10 things to love about SD3

Monday, 25 September 2017 10:17 am

This month’s release of Superior Drummer 3 may be a bit overdue, but was certainly worth the wait. Here are some of the features which make this VST offering a new benchmark.

1. Fully integrated solution

SD3 is a standalone software product, and no longer requires a host such as the Solo product required to run SD2. One click, and you’re behind the kit and in the studio with SD3.

2. Samples galore

SD3 “ships” with more than 230 GB of raw, unprocessed sounds. That’s almost 15 times the size of SD2 (19 GB). Of course, this is an enormous download which would have taken more than 1,000 hours on my Internet connection, so thankfully, an SSD ‘hard copy’ version is also available. The samples are rich and detailed with up to 25 velocity layers per instrument.

3. Amazing instruments

The pack features seven kits, from bread-and-butter sets like Pearl, Yamaha and Gretsch to more exotic kits from Ayotte and a couple of Ludwigs. There are 25 snares and 16 kick drums, and toms range from 6” to 20”. Most of the kits come with brushes, rods and mallets articulations in addition to stick sounds. And for lovers of classic electronic drums, there are around 350 sounds from vintage and classic drum machines.

4. E-drum compatibility

Often, drum VSTs are designed for producers, and e-drummers are an afterthought. SD3 seems to have drummers in mind at every step, and includes one of the most extensive e-drum preset collections around. Not only will you find all the common brands listed in the preset drop-down, but it also includes some niche products like Aerodrums and even the rival BFD-backed NFUZD kit.

5. Positional sensing-plus

A nifty feature for current Roland owners is the new positional sensing functionality that allows you to assign specific articulations to three ‘zones’ on the snare and ride, with the ability to control the crossovers between zones.

6. Drag and drop sample import

SD3 allows you to import your own one-shot samples by simple drag and drop of .wav files. Once you’ve placed the sample on the instrument, you can either replace the existing sound or add the new sample to the original. And you can blend that with other stock samples in complex stacks.

7. Drum replacement

The Tracker function is one of the easiest drum replacement apps I have seen. The program is designed to turn audio drum track recordings into MIDI to allow you to replace your recorded drums with different sounds. Don’t like the Pearl kit you originally used? No problem. Simply analyse the tracks and replace the kit with another from your SD collection. The automatic detection is amazing and it can be manually tweaked if it misinterprets some hits. Interestingly, you can even load MP3s and detect and replace drums for that. I’m sure people will be using this to create drumless tracks as well.

8. SDX library updates

While EZX packs can be used with the new SD3, the program is really geared to the more detailed SDX packs, which need to be updated so they can be loaded with new graphics and FX into the new engine. These packs scale new heights under SD3.

9. Mics, mics and more mics

Engineer George Massenburg employed cutting-edge mic technology in the recording sessions at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. The basic close, overhead and room mic images are contained in the core library, but if you grab another 46 GB of samples, you’ll get more room mic channels. Another 43 GB of surround channels can be downloaded for those wanting 5.1 recordings, with the next download (52 GB) adding height and width for 11-channel surround content. And if that’s not detailed enough, you can grab 54 GB of additional bleed.

10. Mixing to the max

The mixer window looks like the old SD mixers, but now features 35 insert effects. There are more route, bus, send, saturate, blend and mix options – probably too many for the average e-drummer, but certainly enough to create polished, professional tracks ready for any production requirement.

Those of us who had guessed that Toontrack was working on something while its rivals were rolling out updates (Addictive Drums 2, BFD3) understand why this reinvention took some time and are certainly not disappointed with the final product. SD3 not only lifts Superior Drummer to new heights, it raises the stakes for everyone in the VST market with wonderful samples, intricately recorded and presented in an immensely powerful program that allows experts to soar while even novices can make their way around some complex functionality relatively easily.

 You’ll need a decent computer, plenty of storage capacity and a high-speed Internet connection to get going. Oh, and $399 for new buyers, $299 for those upgrading from EX Drummer or $199 for upgrades from SD2. And set aside lots of time to get lost in this powerful solution!