Imagine waking up in the recording room of your dreams. Then imagine a control room that has a vintage API 2488 Console, complete with a 550A EQ on every strip, and vintage outboard that would make your head spin. Then imagine having the world's best microphones at your disposal...
This was my life. For over 15 years. Then I got the news. The studio was going to close. I was lost. How was I ever going to get those drum tones without this gear?
Then it hit me. I was going to make a personal drum library to compete with other popular libraries, but just for myself. My secret weapon if you will.
Let me be clear. When I started this journey, I was making a library for myself. I had no intention of selling it, or even sharing it. But soon enough, people started to hear it and ask to purchase a copy. I then flirted with the idea of the drums being used by others. This is where the journey began.
It took me 2 months of sampling a drum kit multiple times to come up with the philosophy and techniques used to make Galaxy drums. After that time I realized what it was I wanted. I wanted to sample the living shit out of the most played areas of the drum kit. Seriously. Most libraries only give you about 4-6 round robins in a particular velocity zone (some as little as 2!). I found that this can sound real enough, but it did not suit my needs. I found full bleed much more trouble than it was worth, albeit a great marketing ploy. I also found the cymbals to sound very unnatural.
I decided that if I was going to do make the drum library of my dreams, one that I would want to use, I would have to meet the following criteria.
- The studio had to be top notch!
- The drummer must be the best of the best. Every drum library is only as good as the drummer that hits the kit.
- The drums must be high end and my favorite drums to record
- There needed to be at least 3 AMAZING snares. (We did 4)
- The tuning of the drums must be perfect for the drum that is being sampled.
- There MUST BE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF HARD HITS. Sorry. I had to type in all caps. This drives me nuts. Every single mix I get from people that use drum libraries use the velocity of 127 to get that hard hit. Seriously drives me crazy!
- There must be no less than 21 round robins per velocity zone. This is very important. (We used 25 Round Robins)
- I must have the best possible playback engine on the market.
The first 7 were easy to meet. Very easy. Number 8 took quite a while. I tested out no less than 4 playback engines and spent a lot of money testing them out. None of them met my needs until by chance, I met Rail from Platinum Samples. He showed me his new plug in called Accent. At first I was a bit sceptical, that is, until I used it. I could not beleive how it brought the drums to life. I also could not believe that I could use 3rd party plugs INSIDE of it. Blew my mind. Rail is truly a genius. What an amazing plug in! So that is what I chose.
Kick In - Neumann Fet 47
Kick Out - Neumann Fet 47 (sub mic)
Snare Top - Shure SM56
Snare Bott - Shure SM56
Hats - Shure SM81/Sennheiser 441
Tom 1 - Audix D4/ Sennheiser MD421
Floor Tom - Audix D4/Audix D6
Ride - Sennheiser 441
Overheads - AKG 451’s
Rooms - Neumann U87
As you can see, we had some killer mics! All of the Neumann mics were made before 1990.
I tracked these drums like I track in real life. I commit to what I am doing, meaning that I track them as though they are already in a mix. I hate raw drums when it comes to mixing, and as this started out as a journey just for myself, and I had tracked drums no less than 200 times in that room (actually, probably more!), I knew exactly what I wanted and I committed it to Pro Tools.
To give a bit more flexibility, I multi mic’d the Toms and Hats. This way, you can choose what mic you want for any situation.
I smashed the rooms and they sound GLORIOUS! Big massive decay. If you want a snare that sounds like a cannon look no further!
I also tracked the overhead mics in the way that I always do! I don’t see the NOS stereo mic technique used very often for drum overheads, but it’s all I use. This really brings the snare to life. The overhead mics are really the shining jewel of this library. They really are the main source of kit.
The toms are big, and MASSIVE. Tons of attack and tons of body. Just listen to the audio samples here. I am sure you will agree!
Open hats were something that was of the utmost importance to me. Most libraries I have used really fail in this. I believe we have succeeded in raising the bar of the open hat syndrome (OHS) that most libraries suffer from.
Blue Wave Productions was an amazing studio. It was a medium size diffusion room. This means that you can get that huge room sound, but still get nice dry overhead mics. The perfect combination.
It was centered around a meticulously maintained vintage API 2488 console. The preamps were unbelievable and have that aggressive API sound. I used to sleep under that desk as an intern. It was like a brother to me. I knew that thing inside and out. We abused it during the tracking of this library. It really is a special piece of gear, and is also why our mixer might look a bit familiar:)
The real star of this show is the engine that runs it. Accent is a new plug in made by Platinum Samples. If you have ever used anything made by Platinum Samples, you know the quality you can expect.
Accent is like a strange morph of all the other drum engines out there with a secret weapon.
How many times have you wanted to use one of your favorite compressors or EQ’s inside your drum VI of choice? The answer for me was “Always”. This always killed my creative vibe. I had to stop what I was doing, then route out of the plug in, create new tracks, insert the plug ins, and then get back to work. This is what I like to call “Buzz Kill”
With Accent, this is no longer the case. You can use almost any VST or AU plug ins you own right inside on one of the 3 inserts! It also comes with built in efx such as EQ and compression that are used on the first the insert, for a total of 4 insert slots!
The plug in interface was designed to be aesthetically pleasing, easy to look at, and familiar. It looks a bit different from most other plugins, but it I am sure you will feel right at home. Accent is designed to function like most DAW’s mixers so you can basically get right to work! You can create AUX tracks for reverb or delay sends, or insert your favorite effect right away!
The stage view is also quite powerful. The built in search feature, as well as the included meta data really makes setting up a new kit a breeze. And as our content grows, you can be assured that searching for that one kit piece is as simple as a google search.
We have also included many different presets. These are made by the producers and engineers that helped us test this amazing library and that is where I recommend you start.
Enjoy using Galaxy. I hope you find it as indispensable as I do for my own production work. I have not been able to stop using it since I got it.
May the music move you!