Using Kontakt/NI drums

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Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:38 pm

Paging @fluffy @jan and whoever else chimed in so helpfully in the other thread!

One of the cool things about Superior Drummer is that you can pull in samples from different kits to mix and match.

I've now got like... 10 different drum kit packs. Is mixing kits a supported workflow or do I basically have to work around that if I need to?
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by fluffy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:42 pm

The only time I've done any mixing-and-matching in Kontakt was when I was trying to build a piecemeal kit from the NDK, and it was a gigantic pain in the butt. There's probably an easier workflow than what I was doing but I had no idea what I was doing.

I'm not familiar with Superior Drummer at all; do you mean Studio Drummer? Which I haven't actually used yet and I really should give it a try someday.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:24 pm

Nope, Toontrack Superior Drummer is EZDrummer's big brother VSTi.

But, now that I'm in the NI ecosystem due to aforementioned summer sale, I'm trying to figure out my workflows. It seems kind of strange that, say, NI's DrumLab can't import samples from the other drum packages in their suite. It's like each sampled drum kit (60s, 70s, 80s, modern) is siloed in its own VSTi interface.

I'd rate Native somewhere in between at this point- it has better sounds and capabilities than EZDrummer, but not the breadth and flexibility of Superior Drummer.

In SD, each drum/cymbal within a kit lets you pick one of many distinct ones. In NI's Abbey Road series, it seems like the only variety you get there is with FX/EQ settings.

In SD, it itself is the sampler so if you want to run another EZD or SD drum kit hit through it as part of the kit, you can (and you can map over the actual one for the kit you're using, or augment the kit). In NI, since the drum kit sampler resides within the larger sampler (Kontakt), the only way to do this looks like you have to load both drum kits and disable hits or use different midi channels, etc.

In both SD and NI Abbey Road, you can send different hits through different channels. It looks like NI prefers you do the mixing and FX in their interface - and I'll say it seems their out-of-box sound is more akin to EZD's ready-to-go.

In SD, you can set up additional bus mixes, microphones, and adjust bleeding from mic to mic. In NI, it looks like the only bleed you can maybe control is to the overhead mics, and maybe it doesn't even bleed to other mics. I'm not entirely sure yet.

In NI Abbey road, there is a ton of FX built-in you can use on the drum bus, and a lot of presets there to play with.

I'm still experimenting. So far, kind of underwhelmed after being excited to replace SD.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by fluffy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:28 pm

grumpymike wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:24 pm
In SD, it itself is the sampler so if you want to run another EZD or SD drum kit hit through it as part of the kit, you can (and you can map over the actual one for the kit you're using, or augment the kit). In NI, since the drum kit sampler resides within the larger sampler (Kontakt), the only way to do this looks like you have to load both drum kits and disable hits or use different midi channels, etc.
Yeah that's pretty much what I was doing. :/ I don't really know how one might go about doing things differently, like if you have multiple separate instruments it's not like they can magically pull the mixing engine out from each other or whatever.

Multiple Kontakt instruments can live in a single instance, at least, and you can do some mapping there, but otherwise you're just like... maybe you can pull .wav files in from one sampler to another but that's all I can think of.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:10 pm

fluffy wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:28 pm
like if you have multiple separate instruments it's not like they can magically pull the mixing engine out from each other or whatever
I guess I assumed it would be like SD, where the one VSTi can load in samples from all their kits. In all fairness, the Abbey Road series does look like it's all the same mixing back-end.
fluffy wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:28 pm
maybe you can pull .wav files in from one sampler to another but that's all I can think of.
That sounds like a lot of work, especially since one drum item might produce multiple different sounds that the VSTi chooses automatically based on velocity and randomness, and I assume they're all proprietary format like every other sample company...

Seems like their tools are made to maximize marketability but not necessarily designed with the most flexibility in mind...

At least I know I'm not missing something obvious. Thanks!
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by jast » Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:42 am

Yeah, NI packaged the various kits as separate instruments. You can, of course, create your own Kontakt instrument (e.g. a copy of one of the existing kits) and swap out samples in the instrument editor, making it possible to at least combine multiple Kontakt/Abbey Road kits, but that's a fair bit of effort and I'm sure NI hardly even thought about kits being mixed together like that.

So... yeah. In terms of sample flexibility, NI's drumming instruments don't really compare to dedicated drumming plugins - with the exception of Battery, I guess, but that's mostly about "digital" kits and doesn't play nice with the other drumming instruments from the NI portfolio. In the end, NI has always been developing a grab bag of individual things and they don't really spend any time on making it interact/interoperate except in the most basic ways.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:55 am

Hmm, Analogue Drums look like interesting Kontakt-friendly drum additions that might more easily mix and match...

But now I'm wondering if I should just save up for Superior Drummer 3... something about hit smoothing between cymbals for realism. Except SD + expansions is now talking $1000+ alone.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by ujnhunter » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:20 am

Ugritone (Formerly known as It Might Get Loud Productions) is currently offering their Assault Drums kit (80s/90s sounds) for $15 for the 1 year anniversary sale if you're trying to build your drum sample library... https://ugritone.com/collections/sample ... ault-drums Also, I'm pretty sure that their KVLT Drums is on sale too... if you're into that old "trve" (Ha!) Black Metal sound... Isn't the upgrade to SD3 like $249-299 or something? Also... I thought this sale was supposed to be over already... but looks like Room Sound still have all three of their drum instruments on sale still for $59 a piece here: https://www.roomsound.com/
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:27 am

Oh no! Now I have more things to consider, stop that. Though the Room Sound looks pretty cool...

I just want one user interface with all the flexibility to do all the samples from all the kits... :( Like, I've got to remember what each one of these things sounds like and open the right Native Instrument thing to get the thing that I want but can't easily compare to the other thing. There are too many things.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by fluffy » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:35 am

Personally I'm fine with just using Drum Kit Designer from Logic and not worrying about how much more realistic my drums could be. My only frustration with that is there's no brush sounds but I have alternatives for that case too.

Stringed instruments, on the other hand... oh gosh I'm never satisfied with those.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by ujnhunter » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:25 am

grumpymike wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:27 am
Oh no! Now I have more things to consider, stop that. Though the Room Sound looks pretty cool...

I just want one user interface with all the flexibility to do all the samples from all the kits... :( Like, I've got to remember what each one of these things sounds like and open the right Native Instrument thing to get the thing that I want but can't easily compare to the other thing. There are too many things.
Haha... sorry. Maybe you could make a MIDI track hitting one drum at a time... Kick, Snare, Toms, Hats, Cymbals, etc... then you can record the output to a .WAV file and do it for all of your Drum VSTs so you have a "Reference" track for each VST that you can audition samples from that way you don't have to load up each VST to do that?
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by jast » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:17 pm

NI actually has audio previews for all of its instruments and presets. Download via their installer thing and then you can audition virtually everything in Komplete Kontrol.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Well, now I just want to mic my own drums. The terrorists have won. (jk that’s insane- I’m probably getting some of the Analogue kits later)
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:39 am

After more playing around with Komplete, I think the real issue I have is that the Native Instruments drum packages just aren't what I want in fake drums. They are easy to drop in, play-ready. It takes way too much time for me to get them setup the way I want, and I think the samples kind of sound cheap and there isn't much variety. They remind me much more of EZDrummer. I can't stand the default FX chain applied to these ready-to-go drum VSTs, and I'm essentially working against the product by trying to get discrete dry channels out of them. So, if I don't even like the original samples they package, I may as well not waste my time.

Now, that leaves me wondering whether I should a) buy a 3rd party package/instrument for Kontact, b) buy Superior Drummer 3, c) buy BFD3 or another drum suite.

BFD3 sounds better than SD3 to me from this comparison video. Most of the reviews say SD3 has a better workflow experience, but a lot of them are talking about midi grooves, which I don't really want. I read one review that says BFD3 has software things that make it more realistic. General consensus is that BFD3 has dryer output by default, which is what I prefer... SD3 seems to have bigger name recognition and is likely the industry standard...

Maybe I should just close my eyes and click until I've bought everything and then I can complain about everything all at once.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by jast » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:25 pm

At least BFD offers a demo version for you to download and try. Didn't see anything like that for SD.

Can't really say much about the features of each, but the SD folks are pretty good at making numbers look impressive - their 230 GB sound library is (for no good reason) completely uncompressed, unlike the BFD library, and of those 230 GB, 190 GB are ambience, surround, and mic bleed recordings.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:11 am

I'm going to give an update to those who are riveted and on the edge of their seats about my Fake Drum Journey. Every spare minute I've had has been spent listening to the same midi track over and over with different samplers, samples, and FX.

I bought some Analogue Drums kits for Kontact. I like the samples (mostly - some of the rides have a very melodic overtone that I find annoying, but I digress). However, one flaw is obvious, as is with most other drum samplers: repeated triggers to the cymbals sound awkwardly fake. Triggering a cymbal that is already resonating causes the sample to "reset" as if it were silenced. A real cymbal, if it's in motion, will absorb the impact but lengthen/blend the shimmer. It's one of the things that's most obvious about fake drums.

This is called "cymbal swell" and both BFD and Superior Drummer have the ability to model it automatically, to some extent. You can see BFD3 in action here and SD3 here.

It's possible to carefully craft your MIDI and tweak your sampler to give you a better sound on repeated cymbal hits, but as far as I can tell, only these two samplers do it in automated ways. BFD3 seems to have a variety of algorithms to play and will automate more from what I can tell. I like that.

So, I think I will eventually buy BFD3 for my fake drum needs. My biggest hang-up is that SD3 has a sleeker interface and is newer. BFD has a wider variety -and cheaper - sample expansions as well as 3rd party expansions. It also seems BFD3 does what I was looking for in the first place better than the other options - mix and match kits. I'll then need to find the samples I want... life is so complicated.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by grumpymike » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:50 pm

So... BFD had a 1/2 off on expansions sale. Look, it was a high-pressure situation past the "sale date".

Okay, yes, I spent too much money on drum samples this past week. I have a problem.

But hey, it's better than other hobbies... like cocaine or PCP.

Anyway, the point of this update is that - after 24+ hours of downloading and file copying - I finally have BFD3 installed. I opened the interface. I clicked the kick drum. It sounds so good. So, so good. I think my ears just climaxed. I suppose they ought to at that price.

Moral of the story: Native Instruments is jack-of-all-trades in the VSTi arena. Perhaps they excel at some synths and orchestral stuff. They throw a lot at you in one package to make you think you'll get a lot, and it's true there's a lot of value there, but you're probably better off constructing a best-of-breed amalgamation if you're going to be nitpicky. And who here isn't nitpicky?

Edit: Oh-em-gee the kicks in BFD3 are so much better than anything else, and the settings are incredible. Every kit I pick in the core library I say "this is the best" and then the next one is better.
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Re: Using Kontakt/NI drums

Post by jast » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:15 am

You should consider becoming a sales agent for BFD. :)
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