IK Multimedia MODO DRUM by Sound-Guy
IK Multimedia MODO DRUM
They’re at it again with another new venture for IK Multimedia following their MODO BASS physically modeled bass - this time a physically modeled drum kit. Actually, it does have some samples involved, over 6 GB of them for the cymbals and percussion like hand clap, tambourine and cowbell, and possibly the basis for some drum sounds, but it provides an extremely configurable set of drum kits. As IKM say, “Using a powerful combination of modal synthesis and advanced sampling, MODO DRUM offers 10 deeply customizable, virtual drum kits with real-time access to every parameter of each drum . . . from size and tension, to shell profile and playing style, and more.” I’d say that sums it up well, but I’ll describe some details of what I found.
After the usual install process using the IKM Authorization manager I had just over 6 GB of zipped files loaded which I extracted into a container and proceeded to run its executable (I’m using Windows as described below). It asked the usual questions about locations for VST, VST3 and AAX versions (note, all are 64 bit), but did not ask or provide any obvious way to specify where the sound files should be placed. Turns out it uses binaries it extracts from the zipped folder, so they ended up on my system drive. I tried simply moving the binaries to my sample drive and to my astonishment it worked fine! I was surprised that MODO DRUM had no trouble locating them. Very easy install overall, though a choice of location for 6 GB of files would be appreciated. Note that you can also install a standalone module for playing live.
The 10 drum kits included are Black Oyster, Djentleman, Jazzy, Extreme, Reference, Bubinga, Grungy, Plexi, Studio, and Rock Custom, and cover eras from Jazz of the 40’s and 50’s to heavy metal rock of the 90’s. Do they sound good? Definitely! I have four other software drum machines and MODO DRUM (MD from now on) is up there, or beyond the others for pure sound quality, and way beyond for flexibility. And it is 1/10th the size of the others since it uses physical modeling for most of the drums.
Each kit has multiple choices for drums and cymbals, and you can combine any drum or cymbal from any kit to create your own custom kits. There are 28 cymbals for example - but this does not mean there are only 28 cymbal sounds of course. The cymbals are sample-based as I mentioned and have fewer editable parameters than the drums, but there is still tuning and damping adjustment, separate room and overhead mic levels, as well as a round robin system (with from three to ten variations depending on the instrument as far as I can tell). There is also velocity sensitivity and the ride cymbal can play rim or bell. For more tonal variation there are 19 audio processors available to modify any cymbal or drum sound. At any rate there is plenty of variation available for the cymbals. But the drums provide a whole new level of control.
The drums are physically modeled, a form of synthesis that provides real-time access to just about every parameter - their size (diameter and depth of the shell), shell edge profile, batter head type, damping and tuning for both batter head and resonating head, sound levels of both heads, room and overhead mic contributions, and sympathetic vibrations between kick, snare and toms. I didn’t try to calculate how many kick, tom or snares could actually be modeled, but it’s more than I’ll ever need!
In addition IKM claim the drums have “infinite round robin” variation, although I found drums seemed to have limited variations before they repeat as do the cymbals (cymbals expected since they are sampled). I tested in both REAPER and Studio One using the same MIDI note/velocity repeated three to four dozen times, recorded the result to a separate audio track, copied that track to a second audio track. Flipping polarity of one audio track and playing only the two audio tracks yields silence if sounds are identical, which they are right after copying the first audio track to the second. Sliding the second audio track to the right one sample position at a time (I used snap to grid) produced sounds as long as the two sounds at a given time were not identical. This method enables identifying how many different round robin sounds there are in a cycle (works easily if the program doesn’t randomize the sequences and enables determining if round robins are randomized) since silence occurs when the first hit on the second track lines up with the X+1 hit on the first audio track, in which case X equals the round robin size. Oddly I found repeats in less than a dozen hits. I queried IKM about this and they assure me the modeled drums will yield infinite variations but don't know why my tests find repeats. I don’t find this much of an issue since in practice drum hit velocity and even "zone" will vary sounds a little creating additional variation.
MD also has a nicely designed Groove manager with over 1,400 grooves in different genres (Rock, Pop, Soul, Jazz, Blues, etc.) with intro, verse, chorus, fill and outro performances, from one to eight bars, in 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 and 12/8 signatures. Even has “leading hand” control (closed hi-hat, open hi-hat, ride, toms, etc.). Lots of possibilities in groove performances in addition to to an “infinite” range of sounds. Note that this is not a groove editor where you can modify or create your own grooves - you can only play the presets. Since I always prefer editing drum parts in a DAW project directly, I don't see this as a big issue, but it's something to consider. You can easily drag any of the grooves to your DAW track as MIDI data to edit and play.
Running a groove in the Groove manager as shown above and then opening a drum edit window allows you to “physically” modify the drum in real-time as it plays along with the other drum/percussion instruments. It is very effective to hear how it all plays together as you change the kick from 16 inches in diameter to 28 inches, and/or change its depth from 12 to 24 inches. Or change the type of drum head or the beater from felt to plastic or wood. Lots of fun as well as a great way to hear how the whole kit will sound. Of course you can also solo any drum while changing its parameters. And you can modify drum parameters while driving MD from a DAW, as well as drag and drop MD grooves into your DAW.
There is of course a mixer with buses for sub-mixes and group processing, and when used in a DAW the mixer enables sending any instrument to your master bus and to any of fifteen other stereo buses (32 total outputs). And there are those 19 very fine audio processors from IK’s T-RackS and AmpliTube programs including compressors, gates, clippers, distortion, reverbs, delay (including tape delay), flanger, phazer, and chorus. In addition there are those nine room simulations from a dry drum booth to a cathedral (for those drums of doom effect) with separate control for each instrument’s contribution to the room reverb effect.
I tested MODO DRUM using a PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz, 16 MB RAM running Windows 7 64 bit. Tests were run in REAPER and Studio One 4.5 and all worked fine including multiple outputs. CPU usage varied from 2.5% to 3.5% depending on the kit loaded, similar to other drum programs I have and not a problem considering you’ll need only one instance to cover your drum needs. Latency was always zero.
Excellent drum and percussion sounds with a great selection of basic kits
Extremely flexible control of the physical parameters for kick, snare and toms even in real-time while a kit is playing
Ability to mix and match drums and percussion from any basic kit to create new kits
Great groove manager with good selection of genre, category, length, and time signature - and even leading hand control - and over 1,400 groove presets
Playing style and physical changes to drums can be made while grooves are playing to instantly assess results
Comprehensive mixer with up to 16 stereo outputs in a DAW environment
Great selection of excellent FX that can be used per mixer track/bus in addition to the overall room simulation
The MODO DRUM window can be continuously re-sized from 707x1011 pixels to your full screen width and there is a brightness/contrast adjustment which lets you view comfortably in a dark studio or a brighter one without strain.
Not much to report other than the Groove Manager does not include an editor if you prefer editing drum sequences in a drum module, but MIDI export makes it easy to pull any of the 1,400+ preset grooves to your DAW.
The apparent lack of infinite round robins which is touted in the product announcement is odd - and no mention of it in the user manual, but I find enough variety in the drums and cymbals to produce some fine sounds.
Check out the pricing, IKM user pricing, crossgrade pricing (and check your Jam Points) at https://www.ikmultimedia.com/news/in...dodrumshipping