Review: LA Modern Percussion by Audio Ollie
A pristine set of fantastic and larger than life percussion samples with Alan Meyerson at the helm
A large variety of instruments with tons of patches for each one
A surprisingly small footprint, even when using all mic positions
Flams, fills, and improv patches add vitality and polish to your percussion section
Phrase end hits are innovative and breathe life into your percussion tracks
A brilliant set of pre-mixed templates
An excellent balance of flexibility and ease of use
Time-saving and great-sounding sound design-focused multis with blockbuster power right out of the box
Collaboration between Audio Ollie and Performance Samples equals a powerhouse of percussion programming perfection
The price point is higher, so will limit the number of users willing to take the plunge
Audio Ollie and Performance Samples team up with legendary score mixer Alan Meyerson to deliver a truly remarkable percussion powerhouse. LA Modern Percussion is simply the best percussion library I have yet experienced. If this is a sign of what might be in store for future collaborations between these two sample dynamos you can COUNT ME IN!
Jump to the Videos of LA Modern Percussion by Audio Ollie & Performance Samples with Alan Meyerson
Jump to the Demos of LA Modern Percussion by Audio Ollie & Performance Samples with Alan Meyerson
Review: LA Modern Percussion by Audio Ollie
LA Modern Percussion is exquisite. It is simply the best sounding and most innovative percussion library I have yet experienced. With the innovation of Audio Ollie and Performance Samples, and the legendary mixing and recording wizardry of Alan Meyerson, it is hard to imagine many ways in which this library could be better.
LA Modern Percussion sells for $499.00 from Audio Ollie
What do you get when you combine an iconic scoring mixer, two cutting-edge and innovative sample developers, four of the best percussionists in Los Angeles, and Warner Brothers Eastwood stage? Percussive bliss! “Impressed” and “blown away” would be completely understated expressions of how I feel about LA Modern Percussion. This Kontakt library is about as close as you can get to sitting beside Alan Meyerson in the control chair at Warner Brothers behind the 96-channel AMS Neve 88RS-SP mixing console.
There are always three things I look for when digging into a new Kontakt instrument: the sample set, the programming, and the interface. Many libraries succeed at one or two of these ingredients, but it is a special sample library that delivers on all three. LA Modern Percussion is just such a library. The sample set is pristine, the programming is innovative and on point, and the Kontakt interface is elegant, offering an enormous amount of flexibility while remaining easy to use.
The Sample Set
When speaking of the sample set, it would probably be sufficient to say “Alan Meyerson recorded and mixed this entire thing. Enough said!”. Well, I’m always one to take the scenic route, so allow me to explain to you why this set of samples is simply fantastic. Again, did I mention that ALAN MEYERSON RECORDED AND MIXED THESE!?!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are very familiar with Alan Meyerson’s work, though you might not immediately recognize his name. His list of score mixing credits reads like a lexicon of A list works. There is Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, Gladiator, Transformers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Interstellar to name just a few. If you ever want to be intimidated by a list of mixing credits, just have a look at Mr. Meyerson’s IMDb page. You could spend the day scrolling through the list of blockbuster scores his fingerprints are all over. Audio Ollie and Performance Samples worked with Alan to use the exact same set up he uses on his blockbuster projects, including 14 of Alan’s own vintage microphones. Alan Meyerson’s name is not just on the library – he recorded and mixed it like he would if he were mixing another epic film. So, suffice it to say, there is not a sample library out there that is going to have a better-recorded set of percussion samples than this one.
To start out, the samples were taken from over 100 different instruments, including both solo instruments and ensembles. These are exactly what you would expect within an epic percussion library: bass drums, taikos, toms, dumbeks, dhols, and more. Fourteen microphones were used to record LA Modern Percussion, so the large number of instruments can be tweaked and mixed in a plethora of ways. A stereo pair of dynamic mics, a stereo pair of condenser mics, a stereo pair of tube mics, a mono ribbon mic, and a subwoofer mic were used at each of four different stations within Warner Brothers Eastwood stage. The quality of the raw samples is undeniable, but the overall quantity is very impressive as well. This library has a very wide sound which makes it perfect for trailer work and epic scoring. Great sample set? CHECK!
This section is going to contain the bulk of the review, as scripting/programming is probably the most important element of this instrument, the secret sauce if you will. It would be a shame if the masterful work of a legend like Alan Meyerson was somehow compromised by less than stellar scripting and programming. Thankfully, that is not at all the case here. Audio Ollie and Performance Samples prove to be a dynamic duo when it comes to the work beneath the hood. These samples have been meticulously edited and programmed to maximize their power and usefulness. Within the many, many patches, the samples are initially presented as organic in nature, with a minimal amount of processing (basic EQ, etc.). This allows the user to tailor each patch either using some of the onboard processing within the Kontakt engine (more on that later), or via the use of external plugins. However, one of the most innovative parts of the scripting here is the use of Kontakt’s processing power to create 17 different processed mix styles that can be selected for any patch.
This includes close mixes, room mixes, and more that progressively increase in processed sound as you move through the presets (i.e. Close 2 is more processed than Close 1, etc.). This is so useful to users like me who are looking for shortcuts in the mixing process to move toward a finished track more quickly. I can’t even tell you how valuable this feature is. Alan Meyerson’s initial mixes plus the power of good Kontakt scripting and processing equals gold! I wish I could see which mix preset I have selected after the fact (possibly via a description immediately below the mix preset selector), but that is a very small complaint about what is an overwhelmingly fantastic feature. I really wish this was in every orchestral sample library I own, so am hoping other developers are paying attention. If you are someone who likes to have full control over each sound and are looking for deep and powerful sound-sculpting capabilities, you will also find that here. There are 9 different microphone positions available to choose from so that you can create your own mix for each patch. You can then save that mix among the mix presets and utilize it across other patches. This all amounts to an incredibly flexible instrument that allows you to interact with it in exactly the way you choose – for deep sound shaping, or for quick, polished mix presets.
Another thing I am especially impressed with is the incredible CPU efficiency within this library. I would normally expect a pro-grade instrument like this to be CPU-heavy and RAM-intensive. I have been not only pleasantly surprised, but honestly shocked at the efficient use of RAM here. Other sample library developers would do good to take notice of the yeoman’s work on display in LA Modern Percussion. The low CPU and RAM hits here are extraordinary.
There is a plethora of different patch types within LA Modern Percussion that serve to maximize the usefulness and flexibility of the library. The first among these patch types are the Dynamic Hits, with an average of 25 dynamics and zero round robins. The Dynamic Hits have three mapping styles, including single dynamics mapped across different keys, and two different velocity-sensitive mapping styles: two keys with all dynamics mapped to both keys, and two more keys that split the dynamics between each key in even or odd intervals (i.e. 1, 3, 5 or 2, 4, 6, etc.). The advantage of the single dynamic mapping style across many keys is that, unlike velocity sensitive keys or round robins, you will always know exactly what sample you are triggering when programming these into your sequencer. This is very handy when you want full control over your sound and want to take extra precaution to avoid triggering repeat samples. Another advantage here is the extremely low amount of CPU usage, as you are only loading a single sample per key. This becomes especially useful when you want to stack instruments to create an epic percussion ensemble within your template. While the two velocity-sensitive mapping styles are very similar in sound, the split dynamics on the top two keys ensure you will not trigger the same sample when alternating between playing keys, which is very useful.
The next style of patches you will find throughout the major ensembles are the Traditional Hits & Rolls. These include a tempo-synced drum roll on one key and velocity-sensitive hits on two other keys. There are 12 dynamics and up to 7 round robins within these patches. These are excellent for creating drum rolls followed by quick finishing hits.
The Fills patches are fun to play with and very useful. These are tempo-synced phrases spread across the keyboard that can be combined to make your own custom grooves. Each of the Fills patches have keyswitches as well to give you even more fill phrase options.
Next up are the Improv patches. The Improv patterns are like the Fills, but are not necessarily meant to be seamlessly combined in the same way as the Fills patches. True to the name, the Improv patches are improvisational grooves versus the more scripted patterns found in the Fills. However, whereas the Fills are brief one to two bar grooves, the Improv patterns are longer. These will add character to your percussion tracks but will likely require a little more work to make them fit in seamlessly.
There are a good number of both slow and fast Flam patches within LA Modern Percussion as well. While you can program your own flams using other percussion libraries, the performed flams here sound much more realistic than anything you could program yourself. This makes them more desirable and useful, not only saving you time, but also improving the realism of your percussion tracks. These flams are presented in multiple dynamics and use multiple round robins. I appreciate the fact that the developers included features like this, as it would be easy to have overlooked it or deemed it unnecessary. The reality is that these patches are not hard to create in a studio environment with performing percussionists, so why not just do it and save us virtual composers a ton of time and energy. I’m so glad they did! The edge and realism included here make these patches so much better than anything you could create on your own.
A genius and innovative inclusion within LA Modern Percussion is the creation of the Phrase-End patches. These patches consist of samples taken straight out of percussion performances instead of from performed hits alone. I was surprised at how much life this sampling method breathed into the library, as these patches tend to have much more energy in them than a typical recorded hit from a sampling session. Capturing percussion performances is very different from capturing hits during a sampling session. The developers have artfully lifted samples directly from actual performances to give us samples that feel full of life. There is something about these types of samples that seems to live and breathe differently than other samples I have heard. I’m assuming this is something originally brought to the table by Performance Samples, who have previously used this methodology in their own sample libraries (ala their Con Moto series). An added bonus is the inherent “whoosh” sound within these patches that can lend them well to sound design work. Pitch these sounds down a bit, and, voila! You have yourself a dark and dreary trailer hit!
Something else to add here is that the isolated nature of the individual drummers within each ensemble means you have lots of flexibility and can even create solo-like performances using the many microphone options within the interface. This extends the flexibility of each ensemble patch even more.
Let’s talk about the included Multi patches. Percussion sections often take up many tracks (and RAM!) within your template and can take a ton of time to create. I, for one, would much rather have this work completed for me before I ever sit down to compose. Thanks to Audio Ollie and Performance Samples, that is exactly what I now have within their Multi patches. There are a large number of Multis within LA Modern Percussion that can be used for many different scoring/composition scenarios. These Multis not only sound very big, but they are also super-polished. The developers have already promised to deliver more Multis covering even more sonic territory in the future, so I look forward to seeing what comes down the pike with these. The Multi patches are a one-stop percussion section all within a single track. FANTASTIC!
The Engine. The last third of any Kontakt instrument that serves to either make it or break it is the engine itself. Why go to all the trouble of creating world-class samples, and painstakingly spend hours scripting and programming them into a powerhouse sample library, if you plan on skimping on the engine itself? Thankfully, that is not at all the case with LA Modern Percussion. Audio Ollie and Performance Samples have gone above and beyond in the creation of this Kontakt interface. It is sleek, modern, easy to use, and delivers a powerful selection of sound-shaping options.
LA Modern Percussion is laid out in four easy to use tabs: Mixer, Modulation, Advanced, and Effects. The largest part of the Mixer tab contains a summation of the many microphone positions delivered within four mix bus options: Close, Mid, Room, and Ambient. A fifth (and the default) mix bus off to the right-hand side is the Stereo mix. While the bus faders are great for quick sound shaping, a simple click of the “Mics” button opens the entire selection of microphone positions, allowing the user to sculpt the sound even more to their liking. I can not overstate just how efficient this instrument is, as even activating all nine microphone selections still only used a staggeringly low amount of RAM! In 2019, that is simply astonishing! What’s even more surprising is that this small amount of RAM usage delivers a far better-quality sound than any other percussion library I have heard. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! The next control you will find within the Mixer tab is the “Align” button. This recreates one of Alan Meyerson’s characteristic mixing tricks, where Alan lines up the close mics with the room mics. Since the distance is different between close mics recording a drum and room mics recording the same drum, you can sometimes get a small flam effect. Aligning these mics creates a punchier sound and prevents this flam effect. Using the “Align” control, you can completely align the mics, keep them completely natural, or dial in something in between. This is a great and innovative feature I would not have expected to find. The “Reset” control simply resets all controls to their default position.
The Modulation tab provides AHDSR controls with the inclusion of controls for high pass and low pass filters, allowing you to control AHDSR by frequency. You can control the high pass and low pass filters globally across all AHDSR controls, or individually across each one. You will also find a “Note Interruption” button on the Modulation tab. This is an automated control that kills the decay of one note when the next note is triggered. This can considerably clean up your ensembles and sound, especially when layering.
The Advanced tab includes intuitive controls for things like velocity, pitch, fine-tuning, transposition, and responsiveness, but also includes unique controls like “Random Vel” – allowing you to control exactly what velocity layer is triggered – and “Looseness” – allowing you to control how tight/loose an ensemble is played. Think of the Looseness control as akin to a humanize function within your DAW; a great way to continue to add realism to your percussion tracks. The Velocity dial allows you to control the dynamics; neutral is natural, all the way down exaggerates the dynamics, and all the way up leads to no change in velocity. The response is like Velocity but only applies to MIDI information; all the way down only triggers the lowest velocities, while all the way up only triggers the highest velocities. This is useful when you want to tightly control dynamics, especially for lower velocity tracks.
Finally, the Effects tab includes controls for EQ, compression, and saturation. However, whereas other Kontakt instruments normally apply these effects globally, the Effects tab in LA Modern Percussion allows you to assign a separate set of effects for each mix bus. This is one of the coolest sound-sculpting aspects of this Kontakt interface. This is so, so useful, as you could, for instance, create a brighter mix for the close mics while making your room mics darker, etc. This can really bring the mix to life. The left-hand side of the Effects tab allows you to control the routing of the buses within Kontakt.
I honestly cannot rave enough about this instrument. This library is the most polished out of the box percussion library I have ever heard, but it also has given me the most sonic control of any other percussion instrument. Of all the percussion libraries I own, I have to say that LA Modern Percussion takes the cake, and it’s not even close. This library is simply fantastic! I don’t know of anything else out there that offers this much punch for both power sound sculptors and composers looking for a polished set of sounds right out of the box. In my opinion, LA Modern Percussion has the best sounding sample set, the most innovative programming, and the best Kontakt engine currently on the market. There is simply no other percussion library I know of out there that can touch this library. My percussion tracks will never sound the same again!
LA Modern Percussion is a collaboration between Audio Ollie, Performance Samples, and Alan Meyerson. It requires the full version of Kontakt 5.8+, is 25 GB, and was recorded using 14 microphones. There are over 100 patches available within the library with more promised by the developer at a later date. You can purchase LA Modern Percussion from the Audio Ollie website for $499 (the library was on introductory sale for $349 at time of review).
LA Modern Percussion sells for $499.00 from Audio Ollie
Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews LA Modern Percussion by Audio Ollie w/Performance Samples with Alan Meyerson
“Audio Ollie team up with legendary score mixer, Alan Meyerson, to deliver a truly remarkable percussion powerhouse, simply the best percussion library I have yet experienced. If this is a sign of what might be in store for future . . . COUNT ME IN!”