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Laboratory Audio – Strikeforce 2 (Review)


Strikeforce 2 by Los Angeles-based sample library developer Laboratory Audio brings a fresh perspective to cinematic percussion. This follow-up to the acclaimed Strikeforce library is designed to expand the sonic possibilities for media composers, film and trailer composers, and sound designers. Building on the foundation laid by its predecessor, Strikeforce 2 promises to deliver even more unique and powerful percussion sounds, making it a promising tool for creating epic and dynamic scores.

Laboratory Audio generously gave us a review version of Strikeforce 2, allowing us to explore all its features and sounds for you.


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Strikeforce 2 is a substantial upgrade from the original Strikeforce 1 library, offering a vast array of percussion instruments ranging from massive ensembles to detailed solo pieces. This 16 GB library, delivered in 24-bit 48 kHz resolution, integrates seamlessly with the free Native Instruments Kontakt Player and is NKS compatible, ensuring a smooth workflow for NI users. Priced at $489, it represents a significant investment, but one that promises a rich return in terms of sound quality and versatility.

The library features an impressive selection of instruments, including both traditional and custom-made pieces, each with numerous velocity layers and round robins. This depth of sampling ensures a highly expressive and realistic performance, capturing every nuance of the cinematic percussion instruments.

Key Features

  • 145 Unique Patches
  • 54 Large Drum Ensembles (6 velocity layers, 16 round robins)
  • 21 Small Drum Ensembles (6 velocity layers, 16 round robins)
  • 38 Solo Large Drum (6 velocity layers, 16 round robins)
  • 20 Solo Small Drum (6 velocity layers, 16 round robins)
  • 12 Miscellaneous Percussion ( Cymbals, Metal and Tick Tocks)
  • 30 Multi Presets

As you can see from the list above, Strikeforce 2 comes packed with percussion instruments and patches designed to enhance the composing and music production experience. Let’s check out some of the library’s key features:

Individual Round Robin Selector Matrix: This feature allows users to manually select and control the round-robin samples for each instrument. The Round Robin Selector Matrix provides a visual and intuitive way to cycle through the different round-robin variations, ensuring that no two hits sound the same and adding a natural, human feel to the percussion tracks.

Round Robin Playback Modes (Serial & Random): Strikeforce 2 offers two playback modes for round-robin samples: Serial and Random. In Serial mode, the samples are played back in a fixed order, providing consistency. In Random mode, the samples are played in a random sequence, adding an element of unpredictability and realism to the performance.

Close and Far Mix, with Individual Pitch and ADSR: The ability to blend close and far mic positions is a standout feature in Strikeforce 2. This allows composers to create a range of percussive sounds from intimate, close-miked recordings to expansive, cinematic environments. Additionally, each mic position can be individually adjusted for pitch and ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release), offering precise control over the sound shaping.

5 Different Drum Tunings per Ensemble / Solo Patch: Each ensemble and solo patch in Strikeforce 2 comes with five different drum tunings. This provides a wide range of tonal variations, allowing composers to find the perfect tuning for their specific needs. The tunings can be quickly switched, making it easy to experiment with different sounds and find the right fit for any project.

Individual Panning per Tuned Section: Another powerful feature is the ability to set individual panning for each tuned section of the percussion instruments. This means that each drum can be positioned exactly where needed in the stereo field, providing a clear and balanced mix. This level of control is particularly useful for creating dynamic and immersive soundscapes.


The user interface of Strikeforce 2 is intuitively designed, making it easy to navigate and utilize the extensive features of the library. After the recent Strikeforce 1 update, both libraries now share more or less the same GUI. The main window is divided into sections with consistent color coding to represent different microphone perspectives. On the left side, you can access the round-robin controls. The close and far mic ADSR and pitch controls occupy the middle of the interface, and on the right side, you can seamlessly blend between the close and far mic positions. The lower section of the interface contains the aforementioned individual pan knobs per tuned section, for both the close and far mics.

One of the standout features is the innovative layout of the performance keys. The left side of the keyboard range houses quick performance keys, color-coded by octave: red, blue, purple, yellow, and green. These keys allow for rapid composition and performance, with the purple keys representing the instruments’ original pitch and the others offering transposed versions.

The interface also includes a highly detailed velocity control system. Each key within an octave represents a different velocity layer with its own set of round robins, allowing for precise dynamic control. This means composers can achieve a natural performance feel, from the softest touch to the most powerful hit. If you have been following Tom Holkenborg‘s (aka Junkie XL) Studio Time YouTube series, you might recognize this one-velocity-per-key layout. In his videos on arranging cinematic percussion for Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom demonstrates similar programming for his custom-recorded percussion library and why he prefers it over multi-velocity keyboard layouts. While Junkie XL’s setup only features one sample per key, in Strikeforce 2 you get multiple round robins per key, making it easy to play realistic rhythms even on only one key.

Moreover, the mod wheel functionality allows seamless blending between close and far mic positions, providing a versatile range of percussion sounds from intimate to grandiose. Additional controls include ADSR settings, pitch adjustment, velocity curve customization, and sample start time, offering extensive tweaking options to tailor the sounds to specific needs.


Strikeforce 2 excels in delivering a diverse array of sounds that cater to various cinematic contexts. The library includes a mix of large ensembles and unique, custom-made instruments, ensuring a broad palette of percussive colors. The ensemble drums offer a powerful, cohesive sound ideal for creating big, impactful moments, very reminiscent of Tom Holkenborg‘s (aka Junkie XL) scores for Mad Max: Fury Road and Furiosa. In contrast, the solo drums provide precision and detail, allowing for intricate rhythmic patterns and subtle textures. This combination ensures that you have the flexibility to craft grand, epic rhythms and finely detailed percussion lines.

The big percussion section is truly where Strikeforce 2 shines. Instruments like the Galaxy Drum Ensemble and the Warrior Ensemble deliver a powerful, epic sound that is perfect for cinematic scores. The deep, resonant tones of these ensembles can be blended with more distant mic positions to create an immense, room-filling presence.

Medium & Small Percussion

The medium and small percussion section offers a range of intricate and detailed instruments. Although the majority of those instruments were captured as solo performances or in small groups, they don’t lack any punch or power in comparison to the big drums. These are ideal for adding subtlety and nuance to compositions. The Colossus Ensemble, despite its name, provides more delicate textures that can add a unique flavor to a score. Instruments like the Mando Drums and Sandrums offer distinctive sounds close to Hans Zimmer‘s scores for Dune or Ludwig Göransson‘s soundtracks for The Mandalorian – which are not commonly found in other sample libraries.

Miscellaneous Percussion

The miscellaneous percussion section includes a variety of metallic and other unique sounds. Instruments such as Tink Tink Cymbals and the Trinkets n Tchotchkes Ensemble provide sharp, bright tones that can cut through a mix, adding an edge to any composition. These instruments are sampled with incredible detail, capturing the full range of dynamics from the softest taps to the most intense strikes.

Potential Overlap

While Strikeforce 2 offers a rich variety of instruments, some users may notice a degree of overlap between certain patches within the library itself and between the sounds of Strikeforce 1 and 2. This similarity could potentially limit the perceived uniqueness of the new library for those who already own the original Strikeforce. However, the unique character of the new custom-made instrument ensembles and the highly detailed sampling techniques in Strikeforce 2 still provide ample opportunities for creating distinctive and dynamic compositions.

Here are some audio demos that make use of Strikeforce 2’s vast collection of drum sounds:

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Strikeforce 2 by Laboratory Audio is an exceptional library that offers a vast and versatile array of percussion instruments. It builds upon the strengths of the original Strikeforce, adding more depth and variety to its sounds. The intuitive user interface, coupled with the extensive sampling and detailed velocity layers, makes it an invaluable tool for media and film composers who are looking for epic cinematic percussion sounds.

The close and far mic blending capability, controlled via the mod wheel, is particularly impressive, allowing users to create everything from punchy, close-miked recordings to a bombastic, widescreen sound. The meticulous attention to detail in the sampling process ensures that every instrument sounds authentic and expressive.

While the price point may be high, the investment is justified by the quality and range of sounds offered. Strikeforce 2 is a library that can beef up any cinematic score or trailer cue, providing the tools needed to create truly epic and immersive compositions. Whether you are a seasoned composer or just starting, Strikeforce 2 is a worthy addition to your toolkit.


  • Extensive Variety of Sounds
  • Unique Instrument Collection
  • High-Quality Samples
  • Intuitive User Interface
  • Effortless Sound Shaping


  • High Price Point
  • Potential Overlap in Sound

Strikeforce 2 is available through Laboratory Audio’s online shop for $489. Existing owners of Strikeforce 1 can get Strikeforce 2 for $415.65 (15% off the regular price). A Strikeforce 1 & 2 bundle is also available for $746.30 (15% off the regular price).




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