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Heavyocity – Damage Drum Kit (Review)

NY-based developer Heavyocity just released a new, hard-hitting sample library today: Damage Drum Kit. In true fashion of Heavyocity’s acclaimed Damage product line, the Damage Drum Kit features a punchy, aggressive, and epic sound perfectly suited to cinematic music, trailer music, and all kinds of heavy rock and metal. Damage Drum Kit is not just another drum library though. On top of a meticulously recorded rock drum kit, you get a truckload of unique and processed percussive samples, effect sounds, and even loops, all powered by Heavyocity’s innovative Damage 2 engine.

Without further ado, let’s kick it off and find out what the expansion to the Damage product line has to offer!

OVERVIEW

Damage Drum Kit is a sample library designed for the free Kontakt Player and paid Kontakt software sampler (version 6.7.1 and above). The library features almost 24,000 samples and takes up roughly 11 GB of hard drive space. The library can be downloaded and installed via the free Heavyocity Portal app.

In addition to a fully sampled drum kit with various, hand/selected options for each drum piece, you get 60 custom-designed presets and over 120 different drum articulations/playing styles. The sound sources were captured with up to 28 dynamic levels and 6 round robins to allow for an expressive and authentic playing experience. Damage Drum Kit makes use of Heavyocity’s proprietary Damage 2 engine which features three distinct sub-engines designed for different tasks. This is what each of the three brings to the table:

Ensemble Designer

  • Intuitive Browser to load in 120+ sources in octave banks and individual sounds
  • Instant 3D positioning with updated Stage
  • Five discrete mic positions (Close, Room, Hall, LFE, and analog CRUSH)
  • Create realistic patterns, rolls, crescendos, and more with custom MIDI Performance Tool
  • Redesigned Punish Knob with three unique flavors (Gently Now, Hurt Me Plenty, Nightmare)
  • Customizable Master FX chain

Kit Designer

  • 16-voice Drum Kit layout for quick and easy groove creation
  • 25 Custom-designed Kits
  • Intuitive browser to load in sound sources to each key
  • Independent FX chains for every voice – add compression, reverb, saturation, and more to each of the 16 voices

Loop Designer

  • 288 Loops (72 loops with 4 stems each)
  • 144 Straight (36 with 4 stems)
  • 144 Triplet (36 with 4 stems)
  • Add modulation and effects to individual loops via Unique Send FX layer

We will have a quick look into each sub-engine to find out what is new. If you want to have a deeper look into all the functions of the Damage 2 engine, feel free to check out our comprehensive review of Heavyocity’s Damage 2 library.

DW Drum Kit that was captured in Heavyocity’s NY studio (picture by Heavyocity)

THE INTERFACE

As mentioned above, Damage Drum Kit uses the same engine and interface as the one that was presented with Damage 2. Composers and music producers who have used Damage 2 in the past will quickly feel at home with Damage Drum Kit since they pretty much share the same interface and control options. The main engine is comprised of three individual engines or “Designers” that you can load up separately as Kontakt patches: The Ensemble Designer, the Kit Designer, and the Loop Designer.

Let’s check out together what you can use them for.

ENSEMBLE DESIGNER

The Ensemble Designer is pretty much the heart of the Damage Drum Kit. From here, you have access to over 120 multi-sampled sound sources you can load, layer, and combine to create your very own dream drum kit. Heavyocity has sampled a complete rock drum kit with 2 different kicks, 3 snares, 4 toms as well as a hi-hat, 7 cymbals including crashes and rides, stick clicks, and a cowbell.

In contrast to a standard drum mapping or GM mapping, those playable sounds are spread across the keyboard in so-called banks. A bank is made up of a series of 11 keys which can be equipped with a different sound or articulation each.

By default, the first bank from C2 to B2 contains the kick and snare sounds, C3 – B3 holds the different hi-hat articulations and the third bank from C4-B4 has all the toms and cymbals. This layout is not fixed by any means though. You’re free to assign any sound to any key you like.

A good starting point to learn how the instrument works is by loading up one of the 15 pre-designed snapshots. Each snapshot holds a different combination of drum sounds and effects. Some sound more organic while others are much more processed. The Epic Trailer Drum Kits 1 & 2 are probably the closest you can get to a standard drum patch, although they surely sound much punchier and more aggressive than a usual drum kit. Both kits have an alternative “Hyped” version, which sounds even more processed and over the top – a great option for scoring action trailers and producing DOOM-like industrial metal drum sounds.

Although the drum sounds were programmed so that each drum piece is heard at the position it was recorded in the studio, you can completely change the positioning and perceived depth of any sound with the Stage control. Each sound is represented by a little circle you can move around to the left and right as well as to the front and back of the virtual sound stage. Depending on the position of a sound on the front-back axis, the balance of microphone positions changes to represent your setting. This is another great way to achieve creative and unusual results.

DRUM KIT DESIGNER

Compared to the Ensemble Designer, the Drum Kit Designer offers a different – maybe even more creative – approach to drum programming. In an MPC-style fashion, you can assign any sound from the source sound pool to one of 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads. Each pad features its individual array of effects and processing options, so you can create your own, truly unique drum kits. You can even move around the effects chain to your liking or copy and paste a chain you like to another pad.

Apart from the sample selection and effects chain, you have total control over each pad’s level, routing, and MIDI note trigger. Furthermore, you can control the microphone mix of each sound individually and even change the sample start point.

Again, Heavyocity made sure to provide you with a good amount of preset drum kits to help get the creative juices flowing. You can find them at the top of the interface under Kontakt’s snapshot menu. These snapshots are organized into organic (ORG) patches and “damaged” (DMG) patches. As you can probably tell by the names, one category features sounds that are more closely related to a typical drum kit, while the other one offers sounds that have gone through Heavyocity’s intense trademark processing chain.

LOOP DESIGNER

Damage Drum Kit’s Loop Designer features a large collection of pre-programmed drum loops alongside a unique playback engine designed for creativity. The library offers 288 loops in two rhythmic feels – 144 straight loops, 144 triplet loops. The loops are organized by style into the three following sound categories:

  • Organic
  • Hybrid
  • Damaged

As the names suggest, the Organic category features mostly acoustic and hand-made drum rhythms, while the Hybrid category offers more processed, industrial types of sounds. The Damaged category – as a staple of Heavyocity products – provides you with hard-hitting and super aggressive drum loops.

Much like the Loop Designers found in Damage 2 or Symphonic Destruction, Heavyocity again makes use of sound banks to hold the loops. Over three octaves, each key can be assigned to a different loop, which enables the creation of complex rhythms by pressing different keys at once.

It’s up to you if you’d like to play individual loops on their own or if you want to playback a whole set of loops by using a fourth bank called Designer Keys.

Hitting notes on the Designer Keys ranging from C1 to B1 triggers multiple loops in the upper banks. An example: if you hit C1 on the Designer Keys, the loops at C2, C3, and C4 all start playing simultaneously in a stacked fashion. You can easily add and remove certain loops from your triggers and even randomize which loops are triggered by a given Designer Key.

To facilitate the layering, each full loop has also been broken up into its individual elements or “stems”. A full loop that features a kick and snare rhythm, a tom groove, and some cymbal accents, also has these three instrument groups segmented into their own low, mid and high stem. This allows you to combine the low stem of loop 1 with the mid stem of loop 2 and the high stem of loop 15. This mix-and-match mentality is a sure-fire way of coming up with unique and multifaceted rhythms.

MASTER FX

One feature that all patches have in common is their dedicated Master FX section. The Master FX page features a chain of seven processing tools and effects through which all of the banks and kits run globally. It can provide you with an additional, final layer of polishing and fine-tuning for all of your sounds. The processors are chained together in a channel strip-like fashion and can be rearranged in any order.

The Master FX section also features the Punish knob you may know from Damage 2. By combining compression and saturation, the Punish knob can gradually add warmth and bite to a sound or completely wreak havoc when pushed to the max. The Punish knob offers three dedicated working modes called “Gently now”, “Hurt me plenty”, and “Nightmare”. As one can guess from their names, these modes add increasing degrees of destruction from a warm punch to massive aggression.

THE SOUND OF THE DAMAGE DRUM KIT

The Damage Drum Kit library appears to me like the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of drum libraries. On one side, you have the organic sounds of a world-class acoustic drum set captured in a professional recording studio. While these sounds are much more punchy than a standard drum kit and have certainly received some form of processing, the organic side of the library still sounds pretty tame in Heavyocity’s terms.

On the other side, we have pure mayhem and destruction. By making use of the engine’s many creative processing effects, the sound designers at Heavyocity took the organic sounds and created super-heavy and aggressive drum sounds that smack and crack in trademark Heavyocity-style.

Everything in here oozes with punch and aggressiveness and you can find anything from crunchy saturation to the sound of disintegration and blown speakers.

In comparison to other sample libraries and virtual instruments that focus on the exact reproduction of an acoustic drum kit and playing experience, I found that the Damage Drum Kit is lacking a bit of delicacy and sensitivity, especially in the hi-hat and cymbal range. Even if you record grooves live with your keyboard, the result still feels a bit chunky. I don’t think that’s a big issue though, since the Damage Drum Kit is neither designed to be the most accurate and realistic representation of a drum kit nor will it find much use as an exposed solo instrument.

It is much better described as a hybrid drum machine-type of instrument that works best when acting as a heavy rhythm section or percussive accent-giver.

Below you can find some sound demos played with different kits. For the sake of demonstration, I used the same groove for every kit and haven’t applied any additional processing at all.

CONCLUSION

Damage Drum Kit is an exciting first expansion to the Damage product line, with hopefully more to come in the future.

The library nicely enhances the sound palette of Damage 2 since all drum sounds for this project were newly recorded and processed. A generous amount of pre-designed patches and loops helps to get you started in no time and the custom sample engine encourages creativity.

It is quite special in its range of use though and it’s safe to say that there are more realistic-sounding drum libraries on the market. Realism, however, may not have been the prime directive in the creation of this hard-hitting drum library: aggressive, over-the-top drum sounds are what this product really excels at.

The processed drum sounds, patches, and loops scream “Heavyocity” and it’s always interesting to see/hear the company add their own, trademark sound to an instrument.

Damage Drum Kit may not be the right choice for every music producer. If you’re into cinematic action music, trailer music, or heavy rock sounds though, the Damage Drum Kit could just be the right tool to create a unique and massive-sounding rhythmic foundation for your tracks.

Damage Drum Kit is available for an introductory price of $99 (regular price: $119) via the Heavyocity website.

Pros

  • Expressive and unique drum sounds
  • Many pre-designed patches and loops
  • Custom-designed interface with countless control options
  • Reasonably priced even for non-professionals
  • NKS-ready, can be used with the free Kontakt Player

Cons

  • Quite specialized in use
  • Probably not the best fit for drum purists and intricate groove programmers

RECOMMENDED: 8/10

DAMAGE DRUM KIT – CONTENT OVERVIEW

Damage Drum Kit by Heavyocity – Content Overview

DAMAGE DRUM KIT – DEMO WALKTHROUGH

Damage Drum Kit by Heavyocity – Demo Walkthrough

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