Rating: 4/5 Stars ****
No sooner do we get one EZX kit reviewed than along comes another, but Custom Shop is a little different as it features a range of rather exclusive hand-crafted drums and includes some very welcome brushed sounds for certain instruments.
Recorded by producer Joe Blaney and drummer Stephen Belans at Brooklyn Recording, Custom Shop covers a range of drums, with tom sizes from 10 to 18 inches. The Q Kit is built using copper shells in place of the usual wood — something the company seem keen to explore as they also build drums using steel and brass. A wooden Japanese Canopus kit delivers a bright, dense sound. There's also a Craviotto kit with solid walnut shells, plus a powerful Fibes maple-ply kit valued for its deep and resonant character. Fibes started building drums in 1966 and they were one of the early adopters of synthetic materials for their drum shells, though the kit sampled here is of more conventional wood construction.
Between these four kits, and with a choice of four extra snare drums and two more kicks, this EZX pack covers a wide range of characters without going back over familiar production kit ground. The extra snares comprise an MCD Cocobo 8x14‑inch, an Antonio 4.5x14‑inch maple shell, a GMS Vaughncraft timeless 6.5x15‑inch and a Fidock Stave Blackwood 5.5x14‑inch model.
The single‑kick kit setup is arranged with a single rack tom and two floor toms, so the range of tom sounds always has plenty of depth. The cymbal collection, from Ufip and Bosphorous, is impressive too, making a change from the usual fare. There are 12 cymbals and two sets of hi-hats from which to choose, plus the usual percussion instruments in the top right‑hand corner of the GUI. There are five cymbal positions around the kit plus the hi-hats. As usual there's a mixer section that allows you to balance the close, overhead and room mics as well as adding reverb plus a small selection of MIDI drum grooves that can be dragged directly into your DAW or assembled in their own player window.
As expected, the Q Kit has a distinctive sound and its metal shells add a subtle but musical resonance, projecting a punchy, confident sound. The other kits sound more conventional but still exude their own character, with the Fibes kit delivering a solid sound and the Craviotto a bright attack. Some of the kicks sound conventional, others are soft and jazzy and there's a good choice of snare drums, some with a definite ring to their character. Certainly there's a lot of variety to be had here, and those extra snares serve only to widen that variety, so Custom Shop is able to cover anything from jazz (where the inclusion of brush sounds is invaluable) to pop and rock without being pushed out of its comfort zone. However, if you work mainly in a specific genre, you may well find that some of the other EZX packs provide you with a more focused selection.