Toontrack SDX: Orchestral Percussion EDUCATION

120+ Instruments with 2 SDX configurations for Superior Drummer 3

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Captured in the same room, with the same scrutiny for detail and the same 11.1 microphone positioning philosophy as the Superior Drummer 3 core library, the Orchestral Percussion SDX is not just the perfect complement to the Superior line of sounds, it’s a revelation in terms of flexibility and playability within the Superior Drummer 3 framework.

Given the range and sheer volume of content, the Orchestral Percussion SDX comes configured as a factory bundle of two separate SDX libraries, both available directly upon installation from the drop-down menu in Superior Drummer 3. The first volume includes the more fundamental or leading instruments, such as timpanis, bass drums, taikos, snares and toms, while the second volume covers the triangles, woodblocks, wind chimes, shakers, bells and other instruments often used as effects or to embellish or accentuate arrangements.

All instruments were captured by two generations of the Ouderits family: Leo, Tim and Tom – all three of them skilled percussionists with a deep understanding for instrument selection, composition, performance and above all, love for the craft.

The Orchestral Percussion SDX was produced by Patrick Lemmens, a classically trained engineer/mixer/producer whose credits include countless motion picture scores, classical projects and orchestral arrangements – many of them immortalised within the four walls of the Galaxy main hall.

This is not just a sound library, it’s arguably the most all-encompassing and carefully captured collection of handpicked orchestral percussion instruments on the market.

Welcome to the Orchestral Percussion SDX for Superior Drummer 3.

Feature Spotlight

  • More than 120 individual instruments
  • Recorded at the same studio as the Superior Drummer 3 core sound library
  • A complete immersive experience
  • Playback in stereo up to 11-channel surround systems
  • Sampled with extreme attention to detail and articulation
  • Optional tools available for selected instruments
  • Includes a comprehensive collection of MIDI
  • Comes as a factory bundle including two SDX configurations

AUDIO PERFECTION IN UTTER SILENCE......

The Orchestral Percussion SDX was recorded in the same room as the Superior Drummer 3 core sound library, the main hall at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. With its 330-square-meter room measuring eight meters from floor to ceiling, it is the ideal location for capturing immersive audio of the utmost quality.

In addition, the entire studio complex is built on springs to ensure that the outside interference is literally nonexistent. In fact, with only 14 dBA of environmental noise, the main hall at Galaxy Studio is the most quiet recording space of this size in the world. This in itself is a pivotal factor in making the extreme velocity detail translate to its full capacity. Perfect acoustics, balanced reverberation and second-to-none recording technology – Superior Drummer 3 and the Orchestral Percussion SDX called for a superior studio, and got exactly that.

IMMENSE & IMMERSIVE

Just like the Superior Drummer 3 core sound library, the Orchestral Percussion SDX was captured with close and ambience microphones as well as eleven additional room microphones set up in a surround configuration.

Together, these two libraries present the market’s first drum and percussion sound sources recorded in immersive sound technology, in the same room and ready for use in anything from stereo to 5.1, 9.1 and all the way up to 11.1 systems. The combined power and application of these two libraries is near infinite.

For the Orchestral Percussion SDX sessions, each instrument was carefully placed in the room as if it were to be recorded in its natural position in a full orchestral session setup. The microphones were handpicked, and after careful consideration ultimately whittled down to the selection that performed the best on each instrument. Finally, each chain was run through the state-of-the-art pre-amps of the resident Neve 88D console at Galaxy. No audio processing was performed before or after the recording stage, making all samples completely transparent and ready for mix in any session.

 

Mains L
Neumann U 87 (cardioid)
Pan: front left

Mains L
Neumann U 87 (cardioid)
Pan: front right

 

Decca L
Neumann M150 tube
Pan: front left

Decca C
Neumann M150 tube
Pan: front center

Decca R
Neumann M150 tube
Pan: front right

  

Height Front L
Brüel & Kjær 4006 (silver near-field grid fitted)
Pan: height front left

Height Front R
Brüel & Kjær 4006 (silver near-field grid fitted)
Pan: height front right

 Height Rear L
Brüel & Kjær 4006 (silver near-field grid fitted)
Pan: height rear left

Height Rear R
Brüel & Kjær 4006 (silver near-field grid fitted)
Pan: height rear right

Rooms L
Mic: Sonodore RCM-402 B
Pan: rear left
 Rooms R
Mic: Sonodore RCM-402 B
Pan: rear right
 
Outriggers L
Mic: Sonodore RCM-402 B
Pan: front left
 
Outriggers R
Sonodore RCM-402 B
Pan: front right
 
 

The Orchestral Percussion SDX was produced by Patrick Lemmens, a classically trained engineer/mixer/producer whose credits include countless motion picture scores, classical projects and orchestral arrangements – many of them immortalised within the four walls of the Galaxy main hall.

Tell us a little about your background and how your interest in music began.

I am a classically trained french horn player. At the age of nine, I started playing in the local wind band of my village, which was performing on a remarkable level – that way I was “forced” to become a good musician, too, being their principal horn player. I studied at the two biggest Academies of Music of Eastern Belgium for about ten years and got diplomas in french horn, solfeggio and chamber music. I also got basic education in playing snare drum and double bass. Still today I am performing with my own brass quartet, which the four of us founded as students 25 years ago…

How come you ended up behind the console and what drew you towards engineering/mixing?


Towards the end of my school career, when I had to decide what to do with my further life, I wanted to continue making music professionally, but not as a musician or teacher (since there weren’t a lot of job opportunities in Belgium at that time). A good friend of mine then told me about the Sound Engineering degree in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was or a five-year Tonmeister education which didn’t exist in Belgium at that time. I managed to get a place in the program and eventually became one of Germany’s youngest Tonmeisters. After finishing my studies, I wanted to return to my home country to work there, and got a job at Galaxy Studios. Here I worked my way up during more than 17 years, from assistant engineer to Chief Scoring Engineer and now Head of Music Department.

You’ve come to specialize in engineering and mixing of classical music and scores. Have you always been into this type of music?

Due to my background as an orchestra musician, I’ve always been into acoustic and orchestral music. Our wind band often played arrangements of symphonic music, amongst which a lot of film music as well. This way I already got a lot of experience during my teen years, realizing how an orchestra or acoustic music in general should sound. And I also understood the emotional impact of 60 people making music together, which is invaluable.

What is the most common challenge mixing a full orchestra? Do you have any general tips, tricks or workarounds to share?

That’s hard to describe in one or two sentences… It always depends on the purpose of the recording. If it is for a classical record, you want to reproduce the original sound as naturally as possible, which is quite difficult considering the size and depth of an orchestra – and the huge dynamic range between a very soft flute solo and a massive tutti-fortissimo. In stereo, all these parameters have to be squeezed into just two channels, so a realistic sound is quite hard to realise. 5.1 surround makes that a little easier. With 3D, it’s a revelation in making stuff sound realistic, just as if you were there in the room… If you record and mix music for a film, there are different rules to apply; you don’t really want the orchestra to sound very realistic, but you want to create certain emotions supporting the action on the screen. Sometimes you need to make a solo instrument sound unnaturally loud, and precise localisation is not necessary. In fact, the orchestra should not even be recognised as such, but the music has to be an integral part of the movie, steering the audience’s emotions the way the film director intended it.

You often work in surround and many times up to 3D. Once used to working with this type of immersive landscapes of sound, do you sometimes feel restrained working in stereo?

Clearly yes! 5.1 and especially 3D give both your creativity and your striving for naturalness so many more possibilities that returning to stereo is like having lived in a villa and having to move back into a student’s apartment… Your freedom in placing sounds and immersing the listener in the world of music is exponentially bigger in those multichannel formats, and certain things are just not possible in stereo, where only two speakers have to reproduce the complete musical and sonic information. This does not only apply to the technical aspects of the music, but also to the content itself, since 5.1 and 3D offer huge creative opportunities for composers and producers as well.

In some compositions, percussion is the driving force and has a dominant role – right centre of attention. In other compositions, it may have a secondary role and be use very subtly for transitions and builds. Still, it plays a tremendous role. What is your relationship to percussion in general and its importance in a composition? 

Percussion is tremendously important in orchestral compositions, especially the right use of it. Action scenes in a movie are unthinkable without timpani, toms, snares and/or taikos. And the subtle use of cymbal rolls in love scenes can make the little but important difference. On the other hand, if you use it incorrectly, too much or at the wrong moments, it can disturb the global atmosphere of a piece of music, whether in a film or on a record. But a well-used percussion definitely is the cherry on the cake of any orchestral recording.

For the presets you engineered for the Orchestral Percussion SDX, you chose to mix them in three different positions. What was the thought process behind this?

The idea was to make the software easy and ready to use for many different purposes. Since it is a product that exclusively provides orchestral percussion sounds, it is almost certain that the user will combine it with other (orchestral) material, either samples or real recordings. These other sounds have a certain amount of reverb or a given perceived distance of the listener to the sound source, and by mixing the presets of the Orchestral Percussion SDX into three different listening positions (call it close, mid and far), I wanted to show the huge possibilities and the big flexibility of this sample library (every single instrument has been sampled using 13 main mics), including far away room mics, height microphones, Decca Tree, a closer pair of main microphones and outriggers for a bigger width, and on the other hand enough close mics to get a very dry, intimate sound, it makes sense to provide presets of both extreme close sound and super distant sound, and a medium distance which might be the ideal compromise to match the Toontrack Orchestral Percussion samples with the other elements of the mix – be it strings, woodwinds, brass or any other kind of sampled or recorded instruments.

Listening back to the finished product, what are your thoughts?

Just one: Wow, what a sound!

MEET THE FAMILY.

All instruments were captured by two generations of the Ouderits family: Leo, Tim and Tom – all three of them skilled percussionists with a deep understanding for instrument selection, composition, performance and above all, love for the craft.

 

In your family, father and two sons are passionately into percussion. Leo, we guess it all started with you? Where did your musical interest come from and how did it translate into percussion?
Leo: My grandfather was an accordion player and a few of my uncles were snare drum players in the local drum corps. Before I turned two, I was already vocalizing and beatboxing the rhythms of the songs. My very first drum kit was made of a wooden chair with pots and pans, but at the age of six I could finally join a drum corps. At the age of 12, I started performing as a drummer with local bands in cafes and later on I did mostly gigs as a drummer with a pop band and doing many recording sessions. When I went to the Antwerp Conservatory, the whole world of percussion opened up and I started playing the other percussion instruments like timpani, vibraphone, xylophone…

Tim and Tom, when and how did your musical interest start?
Tim: It also started very early, around the age of 5. I played the instruments which were available in our study room at home (vibraphone, drums, orchestral snare drum and piano). Later on I worked with a few synthesizers, keyboard modules and MIDI sequencers (not yet general MIDI)
Tom: My musical interest started with exploring my father’s extensive record collection. We used to have this Fisher Price vinyl record player, so it was easy enough for me to start listening to records at a very young age. It was a varied collection – from Mahler to the Police and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Because of the many instruments in our house, I already picked up the drumsticks and mallets when I was about two years old. My dad used to host a show on the local radio in Mol and he brought me to recording sessions at the the Galaxy Studios in its early days somewhere in the ‘80s. From the comfy couch there I could look at and listen to the magic happening over there.

Do you play any other instruments or has always been “just” percussion?
Leo: I also play the piano. At  a young age I also studied clarinet, saxophone and flute.
Tim: I started my career as a pupil in music school taking piano and solfège lessons. Recently I started playing the bass guitar, which I enjoy very much.
Tom: Piano, electric guitar… but drop D only

For the Orchestral Percussion SDX library that you recorded with us, what was your aim with the instrument selection?
Leo: The most important thing was selecting great sounding instruments of the best possible quality. The combination of instruments and sticks produces a beautiful orchestral sound which can be used in any genre of music.
Tim: I picked the instruments from the perspective of experience of playing with symphony orchestras.
Tom: My dad, Tim & I did quite a lot of scoring sessions for soundtracks and pop music, so I made these choices by remembering which instruments were both great sounding and versatile for many genres.

There are literally hundreds of instruments that are considered orchestral percussion. If you could pick only one, which one is your favorite, both in terms of its sound and to play in general?
Leo: Snare drum
Tim: Snare drum
Tom: Snare drum

(It’s obvious we are family)…

For each preset included with the Orchestral Percussion SDX, there are three variations of mixes all based on the listener’s perceived distance to the percussion section: ‘Close Position’‘Conductor’s Position’ and ‘Audience Position.’ In addition, there are presets engineered specifically for use with optional tools. 

Close position.

Very close and intimate. The intent is to make you feel like you’re right there – on stage or in the hall.

 

Conductor’s position.

This is intended as the general, “go-to” mix option that would likely be the default choice for most engineers mixing an orchestral piece. It offers a natural amount of room and was engineered to how the conductor would perceive the distance to the percussion section in a full orchestra.

 

Audience position.

Lots of ambience and range, perceived as if you were listening to the percussion from an audience perspective.

STEREO, SURROUND & HEIGHT

All three main preset options are also engineered and optimized for use in three levels, from traditional stereo to surround (5.1) and all the way up to an immersive ‘Height Surround’ (3D) option.

Note that the wide range of additional ambience channels that the Orchestral Percussion SDX offers can be used in many creative ways, although you may be mixing or composing on a traditional stereo setup.

 
   
 
 

Please click on the link below to view the download and install guide for this product.

http://help.timespace.com/home/toontrack-install-guides

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