Drumdrops have launched Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit BFD Pack, their first ever expansion pack for FXpansion BFD2 and BFD3. With several amazing drum sample libraries for Native Instruments Kontakt other popular platforms in their product portfolio, we’re more than curious to see if the Drumdrops team has managed to deliver the same kind of drum sampling magic to FXpansion’s flagship acoustic drum virtual instrument.
The first Drumdrops product to go down the FXpansion BFD route is the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit. This particular sample library captures the sound of a lovely vintage Gretsch drum kit that is owned by Timmy Rickard (who was also involved in the production of this sample collection together with Ben Thackeray). The Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit is available in seven alternative versions (Kontakt 5 Pack, Single Hits Pack, etc.), including the brand new BFD Pack version which we’ll be reviewing in this article.
BFD Pack Contents
The BFD Pack version of the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit is based on the same amazing collection of 16,075 drum multi-samples as the one used for the Kontakt 5 Pack version of the product. The drums were recorded in a dry live room at Miloco’s The Square studio, taking advantage of some interesting tricks of the trade in order to achieve an authentic vintage vibe (placing a tea towel on the floor tom and a chain on the ride cymbal, for example).
The kit consists of a lovely sounding Gretsch Round Badge kick drum (with a choice between two articulations – dampened and undampened), four different snare drums, two toms (Gretsch Round Badge rack tom and Gretsch Round Badge floor tom), Bosphorous New Orleans 16″ hi-hats, Bosphorous New Orleans 20” ride cymbal, two crash cymbals (Bosphorous New Orleans 18″ crash and Bosphorous Traditional 18″ crash), shakers, congas and a tambourine. The drums were recorded with up to sixteen velocity layers and five round robin variations per articulation, using five different microphones which were positioned around the kit.
We’ll talk a bit more about the technical aspects of the recording process and the kit’s sound below, however it’s worth mentioning right away that the sample content used for this BFD expansion pack sounds absolutely spectacular. I’ve had the pleasure of testing several different Drumdrops sound libraries in the past and I’m utterly amazed by their ability to add that signature raw flavor to their drum multi-samples each and every time. The attention to detail and the passion with which these samples are recorded are obvious in each and every Drumdrops release and their latest Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit is definitely no exception to this rule.
Apart from the sample content and corresponding BFD presets (four in total), the expansion pack also includes a useful collection of 271 Al Green style MIDI drum loops which can trigger the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit or any other kit loaded in BFD. The drum loops are used within the Groove editor, making it possible to manipulate the included grooves and tweak them to your liking.
During the installation of the BFD expansion pack, you’ll have the option of choosing between a standard installation and a more compact type of installation which works only with BFD3. Depending on your choice, the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit BFD Pack will either occupy 3.9 GB of your HDD space (standard installation), or 1.78 GB (BFD3 installation) which is definitely the preferred option on systems with limited storage capabilities. Obviously, the compact BFD3 installation takes advantage of lossless audio compression to preserve storage space, however it’s not compatible with older versions of BFD.
Features And Functionality
Although I’ve always liked the looks and the functionality of the custom NI Kontakt instrument panels which Drumdrops used for the Kontakt 5 Pack versions of their products, it’s safe to say that BFD’s interface is superior in terms of available features and overall versatility. After all, BFD was built specifically for working with acoustic drum sample libraries, whereas Kontakt is much more suitable for use with other types of multi-sampled instruments.
Most importantly, the virtual mixer which comes with BFD offers all sorts of tools for adjusting the balance and sound of the sampled drum kit, allowing the user to tweak virtually any aspect of the virtual drum setup. The sampled kit can be processed using BFD’s array of built-in effects, or sent to individual outputs for further processing with 3rd party virtual effects or outboard gear.
Since the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit was sampled with five microphones which were placed in different positions around the kit, the standard close mic channels in the mixer (for kick, snare, toms, etc.) will not output any sound when using this particular sample library. Instead, the kit can be balanced with five custom audio channels (one for each microphone) which appear in the Ambients section of the virtual mixer. Although working without close miked drums is not something that I’m particularly used to doing, I’ve actually found the concept to be quite refreshing and even beneficial to my drum mixing workflow.
The balance of the five microphone channels has a significant impact on the overall sound of the drum kit, making it possible to achieve all sorts of different flavors and tones by tweaking the volume of each channel. The way in which the kit was miked is certainly one of the main reasons why this sample library can sound so authentically vintage with so little effort. Of course, the individual balance of each drum element can still be modified using the trim knob on that particular element’s control panel (located on the right side of the GUI), along with the tuning and other element-specific parameters.
The real fun begins once you realize how versatile and user friendly this type of setup is, in contrast to being stuck in front of a virtual mixer with fifteen or more mix channels and walking on that thin line between mixing drums and rocket science. I’ve spent quite a lot of time playing around with the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit BFD Pack mixer and trying to achieve different types of drum sound, leading to more than a few happy accidents. For example, the undamped kick drum sounds incredibly 808-like when tuned down by four semitones, making this kit a potential secret weapon for urban music producers. There’s lots of fun to be had with this lovely sounding kit and the four kit presets which are provided with the pack are a great starting point for further tweaking and experimentation.
Priced at £35 and delivering an authentic vintage vibe with loads of character and attention to detail, the Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit BFD Pack can be a great addition to your BFD library. If you’re looking for that 1970s soul vibe in your music, you’ll definitely want to check out this latest Drumdrops offering.
It seems that FXpansion’s BFD virtual instrument and Drumdrops sample libraries are a match made in heaven. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more BFD expansion packs from Drumdrops in the future. It would be fantastic if some of their older releases (such as the brilliant Rogers Big R Dub Kit for example) could also receive the BFD treatment in the future. Fingers crossed!
More info: Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit (£35)
Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit BFD Pack Review
The attention to detail and the passion with which these samples are recorded are obvious in each and every Drumdrops release and their latest Gretsch 1960s Round Badge Soul Kit is definitely no exception to this rule.