IK Multimedia follow up their highly acclaimed MODO Bass with a percussive counterpart.
As an alternative to sampled instruments, physical modelling is increasingly proving itself to be a viable method of generating the sounds and performance nuances of real-world instruments, often with astonishing authenticity. Modartt's Pianoteq VST offers a growing collection of modelled pianos, harpsichords, electro-mechanical keyboards, harps, pipe organ and idiophones; Audio Modeling's SWAM system gives us solo strings, woodwinds and saxes, whilst Sample Modeling boast a collection of astonishingly realistic modelled brass instruments, and solo and ensemble strings. We have Hammond clones popping up everywhere, and of course there's IK Multimedia's own superlative MODO Bass. Almost everything, it seems, is up for the modelling treatment — with one notable exception. Apart from hardware units such as Roland's V-Drums (introduced in 1997) and Korg's Wavedrum (1994), modelled acoustic drums have been thin on the ground up until now. MODO Drum fills that void, bringing with it the ability to customise kit pieces in fine detail, even to the specifics of how they are played.
IK are keeping technical details of MODO Drum's modelling method close to their chest, referring to it simply as 'modal synthesis'. The size of the installation — 6GB — may offer a clue, being larger than expected for a modelled instrument. This suggests there is sample data involved, as opposed to purely mathematically based synthesis. Perhaps — and this is purely speculation — it's based on a system of partials that are continually recombined on the fly in response to the player's input. However, attempting to deconstruct the 'how' is akin to having a magic trick spoiled by knowing how it's done — what matters is if it works and sounds good.
MODO Drum currently offers 10 drumkits: Studio, Jazzy, Rock Custom, Djentleman, Black Oyster, Bubinga, Plexi, Grungy, Extreme and Reference. As I'm not intimately familiar with drum fittings and fixtures, I couldn't reliably say whether the graphics for each kit represent specific real-life models or marques. Nevertheless, IK have managed to create a selection of kits with distinctly different characteristics. They sound no less like real drums than you'd expect from a top-quality sample library; there's no suggestion of what I would think of as sounding 'synthesized'. As IK have done with MODO Bass, I suspect more kits will be added in future updates, but that is unconfirmed.
On firing up MODO Drum, it opens on the Model page (shown above) with the default Studio kit loaded. The GUI, incidentally, is freely resizeable, making it adaptable to different monitor sizes. Clicking on any of the kits in the top row loads the default set for each one. These vary from a simple Kick, snare, hi-hat, two toms and two cymbals layout (eg. Black Oyster) to full-on setups with two kicks, five toms and 10 cymbals (eg. Extreme and Reference). MODO Drum's MIDI note assignments follow (by and large) the General MIDI convention — the PDF manual provides a reference key map of all the articulations' locations, although having this map available from within the GUI would have been more expedient. Claps, tambourine and cowbell are also included for every kit; these are samples, and there appears to be only one type of each. Nevertheless, they all have round robins, and as they...