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    WaveMachine Labs Drumagog Drum Replacement
Plug-In

Review by: Scott Kahn
   
             
  Features  Usability  Sound  Documentation & Product Support
Price  Contact Info  Overall Rating—Product Summary
 
             
    Drumagog provides an easy-to-use and powerful tool for replacing or enhancing recorded drum sounds while preserving the nuances of your drummer’s performance. The plug-in was easy-to-use and enabled us to replace existing snare and kick drum hits on our tracks with alternate sounds from both the supplied sample library as well as from our own collection of sounds.

Provided that your session contains well-isolated drum hits on separate tracks (kick and snare on their own tracks with minimal bleed-through into other mics), Drumagog performs admirably with great results and almost no effort on your part. For drum tracks mixed to a stereo pair or kits recorded with multiple overheads or room mics, though, the plug-in can require some effort to achieve effective results. Fortunately, minor bleed-through from a snare drum or other drum source into your overheads can be dealt with quite easily (and effectively) thanks to a sample-ducking capability.

If you constantly find yourself needing to improve the quality of, or replace completely, various drum sounds in your recordings, Drumagog’s ease of use and reasonable pricing should ensure that this tool ends up in your studio.


Features

4 Stars

Drumagog is available in Basic and Pro versions (personally, we think they would be more appropriately called Standard and Expanded). The Basic version includes the following primary features:
  • The ability to replace or augment drum hits with multi-samples from the included library or your own library in numerous popular file formats
  • Advanced capabilities for isolating drum hits from noisy tracks or tracks with bleed-through


The Professional version adds:
  • A more-advanced triggering engine that is better at detecting subtle nuances in a drum performance
  • MIDI capabilities that enable it to trigger drum sounds in other virtual instruments, or that enable Drumagog to be controlled live via drum pads
  • Pitch control over drum samples
  • A synthesizer that enables you to add synth tones and other noise/effects to fatten a drum sound (sub-bass adjustments come to mind for hip-hop and rap lovers)


Usability

3 Stars
We tested the RTAS implementation of Drumagog in ProTools LE 7 on an Apple Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X 10.4.

With well-recorded and isolated drum tracks, Drumagog couldn’t possibly be any easier to use. Without consulting the manual, we had no trouble replacing snare and kick drums with new sounds from the included sample library. A mix control enabled us to blend new drum sounds with our existing ones or, if set to 100% wet, to completely replace our old drum sounds.

When your tracks are less isolated, Drumagog provides numerous options that enable you to fine-tune its operation for best results.

The simplest option enabled us to adjust the sensitivity level so that Drumagog would ignore all hits below a specific threshold. Using the visual hit analyzer, it was very easy to set an appropriate sensitivity level.



As an added benefit, our session drummer was particularly excited to be able to visually analyze the consistency of his drum hits.

A high-pass filter provided another option for isolating the drum hits in need of replacement. The filter enabled us to isolate drum hits on a track based on frequency response.

The third option provides a great solution when drum hits in need of replacement show up on numerous tracks, such as a snare hit being isolated on one track but also captured in a couple of overheads that weren’t gated on another track. With the auto-ducking feature, we placed one instance of Drumagog on our mono snare track and set it to “Send.” On the stereo overheads track, we configured an instance of Drumagog to “Receive.” With some fine-tuning controls, we were able to effectively duck the snare out of the overheads track while our replacement sampled snare hits were triggered on the snare track. Drumagog had no issues working with a combination of mono and stereo drum tracks.



The synthesis engine was simple to operate and it enabled us to add basic tones to our kick drum.

We didn’t have an opportunity to connect drum pads to our studio Macintosh in order to test inbound MIDI control, but driving external sound sources via MIDI was easy to configure.

One interesting use for Drumagog could be to turn recorded drum performances into MIDI tracks by outputting the MIDI data to a sequencer and then replacing the recorded drum tracks completely, but personally, we hate to see good drummers replaced by machines.


Sound

3 Stars

Drumagog sounds great, assuming you like the included drum samples or you have your own sound library. On the rock session that I tested with, I found myself consistently being drawn to their multi-sample of a Gretsch snare.

Other multi-sampled drums ranged in sound and style from rock kits to jazz drums to classic drum machines and, overall, the collection of supplied drum samples were very good. The samples are unprocessed, so you’re free to process them with the reverbs and plug-ins of your choice.

Clever engineering enables Drumagog to analyze the velocity of recorded drum hits and replace hits at different velocities with different multi-samples in order to preserve the nuance of a live performance – very cool!

The blending capability can provide an interesting alternative to trying to fix a drum sound with EQ. For example, we combined a very punchy and high-pitched kick sample with a muddy and bottom-heavy recorded rock kick in our session to create a new and improved kick sound rather than using EQ to try and fix or kick sound, which could have introduced noise to our mix.


Documentation and Product Support

3.5 Stars

Drumagog includes a good user’s manual on the CD in PDF format, or it’s available for free download if you purchase the plug-in online. If you want to go beyond the basic operation of Drumagog and make use of its advanced sound replacement capabilities, the documentation provides very good instruction in the use of the plug-in.


Price

3 Stars

The Basic version of Drumagog is $199 and the Pro version is $269. Even if you don’t think you’ll need the MIDI capabilities or synth additions, you may still want to purchase the Pro version for its more-advanced triggering engine, but if you’re in the habit of recording clean drum tracks and just need the ability to replace or augment drum sounds, save the extra money and purchase a printed copy of the documentation for an additional $16 instead.

Supported Platforms: RTAS & TDM, VST, AU


Contact Information

WaveMachine Labs
www.drumagog.com
(312) 733-5900


Overall Rating - Product Summary

   
   
Category Value Rating
Features 20% 4 stars
Usability 25% 3 stars
Sound 25% 3 stars
Documentation & Support 10% 3.5 stars
Price 20% 3 stars

OVERALL RATING = 3.4

3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended
 
  Evaluation Short-List
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