Rattly And Raw Martin France Drums REVIEW


The first entry in Rattly And Raw’s new series of signature sample libraries is a big one – over 12 GB compressed and packing more than 32,500 samples. Martin France Drums is a drum library for Kontakt and Kontakt Player, containing three complete drum kits plus an extra kick and a selection of snares and cymbals, all recorded in a church and provided with some unique controls.

The drums are set up like a typical nine-piece kit: one kick, one snare, one hi-hat, one crash, up to three toms and two rides. Most of the kit pieces are several decades old, except for the Yamaha Club Custom drums (which are recent but vintage in style), a couple of snares and a few of the cymbals. However, the library is not all vintage all the time – the sound is very tweakable and the included presets range from vintage jazz to modern hip hop.

The Drums

A total of 36 kit pieces have been sampled – four kicks, eight snares, three floor toms, five rack toms, five hi-hats, eight rides and three crashes. There are no wildly exotic designs – no aero cymbals, piccolo snares, 28″ kicks, or roto-toms – just a solid selection of the kind of stuff that gets a lot of use. There are two very different-sounding 18″ kicks, plus a couple of larger kicks more typically found in drum libraries. There are also some vintage cymbals from the 1950s and 1960s and a selection of snares. The oldest piece is a 1920s Slingerland snare with handmade gut snares instead of snare wires. It definitely sounds very vintage and organic, but not weird or completely different from the others. The cymbals are all traditional designs, with a couple of riveted ones and a flat ride as the most exotic.

It also doesn’t sound like anything’s being bashed extremely hard even at maximum velocities, so what we have here are basically some old-school kits that aren’t too huge and are being played at a reasonable volume. Their natural sound is suited for retro or lower-volume music, from jazz to acoustic pop. With the big natural reverb of the church in the room mics, they can do big rock or cinematic sounds quite well, too. But things get really interesting when we start adjusting things and making these drums work for electronic styles.

Tweaking And Twisting

The controls on the performance tab look pretty similar to what you find in good drum libraries these days, with a few extras. This is where you can select your kit pieces and set the mappings. There are volume controls for every articulation, and also close, overhead and mic volumes for every kit piece. So, the kick drum (which has one articulation) has a total of four volume controls, and the snare has six. The range of the tuning controls is a huge three octaves in each direction. This is actually quite useful for more electronic styles. If you don’t really need toms or rides in a track, but need some miscellaneous percussion, you can turn them into clicks and pops, or make a giant impact by playing variously-detuned cymbals in unison.

Unusually, there are separate decay controls for each mic – that seems like overkill, but, considering that the recordings were done in a church and the reverb is extremely long, it’s actually very useful because you can have natural decay on the close mics and yet keep the length of the room sound under control. Separate decay controls are also great for less natural sound variations. The decay controls don’t affect the open hi-hat, which seems weird on paper but is musically very useful – you can shorten the decay and make the closed hi-hats very tight while still letting the open hi-hat sound natural. I suppose sometimes it would be nice to be able to change the open hat’s decay, too, but I don’t think it’s worth having three more controls. The toms also have additional resonance controls, which can be used if you want them to have more sustain. This is especially useful if you’ve turned down the decay on all the mics to get a dry tom sound, but still want the sound to be long.

While the performance tab includes some unusual controls, the rest is relatively streamlined. The mixer is simple, with a kick high-pass filter and snare top boost being the only things you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Monitoring the levels on the mixer page, I also noticed that the kick gets picked up by the snare and tom mics as well, the snare shows up in one of the kick mics, and the toms in both snare mics. This mic leakage is controlled by the close mic levels on the kit piece, so it’s not possible to control its levels separately, but it is very useful if you want to have a very old-school four mic drum sound with one kick mic, one snare, and a pair of overheads. There’s no sympathetic snare buzz for the kick – I suppose it wasn’t possible to sample this for every possible snare and kick combination, so the snare mics just pick up a clean kick with no buzz. However, turning up the tom resonance does affect the kick sound that gets picked up by the tom mics, and this is used to give the kick a different tail in a few kits.

The effects are, again, mostly what you’d expect – compression, saturation, transient designer, EQ and reverb, plus distortion as the one unusual effect. All effects are applied to the entire drum kit at once except for reverb, which has separate send levels for each mic. There’s a nice variety of reverb impulses included, from vintage springs and plates to huge cinematic reverbs. Considering that the drums are already recorded in a church with its natural reverb, this can be piled on top of it to put the sounds in a really enormous space, but it’s probably even more useful for emulating smaller rooms.

To make a metaphor, all these controls let you treat the realism present in the drum samples like items on a restaurant menu. For each kit element you can have natural pitch, natural decay and natural reverb, or not.


I’ve done all my testing using a MIDI keyboard and programmed patterns, as I’m not a drummer and don’t have an electronic kit, but support for electronic kits seems pretty streamlined and simple. One mapping based on General MIDI is provided. Every articulation can be mapped to a different MIDI note, and that’s pretty much it. Since you can’t load a lot of kit pieces at once, this means that remapping is pretty quick. The GUI always uses flats to refer to notes with accidentals (so, Gb, not F#) – a reminder that these drums came from the world of jazz, not rock or EDM.

There is one unusual articulation included – the closed hi-hats are sampled separately with the tip of the stick and separately with the shank. The tip hits are quieter, cleaner and tighter. The shank hits are louder and at higher velocities a tiny bit sizzly. There are no intermediate articulations between open and closed – no loosely closed or half-open. I personally never use those articulations in kits that have them, but I know that to some people they are important. If you are one of those people, Rattly And Raw are considering adding some along with more hi-hat articulations in a future update, along with the ability to control hi-hat openness with MIDI CC.

The FX panel provides hands-on control over the built-in effects.

The FX panel provides hands-on control over the built-in effects.

Since this is a big library, a 7,200 RPM drive or SSD is recommended. Mine is slower, and I did have to switch the voicing engine to economy mode when I had these drums playing a dense pattern in a busy drum and bass track. However, the library loads fairly quickly – after all, a maximum of nine kit pieces are loaded at once, so there’s no need to load all those gigabytes at the same time, and it’s definitely usable with a slower hard drive. Switching to economy mode to work on a track and then back to full for rendering helps a lot. There’s also an LE version of the instrument, with fewer velocity layers, but I haven’t had to switch to that.


So, with all that sound-transforming power, what are these drums good for and what are they not so good at? Well, if you need lots of different sounds in a track (like five different toms and eight cymbals for a prog-rock track), you can use multiple instances with different settings, but these are probably not the most efficient drums in the world for this. A good death metal sound also seems doable, but easier to get with other drum libraries. The drums will never sound completely artificial and inorganic, though a future update might include the ability to disable round robins, which would let you do intentional machine-gun snares and hats for hip-hop.

Having said that, these drums are great for a huge variety of music styles that needs organic and responsive drums. They can sound very vintage, modern, or downright weird. Just cycling through the different presets, I definitely noticed that the presets meant for styles I like (pop, funk, Latin jazz) sound much better to me than the presets for styles I’m not so fond of (say, rock or cinematic). I suspected someone with different tastes would come away with the opposite impression, so I asked and, indeed, one of my singers who likes rock thought that the modern rock preset sounded best after some tweaking to make it a bit tighter and drier.

Trying to push the library’s limits, I made a kit of miscellaneous percussion for South African style house. In the SoundCloud track embedded above, you can hear it playing a simple percussion groove, along with another instance with less extreme settings providing the kick, crashes and snare. At the start is what might be the world’s most organic snare riser using the Slingerland drum with the gut snares, automating Kontakt’s master pitch knob, and kicking in more room sound towards the end. It’s all a world away from the jazz of the factory demo videos, but that really sums up Martin France Drums – they work very well for both.

The Verdict

Rattly And Raw Martin France Drums are great drums for realistic traditional vintage sounds with a nice selection of kit pieces. If you want to depart from tradition and take advantage of the sound-sculpting flexibility while keeping the organic responsiveness of well-sampled acoustic drums, this is possibly the best drum library currently on the market.

More info: Martin France Drums (£99 regular price)

Rattly And Raw Martin France Drums Review

88% Awesome

Rattly And Raw Martin France Drums are great drums for realistic traditional vintage sounds with a nice selection of kit pieces. If you want to depart from tradition and take advantage of the sound-sculpting flexibility while keeping the organic responsiveness of well-sampled acoustic drums, this is possibly the best drum library currently on the market.

  • Features 90 %
  • Workflow 90 %
  • Performance 80 %
  • Design 80 %
  • Sound 100 %
  • Pricing 90 %
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This article was written by two or more BPB staff members.

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