Ocean Way Drums Silver Edition
By Ocean Way Drums
VST OSX/Win, AU OSX, RTAS OSX, 32/64-bit support
Call ILIO for special upgrade pricing at 800-747-4546
All the great mulitchannel features of Gold but at half the price, the Silver Edition includes 9 multichannel drum kits and 30 gigabytes of 24bit/48 kHz audiophile samples on 4 dual-layers DVDs.
Audiophile gurus Allen Sides and Steven Miller developed a unique, discrete multi microphone recording and mixing technique. Utilizing up to 13 separate mono and stereo sound sources per instrument (including 3 sets of stereo room mics), this technique captures the sound of each instrument with startling audiophile clarity and enables the end user to independently adjust each drum and cymbal within the kit, from tight and dry all the way to wide and ambient.
Microphones used for recording Ocean Way Drums were hand picked by Allen Sides from his personal
All audio was recorded through Studio B's custom, one-of-a-kind console, considered to be the most
astonishingly clear board in existence. Very little eq or compression was used, but when it was,
highly modified classic gear from Neve®, API®, Ueri®, Fairchild® was utilized.
The drums were placed in the rear right corner of historic Studio B, considered by most producers
and engineers to be the "sweet spot" with the most low end punch.
Because the wonderful acoustics, each instrument was able to be recorded at the optimal distance
and angle and with the microphones that best captured the full frequency and dynamic range of that
The multiple sets of stereo room mics picked up the room's natural ambience at various distances
from the drums. Each separate room source presents its own unique sonic color, and when the
various room sources are blended together, they present unlimited tonal options.
Allen Sides and Steven Miller created 6 "mix presets" per drum kit to instantly provide killer
sounding, record quality mixes. Presets can be instantly changed either as an entire set, or,
individually per instrument within a drum set. There are 6 separate pre sets for both the mono
snare drum (57) and the stereo snare drum (C12A).
Beyond the pre sets, adjustments can easily be made and saved to all of the individual sound
sources within EACH instrument of EVERY drum kit. This, along with control of pitch, pan,
envelope, velocity and balance of the stereo submasters, gives users total control of the mix and
provides unlimited possibilities.
Triggering Ocean Way Drums from existing audio is best accomplished in conjunction with Wave
Machine Labs' Drumagog. You can transform any drum performance recorded in a less than optimum
environment into that "major label" sound. Step by step instructions for both Mac and PC users are
included in the manual.
Six close microphones were used to record the snare drum - two C12A's about eighteen inches above
the drum head, two custom 57's two inches from the head, and two 55P's five inches under the
Since there are numerous ways in which to utilize the six mics, Ocean Way Drums offers two Presets
which represent the opposite ends of the sonic spectrum. The "C12A" versions utilize both C12A's
in stereo (panned hard left and right) along with both under snare mics in stereo (also panned
hard left and right). The "57" versions utilize one or the other custom 57 in mono without under
snare mics. Many of the Pre Sets for both the "C12A" and "57" versions do include some amount of
"Thwack," which is a highly compressed mic signal to be added to your dry, uncompressed
Here is a list of 12 different mic combinations that we suggest you experiment with:
Stereo C12A's (L&R) with Stereo under snare mics (L&R) Preset
Stereo C12A's (L&R) with Mono under snare mic (C)
Mono C12A (C) with Stereo under snare mics (L&R)
Mono C12A (C) with Mono under snare mic (C)
Stereo C12A's (L&R) with no under snare mics
Mono C12A (C) with no under snare mic
Stereo 57's (L&R) with Stereo under snare mics (L&R)
Stereo 57's (L&R) with Mono under snare mic (C)
Mono 57 (C) with Stereo under snare mics (L&R)
Mono 57 (C) with Mono under snare mic (C)
Stereo 57's (L&R) with no under snare mics
Mono 57 (C) with no under snare mic Preset
Snare On and Snare Off versions refer specifically to the sound of the Kick Drum and the Toms.
Snare On means that the Kick and Toms include the rattle of the snare drum. Snare Off means that
the snares were turned off during the striking of the Kick and Toms.
Ocean Way Drums is a multi output virtual instrument. Every channel in the mixer can be routed to
a separate stereo or mono input in your DAW. Even though the default is stereo, you have custom
controll over your output configuration and can make simple pre sets for any and all situations.
You can load the sounds of Ocean Way Drums either as individual instruments, or as entire drum kits
Two types of patches are included: Instruments and Multis
Instruments are individual drums (kick, snare, hat, toms, ride cymbal, crash cymbals.)
Multis are entire Drum Kits - a combination of individual drums
The Instruments and Multis are broken up into two folders labeled IMAP ( for use with a MIDI
keyboard) and V-Drum (for use with drum pads). Within these folders, you have a choice of
"Snare On" and "Snare Off" as well as a choice between the snare 57 and
snare C12A presets.
Building custom kit multis are a snap. You can make changes to an existing kit or put together a
kit from scratch. It's easy to "mix and match" instruments from one kit with instruments from
another. The sheer number of different kicks, snares, toms, hats and cymbals provides many
All drum kits and individual instruments come mapped for both MIDI keyboard and drum pads. Ocean
Way Drums' custom programming helps you perform realistic drum tracks - down to even the most
subtle nuances of the groove.
When choosing kits and individual instruments in the browser, you will see two options:
V-Drum (drum pads) and I-MAP_GM (keyboard).
Keyboard map users have the option of switching between I-MAP and GM on each instrument or the entire kit.
GM Map (General MIDI) is the standardized layout for MIDI keyboard. Most existing MIDI files are
in this format.
I-MAP is a proprietary MIDI note mapping layout for the keyboard that provides more performance
variations and articulations than any other drum product. Featuring a powerful layout that places
drums in their most intuitive position, I-MAP enables you to create incredibly expressive drum
tracks that feel and sound like the real thing.
Since I-MAP uses the same basic Kick, Snare and Hi Hat placement as GM (+ 1 octave), you can work
with existing MIDI grooves in I-MAP mode to add a more life like feel to your grooves.
Up to 32 dynamics per hit
Left and right stick hits for every drum and cymbal - providing startling realism
Dedicated keys for rolls, ghost notes, cymbal swells, alt hits, etc
8 keys for the positions of the snare - from center to edge
4 keys for the kicks
9 different hi hat variations from foot and closed to open
6 alternate hits per tom
Efficient key switching for instantly changing pre sets
The V-Drum Map has been carefully programmed to work with Roland's TD-20 V-Drums® electronic drum
kit. It offers a high level of real performance variations and a comfortable range of positions
for each instrument within the kit. It's loaded with a multitude of samples, which makes for great
dynamics and serious playability.
Wide dynamic range
Alternating "round robin" hits - avoids the "machine gun effect"
3 positions for the snare - center, edge and rim
2 positions for the toms - center and edge
9 positions for the hi hat - from foot and closed to open
3 positions for the cymbals - center, edge and bell
Key switching on the V-Drum brain - can change pre sets "on the fly"
Mac: OS 10.4.x, G4 2gHz or higher, 2GB RAM (for laptop use: samples must be on at least a 7200 RPM hard drive).
PC: Windows XP SP2, 2gHz or higher, 2GB RAM (for laptop use: samples must be on at least a 7200 RPM hard drive).
For OWD Platinum: Available USB2 or FireWire 800 Port for streaming off the external HD, or at least 80GB of available HD space.
For OWD Gold: DVD drive, at least 40GB of available hard drive space.
For OWD Silver: DVD drive, at least 30GB of available hard drive space.
To get the most out of Ocean Way Drums, a faster processor will be beneficial, and more RAM will give you much better results. Ocean Way Drums also uses disk streaming technology so faster hard drives will also give you better performance.
Ocean Way Drums at NAMM 2011
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Steven Miller takes us on a tour of Ocean Way Drums. Ocean Way Drums was recorded in the famed Studio B at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, CA.
Ocean Way Drums Tour
Steven Miller (Grammy Award winning producer/engineer) takes you through a tour of Ocean Way Studios, where Ocean Way Drums was recorded.
Welcome to Ocean Way Studios
One of the most respected producers/engineers in the industry: Allen Sides takes you through a virtual tour of Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, Ca. He discusses the studio's beginnings, from Bill Putnum and the early recording artists like Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones that helped it become one of the most sought after recording environments in the world.
The Rooms of Ocean Way Studios
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides takes you through a tour of the rooms of Ocean Way recording studio. He discusses how Bill Putnam built the rooms to make them sonically superior, thus attracting the multitudes of talent that has recorded there.
The Halls of Ocean Way Studios
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides takes you through a tour of the halls of Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, Ca. Lined with Gold and Platinum records, albums recorded at Ocean Way have sold an excess of 1 Million copies.
What's Different about Ocean Way Studios
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses the differences that make Ocean Way one of the top recording studios in the world.
The Sound of Ocean Way Studios
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses the reason he decided to take on his own drum sampling project: Ocean Way Drums series.
Ocean Way's Custom "Studio B" Console
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses the custom, one-of-a-kind mixing console that is unique to the sound of Ocean Way Studios.
Ocean Way's Famed "Studio B"
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses Bill Putnam's unique design that has made "Studio B" one of the best sounding rooms in the recording industry. Most recently, Green Day won a Grammy for "21st Century Breakdown", which was recorded in this famous studio.
The Mics of Ocean Way Studios
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses his vast microphone collection at Ocean Way Studios.
Ocean Way Drums: Control
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses how he wanted every aspect of Ocean Way Drums to be "controllable".
Micing Concepts of Ocean Way Drums
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides discusses the unique concepts used in micing the drums at Ocean Way Studios for Ocean Way Drums.
Mixing Concepts of Ocean Way Drums
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides shows the mixing concepts behind the control found in Ocean Way Drums.
Final Thoughts from Allen Sides
Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Allen Sides expresses his final thoughts on Ocean Way Drums.
Sound On Sound
"This is a library from a studio that's sold over a billion records - and it sounds like it."
Click here to read the full review
There are few studios that enjoy the cachet of Ocean Way, and few engineers who can match the credits of the studio's owner Allen Sides, so surely only the most jaded of studio denizens could fail to take notice when both the studio and its head honcho became involved with the same software sound library. The product in question is Sonic Reality's Ocean Way Drums, a meticulously multisampled and multi-miked selection of drum instruments that is available in two forms: the 40GB 24-bit/48kHz Gold edition on six DVDs and the 80GB 24-bit/96kHz Platinum HD edition on a 10,000rpm hard drive. (More entry-level Ocean Way Drums Silver and DL Edition products are also apparently in the works, too - and may well be available by the time you read this.) Both operate using a customised version of Native Instruments' widely-used Kontakt Player virtual instrument, which is now compatible with most major sequencers.
Some Serious Drum Sampling
In collaboration with another highly-respected engineer, Steven Miller, Allen has sourced 19 different custom drum kits (of unknown provenance, but apparently including some pieces courtesy of high-profile recording artists), set them up in Ocean Way's near-legendary Studio B drum-room, and then thrown a collection of the world's most sought-after recording equipment at the problem of capturing their every nuance. So you not only get Allen's personal favourites from the Aladdin's Cave-style mic locker, but also his own custom-modified 'minimum signal path' recording console and a number of carefully modified rack classics from Neve, API, Urei and Fairchild.
Various drum performance techniques were recorded, including snare rolls, ghost notes, rimshots and side-sticks; various stage of hi-hat open-ness, closed-ness, and, er, pedal-ness; and rolled and choked cymbals. Multiple velocity levels (32, to be precise) have been used, as you'd expect, and all the drums and cymbals have alternate samples available to help avoid 'machine-gunning' when playing repeated hits in rapid succession. Separate kick-drum and tom recordings were captured with and without the sympathetic rattling of the snare, something that makes a surprisingly large amount of difference. You trigger all these samples in a two different ways. The first is from a MIDI keyboard using Sonic Reality's Extended IMAP layout, whereby each type of hit is assigned its own individual key. Much is made by Sonic Reality of the intuitiveness of this keyboard layout, and you can check it out for yourself on the dedicated Ocean Way Drums web site, but I have to say I found it rather confusing, particularly in the way the alternate samples were laid out. For example, where the main snare edge and centre hits have alternate samples on the same keys an octave below, the side-stick and rimshot hits on the black keys directly above them have their alternate samples two octaves below. If you try playing those black keys one octave below you get a couple of hi-hat samples which themselves seem strangely dislocated from the main body of the hi-hat hits an octave and a half above them. I can accept that perhaps this layout is quicker to use in the long run (in much the same way as the non-alphabetical layout of the letters on a QWERTY keyboard), but not everybody has the time to learn a new kind of touch-typing for every new virtual instrument they buy, and I would certainly have appreciated a more straightforward layout for those programming MIDI, rather than playing it in live. As it was, I got so fed up squinting at the manual's key allocation diagram that in the end I stuck masking-tape across the top of my controller keyboard and wrote out all the sample allocations by hand!
The other key-mapping is for the TD20 version of Roland's V-Drum system, and although I didn't have a V-Drum system on hand to try this out, it looks to me a much better way to trigger Ocean Way Drums than a MIDI keyboard, as the variety of different hit types are allocated fairly intuitively, so that the kit responds to different stick-hit positions in much the way you'd expect. Sonic Reality have also programmed Kontakt Player in this instance to automatically cycle between the available alternate hits on the fly. In some respects, MIDI programmers may find the V-Drum keymapping easier to use for basic duties, even though some of the more unusual performance options (such as the rolls) won't then be accessible to you. Apparently, a planned update will include a GM keymap, which might help, although whether this will then provide access to the extended performance techniques is open to question.
Drum Miking - Now With Added Thwack!
While the miking setup features many first-call mic choices (AKG's D12/D112 and Neumann's U47 FET on kick, for example, as well as Shure's SM57 on the snare), there are also aspects of it that are unusual. The first thing that stands out is the three sets of stereo room mics, which all have very different characters and give a lot of flexibility, but then there's also the six-mic snare setup. Yes, that's right. Six mics on the snare: two modified SM57s two inches from the head, two AKG C12As 18 inches away, and two Sony C55P condensers five inches under the bottom head. A selection of Kontakt Instrument presets presents these mics in a variety of stereo and mono configurations, but the level and panning of all those mics is completely adjustable if you delve into the settings. A couple of other options are occasionally provided too: a ridiculously compressed 'Thwack' channel for adding aggression and character, and a reverb return from one of those '80s effects stalwarts, the early AMS RMX16 reverb unit. Both are a bit 'suck it and see', but fun to play with nonetheless.
Instrument presets are used to provide a quick and dirty kind of 'dry/wet' control for each kit component and, indeed, the kit as a whole - as you step through the six numbered presets (which you can do remotely from either of the key maps), the virtual hand of Allen Sides adjusts the balance between near and far mics to give you a progressively roomier sound. One other set of controls is also worth a mention: the envelope parameters. Most importantly, these allow you to set the release time of the samples following a MIDI Note Off message being received, and there are independent controls for the close mics and the more ambient mics - very handy for dampening down some of the more enthusiastically resonant or reverberant sounds on occasion.
Within Kontakt Player, the whole kit is set up as a Multi, with each kit component playing from a separate Instrument within it. The multi-mic audio from each Instrument is then combined into six channels in the Kontakt Multi's mixer (kick, snare, hat, toms, overheads and ambience) for passing through to the host sequencer. These can be accepted by the host sequencer in multi-channel format or as an appropriate downmix, depending on how you set up Kontakt Player's outputs. Because of the way the spill of every instrument can appear on the overhead and room mics in the setup, the experience of mixing the multi-channel output streams from Ocean Way Drums is much like mixing a typical drum recording, albeit without any spill from other instruments on the close mics (something that's more often a hindrance than a blessing with real drum recordings).
With up to 13 mono and stereo mic sources running simultaneously for every component in the entire kit, there is a bewildering array of sonic options, because you can mix and match all of the mic sources for each individual kit component and, indeed, freely swap different instruments in from other kits. However, as The Incredible Samplerman might have said: with great power comes great polyphony. For example, I programmed up an only moderately busy drum pattern comprising kick, snare, hat and crash cymbal, and found that with all the possible audio streams active for each Instrument I was reaching around 140 voices on Kontakt's polyphony counter. As you can imagine, it makes sense to be running this monster on a fast machine with lots of RAM and a fast audio drive if you want to get the most out of it in practice. What is nice to see, though, is that Sonic Reality have sensibly scripted Kontakt Player in this case so that any audio streams not being used (those which have their level controls down all the way) take up no polyphony.
How Does It Sound?
Given that Ocean Way Drums was put together by one of the greatest audio engineers of our time, it should be little surprise that the audio quality is beyond reproach. The 19 kits on offer here are all excellent professional specimens that would grace any recording you cared to put them on: clean, clear, fast and larger than life. The dynamic response of the hits is musical and appealing, and the hint of snare rattle on the kick and tom hits is great at gluing the kit together as a whole. The range of sounds on offer is also good, with each different kit having plenty of unique character to set it apart from the others. I reckon you could find something here for most eventualities, although by the very nature of Allen and Steven's emphasis on high production values and pristine audio quality, the raw sounds are kept within the bounds of fairly conservative taste, so you'll need to do a bit of mix processing if you want to stray outside acoustic, country, pop or MOR rock styles. Some may miss a brush kit, but this didn't fuss me too much; Sonic Reality had to stop sampling somewhere, and finishing 'after the stick hits' has a certain logic to it.
However, no matter what sound you're looking for, the scope you have in this library to manipulate the raw recordings is phenomenal, just by rebalancing all the audio streams of each drum-kit component, either statically by manipulating each Instrument's controls directly, or dynamically by using Kontakt Player's MIDI controller assignments or sequencer automation facilities. This can be expanded further using Kontakt Player's range of onboard effects and any plug-ins within your sequencer (which can, of course, operate on Kontakt Player's multi-channel audio outputs for extra control). And if you have the full version of Kontakt, you can go further still in terms of processing and routing individual samples. To start with such fantastic recordings and then to have so much scope to adjust them is brilliant, and I can't think what more I'd want from a drum instrument on this front, to be honest. In this respect, Ocean Way Drums is a godsend for mixdown drum-replacement in particular, because the sounds are so good, you can tweak them so much more than you can a straight sample, and you can adjust the sound dynamically to match different sections of your mix.
Uses & Useability
Blistering sonics aside, though, I think the real-world usability of Ocean Way Drums as a virtual instrument could definitely be improved. First of all, there's no description whatsoever of the instruments that make up each of the 19 kits, or of how they might have been tuned and damped to create the final sound. Some might argue that this makes you more likely to choose suitable sounds with your ears rather than relying on preconceived notions of what specific drums sound like, an on offer within the Kontakt Player interface. However, what rather hamstrings this viewpoint in Ocean Way Drums is that the instruments and kits take so long to load - for example, a typical snare-drum Instrument takes around 30 seconds to load in on my machine, even though it's considerably more powerful than the required spec. This makes surfing through the 19 kits looking for a suitable patch a somewhat sedate pastime! Even if the developers decided to take the view that writing about timbre is like dancing about flavour, and eschewed descriptive text entirely, then they could at least provide some kind of 'menu' Instrument to showcase representative mixes of the different kits side-by-side. As it is, the only way I'm going to get regular use out of Ocean Way Drums on my system is if I decide to manually bounce out audio files of each kit for comparison purposes. When I get a moment... (When I contacted Sonic Reality about this, they admitted that the size of the full kits did mean that loading times were high. However, they are apparently in the process of developing lightweight stereo-only Multis for quicker auditioning purposes, as well as MP3 demos of each kit.)
One other issue that may concern some users is that although Ocean Way Drums can produce incredibly realistic drum realisations given the right MIDI input, it makes no attempt to help you generate a musical MIDI part in the first place. There are lots of software drum instruments on the market, and many of them now include libraries of preset grooves to get you started, but there's nothing like that here. So unless you're already a seasoned drum programmer, or a drummer with a V-Drum kit, you may struggle to achieve musically satisfying results despite the platinum-coated sound quality that this virtual instrument brings within reach. That said, Sonic Reality are apparently in the process of producing a library of over 200 pre-programmed MIDI grooves for Ocean Way Drums, which they say will be made available as a free download for all customers.
Niggles aside, though, there is simply no getting away from the fact that this is a library from a studio that's sold more than a billion records - and it sounds like it. So if audio fidelity and mixing flexibility are at the top of your list of requirements, then this library should amply justify its high-end price point.
"I have used a lot of drum products over the years and I just can't see how you can get anything better than Ocean Way Drums."
Click here to read the full review
Ocean Way Drums a clear winner for audio pros.
What would you say if I told you that you could write a song at home and have two of the industry's top engineers mix the drums for you?
That's the idea behind Ocean Way Drums, a new drum virtual instrument by Grammy-winning engineer and producer Allen Sides and Grammy-nominated producer and engineer Steven Miller. Using Native Instruments' Kontakt as its sample library player, Ocean Way Drum is one of the best drum collections I've ever heard ($249 to $1,995 depending on number of kits and samples).
I had the opportunity to speak with Sides and Miller about the process they used to put this package together. Ocean Way Drums was recorded in Studio B at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, Calif., one of the most famous recording studios in the world.
Owner Sides has recorded more than 500 albums at Ocean Way with musicians including Green Day, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Beck, Phil Collins, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Frank Sinatra, Faith Hill, Frank Zappa, Mary J Blige, and Count Basie.
Unlike some drum packages that aim to provide a specific drum kit sound, Sides said he wanted to put together the best kits, no matter what the brand name. Ocean Way Drums includes 19 full kits in all, but they auditioned a lot of gear in order to get those 19 kits. For example, Sides said he gathered 65 snare drums and tested them all to see which ones would ultimately make the cut and be included in the kits that eventually made up Ocean Way Drums.
"Why put a kit in there if it isn't shocking and great," Sides told Macworld. "I don't want quantity, I want quality in every kit piece."
Ocean Way Drums are loaded into Kontakt with every kit piece having its own customizable slot. That means that you can adjust the parameters on each piece separately to come up with your unique sound, but you don't have to.
Sides and Miller included multiple presets where they actually mixed the drums for you. Each kit piece has preset settings from P1 to P6-the increase in presets takes the drum from a dry to a wetter sound. Since you can do so on individual pieces, you can, for example, have a dry-sounding kit with a booming kick, giving you a different sound.
All 19 kits have two presets each: one recorded with a Shure SM-57 mic and the other recorded with an AKG C12A. The presets are also configured in separate snare-on and snare-off folders for each mic. As you can see, the configuration options are almost endless.
Kontakt not only allows you to load the entire drum kit, you also to load individual kit pieces. So, you can load kit 15, but replace the snare with the one from kit 12. Or you can just add more pieces to a kit you really like.
This is something I've been doing with a few of the songs I've been writing lately. I have a couple of kits that I really like, but I wanted to boost the sound of the kick. What I did was load an additional kick into that kit, lower the volume and room mics on that piece, and then blend the sound into kit.
I've done the same thing with the snare and it's worked really well for me. Of course, you can work with the sound of the drum kit with compression and EQ in Kontakt, Logic, or Pro Tools, but I wanted to leave the overall sound of the kit with Allen's presets, but accentuate a few pieces to fit my needs.
Ocean Way Drums uses an advanced I-MAP drum mapping that allows for more unique hits using a keyboard. The I-MAP note mapping was developed by Sonic Reality, the company that is distributing Ocean Way Drums for Sides.
There are also presets for Roland's TD-20 V-Drums electronic drum kit, and new GM MIDI presets. This means that you can use almost any MIDI groove on the market and be able to instantly start making a project.
I picked up several MIDI collections from Groove Monkee that have worked very well with Ocean Way Drums. Groove Monkee includes formats for Toontrack, Groove Agent, I-MAP, Steven Slate Drums, Cakewalk, Abelton, and others, at no extra cost. You certainly get your money's worth is you can use them in all of those formats.
I have used a lot of drum products over the years and I just can't see how you can get anything better than Ocean Way Drums. Having Sides and Miller recording and mixing the drums produces an incredible package that will leave you free to concentrate the rest of your song.
I have the $995 Ocean Way Drums Gold Edition. It comes with all 19 drum kits recorded at 24-bit/48KHz, with a total of 40GB of samples.
"Ocean Way Drums is a clear "Key Buy" winner. There's simply no way to get the same results for less time and less money."
Click here to read the full review
Getting great drum sounds is as vital as oxygen. Without them as the foundation of your mix, it's hard for other instruments, no matter how awesome they sound, to make your music get up off the console and live. A lackluster home studio recording of a drum kit instantly outs your tune as "not a real studio mix." Ouch. Likewise, a low-rent sampled kit crashes and burns about as soon after purchase as the average Ferrari Enzo.
Wouldn't it be cool if you could block out time at L.A.'s legendary Ocean Way Studios ("Sorry Mr. Clapton, we're booked up that week"), get a multiple Grammy-winning engineer, and use all the studio's vintage and high-dollar goodies so you could kiss crummy drum tracks goodbye forever? Well, thanks to renowned engineer Allen Sides, equally-renowned producer Steven Miller, and Dave Kerzner of Sonic Reality, now you can - without ever leaving your desktop.
Couldn't it all just be marketing hype? Not on your life - after a few weeks with OWD, I can assure you that this is the real thing. The snares alone offer 18 channels of audio. That's not a typo. A whopping 14 mics covered each of the 19 snare drums during the sessions - a stereo pair each of condensers and dynamics at a slightly greater distance, a stereo pair of under-snare mics, stereo overheads, and three pairs of stereo room mics at increasing distances. In addition, there are two highly compressed sources called thwack, plus a stereo digital reverb tail from a vintage AMS RMX-16 unit. You have easy control over their mix with virtual knobs for each. Since the whole ruckus lives inside the included Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2, you can automate the mic mix in your host by assigning KP2 parameters to MIDI control numbers - on each drum independently. There's so much sonic variety in just those two features that it's difficult to overstate. The flip side is the enormity: 40GB, but hey, drive space is relatively cheap. The typical snare drum in OWD is represented by well over 2,000 samples. If you're accustomed to virtual orchestras such as those from, say, Vienna Instruments, you already know what kind of amazing detail these mega-libraries afford. If you're uninitiated, let me assure you it's well worth the space.
Nineteen kicks (times two - you get each with snare buzz and without) offer everything from tight and punchy to "When The Levee Breaks," and kicks have up to ten mics. Eleven toms - again, with and without snare rattle - go from slightly dusty and vintage-vibed to super-crisp and powerful, and offer nine mics each. Nineteen each of crashes, rides, and hi-hats round out the collection. It's not a ton of instruments, which makes it easy to get to know the library quickly, but it's enough to make it equally useful for small-potatoes producers like me and for those who use gold and platinum discs as wallpaper. You can also tune every drum individually: up to 36 semitones in either direction for subtle or extreme shifts. Each drum or cymbal has an Envelope section that offers separate control over the duration of the room sound sustain as well as the release time of the direct sound. This simple and elegant handling of ambience gives you the same net flexibility as a tacked-on reverb but with a much more natural feel. Smart.
Another clever bit of programming that's much appreciated by folks like me whose computers barely meet OWD's system requirements are the scripts by the Sonic Reality coders that turn off a voice when that mic's volume is all the way down. A glass-is-half-empty sort would complain that if you prefer more ambient drum sounds, you're asking more of your processor as it plays more voices than drier sounds demand, but unless your bag is Finnish epic metal, OWD isn't going to fatally overburden your dual-core Intel 2GHz iMac with its piddly 2GB of RAM. It didn't mine, anyway, but it sure gave it a workout. You can also pan each mic channel to create any stereo image, realistic or otherwise. Last but not least, velocity-to-amp amount control per instrument gets your controller and the sounds' response connected in whatever way feels most musical to you.
If you like, you can load Multis of pre-configured kits, or you can load individual Instruments and build your own kits. Helpfully, sets of toms can be loaded as Multis into your custom-assembled kit.
What a blast. Upon OWD's arrival, I put it to work replacing some decent but not especially inspiring drum sounds I had already recorded on a funky cover of a certain tune by a certain iconic '60s folk singer, both of which shall remain nameless so that I can post audio files (at the right). Building a kit from scratch, I discovered that there'd been a problem during installation. The Kontakt Player 2 plug-in uses an installer, but you drag and drop the rest of the library from five data DVDs into KP2's Samples folder. There's one file that needs to be in the root folder rather than the Samples folder, or else the plug-in won't find all of the samples. Had I read the manual first, I'd have known this, but I was impatient to get going after watching the excellent demo DVD. Lesson: RTFM.
This tune wanted a snare with a bit of trashy ring; more Mitchell Froom or Tchad Blake than Quincy Jones or Roger Nichols. After auditioning several, Snare 2 fit the bill. I could get a nice balance of wallop and ring, without too much sizzle, by setting the top dynamic mic channel (a Shure SM57) at about 12 o'clock, with the overhead channel at about ten o'clock, and the two AKG C12s at about 12:30. Later I decided to add a little of the Room 2 pair during the last verse by assigning the virtual knobs to MIDI CCs and drawing automation in my DAW to enhance the illusion that the drummer was really laying into that snare and making it overcome the gate settings on other open mics. I don't know of another virtual drum product that does this; most would make you commit to a sample with a certain amount of ambience, or force you to use effects to achieve a less realistic sound overall.
I first got familiar with I-Map - Sonic Reality's alternative to General MIDI keyboard mapping for drum sounds - in the Dark Ages of hardware samplers; SR's Interactive Drum Kits and Snares (where the "I" comes from) lived in my Akai CD3000. Because OWD gives you right- and left-hand hits on most of the drums, even in step programming or multi-pass programming you have the strokes available for a convincing drum performance without significant limitations. Stewart Copeland-like hi-hat parts? Can do. Intricate two-handed work on the ride cymbal ala the late Kevin Wilkinson? Check. Second-line funk, train beat, or circus rolls on the snare? Yup. It requires more work than GM-map entry, for sure, but it's worth it. Check out the online audio for real-world application of many of these techniques.
Because of good experiences with other Sonic Reality products, I had high hopes for OWD Gold going in. With Allen Sides' involvement, the chances that it would be some me-too drum library seemed bloody slim. In fact, OWD is so far from me-too that it's, like, on the opposite side of the galaxy from the me-too place, on planet outstanding. Sure, you need a pretty juicy machine to make it sing, and yeah, it's a 40GB drum library (the Platinum version is 120GB), but boy, does it sound good, and boy, does it make it fun to create a wholly convincing illusion that you spent some major label's money in some major studio with a major engineer behind a major console. Unlike some other virtual drum products, however, this one won't play grooves for you, so it's up to you to create convincing parts. As long as you've got reasonably big ears and can steal from great drummers the way we all steal from our keyboard heroes, OWD should prove a more than worthy accomplice. For its unprecedented flexibility of manipulation of the acoustic space in which the drums were recorded, and for the producers' impeccable taste in creating drum sounds that are timeless and not trendy, Ocean Way Drums is a clear Key Buy winner. There's simply no way to get the same results for less time and less money.
Sonic Reality's Dave Kerzner says, "Ocean Way Drums is a high resolution virtual drum instrument designed to offer the best in audiophile fidelity and musical expression for creating realistic drum tracks in music productions. It's the only drum software that offers the sound of Ocean Way (the world's most awarded studio complex) - where top artists like Radiohead, Green Day, Dr. Dre, Paul McCartney, John Mayer, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers record. Ocean Way Drums' 19 playable multi-channel drum kits feature the deepest level of individual mic mixing control per drum of any drum plug-in, as well as preset mixes done by Grammy winning engineer-producers Allen Sides and Steven Miller. Ocean Way Drums is top of the line when it comes to drum samples and offers an easy way to have 'album ready' drum sounds right out of the box."
Drum sample library recorded with multiple mics at Ocean Way Studios, with embedded Kontakt Player 2 playback engine.
Pros: A new level of stunningly great drum sounds. Outstanding sample mapping. Very musical. Kontakt Player 2 used very effectively.
Cons: None significant.
"These may be the best-sounding sampled drums I've ever heard..."
Click here to read the full review
If I told you that there was a drum sample library recorded in a top-quality studio (Ocean Way Recording) by two highly respected producer-engineers (Steven Miller and Grammy Award winner Allen Sides) using a tried-and-true software platform (Native Instruments Kontakt Player 2) and the expertise of a major sound developer (Sonic Reality), you would expect a superior product. In the case of Ocean Way Drums (OWD), you would not be disappointed. OWD features numerous and varied multisampled kits, meticulously recorded by Sides and Miller using classic microphones in Ocean Way's vast Studio B. You get a library of drum sounds that are fat, punchy, and extremely realistic. These may be the best-sounding sampled drums I've ever heard.
OWD Gold ($895) includes a whopping 40 GB of sample data, which comes on six DVDs. Kontakt Player 2 (standalone and plug-in) is bundled with the library. (Also available is OWD Platinum [$1,795], which comes on its own hard drive with an astounding 120 GB of samples.) For both Mac and Windows users, a CPU with a minimum 2 GHz clock speed is recommended.
DRUM SOUND HEAVEN
The OWD Gold library consists of 19 kits, all of which offer samples derived from close, overhead, and room mics on each cymbal or drum (hi-hat, ride, and crash; kick; snare; and high, medium, and low toms). Each kit element features numerous Velocity layers for additional realism.
OWD's user interface lets you adjust the levels of the various mics used to record each element. On many of the snares, you also get a knob called RMX, which dials in a gated reverb sound. Many of the kicks have both RMX and Thwack controls, the latter being a heavily compressed signal. For instant gratification, there are six keyswitchable mix presets for each kit, mixed by Sides himself (see Web Clip 1), which give you progressively more room sound as you step through them. These presets can also be adjusted for individual elements.
The kits range in sound from clean and punchy to big and fat. Each comes in two flavors: the C 12A version, for which the snare was miked with a stereo pair of AKG C 12As on top, and the 57 version, which has a mono Shure SM57 on the snare. (You can get 57s and C 12As on the snare in both kit types through the knobs in the OWD interface.) Both kit configurations offer stereo Sony 55P mics under the snare. Each kit is also available in either a Snares On or a Snares Off version, which refers to whether the snares were on (and thus rattling) or off when the other drums and cymbals were recorded. Overall, an immense amount of mixing control is available here.
OFF THE MAP
All the kits are offered with keymapping for Roland V-Drums (featuring the TD-20 brain) and for Sonic Reality's proprietary I-MAP scheme. I-MAP is designed to make drum programming easier and more expressive from a keyboard (see Web Clip 2). Once you get used to it, it works extremely well. The version of OWD I reviewed did not offer GM keymaps, so it wasn't usable with preprogrammed MIDI drum sequences (or previously existing MIDI drum parts). However, the next update of OWD, which may be out by the time you read this, will add GM-mapped kits and a collection of MIDI files. Even before that comes out, a software patch that adds the GM-mapping feature will be available for download from the OWD site.
The PDF manual offers tips for using the library with Drumagog software (you need to download a free helper program before doing so). The idea of using OWD's sounds for drum replacement is tantalizing indeed.
I do have a few minor issues with OWD. There are no brush or Blastick samples, only stick hits. Depending on the musical style you're recording, that could be a limiting factor, although for straight-ahead rock and pop and a lot of contemporary country, these drum sounds are spot-on.
Another quibble is that the kits don't have descriptive names, only numerical ones (Kit 1, Kit 2). That fact made it difficult to recall what each kit sounded like; when auditioning the kits at random, it was tough to remember which ones I'd already listened to. Miller told me that he and Sides decided against descriptive names (especially brand names of drums in the kit) because they didn't want users to have false preconceptions of what the kits (which are all custom setups) sound like. Finally, I would have liked a printed manual, not just a PDF.
Overall, OWD is an amazing product. Yes, it's relatively expensive and requires a lot of disk space, but it offers world-class drum sounds and an incredible amount of mixing control.
The Making of Ocean Way Drums: An Interview with Steven Miller.
Click here to read the full interview
Jorge Patrono: With so many virtual drums in the market, what made you decide to create Ocean Way Drums? Was it because of a personal need for your own productions or was it created for the industry in general because you thought something was missing?
Steven Miller: As engineers and producers, we have listened to and used just about every sample library out there. And even though there are some fine products in the marketplace, none of them present the kind of depth, air, tone and overall expressiveness that we want to hear. We are both known for making recordings with highly defined audiophile impact - we are fanatics when it comes to quality - so we committed to making the state of the art drum library that presents a shocking level of realism.
JP: What do you think is the main difference between Ocean Way Drums and the rest of the virtual drums available in the market today?
SM: First of all, we recorded the drums in Ocean Way Studio B, which is one of the true "Temples of Sound." It was built by Bill Putnam in the 50's. Icons like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole made classic records there - and modern day stars like Green Day, Kane West, Eric Clapton, Radiohead and Paul McCartney continue to record there because of its superior acoustics. It is like a miniature concert hall. Every instrument you could possibly put in that room sounds luscious. And drums just sound magical. We placed the drum kit on the right-hand at the back of the studio to achieve max low end reinforcement into the room from kicks, toms, and snares.
JP: What was the stategy?
Steven Miller: We developed a discrete multi microphone recording technique for this product that utilizes up to 13 separate mono and stereo sound sources per instrument, including 3 sets of stereo room mics. This technique captures the sound of each instrument with startling clarity and enables the end user to independently adjust each drum and cymbal within the kit from tight and dry, all the way to wide and ambient. And beyond the actual recording, we personally made mix presets that provide users with instant sonic gratification.
The high resolution audio is then combined with the most expressive keyboard and drum pad mapping available to provide for amazingly realistic drum performances. We don't offer a lot of bells and whistles. Our product is for people who are serious about their music and want their drum tracks to sound like the very best sounding record they have ever heard.
JP: What kind of microphones did you use and how?
SM: For the Kick AKG D12, AKG D112 and Neumann U47 Fet; Snare Top AKG C12A and Shure SM 57 (custom); Snare Bottom Sony 55P; Hi Hat Sony 55P; Toms AKG C12A; Overheads AKG C12; Rooms Neumann M50, Telefunken Elam 251, Neumann KM 54, Telefunken U47.
Standard drum miking (mic choice and position) in most recording sessions is a compromise that has developed because of a need to get the most isolation not only between the various drums and cymbals within a drum set, but to isolate all the drum tracks from loud sound sources being recorded in the studio at the same time. Since obviously no other instruments were being recorded for the Ocean Way Drums sessions, we chose to record each instrument at the optimal distance and angle and with the microphones that best captured the full frequency and dynamic range of that instrument.
JP: Tell us how long it took to produce "Ocean Way Drums, from pre-production to final product?"
SM: It took almost 2 years from the time we committed ourselves to the project. We first had to decide on which drums and cymbals we wanted to use and then, get them all into the studio at the same time. This was a big task considering the drums were from many sources. Once we had all the instruments in the studio, actual recording took several weeks spread over the first year.
From there, we logged and performed strict quality control checks of every sample we recorded. As you can imagine, this was tedious and took well over a month. After that, we worked with our partner, Sonic Reality to develop a method of preserving the high resolution audio quality of our original recordings.
To turn the first generation, original samples into the playable samples that are contained in an actual final product, multiple generations of the original are made and often processed. While many people don't think twice about making digital copies, we know from experience that multiple copies can create many problems (such as phase shift) and completely degrade the audio. It took many months to come up with a viable solution which would enable us to create the samples in their final Kontakt format with the least amount of transfers possible.
From there, Dave Kerzner and his Sonic Reality team worked for another six months to ensure that the mapping for both the keyboard and drum pads was absolutely killer. Since we recorded so many dynamic layers of each hit, in both left and right hand performances, it was key that all these layers could be accessed in an easy and intuitive way. And once that was done, we worked with Native Instruments to develop ways we could utilize the Kontakt engine to fit our specific needs. This meant writing custom scripts and directing the audio to flow a bit differently than is the norm.
JP: How many drum kit sounds does "Ocean Way Drums" offer and what was the concept you used to put the sounds together?
SM-We offer 19 kits (there are extra kick drums included on the Platinum edition). Once we assembled all the individual drums in the studio, we put together custom kits that gave us the kind of tones we were looking for. After all our years of making records, we know which kinds of sounds work well with each other. We didn't care if all the drums and cymbals in a certain set were from completely different manufactures and from completely different decades. And this is exactly why the kits are simply numbered 1 through 19. They are all our custom configurations.
JP: Can you talk about the mixing console you used?
SM: The recording console in Ocean Way Recording studio B was built from scratch by Ocean Way and Bill Putnam. It is absolutely one of a kind. From mic in to buss out there are only three custom discrete amplifiers in the signal path. These amps have a slew rate approaching 200 Volts per micro second and run on 28 volt rails. The input transformer is a 1 to 1 ration and was designed by Bill Putnam. The custom channel equalization is passive and uses the module line amp for gain. Whether the EQ is in or out there are no additional amps involved. There are also original discrete 550a EQs normal to every input which can be inserted or totally bypassed. Together these provide six bands and 30 frequencies for every channel if desired.
To accurately capture the kinds of huge drum sounds we wanted we needed a ridiculously fast console with a minimal signal path and excellent EQ.
JP: Can you explain the signal path you used from the microphone to the recording media?
SM: Most of the recording was done through our custom console. The only exceptions were some of the close kick sounds which utilize original discrete Neve 1073 modules.
For maximum impact and punch all initial signals are recorded without any compression. We used two sets of secondary room mics and sent one pair to a 1970 vintage custom built Orange County stereo Compressor and another pair to two black vintage Urei 1176LN compressors with UA 1108 output stages. All of which were printed separately.
In regards to EQ, we added whatever we felt was or was not necessary to achieve optimum results.
The only EQ's used were our OWR custom EQs, original API 550a's and Neve 1073.
JP: What about A/D convertors?
SM: All samples were recorded with our own custom converters and clock, at 24 bit 96k to ProTools HD.
We recorded individual hits on each drum and cymbal. Ocean Way Drums does offer both drum hits that were recorded without interacting with the other drums in the set (which are the "snare off" hits) and drum hits were recorded while interacting with the other drums in the set (these are the "snare on" hits). With the "snare on" hits, you hear the snare drum rattle when the other drums (kick and toms) are played.
JP: What was the reason for using three sets of microphones for a kick drum?
SM: For the kick we used Neumann u-47 FET with wind screen, and AKG D112 and a U47 tube further away. We also did thwack tracks, which are achieved by multing the direct mics, severely compressing them with very slow attack leaving only the leading edge and adding it back in into the un-compressed mics. Depending on the specific kick, we would pick one of the two close mics or combine both the D112 and the 47Fet.
JP: You have used six microphones for recording a snare drum. These can be configured in up to 12 different ways, including a number of stereo configurations. Do you often use this stereo technique for ordinary recording projects?
SM: No. Stereo close miking would be difficult in a normal playing situation. It is something that we could do in the sampling environment in order to create a larger than life snare image. We wanted to create an impressive image that has never been done before.
Certain microphones we utilized for this recording are not necessarily ones we would use recording a set of drums live. Since leakage was not a problem, we picked certain mics that would be very impressive sounding if they could be a little further away in stereo pairs, and also had wider pickup patterns. By way of example we used a pair of two AKC 12A's 18" above the snare. These mics have a rather high level of proximity effect in cardioid and therefore increasingly low end at a distance. These mics would not sound good 2" from the snare but at 18" in stereo they sound very impressive.
We also used a pair of Shure 545 dynamic mics(1960's version of the Sm57) 2" from the snare head. For the under snare we used a very rare pair of Sony C-55p's which had incredible crack. We also recorded simultaneous ("thwack" tracks as described earlier) for both the 545's and the C-12a's.
JP: And for the other miking positions-overheads and room mics?
For the overheads we used two original AKG C12's. For the first set of rooms we used original Neumann M-50's. For the second set of rooms we used original tube U-47's on omni. For the third set we alternated between four original tube Neumann 67's in omni, Neumann KM54's, and matched Telefunken Elam 251's.
JP: Users are able to control and mix the drum sounds. What kind of measure did you take to keep the sound "real" regardless of the users' sound manipulation?
SM: Every sound, every sample in Ocean Way Drums is real and unprocessed. The various room channels are not simulations of a room or something done after the fact in post production. They are the sound of microphones out in the room picking up the same exact drum hit as every other sound source for each particular instrument in the drum kit. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the phase relationships are correct for any and all combinations of the various sound sources we provide for each instrument.
As you go through the presets on all the kits, you will notice that we made different blends of the room sounds that give each of the kits distinct spatial feels at each preset. From there, the end user can make infinite adjustments to the blends. Additionally, using the internal mixer, you can easily adjust the volume of all the ambience and room sound from zero to infinity. This quickly gives you an enormous palate of sounds.
JP: With so many sounds recorded full length at 24 bit/96kHz, I imagine that each drum kit must take a lot of memory?
SM: Yes, each set is about 2 Gb of memory. The whole Platinum HD library recorded at 24 bit/96kHz is 80 Gb and the Gold Edition library recorded at 24 bit/48kHz is 40 Gb.
Just like anything else in the audio world, the user is free to experiment and do anything he or she pleases to alter and manipulate the sound. Our goal was to provide super high resolution drum sounds that one could only get if they worked at Ocean Way studio B with the best drums, the best mics and Grammy winning engineers.
Allen Sides is the owner of Ocean Way and Record One studios in Los Angeles. In addition to being considered the recording industry's leading microphone expert, he is a Grammy winning engineer/producer that has recorded over 500 albums, with stars in every genre. Artists include Alanis Morrisette, Green Day, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Beck, Phil Collins, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Frank Sinatra, Faith Hill, Frank Zappa, Mary J Blige and Count Basie.
Steven Miller is a pioneer in the field of digital audio. As a Grammy nominated producer/engineer/arranger, he helped build Windham Hill Records from a tiny audiophile label into a prestigious industry leader. In addition, he co-founded both the Hip Pocket/Windham Hill Jazz and RCA/Novus labels. Platinum artists he has worked with include Dave Matthews Band, Suzanne Vega, Backstreet Boys, Pink, George Winston, Switchfoot, Manhattan Transfer, Toad The Wet Sprocket and Paula Cole.
"Incredibly natural, realistic acoustic drum sounds that have the subtle dynamics that are often lacking in even the best samples."
Click here to read the full review
Sonic Reality - Ocean Way Drums Expandable Series
If your ears are never quite pleased by your results from that never-ending quest for "real drum" sounds, everything changes today. According to the good people we met with during our demo, these sampled drum kits were recorded at Ocean Way Studios' B room, but we wouldn't care if they were recorded in the back of a Winnebago with this level of audio quality. Powered by the Kontakt engine, these RTAS, VST, and AU supported plug-ins are in 24-bit/48k samples with each instrument going to its own fader.
The results are incredibly natural, realistic acoustic drum sounds that have the subtle dynamics that are often lacking in even the best samples. A nice option is that you can purchase each instrument via download individually so that expansion is more affordable and based on the need(s). With the drums, the options for dry and ambient, and a playable sound library, and output that really has the feel of real drums, the name Ocean Way is a brand that represents great audio quality. This collection lives up to that reputation with honors.
"This is a fantastic drum plug-in - not only in sound quality, but playability, flexibility and options. I put OWD up against two other drum libraries, and OWD was my first choice hands down."
Click here to read the full review
If you haven't heard of Ocean Way Recording, then perhaps a quick read of some recording industry history would be in order. Ocean Way, owned by Allen Sides, is legendary, not just as a studio, but for it's long client list of legendary artists as well. Sonic Reality partnered with Allen to create the Ocean Way Drum plug-in, and while some may ask "what is the advantage of recording at Ocean Way?" The answer? Expertise, and sound quality. No doubt the extra marketing cache of the name doesn't hurt. This library was recorded by Allen Sides and Steven Miller at Ocean Way, through their Studio B custom console. It's not everyday you get a sample library recorded by multi-Grammy winning engineers, in a legendary studio, with some of the best gear out there.
Ocean Way Drums Gold has a 40G library recorded in 24 bit at 48k. The Platinum library (not reviewed here) is the 96k version, and includes 7 additional kicks. The Gold library comes on 6 dual layer DVDs, with a video tutorial/overview DVD, pdf manual, and Kontakt 2 Player. The installer installs the player and library, but you can choose not to install Kontakt Player if you already have a copy. You are prompted for a serial number for the library itself, and in addition, if you install the Kontakt Player, you will also need to authorize it within 30 days via the Native Instruments Service Center (Service Center included and can be installed as well if needed). This is a painless process, other than waiting for DVD data to copy (allow a few hours to install any large library). The Platinum library is 120G and comes on an external hard drive (a nice option that more sample library developers seem to offering now).
There is an updated version of the manual available on the website. The manual on the DVD set I reviewed had low resolution graphics in some spots, making I-MAP impossible to read. The updated manual not only corrects that issue, but adds an extended I-MAP section with close up views of I-MAP, a FAQ section, and some other enhancements - all welcome additions, so downloading the new manual is highly recommended.
Once installed, you can either run the Kontakt 2 player standalone or within your DAW. The library can also be run from a full version of Kontakt (I used both Kontakt 3 and the Kontatk 2 player during this review). The Kontakt 2 Player includes a list of instrument and multi presets for quick loading. Of course if you have the full version of Kontakt, you can make use of Kontakt's editing, effects, and programming options to tweak, alter or mangle the kits as you wish (though many libraries are going proprietary with their players, I still prefer Kontakt libraries to allow me more flexibility).
With OWD Gold, you get a total of 19 multis or preset kits, with versions already configured to use either the AKG C12 on the snare, or the SM57, and with snares on or off for the toms and kick. According to Dave Kerzner at Sonic Reality, these kits are made up of about 20 different kicks, 14 different snares, 11 sets of toms, etc, and the kits were mixed and matched to sound musical and playable for a variety of drum uses, rather than just putting up a specific brand of kit and recording it (hence you won't see "DW Snare" in instrument listings, but "Snare 1, 2, 3, etc). You can of course alter, mix and match these for your own kits if you like - the preset Kontakt multis start you with a kit but the mic choices are up to the user. Each piece in each kit is a separate Kontakt instrument, so of course it is simple to mix and match, say Kick 4 with Snare 9 with Hat 11, etc. You'll find up to 32 velocity levels within these kits, so they sound dynamic.
Most kicks have options to use/mix in an AKG D12, Neumann U47, "Thwack" (a compressed signal), overheads, three room mics, and an RMX reverb. The snares are configured similarly, most with options for an AKG C12A mic, SM47 (both top), a bottom mic (Sony 55P), the three room mics, overheads and RMX reverb. Toms and hi hat include close, overhead and the 3 room mics; cymbals and rides use overheads and 3 room mics. (The included videos give nice overview of the recording setup, miking, etc - highly recommended to learn more about Ocean Way, the kits, I-MAP, V-Drum use, etc).
Some instruments have fewer mic options (mainly kicks) - my assumption would be that these just didn't need, or benefit from the additional mic/mics as not all kicks, snares, etc sound great on every mic.
A general note on using multiple mic positions - you can drastically alter the sound of a snare by changing the mix of mics, top and bottom, room mics, etc, which is one feature that sets this library apart. The best way to explore the possibilities of this library is to turn off all mics for a snare, kick, etc, and bring up one at a time to hear each individually, then mix variations to taste. There is far more to work with here than just 19 preset kits, and simply mixing in more or less room sound as with most drum libraries. Most users would be hard pressed to be able to record their own kits with drums that sounded this good as a whole.
Up and Running
Kits are rather large and will take a few seconds to load. OWD kits utilize Kontakt's customizations to provide you with OWD graphics for each instrument, as well as a customized layout to give you quick access to each relevant mic level, as well as a preset list of mic placements. Once a kit is loaded, you have access to levels for each mic used for that drum - whether you want more mostly D12 on the kick with a little D112 for punch, or a full on room sound with little direct mic'ing the option is there. The RMX reverb adds a characteristic plate reverb sound that some may like - it isn't my taste or need for most projects, but it's great to have the option. If you want to run your kit dry and add reverb - you can easily do just that.
Whether loaded into Kontakt player or the full version, each kit is configured with separate output mapping for kick, snare, hat, toms, overheads, and ambience (room mics). This affords the user independent control over the mix in your DAW even after any mixing you might do within Kontakt. You will likely have to click "Reset Output Map" in Kontakt (player and full version) when loading a kit to make all outputs active (esp. in Nuendo/Cubase 4 after you have your outputs activated in the VSTi rack). Until you do, all instruments are mapped to the first output ("Kick").
A couple of minor issues I noticed both when running OWD in Kontakt 3 and the Kontakt 2 Player - the audio level meters for each instrument do not work, but Sonic Reality says this is because the instruments are mapped directly to the Kontakt outs. Other Kontakt instruments work fine when loaded into the same instance, and the Kontakt output section meters are still active, so this is not a significant issue - just something to be aware of in case you are expecting it. Also, since instruments are hard-mapped to outputs, this seems to preclude any manual remapping of instruments to another output, such as rerouting the kick to the "Snare" output. However, other than for creative and non-standard uses, I can't see reassigning outputs being necessary for most users as the kits are already split into multiple outputs for maximum effectiveness from the start.
Sonic Reality developed their own mapping called I-MAP (no, it isn't a Google Earth map of all known iPod users). I-MAP lays out the kit with alternate hits and variations for each instrument in a way that most users should adapt to easily enough (any "playable" drum library mapping takes some practice to make the most of). In general, mapping is setup to separate the sounds you might want to play with more than one hand, rather than grouping each instrument on consecutive notes only. Some of this may fit or defy a user's preference, but I found it to make sense and be easy enough to learn effectively.
I-MAP's mapping fits within a 61-key keyboard, so you don't have to have an 88 key controller to access everything (mapping starts an octave lower than a 61-key controller, so you will want to transpose your controller or midi input channel to access the lower control keys, though this seems to be typical of many drum libraries).
At the lowest end of the keyboard, C0 to D0 are mapped to Kontakt preset switch controllers assigned to step through the six presets for mic mixes for the whole kit (these are preset close/room mic mixes, though you can of course create your own mixes instead). This makes it simple to both audition, and use different presets for different songs or even song sections without manually altering each instrument, or mic mix. The manual suggests not switching presets during playback due to potential crashes with Kontakt, but I ran into no problems switching presets using Kontakt 3 - still wise advice to only switch once Kontakt voices have ended. A nice forethought in the snares is that the sidesticks are all at the appropriate level for a mix - so you don't have to automate the sidestick from the snare output channel, as I've had to do with other library kits.
Kicks are usually mapped to 4 consecutive notes from C1 down with alternate hits for more realistic performances. Snares are split between consecutive and near notes for left and right stick, edge, ghost, rolls, etc. There are two roll notes designed to be used to create your own rolls - i.e. these aren't rolls with set lengths, but programmed with envelope, release and velocity to allow you to create your own roll lengths with crescendo or decrescendo, etc. How realistic these rolls sound is up to you and your performance - they aren't magic, but they are much more performance-friendly than most libraries' rolls.
Toms have left and right hits split by two octaves. Hats have alternate hits (pings, edge, open, closed, foot, etc) mapped to consecutive notes (ping is mapped lower so it could be played with the left hand, as is the ghost snare note). Foot/pedal hi hat is set to mute the open hat as it should be.
The rides and cymbals also have alternate mappings split by an octave so you can create multiple hit performances with variations in where the cymbal is hit, and without doubling up on the same sample mapping. The cymbal levels seemed a bit low compared to the rest of the kit in the preset multis, but with control over room levels for each, that is easily adjusted.
I didn't have a V-Drum setup to test OWD with, but from the video demo, it appears the V-Drum setups are quite nicely matched to the hardware, with hits such as edge, center, left right, bell/cup (ride, cymbals) mapped to the corresponding location on the V-Drum kit. OWD comes with separate folders for V-Drum configs, with snares on and off for the kick and tom mic samples.
This is a fantastic drum plug-in - not only in sound quality, but playability, flexibility and options. Sure, there are less expensive drum libraries, but I put OWD up against two other drum libraries, and OWD was my first choice hands down. Certainly there are quite a few options of libraries with multiple outputs, the ability to mix room, ambience, etc, but I know of no other that also offers multiple mics and mic positions readily adjustable for snares and kicks - allowing the user to choose the recording approach, not only adjusting the drum's placement in the room. I had the opportunity to use OWD on a couple of projects and it worked beautifully. I found it to sit perfectly in the mix with barely any tweaking, and only then to accommodate the specific needs of the song, not adjust for anything lacking in the drums. There is a reason Sonic Reality went to Ocean Way, Allen Sides and Steven Miller to record this project, and the result speaks for itself.
"Ocean Way Drums delivers 100% on its promise : great-sounding, extremely flexible drum sounds that go beyond the norm."
Click here to read the full review
The competition for amazing-sounding drum samples is fierce-which is great, because the drum sounds on my tracks keep getting better every time a manufacturer decides it's time to put out a better library than "the other guy." But really, what can anyone bring to the party that hasn't already been done?
In this case, it's the combination of Ocean Way Studios (great drum room), Allen Sides and Steven Miller (great engineers), multiple miking setups (great options), NI's Kontakt Player 2 (KP2 for short; great host instrument, compatible with XP/OS X and VST/RTAS/AU), and Sonic Reality, who've definitely been around the block a few times when it comes to sampling. Of course, a good pedigree doesn't guarantee a good product, but it certainly got my attention.
First up: installation
Installation of both the KP2 "host" for the samples and the 40GB library itself. This is a good time to train your pet monkey to shuffle DVDs in and out of your computer, as that's a lot of content and it takes a while to get it on your hard drive. When you think about how short drum samples tend to be, this is your first hint that there's a lot of ambience captured in those samples.
Second up: listening
And believe me, it takes a while because there is a huge selection of drum sounds. I started off by loading some kits to get an overview, and the first few were stellar-crisp, present, with lots of velocity samples, and a solid room sound-all you could ask for. Thinking that maybe I got lucky, I checked out the 19 kits (each with 12 presets in both snare-on and snare-off versions) and you know what? They were all good.
The KP2 advantage
But the story doesn't end there. With KP2, each drum sound is essentially its own instrument, addressable over its own MIDI channel, with up to 13 mono/stereo mic channels. For example, a snare might have left and right main and "under" snare mics, three room mics, overhead, and, oh, a couple other mics thrown in (like "thwack," an über-compressed sound) for good measure. You can go from dry and tight to wet and wild with a few knob twists. And yes, the room sound is as good as the hype-and you can dial in as much of it as you want.
The other advantage of the instrument approach is that you can apply KP2's processing to individual channels. Each can have up to four insert effects, including compressor, limiter, inverter, saturation, lo-fi, stereo modeller, distortion, phaser, flanger, chorus, reverb, delay, 19 different filters, and a convolution reverb. (Regarding the latter, there are no impulses included; however, KP2 will accept impulses from Kontakt 2 and other sources in stand-alone mode, but not when inserted as a plug-in.) You can even go so far as to degrade the otherwise crystal-clear sounds with total abandon. Don't laugh (and Allen Sides, don't cry): With a little tweaking, you can get really strange, twisted, electronic-sounding drums.
What's more, there are four aux buses available, with the same roster of effects as individual channels. And, you're not limited to just the channels programmed into a kit-you can have up to 32 mono outputs (a kit with 19 snares, anyone?), as well as configure multi-channel outs. Yes, you can use all those room mics on multiple instances of an instrument to set up a very cool surround drum kit.
There are two possible mappings for each drum. Sonic Reality's "I-Map" is basically a variation on General MIDI mapping and is suitable for triggering with a keyboard, but designed to handle the increased sophistication needed for these drums. The second mapping is for "real" drummers, who want to trigger the kit with Roland V-Drums. The I-Map thing is definitely cool, as it makes it easy to play from a keyboard, and the V-Drums map is a thoughtful touch. These are also explained on the accompanying video DVD.
I was a little skittish about the price-until I realized it's about as much as an 8-bit Drumulator drum machine cost back in the '80s. And it only takes is about five minutes of listening to realize that a huge amount of work went into miking, setting up, sampling, and mapping these drums. The editability is icing on the cake, but it's pretty rich icing-you can do a lot with these sampled sounds. Overall, Ocean Way Drums delivers 100% on its promise: great-sounding, extremely flexible drum sounds that go beyond the norm.
"Ocean Way's custom-built analog console yields drums with sparkling transient detail and a warm, defined bottom end. Each kit has six ready-to-go preset mixes - almost like being part of a Sides clinic on mixing drums."
Click here to read the full review
The first world-class studio I ever set foot in was Ocean Way in Hollywood. The Gold and Platinum albums lining the walls beamed an aura of the immense talent of those who worked there. Now, Sonic Reality's Ocean Way Drums (OWD) drum-sample library packages the sound, rooms and one-of-a-kind mic collection found in that special place. Ocean Way studio owner Allen Sides and engineer Steven Miller spent two years painstakingly recording and creating the collection. There are no loops, pre-sequenced grooves or step sequences; OWD focuses on individual drum hits, delivered via Native Instruments' Kontakt 2 sample player, and available in all the usual plug-in formats.
OWD's 19 drum kits cover the gamut from loose-sounding vintage drums to tight modern sets. Snares range from deep rock to popping piccolos, and include rolls, rim shots and ghost notes. Cymbals include tiny splashes to big rides, and feature numerous variations: bell hits, chokes, multiple edge hits and rolls. Hi-hats include sloppy, open rock sounds and crisp jazz timbres - with multiple open-hat positions. All instruments were hit with a stick - no brush or mallet samples.
Pick your Package
The $995 Gold edition has 40 GB of 48kHz samples spread over 19 different kits. Offering the same sets at 96 kHz, plus extra kick drums, the 120GB Platinum edition ($1,995) is pre-installed on a USB 2/FireWire hard drive. All kits have presets mapped for General MIDI or Sonic Reality's IMAP format for greater flexibility when playing "keyboard drums."
OWD makes heavy use of Kontakt's direct-from-disk feature, which streams samples from the hard drive. Most instruments stream 10 or more channels per drum hit so it's easy to exceed 40 audio channels when multiple drums are played at once; therefore, OWD should run on its own (7,200 rpm or faster) hard drive. I had no problems using the Audio Units version of OWD in Apple Logic Pro 8.
Opening OWD in Logic presents a version of Kontakt 2 that's tailored for OWD. To me, the Kontakt workspace felt unintuitive, and users of plug-ins like BFD or Addictive Drums will probably want more from the interface. There are no images of the actual sampled drums, and the labels for selecting kits and drums are generic, such as "Kit 1" or "Snare Drum 2." This convention isn't very useful when trying to find a piccolo snare.
On the other hand, using your ears to sift through the options is not necessarily a bad thing when listening to drums that sound so good. Ocean Way's custom-built analog console yields drums with sparkling transient detail and a warm, defined bottom end. Many drums also feature an option for blending samples that were processed through hard-to-find gear such as an AMS RMX-16 digital reverb - a coveted mainstay in high-end studios.
Complete drum kit presets come in the form of what Kontakt refers to as "multis." Each drum in the kit is then represented by an instrument block with gain knobs for each available channel, such as U47, AKG, OH, Room 1, etc. A pull-down menu can display channel panners, envelope settings or a velocity view to tailor how the drum responds dynamically to how hard you play your controller. These controls are independent on every instrument and allow creative options that aren't possible with a conventionally recorded kit, such as shortening the decay on the kick's room mics while leaving a long room decay on the snare.
I had fun with the snares. Each kit has snare-on and snare-off versions. In snare-off presets, the other drums in the kit, such as toms and kick, were played without snare rattle bleeding into the mics. One approach I loved was using stereo AKG C-12s about 18 inches over the snare and two rare Sony 55Ps (also in stereo) for snare bottom. This unique flavor sounded wonderful. For contrast, the snares were also recorded with Shure SM57s in more traditional positions.
With this many controls available, balancing the relative instruments within a kit could prove difficult, so OWD combines various channels from each instrument onto more manageable buses. The buses are represented in Kontakt's mixer as kick, snare, hat and toms, along with overhead and ambience channels. Each bus has its own volume fader and includes multiple insert slots for additional processing.
To get quick results without having to build a sound from scratch, each kit has six ready-to-go preset mixes. I wouldn't typically think that "producing by preset" would be useful, but these settings are almost like being part of a Sides clinic on mixing drums. ALL ABOUT THE SOUND
What matters most is how drums sound in the mix. Playing sequenced drums from some of my projects, I quickly re-assigned them to OWD. I found it unnecessary to use any additional processing with OWD; I just blended the provided mics to my liking and simply let the undoctored samples shine through. As a bonus, at press time, Sonic Reality announced that users can drive OWD from Drumagog by downloading either MidiPipe (Mac) or MIDI Yoke (PC).
I'm not a fan of the Kontakt interface, but the drum sounds sold me on OWD. The mic choices, the room, processing options and the excellent recordings make this a one-of-a-kind collection. OWD brings you the sound of a unique and special place - even if you've never set foot on the Sunset Strip.
"You're not going to get these kind of drum sounds any cheaper. Is it worth it? Absolutely."
Click here to read the full review
Sonic Reality - Ocean Way Drums Expandable Series
A world-famous studio is the birthplace of a world-class drum library
BY NICK CASARES
More hit records have been recorded at Ocean Way Studios than you would probably believe. Dig through the liner notes on your favorite CDs and you'll no doubt find tracks that were recorded or mixed at this illustrious studio. From Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, nearly all of the modern greats have stepped inside the halls of Ocean Way at some point in their career.
Why have some many musical giants flocked to Ocean Way to record? Aside from the world-class producers and engineers that frequent its control rooms, Ocean Way has a sound and equipment list that's hard find anywhere else. Through an almost magical combination of acoustics and equipment, Ocean Way has "the" sound that has shaped so many modern hits.
A large part of "that" sound comes from great drum tracks... and great drum tracks come from, you guessed it, great drum sounds. But how can you get those sounds if you're not anA-list artist with a million dollar budget and a world-class engineer? Thanks to Ocean Way owner Alan Sides and engineer Steven Miller we can now all get a little slice of "that" sound. Mr. Sides has teamed up with Sonic Reality to create Ocean Way Drums, a brand new sample library featuring an amazing collection of drum sounds from Ocean Way's Studio B. We brought you a report on the recording techniques that went into this sample library in our October 2008 issue. Today we review the product itself.
The sample package
OceanWay Drums (OWD) was originally released in 2 basic flavors, Gold and Platinum HD. OWD Gold features 40 Gigabytes of 24-bit/48 kHz samples on 6 DVDs. OWD Platinum HD features 80 Gigabytes of 24-bit/96 KHz samples that come pre-installed on a 10000 RPM hard drive. In January, according to Sonic Reality, the lower-priced OWD Silver and DL will be released. I was sent OWD Gold for my review.
The OWD package comes with a customized Native Instruments Kontakt player that works as a VST/AU/RTAS plug-in or as a standalone player, fully compatible with both Mac and PC.
Installing OWD consists of two parts. Install the Kontakt player and NI Service Center applications, then copy the sample files to a hard drive location of your choice. Installation is straightforward but it does take some time to copy all 6 DVDs to a hard drive. I keep a dedicated soundware drive so that's where I installed the sample files. OWD must be authorized though the NI Service Center before it can be used; this is a quick process that requires a serial number and an Internet connection. Once OWD is authorized it can be used in standalone or plug-in mode.
In addition to the installer DVDs the package also comes with an introductory DVD video that gives a quick history of OceanWay Studios and the equipment and techniques used to record OWD. It's a short video that's definitely worth watching. The video also includes a brief tutorial on using OWD's unique I-MAP and V-Drum MIDI mappings.
I spent quite a bit of time using OWD in both plug-in and standalone modes. In both modes, the Kontakt Player performs identically and was very stable through my review. OWD comes with 19 preset kits in two variations each. Each kit preset is available with a choice of two main snare mics, an SM57 or a vintage pair of AKG C12A tube mics. In addition to a choice of snare mic, each kit can also be loaded with snares on or snares off for a total of 72 possible starting presets.
The presets are easily loaded from a drop-down menu in Kontakt Player. Unfortunately, the presets are named very generically (Kit 01, etc.) and don't describe the sound quality of the kit.This is a good thing because it forces you to experiment with each preset, but each preset takes 45-120 seconds to load so auditioning each preset can take some time.
The OWD Kontakt Player offers a huge palette of tools for shaping the sound of each drum. The Kontakt Player interface provides tweakable parameters for each drum including levels for overhead bleed, and a choice of 3 distant room mic pairs. Beyond adjustment of ambient mics there are also controls for individual mic level-SM57 and AKG C12A on snare, Neumann U47 or AKG D12 on kick-allowing just the right blend to be dialed in. On snare there are individual controls for dialing in batter side and snare side mic levels.
To say that OWD offers absolute sonic control would be an understatement. Quite honestly, if you can't shape a great drum sound with OWD you're not trying hard enough. The sound quality of the OWD samples is simply unmatched-yeah, it's that good.
Ways to work
There are a few different ways to use OWD depending on how you work.You can play the samples directly if you're programming with aMIDI keyboard or pad, but you can also use the built inVDrum mapping and play the samples withV-Drums.A third way (my personal favorite) is to use the samples in conjunction with Drumagog (look for an article and review on this sample replacement program in a future issue) to replace drum sounds on less than stellar tracks.
Unlike other sample libraries, OWD uses a special type of key mapping called I-MAP. Developed by Sonic Reality, I-MAP is designed to let you play more expressively when programming drums with a keyboard-seeMark Hornsby's article in this issue for details..The DVD video has a short tutorial on using I-MAP.Personally, I couldn't get used to the mapping, but I can see how it might be a better way to play if you invest enough time into learning it. The downside of a non-standard key mapping is that pre-programmed MIDI performances need to be tweaked quite a bit before they'll work with OWD. I would love to see a GM mapping that would let me use standard MIDI files with OWD. [Sonic Reality reports this has been added to the newest version.-Ed.] I don't own a set ofV-Drums so I can't comment on theV-Drum capabilities.
I spent most of my time using OWD as a sound source for drum replacement with Drumagog. Setting up the routing between OWD and Drumagog can be tricky, but there's a well-written tutorial in the manual that breaks it down into easy steps. Connecting OWD and Drumagog does require a freeware MIDI routing utility on both Windows and Mac.
Once Drumagog is up and running with OWD the sky's the limit for shaping a drum sound. OWD gives you a scary amount of control and the problem of finding a good drum sound quickly turns into the problem of choosing a great drum sound. Kick sounds too flabby? No problem, dial in a little more AKG D112. Snare not bright enough? That's okay, just add a little bottom mic.With OWD it really is that easy and it really is that cool.
I had originally listened to OWD on last year's AES show floor. I was impressed then, but it was a harsh environment to listen in and I didn't have a lot of time to play with the sounds.Now that I've actually used the library I'm completely knocked out. Is it expensive? Yes, but you're not going to get these kind of drum sounds any cheaper. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
"Recorded at a legendary studio with two engineers that have recorded over 500 records professionally, Ocean Way Drums virtual instrument is a work of art in the world of music." (Article en Español)
Click here to read the full review
Poder probar el instrumento virtual Ocean Way Drums ha sido toda una aventura, ya que soy baterista desde hace más de 30 años y siempre estoy buscando nuevas herramientas para expresar ideas rítmicas más allá de las ejecutadas en una batería acústica. Por otro lado, en toda producciín de estudio casero, la batería acústica es lo más difícil de producir convincentemente ya que un buen sonido de batería es sumamente costoso y demanda mucho tiempo de estudio, excelentes micrífonos, un ingeniero profesional, etc. Siempre he tratado de evitar el uso de batería acústica en mis producciones de bajo presupuesto y he utilizado diferentes recursos como loops tocados por bateristas profesionales que están -generalmente- bien grabados. He usado instrumentos virtuales como Stylus o GigaStudio, y por muchos años usé las librerías de sonidos de Steve Gadd y John Robinson del sampler ASR10 de Ensoniq; que ahora es una reliquia pero suena súper bien.
OWD fue diseñado y producido por los reconocidos ingenieros de grabaciín Allen Sides (Alanis Morissette, Green Day, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Beck, Phil Collins, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, etc.) y Steven Miller (Dave Matthews Band, Suzanne Vega, Backstreet Boys, Pink, George Winston, Paula Cole, etc.) y fue programado como un instrumento virtual en la plataforma Kontakt Player 2 de Native Instruments por Dave Kerzner de la compañía Sonic Reality.
Antes de hacer la crítica del Ocean Way Drums, tuve la posibilidad de reunirme con Steven Miller (uno de sus creadores) en su estudio para que me guiara un poco en la parte conceptual del producto y hay dos comentarios que él hizo que quiero compartir con ustedes.
Con tantas baterías virtuales disponibles en el mercado, ¿por qué decidieron producir un nuevo producto virtual? ¿Fue una necesidad de uso personal o fue pensado para el uso en general de los profesionales de la industria?
Steven Miller: Como ingenieros y productores que estamos constantemente trabajando con artistas de primera línea mundial, hemos escuchado y usado cuanta librería y software hay disponible en el mercado, y si bien encontramos algunos excelentes productos, ninguno nos daba la clase de sonido que buscábamos con profundidad, tono, aire y expresividad que requerían algunas de nuestras producciones. Allen Sides y yo somos reconocidos en la industria por hacer grabaciones de gran impacto y definiciín sonora, y fue nuestra propia necesidad lo que nos hizo comprometernos a crear una librería de sonidos de batería con el más alto nivel de realismo en la ejecuciín.
¿Cuál es la mayor diferencia entre OWD y el resto de las baterías virtuales disponibles hoy?
SM: Primero, el sonido. Ya que la batería fue grabada en el estudio OceanWay Studio B, que es legendario por su acústica única que ha contribuido al sonido de artistas como Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Green Day, Radiohead, entre muchos otros. Armamos la batería en la esquina derecha al fondo del estudio para obtener mayor resonancia de frecuencias graves. Segundo, las grabaciones las hicimos Allen y yo que somos fanáticos del sonido acústico, y buscamos la mejor forma de capturarlo por medio de la sala, el tipo de micrífonos y el posicionamiento de los mismos. Para grabar OWD desarrollamos una técnica de micrífonos múltiples que utiliza 13 señales de audio incluyendo señales mono, estéreo y 3 juegos de micrífonos estéreo posicionados a distintas distancias para grabar el ambiente o "room". De esta forma no sílo capturamos un sonido de alta calidad y definiciín, sino que también generamos un sonido con muchísimas posibilidades de uso, maleable a las necesidades del productor ya que tiene la posibilidad de elegir cada instrumento o el kit en general desde muy seco o "tight" hasta muy abierto y ambiental. Buscábamos crear un instrumento que sonara súper profesional que a la vez fuera versátil y después de casi dos años de trabajo intenso, creo que lo logramos.
La interface está muy bien diseñada, organizando la batería en pistas o instrumentos dispuestos en forma horizontal, uno abajo del otro como en cualquier DAW. OWD es multitímbrico al estilo de GigaStudio, ya que posee cuatro puertos MIDI con 16 canales cada uno para asignar tantos sonidos como la producciín demande. Cada kit o juego de batería está programado con la misma organizaciín y consta de nueve instrumentos principales: bombo o kick, redoblante/tarola o snare, cuatro toms, contratiempo o hi-hat, un platillo crash y un ride para acompañar ritmos. A esta formaciín se le pueden agregar tantos instrumentos como la memoria de la computadora lo permita. La interface nos permite regular en cada instrumento la señal de cada micrífono que se usí en la grabaciín por separado, incluyendo volumen, paneo, ambiente o "room" y velocity (o amplitud de volumen MIDI) para dar más expresiín a la programaciín maximizando la forma de disparar los diferentes sonidos o "layers" (capas) de cada instrumento. También tiene una perilla de afinaciín que permite modificar el sonido hasta tres octavas ascendentes y/o descendentes.
Platinum que viene en un disco duro FireWire de 10,000 RPM, está grabada a una resoluciín de 24-bits/96 kHz y pesa 80 GB. Cuando abrimos el programa, podemos elegir si queremos cargar instrumentos individuales o juegos de batería completos. OWD viene con 19 kits de batería pre-programados y mezclados en estéreo para uso inmediato, los cuales a la vez se pueden remezclar y enviar a salidas individuales para un control más preciso en la mezcla final.
Estos 19 kits tienen cuatro versiones de sonidos distintos cada uno, incluyendo una versiín con micrífonos Shure SM57 posicionados a 2 pulgadas de distancia de cada instrumento, una versiín con micrífonos AKG C12A posicionados a 18 pulgadas de distancia, y ambas versiones a la vez están grabadas con snares off o snares on (esto se refiere a las bordonas del redoblante cuando están apretadas y vibran por simpatía cuando tocamos los toms principalmente o cuando las aflojamos para tener un sonido más limpio). A esto hay que agregar que cada kit también tiene dos diferentes "midi lay outs" o mapas MIDI que se aplican según lo que usemos como controlador, ya sea un teclado o una batería electrínica V-drums de Roland.
Cada kit de batería viene con seis presets pre-programados que van desde un sonido totalmente seco, sin ambiente o "room", hasta una versiín con muchísimo "room" que suena gigante. Esto se logra sin usar ningún efecto adicional más que la señal de grabaciín de los micrífonos ambientales a diferentes distancias de la batería.
La cantidad de micrífonos que se usaron para grabar cada instrumento es realmente inusual. El sonido de un tambor de la OWD fue grabado con 14 micrífonos simultáneos y tiene un promedio de 2,000 samples o sonidos por tambor. La gama de sonidos que lograron grabar es enorme, cubriendo todos los estilos que uno pueda imaginar. Nunca toqué anteriormente un sonido digital de redoblante con tantas posibilidades analígicas. Es imposible darse cuenta de la diferencia entre un redoblante acústico y el de la OWD, si está programado por alguien que conoce la mecánica del instrumento y especialmente si fue tocado con baquetas en la V-Drums. Los bombos o kicks fueron grabados con 10 micrífonos cubriendo una gama de sonidos que van desde muy comprimido o "tight" hasta sonidos más redondos y cálidos. También se respetí el concepto del doble pedal de bombo en el sampleo de los sonidos. Se grabaron 11 diferentes toms con 9 micrífonos simultáneos con el mismo concepto que el redoblante y 19 diferentes platillos incluyendo hihats, crashes y rides.
Para lograr una interpretaciín musical más realista y menos mecánica, todos los sonidos de la OWD fueron ejecutados con OWD tiene dos versiones de sonidos: la versiín Gold que viene en seis DVDs, está grabada a una resoluciín de 24- bits/48 kHz y ocupa 40 Gigabytes de memoria; y la versiín manos izquierda y derecha separadamente para emular la ejecuciín del baterista y no usar siempre el mismo sample. Esto se puede lograr tanto con la Vdrums tocando con baquetas, como con un teclado que tenga un mínimo de cuatro octavas para poder disparar los sonidos con ambas manos.
Además de los tres diferentes ambientes o "rooms" con que se grabaron todos los sonidos de la OWD, la interface viene con cuatro "inserts" o canales de efectos simultáneos con una gran variedad de efectos disponibles a cada instrumento independientemente o en grupo, incluyendo: compresor, limitador, invertidor (que invierte la fase de la señal de micrífono), saturaciín, Lo-Fi, modelador de estéreo, distorsiín, phaser (que genera una señal doble), flanger, chorus, reverb o cámara (usaron los parámetros de la AMS RMX 16 y suena increíble), delay o eco, cámara de convoluciín (que permite importar los parámetros de convoluciín de Altiverb y Acoustic Mirror de espacios reales) y 19 filtros que incluyen modificaciín de frecuencias altas y bajas, y ecualizaciín de 1, 2 y 3 bandas. Las posibilidades de ediciín son ilimitadas y el uso es extremadamente rápido. En 10 minutos pude convertir un kit completo en el sonido característico de las baterías de Phil Collins con toms con mucho ataque, "gated reverb" o cámara con compuerta y muy brillante.
OWD es un instrumento virtual que si bien se puede usar con excelentes resultados solamente usando los presets o memorias ya armadas de fábrica, su potencial máximo se descubre cuando uno programa sus propios kits desde cero, instrumento por instrumento. La enorme cantidad de informaciín grabada nos permite una flexibilidad de ejecuciín única, las posibilidades de ediciín nos permiten crear instrumentos de percusiín anteriormente imposibles de generar con una facilidad increíble (yo pude programar sonidos de "talking drums" y tambores graves africanos editando un juego de toms). La interface está tan bien diseñada y han cuidado tanto todos los detalles de diseño que sílo con una batería podemos lograr infinidad de juegos diferentes. Es imposible imaginar las posibilidades de este instrumento a menos que uno se siente a programarlo. La OWD demanda mucho CPU ya que la cantidad de informaciín de audio que dispara simultáneamente es gigantesca. Recomiendo que se use una computadora de doble procesador de 2 GHz de velocidad como mínimo y 2 GB de RAM.
Conclusiín Después de haber usado en todos estos años una gran variedad de instrumentos virtuales, puedo decir sin miedo a equivocarme que OceanWay Drums es el instrumento virtual más fiel y completo que he escuchado a nivel de baterías analígicas reproducidas digitalmente. Solamente considerando que un tambor promedio de esta batería pesa más de 200 Megabytes y tiene 127 layers en donde 2,000 sonidos o samples son asignables vía intensidad MIDI o "velocity", podemos deducir que este instrumento tiene una capacidad de expresiín nunca vista anteriormente.
Grabado en Ocean Way Recording Studios, (uno de los estudios legendarios de Los ángeles), con dos ingenieros con una experiencia de más de 500 discos profesionales, y un equipo único que incluye una consola API modificada, algunos de los mejores micrífonos del mundo y un rack de procesadores analígicos de los más sofisticados, el instrumento virtual Ocean Way Drums es una obra de arte al servicio de la música.