machine emulations or synths. Here’s our old pal Curtis ‘playing’ D16 Nithonat:

Drummer's interface is incredibly intuitive

Drummer’s interface is incredibly intuitive

In comparison, the 92.5 MB of bundled drum machine audio seems miserly. With so much attention clearly paid to Drummer, it’s disappointing to see that Ultrabeat hasn’t been improved at all. The built-in drum synth/sampler’s feature set puts most other drum machines – both software and hardware – to shame, but its versatility is also its downfall. Too many options result in an interface which is confusing at best. It’s long overdue a rethink, but it looks like we’ll have to keep waiting.

From an unashamedly dance music-focussed perspective, it’s disappointing to see such a bias toward live band recording in this area. Ultrabeat offers a number of excellent new kits – improved TR-808 and TR-909 settings, new CR-78 and SP-12 settings and the slightly leftfield inclusion of a classic UK hip hop preset – but if you’re going to the effort of including new samples at all, why not take it that little bit further and give us, say, a 606 kit, a LinnDrum kit, a DMX kit…?

22nd July, 2013

Comments

  • You can insert more than 1 midi plugin per channel by the way…. Just click on the green thin line underneath the current midi plugin (mixer view)

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  • So you can. Thanks for the tip!

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  • I bought Logic X the day it came out, much easier on the eye and the midi fx are great and work well with external synths – I now have an arp on my Juno 106 for example.

    You mention in your review drummer can play a different drum plugin – how do you set that up?

    Keep up the good work, always check in every few days to see what’s on the site

    Cheers

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  • @ Mr Bump

    Just load the Drummer track, then change the instrument from Drum Kit Designer to anything you like. This is presumably why Drummer is a distinct track type rather than a software instrument with built-in sequencer – the Drummer interface (i.e. the pattern creation side of things) stays intact even when you change the instrument.

    Aside from the obvious drum and percussion applications, you can create some quite interesting effects by inserting the Transpose MIDI effect and forcing the drummer’s output to trigger notes from a suitable scale.

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  • Ah yes! Nice one thank you, hours of fun ahead..

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  • This was a VERY insightful and objective article. Thank you!

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  • Apple need to address Logic 9 upgrade issue….
    Thousands of ill-informed Logic 9 purchasers, only to see the X launched at same price… Boo to Apple’s new inethical business practice!!

    And yes, this Toy is definitely not for the Pro, so i bet the Pros are being dumped by Apple in favour of new entrants, alternative songsters and dubstep aficionados…
    Again, Booo to Apple for their Logic 9 misconduct and lowly marketing practice!!

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  • I find it hard to understand how people are complaining about not offering upgrade discounts when the cost of the software at £139 is already dirt cheap. The cost of upgrading ableton 8 to 9 is 250 euros, which is considerably more (and only accessible to people who own the existing software). Putting it at £139 for everyone is both massively cheaper than any other competing software and also far cheaper than most other upgrades. Would these folks feel better if they paid £600 for the full software and then got a £250 upgrade, or just pay £250 for the software and then again for upgrade? If it’s the former then I’m amazed some of these people have managed to even get their heads round turning the computer on let alone understanding a piece of software.

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  • @Fuzzy – why is it a toy? Same Logic 9 stuff plus more features.

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  • “Surely a little update to the GUIs of these plugins wouldn’t have taken more than a few days’ work?”

    Hahahaha. That’s a good one. I don’t dispute that they could have used an update, but it’s definitely more than a few days work.

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