PCRECORDING.COM - - Drag and Drop Drummer Review
Drag and Drop Drummer
I have been a singer/songwriter/composer for thirty plus years. I play a number of instruments but have never been a drummer. As much as I try to tap the table with intricate fills to music I am listening to or to dance with my wife like I have rhythm, I am still not a drummer. The advent of drum machines decades ago was a life saver for me because I usually work solo. The evolution of the DAW is a miracle for musicians like me - - especially when it comes to percussion.
I first encountered the Drag and Drop Drummer (DDD) during a recent review of Cakewalk Pro Audio V.9 when it was included as a trial version. The trial version was a fully functional program but was limited in the number of drum samples it provided with Cakewalk. Intrigued, I installed it and took a listen. Initially, I was floored by the sonic quality of the samples I heard. I quickly emailed DDD and arranged to review it on this site. Eventually, I interviewed Frank Basile as well because I was so impressed with this product.
I received a full version CD of DDD in the mail. My system is a Pentium II 300, 64 meg RAM, 20 gig HD, running under Win 98. Per instructions, I uninstalled the trial version of DDD using the uninstall program that comes with Windows. Installation was a snap with no delays or errors.
What DDD is
I will quote directly from the DDD website.
"Drag and Drop Drummer is a program that allows you to easily locate, audition, and drag audio and Midi files from a Drag and Drop Drummer CD into other music programs. Drag and Drop Drummer is not meant to replace any of your music programs you use now, but rather compliment them by using both programs right along side of each other."
DDD comes with a library of digital audio drum samples and matching MIDI equivalents. DDD stores all of its samples on the included CD. The digital audio samples were recorded by a professional drummer in a professional studio and are saved on the CD in the .wav format. The audio samples are organized into beats (one measure drum tracks), fills (one measure fills/bridges) and individual drum sounds (kick, snare, hihat, etc.). Each audio Loop is provided at 6 different Tempos, in 5 beats per minute increments. This gives you the flexibility of choosing different tempos for your project. DDD then matches these audio samples by providing a MIDI equivalent. However, the Midi files will automatically conform to any tempo you have set in your sequencing program.
DDD works within a software recording program to, in essence, copy and paste, these samples from the CD right into the recording track. The user can then use a wave editor/MIDI editor to edit the track.
How to use DDD
To use DDD, boot-up your recording software such as Cakewalk Pro, Cool Edit Pro or even DDClip. Then boot up DDD and make sure the CD is in the CD drive. A small control window appears on top of your recording software. DDD will automatically load loop data from the CD.
You can choose audio or MIDI samples with the audio/midi toggle switch. Choose a tempo. Then click on the loops button and choose whether you want "beats", "fills" or "miscellaneous" samples. Highlight the sample of choice and DDD loads it into its buffer. Click and hold your mouse button on the upper right wave image, (where it says "Drag from here"), drag the mouse cursor to the track of choice and release. DDD will put the selected sample right where you want it to in the track. The track/loop is now ready for playback. Keep in mind that if you use the MIDI samples you will have to have enabled a MIDI playback device in your computer.
If you wish to insert some drum fills, you simply repeat the above technique but use the fills menu and insert the file where you want to. Similarly, you can build a fill of your own or highlight a part of your track with individual drum sounds. Do this by selecting from the sounds menu and repeating the above. After having dropped the drum sample into your track, you can copy it, loop it, or use it any way your software will allow. It is very simple to lay down an initial groove with the beat of your choice with DDD - - simply string enough copies together for the length of your song with your recording software editor. Then, editing the groove/track is a snap because you can go back, cut out the beat track, and put in a fill track or any other drum sound you like later.
Be sure when you are using the audio files that you match the tempo of your song with the tempo of the sample. DDD provides various tempos for each sample but once you drop it into a track you cannot easily change the tempo of the sample itself.
You can edit the .wav files DDD deposits into the track just like any other. Looping, copying, adding effects are accomplished via the software you are using. The potential is only limited by your software and your imagination. As you know, your sound is only as good as your initial recording. These samples provide a rich start for any user. For MIDI purposes, you must use a MIDI editor and can change the parameters of the MIDI sample at will once it is dropped into your track.
How DDD sounds
One of the frustrations I have had in using software based drum programs is the quality of the sound. There is little disagreement that basic MIDI drum sounds are quite weak. Any program that utilizes them solely is limited to the sonic quality the MIDI sound can generate. DDD uses actual .wav files recorded professionally. Not surprisingly, they sound terrific. It is clear that great effort was made to get very high quality, realistic drum sound samples for DDD. I have used these samples to test drum playback quality on soundcards I have reviewed on my site.
DDD worked with Cakewalk, Cool Edit Pro, Sonic Foundry's Acid and SoundForge and DDClip. Further testing is ongoing and I will post results here when I get them.
DDD is a great resource for high-quality, great sounding audio and MIDI drum samples. It is very easy to use. I mean, we all know how to cut and paste right? If you need an easy to use program with great drum sounds, Drag and Drop Drummer is the one.