Zero-G's Carnival Drums provides both loops and individual hits and, as the sub-title suggests, aims to give a flavour of Brazilian percussion that's typical of the streets of Rio. In each format, about 1400 loops (1.4GB of sample material) are provided, and though this sounds like a lot, there's an element of duplication. Many of the performances have been recorded using multiple mic positions (close, overhead and room) and each of these is provided, along with a 'full mix' version that combines these different mic positions. The loops are complemented by over 600 individual drum hits taken from the same sessions. Usefully, the individual hits are organised into multi-layered instruments for NNXT, Kontakt 2, EXS24 and Halion (I auditioned the last) and can be used to create your own patterns or add variations to those provided by the loops.
The loops are organised into two groups: full ensemble construction kits and individual parts. The ensembles feature 10 percussionists (Samba Baterias) and are dominated by 24 different performances, each presented as a full mix and the individual mic performances. The full mixes sounded excellent — brimming with power and offering excellent ambience — but the different mic positions provide useful flexibility if you need more control over the degree of 'room' in the sound. Samba is the name of the game, but there's a range of flavours, including rock, reggae and maxixe (Brazilian tango), as well as various tempos. A sub-folder of 'Ready To Go Mixed Loops' provides additional rhythmic variations, though they're not provided in multiple mic positions.
The Individual Parts group is organised into eight sub-folders, based on drum type: Agogo, Caixa (a type of snare), Pandeiro, Repinque (a metal drum), Surdo de Corte, Surdo de Primiera e Segunda (the two lowest pitched bass drums), Tamborim and Timbal. In each case, a number of loops is provided and (as well as the multi-mic options) these are duplicated in '2 drummer' and '10 drummer' formats, allowing the user to select between a more intimate, smaller sound and a more dramatic, larger one.
While there might be fewer performance variations than the headline '1400 loops' might at first suggest, this is compensated for by the excellent quality. The full ensemble performances sound very authentic, and have obviously been well-recorded and well-played. For media composers needing a dash of genuine Brazilian carnival atmosphere, this collection would be well worth having to hand. Carnival Drums provides an excellent slice of Rio percussion and will have you dancing around your studio — now, where did I put that whistle? John Walden
A name like 'Drums Overkill' sets high expectations, but when it comes to living up to that name this library doesn't disappoint: at over 5GB, and with more than 1200 different drum kits on offer, covering analogue and digital drum machines from the '70s, '80s and '90s, as well as acoustic drum kits, there's something here for everyone. It is unarguably — and I mean this in the nicest possible way — 'overkill'.
Using the bundled Kontakt 2 player (the library comes in several formats including EXS24 and Halion, and it can, of course, be loaded into the full version of Kontakt), the 27,000 samples are organised in a pretty intuitive way.
The myriad kits are logically grouped into sub-folders categorised by genre, with self explanatory names such as '80s Pop Dance Hits', 'Drum & Bass Kits', 'RNB-Rap Kits', 'RNB Pop Kits', 'Real Drumkits' and so on — most urban, dance and rock bases are covered.
The various kicks, hi-hats and cymbals are also organised into instrument-specific banks. There's more than drums, though: there are various percussion banks too, with instruments ranging from Agogo to Darbuka to Udu, via the more conventional fodder such as shakers and tambourines.
But the best thing about this library is the range of digital and analogue drum machines. The chances are that if there's a machine out there you'll find it sampled here — there are 20 Roland machines alone, not even counting the Boss-branded models! Huge velocity layers are not available, but the sounds are all well recorded and the patches easy to find.
The acoustic kits feel a little more limited. They're not as expressive as the kits you get in, say, BFD, though the sounds themselves are perfectly useable and should be well up to the job for programmed pop and urban styles.
To make the most of this library you really need to use Kontakt 2 or the bundled Player, which comes with useful effects and processing options, including compression, distortion, saturation, bit-crushing, delay and reverb — so there's plenty of scope for sound-mangling. The graphical 'skins' for each Kontakt instrument weren't to my taste, but they're clearly laid out and should appeal to someone!
My only real criticism is that it is sometimes difficult to audition some of the full kits, as they aren't mapped to the GM standard — which means that if you've been programming with one instrument and want to try the pattern on a Drums Overkill kit, you'll find that you need to do a bit of remapping.
However, this is not a major gripe, and if you've time to explore Drums Overkill in depth, you'll find a drum and percussion palette that could keep you making original beats for years. You might balk at the asking price, but it isn't bad value given the breadth of what's on offer. It should be a welcome addition to your sample library. Matt Houghton