Steven Slate Drums 4 Review

I may as well come right out and say it, these samples sound fantastic in my opinion. There are a ton of options available to us audio engineers at this point but it just seems like the Slate stuff rocks a little harder.

Technically part of my job is to avoid using stupid terms and phrases like the previous one, so in the spirit of professionalism, I’ll rephrase that and say that the close mics in SSD4 are outstanding.

However, I was expecting this when I first fired up SSD4 as we have been using Trigger at the studio to lay the smackdown on our live kits for quite a while now.

What I was really curious about with this instrument was how well would it allow me to maintain a creative and fast workflow.

Steven Slate Drums 4 Review- The GUI

At first glance of the GUI, you’ll probably get the feeling that this instrument is like a big mean dog. The upside to having a big mean dog is that they are usually very obedient to their master and when you say ” get em boy”, they attack.

This analogy pretty well holds true.

After spending a healthy amount of time with this instrument I now appreciate the stripped down interface as it enables high-quality results FAST!

Owners of previous Steven Slate drum instruments will likely shed tears of joy when they experience how much faster working within this instrument is compared to Kontakt.

Quality Of The Samples

Trying to recommend samples ( especially drum samples ) to a large group of people with varying tastes is tricky business. So to make it easy on myself and avoid violent retribution I’ll say that to me the quality of the samples and the variety inside this instrument is immense.

I’m mainly a rock and metal kind of guy but believe it or not, I was blown away by the Slate jazz kits. I had a solo fusion guy I was working with about a year ago and that kit would have saved me a huge amount of time and effort.

With that being said, all of the kit pieces sound great and were recorded in rooms that were pulled right out of an audio engineer’s wet dream.

Blending Samples

My favorite thing about this instrument besides the quality of the samples is the ease of which you can blend the samples together. Love the low end on a particular kick but wish it had more high-end presence? Fixing this common dilemma is as easy as dragging another sample into the construct window and blending the 2 to taste.

It takes maybe 5 seconds to dial in ( if you’re a Billy Bad Ass like myself ) and it’s considerably more FUN than eqing the piss out of a single sample to squeeze what you want out of it. Be careful though, you don’t want to be the guy who uses 10 snare samples without having a good reason.

Mix-Ready Presets

Another thing that makes my life way easier is the “Mix Ready Presets”.

Typically I feel like a hack if I don’t come up with my own drum sound ( however crappy it may be ), but with the presets in SSD4 they are serious about as close to mix-ready as you could hope for, and I could hope for a lot.

The presets are also grouped by genre which makes finding a good starting point very FAST.

Variety

Not only are the presets damn near ready to go, but there are TON to choose from. If you get the platinum version there are 100+ different drum kits that are all highly useful. Check out the video below to hear some of the presets.

Note: Here at the studio we have the platinum version. I bought SSD4 essentials over the holidays for $20 for my personal enjoyment at home. It was a Hell of a deal and I’ll be upgrading soon. “Like” Slate Digital on Facebook so you can find out when they have sales. It seems like they have them frequently and they usually knock off a large percentage of the cost.

The Bad

No Built-In Fx Inserts

SSD4 like most virtual drum instruments gives the ability to route individual pieces of the kit to separate tracks in your host DAW.

This is a must-have feature for me and especially with SSD4 as there are NO plugin inserts within the instrument itself. It’s not a world ender, but having more tools in the instrument itself would have been welcomed.

Load Time

I wish the load times were a little bit quicker. It’s not a deal breaker by any means but it does seem to take longer to load up new kits than other virtual drum instruments.

Bottom Line

There are many times when a certain product has artificial or undeserving hype built up around it by a massive propaganda and marketing machine. The hype around this instrument is authentic and well deserved. When I want drums that are going to kick you where the sun don’t shine this is the first thing I pull up. If you ever use virtual drum instruments this is one I highly recommend.

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