Review: Sinfonia Drums from Audio Imperia


Jump to the Demos of  Sinfonia Drums (Brooding & Intense Cinematic Drums)

Jump to the Videos of  Sinfonia Drums (Brooding & Intense Cinematic Drums)



Review: Sinfonia Drums from Audio Imperia

Audio Imperia introduces the first installment in their new “Sinfonia Series” with the release of Sinfonia Drums (Brooding & Intense Cinematic Drums). Here we have a fantastic collection of cinematic trailer percussion infused with a unique selection of traditional, sound-designed and processed percussion sounds, along with the first-rate engine and effects that have become a staple of the recent Audio Imperia libraries. I tend to think about Sinfonia Drums in terms of being the more timid brother of Audio Imperia’s also amazing Decimator Drums.

The library itself was created with more than just a slight tip of the hat to Johan Johannsson. One listen to his more recent work like Arrival or Sicario will help you understand much of the inspiration for Sinfonia Drums. Johannsson is a master at using percussion to help tell stories in his scores and Sinfonia Drums mirrors many of those capabilities as an inspired tool set.

There is a limited time intro price of $149 Audio Imperia is offering till August 1, 2017

SLR readers save an additional 10% OFF your entire Audio Imperia order.
Use this link and code “CUZUROCK” at checkout.

Sinfonia Drums normally sells for $199 from Audio Imperia


Embarking on the development of a new sample library can be an exciting process. It can be even more thrilling when your recording sessions are taking place at the Grand Victor (Historic RCA A) Studio in Nashville. Sinfonia Drums was developed in partnership with The Hawk In Paris (a Grammy-nominated musical trio), renowned Grammy-winning engineer Shane Wilson and a crack team of expert percussionists. When you add to that mix the exceptional sound design skills of Bryan Leach, you have an explosive collection of vibrant and extremely unique percussion timbres suitable for a wide range of musical pursuits.

One of the things that really grabbed my attention when I started to work with Sinfonia Drums was the sense of the “human element” that they allowed to remain in the recordings.

The recordings are not mechanized like so many sample libraries are; instead they have that feel in some places of a tiny bit of fallibility – the odd weak hit or a slight stray in a roll. That is not to say that this is a bad thing, in fact, quite to the contrary,  it adds character and some charm to the overall sound that provides that provides realism..

Sinfonia Drums was recorded using an interesting set of percussion elements including a selection of the usual suspects like various Kicks, Snares, Cymbals and Timpani. There are some more unique choices like the Cow Drum, Irish Drum, Concert Bass and Marching Drums and a selection of Rototoms that to my ears add some vibrancy to the library.

While I found the natural drum sound to be incredibly crisp and clear, for me the real standouts are the Processed and Designed drums. I personally have a real fondness for the Processed Rototoms in Sinfonia as their application musically is nearly boundless, but using a combination of the natural drums and the processed sounds in a layered manner can yield some really amazing sonic delightss.

One of the things that has been a real breath of fresh air in working with the recent libraries from Audio Imperia is the fact that they have standardized on an interface design with a great workflow. If you happen to own any of these recently released libraries like Decimator Drums or Artifact Fractal, the layout of the interface will be familiar. If not, it should be very intuitive to learn in fairly short order. The Main page is divided into essentially three sections with the top being Volume, Pan, Big Knob, Attack and Release.

The center section identifies the sample being played, a control for adjusting Pitch, a Low CPU control that allows you to take advantage of all of the microphone positions even on a less powerful computer and also contains controls for each of your 8 microphone positions. From left to right you have the Crushed, Kick, Overhead, Room Far, Room Mono 1 & 2, Room Near, Room Stereo, Sub, Bottom, and Top Mic controls.

The majority of the microphones are monophonic, however, the product page and at the Audio Imperia website and the user manual will provide you with complete detail on how each microphone position is recorded. The bottom section is devoted to LP (low pass), EQ and HP (high pass) controls to sculpt the sound for your desired need. Each section that you want to use to affect the sound needs to be turned on by clicking on it. This is all really straightforward. In order to further refine your sound you will want to move into the Effects page. I should note that all of the kits and loops in the library are tempo-sync’d to your DAW which is really useful and seems to remain pretty constant as I tested it at a variety of  BPMs  from extremely slow to up to about 150 bpm.

Processed Drums and Designed Drums are truly a standout in the library for me. While they retain the intended pedigree of the original samples, they give you an entirely distinct set of timbres to use in your compositions. Playing through these selections I found some really interesting possibilities using the Irish Drum and the Rototoms. The Rototoms themselves just feel like something that would not be out of place in any kind of music. I specifically thought of Bill Bruford’s use of Rototoms in some of his solo work and work with the 80’s King Crimson incarnation using the processed set. There is a great deal of flexibility of sound sculpting options throughout the library but this one jumped out at me personally.

Sinfonia Drums was recorded using an assortment of beaters and contains a good variety of not only hits but rolls and crescendos

Sinfonia Drums was recorded using an assortment of beaters and contains a good variety of not only hits but rolls and crescendos of varying length for a variety of the drums. Again, my standout favorites for both of these are the Rototoms and Cow Drums as well as Cymbals for the crescendos. Like other libraries from Audio Imperia so much of the sound sculpting capability is available to take an already great sounding sample and twist it up and make it your own.


A powerful Step Modulator offers you four Volume, four Pan, one HP and one LP modulator which are accessible via keyswitch and can be used in any combination that you would like.

I really like the panning effect and find the results to be to be quite cool and unique. You can define the Step Count, Frequency and Intensity as well.

When I wrote my review of Decimator Drums, I included a criticism that I would like to be able to latch the modulators, as using some combos are a bit difficult to play with two hands. Audio Imperia has told me that there is in fact work being done to address creating latch functionality that will allow you to lock these in place. This from my perspective will be a VERY welcome addition to all of the libraries that have the new Step Modulator. Like in the previous FX section, you can save your Step Modulator values as an .nka and then recall when you need it.

Changing the overall intensity of the FX applied to each of the individual samples, the Big Knob is in my opinion, the heart and soul of the sound sculpting capabilities for the AI libraries. You can mix and match your choice of Insert FX using the Big Knob with Compressor, Distortion, Lo-Fi, Rotator, Chorus, Flanger and Phaser by simply clicking the drop- down and then turning the chosen FX on by clicking the Power icon. These can also be key-switched.

The FX option selected will offer a different set of controls based on type to refine your sound and I must say that I continue to be impressed by the capabilities of the Big Knob FX shaping. I typically use premium plug-ins for effects and mix in-the-room. I know that sounds like a commercial which is included in all of my reviews, but all FX are not created equal.

I am not sure that you could achieve these particular results any other way.

The signal chain that you can create here is pretty wild. The sound is amazing and the choices in the palette are pretty unlimited when you start to dig into refining a sound. You can also save your favorite creations as a .nka file and load it at a later time or with a different patch. To me that’s a big plus that you can come back to your favorite effect settings without having to try to recall them from memory.

In addition to using the Big Knob to control Insert FX and dialing in their depth, you also have the ability to use those same seven Insert FX on the Inserts/Sends page. Here you can also add Reverb and Delay in the Sends. When it comes to reverb, that sentiment to use external plug-ins probably comes into play here – not to say that there is anything wrong with the included convolution reverbs, as they are quite adequate, but compared to the allure of using them with the Big Knob, I can replace these easily in my mix.

Having spent a fairly significant amount of time with Sinfonia Drums, this one feels somehow more transformational than any of the others from Audio Imperia.

Is it the fact that it was a unique partnership between so many talented people in the lair of one of America’s most famous recording studios? I don’t know the answer and it’s not really important. What is important to me is the marriage of high quality sound content with an interface that has really exceptional workflow and my ability to work quickly on deadline and produce unique top tier results.

I mentioned in my earlier comments that Sinfonia Drums does feel like the more timid brother of Decimator Drums. I don’t want that to imply that you can’t get some serious bang out of Sinfonia, but there are a lot more “normalized” percussion timbres, for lack of a better term..

If I may indulge the use of a comment from the end of my Decimator Drums review: “I am quite impressed with the sound quality of Sinfonia Drums and think that the sampling quality and combination with the Audio Imperia interface, including the near legendary (in my studio, anyway) Big Knob and the FX capabilities to shape the sound is amazing”. I still feel that way because it just works and it works well for my needs across multiple musical genres.

If you are looking for unique and interesting percussion timbres for your next trailer or scoring project, be it cinematic or video game, Sinfonia Drums will fit right in. Whether you are using straight percussion or the designed or processed drums to achieve different textures I highly recommend that you take time to check this one out. Obviously while tools like Sinfonia Drums are geared toward working composers, I would be remiss in pointing out that there is a vast amount of textural percussion that would add to a variety of other musical pursuits including ambient, electronic or as special-effects or accents in a variety of musical genres.

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.



Sinfonia Drums downloads and installs at 10.5 GB and requires a full Native Instruments Kontakt or higher license. Native Instruments Kontakt Player is not supported. All Processed Drums, Designed Drums and Atmospheres were created by Bryan Leach at Audio Imperia. The library contains 28 patches and over 16,000 samples which were recorded with up to 8 microphone positions. Complete detail on all of the drums and microphone positions can be found on the product page at Audio Imperia.

There is a limited time intro price of $149 Audio Imperia is offering till August 1, 2017

SLR readers save an additional 10% OFF your entire Audio Imperia order.
Use this link and code “CUZUROCK” at checkout.

Sinfonia Drums normally sells for $199 from Audio Imperia



Demos of Sinfonia Drums by Audio Imperia


Videos of Sinfonia Drums by Audio Imperia