Paving the road for the perfect drum sounds is not an easy task, but Steven Slate Drums 4 Platinum does a damn good job at it. With 100 kits to choose from, your possible overall drum sound is endless. Mix and match drum sounds to make your own User kit presets, then record a nearly perfect sounding kit using a MIDI keyboard or another form of triggering. The Steven Slate Drums 4 software covers all it’s bases by including features such as a built in mixer, room & overhead mic emulation, and the ability to split out your recordings to 16 individual outputs (8 mono/8 stereo.)
The samples used within the Steven Slate Drums software is what makes it stand out from any other sampler. Being able to operate a sampler is important in the creation stages, but the end product is what musical productions are judged on. With over 100 kits ranging from classic Led Zeppelin styles to current pop style kits, as well as the option to mix and match your favorite sounds, you can choose the perfect hits for whatever style track you are working on. I would like to see more of the electronic influenced kits for House, Hip Hop, and other styles, but 808 samples are plentiful enough in other programs for SSD4 to break away and add new sounds to the market. For me, kick drums and snares usually end up being the easiest thing to find, but cymbals really sell a kit if you can find good sounds for them. The Steven Slate Drums cymbal samples were recorded using various Soultone cymbals, a legendary cymbal manufacturer used by hundreds of professional drummers. The Steven Slate team put together an assortment of tones from dark to bright cymbal hits which add tons of color to each kit. Adding these natural sounding cymbals to the kit add realism to the kit, especially when mixed well within the new Steven Slate Drums plugin environment.
Mixing with Steven Slate Drums
Within the SSD4 plugin, you have to option to change almost anything about how you trigger the samples, how they sound, and where they’re going. Each piece of the kit can be edited using individual controls for Attack, Sustain & Release, as well as the drums tuning, panning, and volume. On the right hand side of the interface, you have MIDI control options to decide the curve of the hits dynamics, velocity, and range to ensure your hits are as consistent or extreme as your track calls for. The mixer allows you to choose from 16 outputs, which is great for printing stems for each part of the kit. You can control how much bleed each piece has into the room and overhead mics; a nice touch to add a sense of realism to the kit. You can also add a groove to the performance from within the plugin which functions much like the Beat Detective Grooves found within Pro Tools. Finally within the plugin, you are able to assign parts of the kit (and up to 20 additional samples) to be triggered by any MIDI note. By default, this is set up as most traditional samplers are, starting with kick samples, followed by snare, toms, then cymbals. The plethora of options fills a good 3 octaves for most kits, so if your space is limited, it’s nice to be able to move hits around to accommodate your workflow.
I think the variation found within each kit largely creates the feeling of realism without an actual drum set. With programmed drums, music creators are usually limited to a single sound, or the tedious process of selecting dozens of samples and choosing them independently.When I first programmed drums using Steven Slate Drums 4, there were more options to choose from than suspected. Most notably, I enjoyed the realism of the hi-hats as they were split out to several keys (open, semi- closed, closed, etc.) and had various samples based on velocity. These two layers of depth to such a specific piece of the kit gave the program what it needed to sound as if the drums were being played on a real kit. Though I most noticed it in the hi-hats, most kits in SSD4 had multiple hit types for each piece of the drum kit, as well as velocity changes on everything.
You cannot beat the samples in Steven Slate Drums 4, and for what it costs the sampler almost just seems like an added bonus. It’s great to see the group at Slate Digital put so much time and effort into the detail of these kits. Every sample sounds clean and works well in any environment, so feel free to add your jazzy kick to an otherwise metal setup. The combinations of sound and style are endless, so you really just need to get your hands on the software and see what you can make.