Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 by Bonie3001
I've been using toontrack drums since way back when "drumkit from hell" entered the market. Since then, every new major version has meant a big step forward. That's also the case with Superior 3. Whereas the second installement has been a gamechanger, number three seems to be the ultimate drum machine. The question is: "Can it get any better?"
The kits you get are absolute top notch quality. This is more than you need for covering all musical styles from jazz to black metal. There are more room mics for your disposal than you will ever need. The variety of articulations is phenomenal. If the sheer number of channels and options is too confusing for you, you can draw on a multitude of mixer-presets that will do an excellent job, at least as a starting point.
What I missed most on Superior 2 was the "tap to find" feature of EZdrummer. It's included now and will make it easy for songwriters to find suitable grooves easily. This is a huge step workflow-wise!
To sum up so far: Great sound, amazing workflow.
However, there is still more: The drumtracker is witchcraft. This is a dream come true. Not only can you trigger snare, kick and toms, Superior 3 also takes care of cymbals and highhats. This is really impressive. With a little tweaking afterwards, you can translate whole drum performances into midi and into Superior 3. Thats also means that you can translate a cheap kit with cheap microphones into a classic ludwig kit, recorded with world class microphones in one of the best recording rooms ever.
There are a whole lot of features and you may think that this may be too much for your ordinary recording PC. However, this is liekly not the case. Sure, routing all the outputs into your daw-groups may bring you cpu down to its knees. Fortunately you don’t need to: There are built-in effects which will do the job in an excellent way in the box. In addition to that, it will save a lot of cpu-power. I was surprised how economically this huge VST-drum tank works! Chapeau!
There’s still more to praise: Midi-management, the built-in drum editor are a pleasure to work with. You can draw midi files from the DAW into Superior and vice versa.
E-Drum wise, I can’t get too much into detail as I’m not a specialist in this area. However, sitting on my Roland TD-4, it was bliss. It really feels like you are sitting in a huge room, playing a superb kit. The response is very natural. However I’m a hobby drummer, I’m in no way a benchmark.
So where is the hair in the soup?
Honestly, I can’t find one. If anything, we are complaining on a very high comfort level.
As a rock guy, you may miss a little bit of punch on hard snare hits. You may also miss some boxier kind of room as this kit was sampled in a very large space. However, the ribbon ambient mics suit very well for my needs. Although the core kit seems to cover almost everything I understand toontrack if they want to leave some space for future expansion kits. By the way: The old SDX-kits work well with SD3.
Summary: For what you get, SD3 is a bargain. I really can’t find anything significant to complain about. To the contrary, this software is close to perfection. Props to toontrack, who raised the bar once again. I wonder if that will work out again in a few years with a possible Superior Drummer 4 release because I can’t find any features to wish for nor any features to improve.
SD3 is a revelation for producers and songwriters. However, it may make the real studio drummer’s live harder than it already is.