Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 2 sample engine ships with 20GBs of drum samples, but products like The Progressive Foundry — a prog rock-leaning drum library — and its heavy-metal sibling Metal Foundry, offer SD2 owners the chance to expand their menu options and fill their hard drives even further.
An initial install comes as a download so that users can get started straight away, but the rest of the library is delivered on a USB stick, simply because there is so much of it! During setup, the user is given options to install the library in full (61.4GB) with all mics, bleeds and tools, at 38.38GB with all ambiences and overhead mics, but without specialist mics, or with a relatively small 13.75GB footprint, which still includes all close, overhead and primary mics, but only minimal bleed in the snare bottom mic. Clearly, even the basic installation is quite comprehensive so, to some extent the other, installs offer diminishing returns for their disk-space demands.
In total, the library (which was recorded at Sing Sing studios in Melbourne, Australia, by engineer/producer Forrester Savell) offers five complete drum kits formed from 17 snares, nine kicks, 31 cymbals and five hi-hats, and there are 26 separate mic channels per kit to play with.
Within SD2, The Progressive Foundry’s kits appear as options in a menu just like any other expansion pack or factory kit. This means that the user can customise their kits, adjust mic balances, insert effects and tweak things like layers, pitch, envelope shape and keyboard mappings using SD2’s extensive onboard tools.
Importantly, the five kits do not sound wildly different from one another. They do differ, of course, but the sound of the room and the probable use of the same recording gear and session musician has given them a certain consistency. Naturally, this helps when mixing and matching drum and percussion instruments.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the library, the quality is excellent. The velocity layering, for example, works seamlessly, so making a performance using piano keys or pads feels very natural.
Overall, The Progressive Foundry has a slightly softer sound than many rock kits. It definitely has a touch of 1970s production about it, which is a bit of a trend in drum libraries at the moment. Now that drums aren’t going hot to analogue tape, not having that ultra-hard edge is often a good thing. That said, the kits still have power and the ability to cut though, and there are plenty of drum options to choose from if a particular preset is not quite cutting it. (Kick and snares, for example, range from thick and fuzzy to tight and clean). Using EQ and processing is one way to shape the sounds, but just simply adjusting the mic balances has a massive effect.
In summary, this is a high-quality drum library/virtual instrument with flexibility within the bounds of the rock genre. Tom Flint