Truthfully, I’ve been a little reluctant to post this review. Sample libraries (especially those as well produced as the subject of today’s review) give producers and engineers an opportunity to construct realistic drum tracks from the comfort of their home computer without hiring a live drummer. I think that kind of sucks.
However, beautifully recorded drum sample libraries also give recording drummers a chance to punch up their tracks by replacing their own sounds with something possibly cleaner and clearer. I actually think this is a really nice tool for young drummers who are recording with gear or studio equipment they don’t care for.
I’m sure there are plenty of drummers who might want to call that “cheating” or whatever (even worse: “real drummers kno how 2 get good sound, bro”). I disagree. The music is still being played by the performer, but that performer can later improve the sound quality (or just change it if preferred) in post. I can appreciate that.
So, with all that, let’s dive into the actual review.
Orbinator/Edgemont Drum Sample Library
Travis Orbin is a journeyman drummer who has worked mostly within the realm of heavy music. After touring and recording stints with artists like Periphery (seems to be the quintessential drummer’s gig right now), I Am King, Darkest Hour (one of my old favorites!) and many others, Orbin has established himself as an extremely capable professional with a very unique approach to the instrument. He’s put in a ton of work, and it appears to have paid off as the guy is always working.
Now, Orbin is making his signature sound available to engineers and producers who may not be able to swing his regular session rates in the form of a robust sample library. Produced with friend and collaborator, Adam Edgemont, the Orbinator/Edgemont library is a well-produced, dynamic package that could really help a number of home studios and young musicians.
Featuring Orbin’s Pearl Masterworks kit, a Ludwig Black Beauty and a rangy selection of TRX Cymbals, the library uses multi-level sampling to create a selection of sounds suitable for almost any recording. Seriously, the library is huge. Each instrument includes multiple velocity samples, allowing the user to select the desired tone and volume.
To be clear, that’s not just a single strike with the peak set to high, medium or low. Instead, each note was recorded individually which allows you to really hear the instrument change under the varying attack. The cymbals, in particular, showed real depth when I A/B’ed different velocity samples against one another. Nice touch.
All of the sounds are crisp and clean, which makes implementing them into a recording very easy. The notes ring full with no distortion or unwanted tone, making it very simple to drop the samples into an existing recording, and then tailor them to your specific needs.
This proved really helpful while I was working on this review. Earlier this year, I happened to be recording an EP for a band I’ve been playing with for some time. One of the last songs we recorded includes two very different sections, so we chose to split up the drum tracking into two parts. The second section is supposed to begin with a big double crash hit that leads right into the body of the song.
Well, when we started the second section, I totally forgot to hit the crash. What’s worse, no one noticed until we’d already broken down the microphones and drums. We debated setting everything up again quickly, and trying to get placement and positioning as close the original as possible, but it was extremely late. We were just about to go through with it, but then I remembered the Orbinator/Edgemont library that I’d received a few weeks prior.
So, I went home and cruised through all of the crash samples included in the package. They were all beautifully recorded, but none of them quite fit the bill. I use 20 and 22” paper thin rides as crashes, and that didn’t really line up with Orbin’s offerings.
However, using the low volume samples of two of the larger TRX crashes from the library, I was able to create something that blended perfectly with my own track. I just dropped them in Reaper, raised the playback volume a bit (to create a hint of distortion), reduced the highs and then brought up some lows with the EQ tool. Finally, I added a tiny bit of room sound, and bam – perfect.
Now, when I listen to the track, I can hear the samples, but only because I’m looking for them. Otherwise, they fit perfectly within the landscape of the song.
And that, to me, is the real benefit of these sample libraries for working drummers. Things don’t always go perfectly in the studio; drums sound weird, microphones or recording programs create issues after mixing, or you just forget to play a critical note in a song you’ve played six hundred times over the last nine months. Whatever. Shit happens, and when it does, a sample library as well-produced as the Orbinator/Edgemont package can be a huge blessing.
Regardless of where you stand on drum sample libraries, it’s impossible to say that the Orbinator/Edgemont package is poorly put together. In my eyes, this kind of sample library can be an excellent resource for recording drummers who don’t have access to high-end gear, or drummers simply looking to sub their own sounds for something different. The whole package is remarkably affordable, and would make a nice tool for any burgeoning session drummer to keep in their arsenal in case of emergencies. Great work.