Toontrack‘s Brit-flavoured new expansion for EZdrummer 2 and Superior Drummer 3 – UK Pop EZX – puts one of the UK’s most in-demand drummers and his drums at your fingertips, recorded and mixed by one of the UK’s finest engineers, and is their biggest EZX yet.
Computer Music magazine’s “Dr Beat” – Ronan Macdonald – is your guide...
STEP 1: Let’s take a tour of UK Pop EZX, checking out the drums it adds to your EZdrummer 2 library and – equally importantly – the sublime grooves of session legend Ash Soan. Open the kit preset menu, mouse down to the UK Pop category and you’ll see seven fully designed kits, duplicated in a further menu without mix bus effects for multi-output use in a host DAW. Yes, UK Pop EZX is the first EZX to include mix bus processing. Nice.
STEP 2: Switch to the EZdrummer 2 Browser and find the entry for UK Pop’s library of MIDI grooves in the left-most column. Select it and the adjacent column populates with sets of folders to accompany the preset kits, containing multiple groove variations for the Verse, Chorus, Bridge, etc, of a song style particularly well suited – but by no means limited – to each. The tempo is listed in the song name. Click the play button on a Variation to audition it.
STEP 3: Set the project tempo to 136bpm in EZdrummer 2’s transport bar and load the Bow Street Runner preset kit. Drag the Bow Street Runner Verse Variation 01 groove into the Song Track twice, so that it plays for 16 bars; then drag the right-hand end of the second clip back one bar to shorten it. Fill the space you just made with Fills Variation 08, then follow that with Chorus Variation 02. We now have a basic verse/chorus pattern.
STEP 4: UK Pop includes four full drum kits, plus four extra snares and a plethora of cymbals. Head back to the Drums tab to reveal the current kit layout, and click the downward arrow button on a drum, cymbal, clap/stomp or percussion element to change it. You can combine drums and cymbals exclusively from UK Pop to piece together your ideal custom kit, or mix them up with any of your other EZXs. I rather like the pairing of 6×13” Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute Damped snare and 14×20” Gretsch Round Badge kick, both with their Pitch knobs raised to 2 – tight and funky.
STEP 5: Our song snippet groove is sounding pretty good so far, but the chorus needs a bit of a boost. This can be achieved using the standard drumming technique of moving the closed hi-hat over to the ride cymbal, and EZdrummer 2 makes that particularly easy to do with the Power Hand features, which enables placement of the ‘leading’ hand on any kit piece. Double-click the chorus clip to open the Edit Play Style window, drag the Power hand icon from the hi-hats to the ride cymbal, and select Bell Shank from the drop-down menu. Much more energetic, although with the mix as it is, the ride is somewhat overwhelming. Click over to the Mixer page…
STEP 6: Here, you can balance and pan UK Pop EZX’s various instrument, ambience and effects channels in order to get your kit sounding exactly how you want it. The reason the ride cymbal is so full-on in the context of my tweaked kit is that it’s set to 100% in the Wash processor – lowering this to about 25% dials is back nicely. The Bow Street Runner kit also includes a plate reverb for the snare channel, and raising the input to this a touch in the Plate Reverb panel gives the snare a dark, dubby vibe. Finally, I lower the level of the Kick channel slightly to sit it better in the mix, and raise the Mix Bus Drive control to 82% to ramp up the distortion.