I have seen the percussion emulators from the clicking of my Aunt’s Thomas Organ in the 70’s to the modern marvel of the Casio keyboard in the 80’s. When the PC became a household staple the technology behind percussion and drum emulators boomed. The problem with most of them is they don’t offer much more than the Thomas organs of the 70’s. These applications just offer the same options in a digital format.
There is one player in this market that has changed this stagnate approach to programming drums. Toontrack has brought all musicians one step forward with the release of their product EZ Drummer 2.
EZ Drummer 2 as the name suggests is an intuitive product that will not confuse or intimidate the novice. Still, it has the power and flexibility to satisfy the professional musician or songwriter. Making this application more attractive is the user need not have a souped up workstation to run the software. EZ Drummer 2’s modest requirements require 4 GB of free hard disk space, Windows 7 or newer, Pentium 4 or Athlon processor with 2 GB RAM. You iOS fanboys will only need Mac OS X 10.6 or higher, Intel-based Mac with 2 GB RAM.
EZ Drummer 2 offers the user two setups and multiple drum kits to choose. The modern set up features drums from DW, Gretsch, Yamaha, Ludwig, Sonor, Tama and Brady. The vintage library is based around two classic Ludwig kits. There is also an array of percussion samples to choose from ranging from shakers to finger-snaps.
Where EZ Drummer 2 shines is it allows you to build structure. Musicians and songwriters can build tracks with intelligent form. Drum intros can be applied as can breaks for verses, chorus or bridges. The user can switch up time signatures within the same track or change tempo for breakdowns. Beyond being a phenomenal songwriting tool, EZ Drummer 2 is a fantastic practice tool for all musicians.
I showed the product to a close friend who’s most recent gig was at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. He described EZ Drummer 2 as a metronome on steroids. As a pianist, he likes the ability to build a loop in 7/8 to practice his chops and runs over. The software also allows the musician to get more familiar with a particular style or feel of music. I found myself vamping over Latin grooves which to date I feel is the area of my playing that needs the most help. Once I got the feel for the grooves I found myself mixing beats and building song structure to play over.
You drummers can benefit the most from EZ Drummer 2. You metal guys that need to work on grinds and blast beats can quickly build a loop and challenge yourselves as you increase the tempo. If you want to roll more Jazz, Country or Funk into your repertoire, there are also great examples of those styles. Anything from Indie Folk to Black Metal can be added to your EZ Drummer 2 library via expansion pack.
In my application, I have been mainly using EZ Drummer 2 in my songwriting. Once building the song structure, I can easily export my creation as an audio file and quickly add it to Audacity. After tracking my guitar and bass, my compositions are ready for the rest of my band to work on their parts. What blows me away is how realistic and natural the drums sound. While our drummer was on vacation, we played the drum parts through our PA. It was as if our drummer was in the room playing the songs right along with us.
Anyone with any interest in music can benefit from EZ Drummer 2. Educators, beginning musician and working professionals will all benefit from this flexible application.