Tony Coleman Drums Review


SONiVOX has recently released Tony Coleman Drums, a virtual acoustic drum module based on an impressive 20 GB sample library featuring the sound of Tony Coleman’s custom Mapex Saturn series drum kit.

We are taking a closer look at this awesome acoustic drum virtual instrument and giving away one free copy to one lucky BPB reader. Read our in-depth review of the instrument below and scroll all the way down the page to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Tony Coleman Drums, kindly provided by SONiVOX.

Sample Content

The brand new Tony Coleman Drums virtual instrument is based on a huge sample library (over 20 GB in size) which was captured during a four-day recording session at the famous Ardent Studios, using first class analog equipment and outboard gear. The kit was tracked to a Studer two-inch analog tape machine, resulting in a lovely tape saturated sound which gives the samples just the right amount of presence and roundness.

See also: Spitfire Audio LABS Review (Free Download)

Perhaps even more important than the high-end gear which was used to record the kit is the drum set itself, Tony Coleman’s personal Mapex Saturn kit which sounds absolutely wonderful in these recordings. Of course, the final part of the equation is Tony Coleman’s signature drumming style which is captured in tremendous detail throughout the sound collection.

The included samples sound fantastic and it really feels like you’re listening to a real drummer playing the drum set and not just a bunch of samples being triggered via MIDI. The end result will depend a lot on the quality of your performance (or the quality of the programmed drum sequence) of course, but it’s always easier to program drums when the sample content sounds right. To sum up this first part of the review, the sample content deserves a straight 10/10 rating (don’t be fooled by the over-compressed snares in the demo video below, the actual snares in the kit are a totally different story).

The Interface

When it comes to the user interface, it’s obvious that the developers wanted to create a “pick up and play” type of instrument with a quick and streamlined workflow. All of the necessary controls are present, though, and this kind of streamlined approach is actually quite refreshing when compared to some of the more complex acoustic drum module instruments out there.

The right-hand side of the GUI shows the drum kit itself, but this illustration actually serves as a way to preview the sounds and select different parts of the kit for editing. By default, the left part of the interface shows the Drum Edit panel with a set of tools to edit the selected element of the kit. This part of the interface also shows the mixer and SFX sections which can be selected in the little icon menu next to the Tony Coleman Drums logo (pictured below).

The interface is clean and easy to use.

The interface is clean and easy to use.

The main panel also provides master volume and pan controls, along with a preset manager which can be used to load the factory patches and save your own custom settings for later use. I’ve noticed that the factory presets take a bit of time to load, somewhere around 8-10 seconds per preset (this will also depend on your computer’s hardware, of course). Such slower loading times are understandable though, considering the fact that the different presets actually use different sample sets (sticks, brushes, hot rods, etc.) which need to be loaded from the hard drive.

The Drum Edit panel features a pair of AHDSR envelopes for the volume and pitch, which can be applied individually to each drum element. The per-element pitch envelope is actually a really neat feature, making it possible to add more punch to snares, kicks or toms if required. The Drum Edit panel is also where you can select a different audio output for individual drum elements (if you use the 16-out version of the plugin) and apply the handy IRC (Intelligent Rhythm Control) feature which fixes out of time notes on the fly during a performance. This feature works surprisingly well and it can be applied to different note measures for added flexibility.

The Mixer section features a simple six-channel mix panel with individual channels for the kick, snare, toms, hats, OH and room microphones. These can also be mapped out to the host applications native mixer in the 16-out version of Tony Coleman Drums. Finally, the Effects section features three different effect modules (EQ, compressor, and reverb) which can be applied to each individual output. This means that you can actually process the individual elements of the drum kit right inside the plugin, without the need to use 3rd party effects. Both the compressor and the 3-band parametric equalizer work very nice. The reverb module steals the show here, though, with its great room sound which can really make the individual elements of the kit blend perfectly with the rest of the mix.

The instrument is available as a 32 and 64-bit VST/AU plugin and is also compatible with Pro Tools 10 and Pro Tools 11. The CPU hit was acceptable on my test machine, never exceeding 15% while using a single CPU core.

The Verdict

Tony Coleman Drums is a fantastic virtual drum kit for blues and soul style drums, featuring a fantastic 20 GB collection of samples packed inside a well built and easy to use interface. Priced at $149.99 it probably won’t be an instant purchase for everyone interested, but it’s a wise investment if you’re looking for top of the class blues, jazz, soul or indie rock drums. It is also the first release in the new Signature Artist Series from SONiVOX and we’re more than eager to see what’s next in store.

More info: Tony Coleman Drums ($149.99)

The Giveaway

SONiVOX has kindly provided a free copy Tony Coleman Drums to be given away to one lucky BPB reader. To enter the giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the instrument, simply leave a comment in the comments section below. The winner will be picked by a random number draw on May 4th and announced on this page. Only one entry per contestant is allowed and duplicate comments will be deleted.

Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway and thanks to SONiVOX for offering yet another prize for our readers. For our previous coverage of SONiVOX products, take a look at Bryan Lake’s review of the SONiVOX Film Score Companion.

The giveaway is now officially closed. The winning comment (picked by the random number generator) is #146, left by our reader RJ who is now a proud owner of SONiVOX Tony Coleman Drums. Congrats! :)

Tony Coleman Drums Review

8.7 Awesome

Tony Coleman Drums is a great drum module for blues style drums, featuring a fantastic 20 GB collection of samples packed inside a well built and and easy to use virtual instrument.

  • Features 7
  • Sound 10
  • Workflow 9
  • Stability 9
  • Design 9
  • Pricing 8
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About Author

Tomislav is a music producer and sound designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief at Bedroom Producers Blog.


  1. I’m trying this out with my Alesis DM10 kit, and cannot figure out how to get variable hi hat control. It only plays completely closed, or completely open.. nothing in between (so no partial open hi hats). I called sonivox and they said that this was how it was designed, but I’m skeptical since Alesis is their sister company and many other drum instruments have variable hi hat control (such as superior drummer, which I use often). Its quite limiting and makes complex hi hat playing sound very unnatural since only 2 notes are sent (Open/closed). If anyone has figured it out, please let me know! Thanks!

  2. I’m having trouble with 2 things with TC Drums.

    1) When I try to use the MIDI learn function, trying to connect to a MIDI keyboard, it doesn’t seem to do anything. I’ve followed the instructions in the manual, I’ve tried every combination of pushing those buttons…nothing.

    2) I can hear the drums when I open them up in my DAW (Pro Tools), but when I go to record, there’s no signal. I managed to get signal once (I could see that there was), but on playback, there was nothing. I tried different I/O options and still no luck.

    Not sure if anyone is even writing on here anymore but if anybody has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

  3. I got the Sonivox Tony Coleman trial from Plugin Boutique and I have a similar problem but with a variable. The drum map is ONE semitone UP, I have to hit the note B in order to get the GM compliance C for the kick and subsequents notes, all are one step up for all the rest of the kit. Weird! the only fix is by transposing my controller to compensate this flaw, since MIDI learn seems not respond.

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