Review: Hank Drum from Audio Imperia


Hank Drum is a sonic playground. Audio Imperia and Composer/ Sound Designer Bryan Leach have created a library that will fit in well for cinematic scoring, trailer work, underscores, sound effects & electronic music.

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Review: Hank Drum from Audio Imperia

With Hank Drum, Audio Imperia and Composer/ Sound Designer Bryan Leach take us on a brand new sonic journey with the second instrument in the Private Stock series of Audio Imperia signature libraries. As with my previous Audio Imperia reviews, I really liked what I found when I had a chance to really dig into the instrument.

Hank Drum sells for $69.00 from Audio Imperia




Your first question may be: “Just what in the world is a Hank Drum?” Most musicians are familiar with the legendary PANart Hang Drum. I myself was on the waiting list for years to make that fateful trip to Bern, Switzerland and pick mine out. Sadly, the PANart disbanded before that happened and the original Hang Drum now commands insane prices IF you can find someone willing to part with one. For the solution to that dilemma enter Dennis Havlena, an avid Hang Drum fan who decided to make his own drum out of a propane tank using a fairly similar design. “Hang + Tank” became the “Hank Drum” and it became a DIY phenomenon for many who couldn’t get an original Hang Drum. There are many designs and many variations, but the sound is quite unique and is as close to the Hang Drum as I have ever heard.

The “Hank Drum” and it became a DIY phenomenon for many who couldn’t get an original Hang Drum.

Photos from the sampling session courtesy of Bryan Leach.

Sound Designer Bryan Leach set out to create a library that not only plays like a real Hank Drum but offers a host of sonic possibilities and magical timbres that will sit well in everything from symphonic works to beds, trailers, scores, ethnic music and will also provide interesting compliments to electronic music. The 5 Hank Drum presets (Bottom, Brush, Hard Mutes, Open Hand and Percussion) provide an opportunity to play the instrument in its natural form. Having a number of Hang Drum libraries, I assumed that this would be similar in playability. In fact, the true potential of Hank Drum comes out in using the Sound Design presets (48 Prepared, 5 Filtered Synth, 22 Synth Pads). The dynamic sound sculpting blended with the FX panel provides a great palette to start coloring your sound with.

I found the interface to be clean and crisp – a hallmark of Audio Imperia’s libraries. The overall interface design is very straightforward with two layers that can be blended by rotating the large center dial. Each layer (A & B) contain a drop-down to access the 80 presets (5 Hank Drum Instrument and 75 Sound Designed).  Instrument presets expose 3 Mic controls to control D- Dry, LR – Large Room and MR – Medium Room.

They can be panned, volume adjusted or turned on and off with ease. You can adjust the sound to your liking on the natural instrument using one, two or three Mic positions. The only cost is a slight jump in memory, but I found it legible.

The Sound Design presets have a single control for volume adjustment and panning. All of the presets have independent controls for Pitch, Attack and sample Release directly under the Layer selection controls. I really liked the option to transpose the sample sets by octave or semitone. Instead of trying to fiddle with transposition in your DAW, you can control the samples in real-time. You can also adjust the velocity volume, reset your Mics or purge all of the samples loaded with a single click. Another really handy feature here is the Low CPU control. If you are looking for the authentic Hank Drum sound, try playing the instrument presets using this feature which limits the polyphony to a single voice per key.

I am not a big fan of using the FX provided in most libraries and like to use my regular arsenal of plugins to mix in the room. There are exceptions of course, like Hank Drum. Some Hybrid libraries just can’t be themselves without a great application of FX during the sound design process. After all, this is where the magic happens. Audio Imperia have included six classic FX here in the FX Rack tab: Filter/EQ, Distortion, Delay, Compression, Chorus and Convolution (reverb).

Each of the 75 Sound Design presets is using some combination of the effects in one or both of the layers (Global). If you aren’t quite happy with the overall sound, jump into the FX Rack, tweak the parameters of the effects and make the sound your own. You can also start with the basic Hank Drum Instrument samples and build your own presets.

One thing that I need to stress here is that the Sound Design presets are created using the original Hank Drum samples. As Brian May used to put on the back of the Queen albums, “No Synthesizers Were Used In The Making Of These Recordings!”

Same applies here and that allows for a great amount of creative control and freedom to explore!

I can certainly see Hank Drum filling a number of roles in sound design and musical performance.  Hank Drum will fit in well for cinematic scoring, trailer work, underscores, sound effects and also would sit nicely in the arsenal of electronic musicians looking for tonal variety and unique sound sculpting capabilities. Hank Drum is a sonic playground given the dual layer blending capability of the natural Hank Drum presets and the Sound Design presets. Combined with the FX provided you will find some “happy accidents” plus an endless combination of sounds ranging from the original “Hang” sound to organic music box chimes,  bells, shifting risers or electronic sounds like screeches and pads. The price-point is also very compelling at $69.00. If I had to critic the library for one thing, it is that I would have liked to see it inside of the new Audio Imperia engine and interface. This is not a detractor from the sound or the value, simply my personal preference having worked with their other libraries.

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.


Hank Drum contains over 1000 samples packaged into 75 Sound Design and 5 Instrument Kontakt presets. The library has three microphone positions (captured using Neumann KM184s and a SoundDelux U95.)The library installed is sized at 1.56 GB and requires a full Native Instruments Kontakt or higher license. Native Instruments Kontakt Player is not supported.

Hank Drum sells for $69.00 from Audio Imperia

Demos of Hank Drum

Videos of Hank Drum