The Toontracks Custom & Vintage expansion pack for Superior Drummer 2.0 offers something new while at the same time delivering something old. New because there’s nowhere else that you’re going to find such a large collection of rare and vintage sampled drums in one package, and old because well, they’ve used old drums.
That’s not to say they sound like a load of old tubs with calf skins that somebody has discovered in an attic – far from it. What you get here is no less than five vintage drum kits including a Gretsch Round Badge, Noble & Cooley Star Series and a Slingerland Studio King, Plus 20 classic snares including Craviotto, Ludwig, Noble & Cooley and Slingerland. Cymbals and hi-hats are all either Zildjian or Paiste, including some classics like the K Dark crashes and K rides.
Recorded in London at 2Khz studios through an EMI TG desk, which had been used extensively at Abbey Road for some Beatles and Pink Floyd albums, Custom & Vintage was sampled by Chris Whitten who has toured with Paul McCartney, Dire Straits and The Pretenders. Engineering and production credits for the package go to Peter Henderson, who has not only had a long association with George Martin and Geoff Emerick at Air Studios as an engineer, but produced Supertramp’s Grammy award winning Breakfast in America album.
As long as you have Superior Drummer 2.0 installed, loading up Custom & Vintage is straightforward and occupies 12 GB of drive space. As there’s no ambience on the kits, they can sound extremely dry and dead at first if you’ve been working with the NY Studios or Music City packs, but that’s the point. Room acoustics play no part here, all the work has gone into making the drums sound as up close and as real as possible and attempting to capture all the complexities and nuances that a 70 year old drum possesses. The kicks were recorded with both felt and wooden beaters and there’s a significant difference in the thud factor between them. There’s a set of preset effects in the mixer section to further enhance the basic drum sounds, from EQ and filter to compressor and noise gate, but I’ve found that the natural sounds are so good, they’re not really necessary.
The list of snares in the Custom & Vintage pack reads like an inventory from a museum of percussion, if such a place existed. The Slingerland Radio King from the 1940s absolutely reeks of old jazz and big band recordings while the Ludwig Supraphonic, although not top of the range, has been used by Steve Gadd, was a favourite of John Bonham and is claimed to be one of the most recorded drums of all time. There are so many wonderful sounding drums here that one feels rather spoiled, and I can see them being used for jazz, blues and lo-fi Americana as well as for authentic rock and roll, rockabilly and all the offshoots.
Custom & Vintage is a meticulously recorded expansion pack, with a serious quantity of drum samples. It won’t appeal to people who want their drums big and shiny and with lots of processing but there are plenty of other sampled drum products to keep them happy. It’s rapidly becoming my favourite of all the SDX expansion packs and for anyone who wants to play the samples with an electronic drum kit, it will surely be a revelation to hear their artificial tom pad sounding like a 1960s Ludwig Keystone. The Toontracks Custom & Vintage SDX is exactly what it says on the box. Recommended.