Review: Drum Tree from Premier Sound Factory

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Given the number of virtual instruments I deal with on a weekly basis, it is hard for me to get truly excited about a new drum library, but Premier Sound Factory’s DrumTree has turned the skeptic in me into a believer. DrumTree’s refreshing and innovative approach delivers a wide pallet of top-notch percussion organized across ready-made kits spanning 26 different genres.

Jump to the Demos of  Drum Tree 

Jump to the Videos of  Drum Tree

SLR readers save $100 on Drum Tree
until June 30th, 2017 with discount code “vivadrumtree”.

 

Review: Drum Tree from Premier Sound Factory

Premier Sound Factory brings us a novel new entry in VI percussion library development. Dropping the beat with their first new major product called DrumTree, Premier has introduced a massive collection of drum kits organized not only by specific kit type but more importantly by genre spanning across 26 musical styles from the roots of historic jazz to the UK psychedelic rock movement and way beyond. There is something that will fall in place for every musician here when you shake this tree!

Drum Tree normally sells for $349.00 from Premier Sound Factory

 

Thoughts

Given the number of virtual instruments that I see on a regular basis, I can’t honestly say that I get all that excited when I hear about a new drum library being released. Such was the case when my friend Doug told me that I had to check out a brand-new product that he saw demoed at NAMM called DrumTree. As he is a gifted developer himself, I trusted his advice and indeed I was not disappointed when I had an opportunity to sit down and start working with this library.

The roots of DrumTree come from Premier Sound Factory founder and chief engineer Ichiro and his frustration with trying to work with and repair the poor quality of the drums tracks.

The roots of DrumTree come from Premier Sound Factory founder and chief engineer Ichiro and his frustration with trying to work with and repair the poor quality of the drums on tracks that were brought to him for mixing and mastering. Either because of poor quality source material, improper use of EQ or source material drenched in reverb, these all presented issues of their own. Ichiro had an idea for a better way to deliver top-quality drum sounds with a wide variety of kits and musical styles to answer this challenge. With the help of some crack drummers, Studio Dede in Tokyo along with its collection of drum kits and studio gear and his own unique engineering know-how, he embarked on the journey to create DrumTree as a way to deliver a great sounding “percussive greatest hits” regardless of your musical stylings.

You may find the library to be priced on the higher side.

Consider that this was created with a massive investment of time to create the library from a gigantic collection of era-specific drum kits and recording hardware, all sampled in high definition, played pro professional drummers and delivered as an engineered studio-ready kit that sits tightly in the mix, What you are getting here is something that is a new approach, quite unique  and truly ready to use without any tweaks if you so desire.The whole idea was to deliver ready to use a matched kit by genre that didn’t need to be engineered to sound great! I think they did just that..


I am always curious about the technology used in the recording sessions, particularly when it comes to the microphones. They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and I believe that the image of the collected microphones used in the sessions above satisfies that requirement well. The product website contains photos of all of the drum kits and individual drums that were used as part of the sessions for those who are curious.

It was not just about creating a professional sounding multi-genre offering, but to make use of not only the traditional recording technologies associated with each of the specific genres but also to utilize the current technological advances of the modern studio.

As I dug deeper into how this particular library was assembled, I learned that for Ichiro, it was not just about creating a professional sounding multi-genre offering based on the collective drum kits, but to do it in such a way as to make use of not only the traditional recording technologies associated with each of the specific genres but also to utilize the current technological advances that were at his disposal in the modern studio environment.

As a cautionary item, the last piece of background information that I would offer before I dive into the review proper is in regards to the main interface which you may find may looks “cute” or cartoonish. I would implore you not to be dismissive as this was a deliberate choice and provides a very effective means to navigate directly to the kit & genre combination that you want to utilize.


The main interface for DrumTree it is quite simple and straightforward. Each of the 26 genres is represented under one of three branches of the tree.: Greatest Hits which accounts for all of the rock, pop and soul kits, Historic Jazz which carries us from the early big band era through 60s free jazz and finally Contemporary Jazz which carries us through modern day contemporary jazz and hip-hop. There is also a category for User defined kits.

Each of the genres can be auditioned by simply clicking on the name and pressing the play button in the lower left-hand corner.

Each of the genres can be auditioned by simply clicking on the name and pressing the play button in the lower left-hand corner. Once you find a kit that appeals to you, you can move into the Preferences tab to continue tuning up your sound.


The overall sound shaping controls within DrumTree are somewhat limited. That again was a choice because the intention of the library was to produce professional sounding drums that were available without the need for extensive sonic manipulation and focused on production-ready sound. The three controls that you will find across the top of the Preferences are a Velocity control, timing, tempo and action controls for Roll Activation and a selector to determine whether your sustained petal will act upon roles or kicks. There is a very good set of documentation on more detailed implementation if you want to get really under the hood and play kick using the sustain pedal.

Being the skeptic that I am, I must say that I find the overall sound to be extremely high-quality.

Being the skeptic that I am, I must say that I find the overall sound to be extremely high-quality and the fact that all of the samples have been delivered in 96 kHz/24 bit adds to the realistic sound.

The lower section of the Preferences tab is the Key Map which serves as a comprehensive guide to the layout of all of the key switching required in order to play each of the selected kits. While I think it is a good idea to have this here as a reference, I don’t find the continued color theme to be the easiest on my eyes in particular. This certainly should not be considered a dealbreaker because it definitely beats having to go and pull up an online manual.


The final tab is the Mixer tab. This is where you can really provide greater control over your final drum mix coming out of the DrumTree library. Each of the kit components has its own mixing slot along with controls for Tune, Gate, LoCut, Pan and Volume. You can either choose to effect those controls here or if you are mixing “in the box” in your DAW you can do it there.

On the bottom of the interface the kit that is being utilized is identified along with the various components that are being used for each of the drum and cymbal components. You can click on each one of these in order to and choose a completely different component from a completely different kit and create your own. There is no limitation within the library to use the preassigned kit components. You can also dial in the ambience selecting from two different options. Given that the inclusion of the output from all of the ambient mics would have increased the library by over 30 GB, the choice was made to limit the overall ambience to 2 sources. I don’t find this to be particularly troubling as I tend to not use the vast majority of these samples in other drum libraries that I own and instead prefer to use my own reverb in the final mixing process.

In the final analysis, I find DrumTree to be a refreshing and innovative approach to delivering a wide pallet of percussion.

In the final analysis, I find DrumTree to be a refreshing and innovative approach to delivering a wide pallet of percussion capabilities to musicians and composers who require the best sound possible. Does that mean that if you don’t require top-notch sound that this library is not for you? Not necessarily.

There is a lot on offer here with the 26 different genres that you can dive right into and have ready-made kits for, modify them to your whim and even create your own kits using 185 different percussion elements. From a usage perspective, obviously this is offering a wide pallet of musical styles but because of the capability to customize at will, this really will suit the purposes of anyone who requires authentic drums in their music. DrumTree has turned the skeptic in me into a believer.  Thanks Doug!

As always, please check out the audio and video demos with the links provided below to make sure that this is the right tool for your unique needs.

 

Facts

DrumTree downloads and installs at 17 GB and requires either Kontakt Player or a full Native Instruments Kontakt 5.5.2 or higher license. NKS support is coming for owners of the Komplete S Series keyboards. It does require Microsoft Windows 7 or Mac OS version 10.9 or higher. DrumTree contains 8,000 96 kHz/24 bit samples with 54 Layers and 27 Velocities, 2 Round Robins (left stick/right stick with Max of 8 using a humanization function.

In total DrumTree is divided among 26 Genres with a total of 185 piece drum set including: Kicks & Toms (25 variations) from 8 kits
Snares (41 variations) from 13 snares, Hihats (27 variations) and Rides & Crash cymbals (67 variations) from 25 cymbals.

SLR readers can save $100 on Drum Tree until June 30th, 2017 by using the discount code “vivadrumtree”. Drum Tree sells for $349.00 from Premier Sound Factory

 

Demos of Drum Tree from Premier Sound Factory

 

Videos of Drum Tree from Premier Sound Factory