Review: MAD RocknFunk by HandHeldSound

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When HandHeldSound set out to create a great sounding drum library, they succeeded on multiple fronts with MAD RocknFunk. This library features multiple drum sets that were deeply sampled and then mapped in such a way as to allow intricate drum patterns to be created with ease.

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Review: MAD RocknFunk by HandHeldSound

HandHeldSound is the production company started by composer Eitan Teomi. With over 20 years of experience in composing, music, production, and sound design, Teomi became an award-winning sample library developer. This experience is instantly noticeable in the quality of the instruments and in the mapping of the keys. This company shows what happens when an intimate knowledge of the needs of composers and musicians is the main driving force in the creation of a sample library.

MAD RocknFunk sells for $199 from HandHeldSound.
Existing owners of HandHeldSound MAD library can get FunknRock for $99.

Thoughts

Whenever I receive a new drum library, I usually expect the sample quality to be the main difference from other libraries and the playability to maintain an almost status quo with only slight variations in key mapping. This has been a little frustrating to me at times because the intricate hi-hat and snare patterns that I could do on a drum set were always out of reach. HandHeldSound broke this mold with great sounding samples and a new way to trigger hi-hats and snares. With MAD RocknFunk drums, the hi-hat engine was one of the first things I wanted to play with and was instantly amazed at the playability.

Within seconds, I was playing everything from a normal flam, to hybrid rudiments like the Chutra-Cheese. This hi-hat engine also features the ability to use the modwheel to control the opening-to-close of the hi-hits and beautifully blends the samples to make each degree of open-to-close sound authentic. They also mapped it in such a way that it makes it easy to do those complex rhythms in the midst of playing a beat without any awkwardness. After my thoroughly satisfying hi-hat test, I was anxious to give the snare drums a try and test the legato grace note function. Again, I was not disappointed.

MAD RocknFunk comes with 3 separate NKIs, each with it’s own unique sample set.

The MAD Blue was sampled from an exotic maple 5-piece drum kit. These samples were recorded in a scoring room with a focus on capturing lots of separation between drums and sonic detail. MAD Blue comes with 3 tom drums, a kick and matching snare as well as a selection of Avedis Zildjian cymbals and an “Unknown Jankie” cymbal.

The MAD Red is sampled from a custom funk drum set and has smaller than usual Toms and Kick drum. This kit was sampled for funk and rock music as it has a punchy, yet resonant sound.

HandHeldSound calls the MAD White kit their “6 Piece Beast”. This sample set contains a selection dark and heavy drums recorded in isolation booths for a really tight sound.

With this function, you can hold down a snare key and press another snare key to trigger the grace notes. This feature is also velocity sensitive which allows you to add a little bit of finesse to your grooves or to really dig into the snare during a fill. These features alone make this library a valuable tool to not just drummers, but to anyone wanting to add some drums with some feeling to them.

I did have one critique that is purely subjective on my end and while it’s by no means a deal breaker, it did take a little bit away from the overall pleasant experience I was having.. This critique has to do with the key mapping of the cymbals. The cymbal samples sound fantastic but are laid out a little awkward. The majority of them are laid out across the black keys and requires a leap to trigger them. This led to me forsaking some of the distant ones and just hitting the ones that were closest to me for the sake of convenience. I would’ve liked to have the cymbals grouped closer together, but I do understand the creative decision behind it.

This is also true of the choke key, which adds the ability to choke any cymbal and is a great tool to have for intros, breaks, and outros. This great feature is mapped way up the keyboard and ended up not being utilized as much as I would’ve liked because of the extreme accuracy needed to make that leap effectively during a groove. Again, these are not deal breakers because they can always be added later during editing. Aside from that, these 3 kits were a blast to play and they sound fantastic.

The engine for MAD RockNFunk really shines with the Groove panel and Mixer panel options. The Groove panel contains a nice selection of 700 Rock and Funk Core grooves. You can easily audition the patterns and each Core Groove has 5 alternate patterns and a range of fills that are included.

Also of note with the Grooves is the ability to drag and drop to your DAW as MIDI files from the Groove panel.

 

The Mixer panel gives you lots of controls to shape and alter your samples. You get all the mixing options you would expect, but also a set of microphone blending and bleed controls. This is a great feature to get even more realism out of the instrument. There is also controls to add or subtract “mic” bleed to the channels of the mixer. MAD engine really shines here allowing such precision as boosting or attenuating individual drums from channels, i.e. pulling back the Hi-Hats in the Overhead channel.

HandHeldSound put a lot of effort into creating authentic sounding drums with extended dynamic ranges. They used top of the line mics, custom cables, and well maintained instruments to achieve this. They also included a bevy of great sounding effects and mixing tools, like the microphone blending/bleed controls, to help create rich, album ready drums straight from the library. The blend/bleed controls are a nice touch and allows you to add or remove sound leakage to the different channels or raise individual levels in the overhead channel. For more information on this unique feature and many others, please refer to the developer’s website at http://www.handheldsound.com/instruments/mad/#*

I would personally recommend this drum library to any drummer or composer looking for great sounding rock or funk drum kits to add to their compositions.

Facts

MAD RockNFunk downloads as 20 GB containing 3 Drum kits comprised of 24,000 samples.
The sample set includes 20 Velocity layers and 4x RoundRobin with unique left and right hand performances captured.

The engine comes with a Mixing panel with extensive mic bleed control and a Grooves panel with access to over 700 MIDI drum patterns.

MAD RocknFunk sells for $199 from HandHeldSound.
Existing owners of HandHeldSound MAD library can get FunknRock for $99.

 

Demos of MAD RocknFunk by HandHeldSound

Videos of MAD RocknFunk by HandHeldSound