MODO DRUM REVIEW

"Give your drum tracks a whole new life"

An in-depth look at IK Multimedia's MODO Drum software.  Tested reviewed by Howard Worf, for us here at Guitarist Guild.




From IK Multimedia, the creators of Amplitube and Philharmonik to name but two, is MODO Drum.

I stress that the opinions following are mine alone and based upon my personal experiences in a home studio set up.

CONCLUSION:
This is an excellent modelled acoustic drum application. Quality modelling, real time kit element editing, first rate groove library, more kits in the package than its rivals, and above all a wonderful clear, intuitive and easy GUI. A word that is frequently heard in the promotional videos is ‘punchy’, and it is certainly that. Snap up your copy while the introductory pricing is still available.

So, let’s get to it. MODO Drums enters a market where there are already a number of established competitors, to name a few: EZ Drummer, Addictive Drums, Groove Agent (although this last one is much more aimed at the EDM user). There are also a couple of very usable, albeit very limited in comparison, free drum VSTs, MT Power Drummer being probably the most popular. There are, of course, simply dozens of free EDM VSTs, but these are not in the market for realism – not substitutes for real acoustic drums.

In order to succeed it will have to have something particularly special the others do not offer. IMO that most important something is the extremely clear, powerful and easy to understand GUI, but it is not the only something. Read on . . .

So what do you get? Here are some of the main features:
New modelling engine (really quite something . .) which gives
On the fly adjustment of:
• Drum diameter
• Drum depth
• Drum profile
• Damping
• Tuning
Snare type and tension
Different sticks and beaters
Sympathetic resonance control
10 drum kits
More than 1400 MIDI patterns
Comprehensive room parameterisation
Infinite velocity layers and round robins – each hit is generated and controlled by the modelling engine so that no two hits are ever exactly the same - impressive
Effects – EQ, dynamics, distortion, reverb/delay, and modulation
Resizable GUI

In no particular order then the key selling points for me are:

• The GUI – scalable, clear, and most importantly the most intuitive one I have ever experienced on a drum VST. The GUI is significantly ahead of the pack IMO, although AD2 and EZ Drummer are not particularly difficult to use either. On the other hand the Groove Agent interface seems to have been designed by sadists and makes it almost unusable.

• 10 kits in the package – most rivals offer only 2 or 3 (with the purchase of additional expansion packs necessary to add to the basic kits), Groove Agent has 3 acoustic kits and dozens of alternative EDM kits. The quality of the bundled kits in MODO Drum is excellent, so absolutely no worries in that regard.

• The MIDI patterns, accessed through the superb UI, are amazingly good – IMO quite possibly the best suite available in this kind of package. Super easy to navigate and find the pattern you want. It really does make the others look a little lacking, even though the filtering concepts are broadly similar MODO Drum just make it more intuitive.

Unlike some of its competitors which rely exclusively on sampled drum sounds, MODO Drum has a whole new and exclusive synthesis engine, for both drums and cymbals. The range of acoustic kits provided coupled with the enormous customisation available means you really can find that right sound for your project. The diameter and depth of every drum model can be adjusted to get the exact sound the user wants. The shell profile, damping and tuning can also all be adjusted on the fly.

Let’s have a look at the GUI:
The start screen:

start


The app opens with the Studio kit by default, and from here you can easily choose from the 8 displayed, or scroll to the end for the other 2 kits.

A click on the settings gear icon give access to an interface controlling brightness (general), MIDIcontrol of drum hit position (control), and audio/midi (unsurprisingly labelled audio/midi)





aud/midi
 

Next there is the ‘Customize’ screen which enables swapping of kit components between all of the available kits. For example you can take the snare from one kit, the bass drum from another and so on. The customised kit can then be saved as a user preset. For example

mucked
 

mucked_pre
   

So far, so good. How about we make a completely bespoke drum kit?


Click on the drum or kit component you want to rework, then on the ‘Edit Element’ button. Depending upon which element you have chosen to edit, you will be presented with an enormous ability to make changes. And all of them on the fly, in real time as you either play the individual drum or are running a pattern.

mucked
 

Not being a drummer I do not have the expertise to set parameters without listening to the effect the changes have on the chosen drum, but rest assured that the editing is at once both subtle and audible. And, as a theme that runs throughout this software, the GUI is so clear, so easy to understand, and so easy to use effectively.

When you have finished making adjustments, just save the customised drum and then the kit.

Next is ‘Play Style’, a really interesting fine tuning arena. Here it is possible to assign the hit areas for left and right hand strikes of the snare and toms, or the kick drum technique, as well as bespoke sticks and beaters. The left and right hit areas can be adjusted, and as you would imagine the MIDI map for MODO Drums has trigger notes for each of the left and right hits.

toms
 

snare
 

kick
 

You could, for simplicity assign the same trigger not to both the left and right hits if you wish using an external MIDI map – it does not seem to be possible to customise the map within MODO Drums: my guess is that this is to make sure that no internal conflicts arise, and does make a deal of sense.

midi
 

Next along the top row is ‘Room’. This gives access to 10 different ambient environments. The degree of resonance from each environment can be adjusted using the flyout mixer tab. There are no direct adjustments for each environment, but as with the choice of kits it is really quick and simple to find the right basic sound you are after.

studio
 

bunker
 

Then we come to the ‘Mixer’ tab. This is where a serious amount of extra tweaking can be done, if you are so minded. There are 2 independent effects sends for each piece of the drum kit, and up to 4 effects from the rack for each drum channel – in addition to the channel EQ. The 19 effects are:
• EQ - Parametric EQ
• Dynamics: Compressor, Comp 2A, Comp 76, Gate, SL Compressor
• Distortion: Clipper, Big Pig. Crusher, Distorion
• Reverb and Delay: Plate, Room, Inverse, Hall, Delay, Tape Delay
• Modulation: Phaser, Chorus, Flanger
The mixer rack also enables routing to additional busses or individual DAW tracks

mixer


mixeffects

Incidentally the symbol next to solo and mute that looks like a ‘phi’ on its side (Ø) is for phase inversion.

Lastly accessed from the main screen is the ‘Grooves’ page.

This is a perfect example of excellent software design. I repeat this GUI overall is IMO the best I have seen on a drum VST, if not all VSTs. It is a breeze to find a phrase from the more than 1400 patterns included.

grooves

 
Having found the phrase you want, simply drag and drop it into your DAW. Unlike Amplitube 4, for example, there is no sequencer/recorder built in to the stand alone version. This is not a big deal.

A couple of caveats - Version 1.0.0 does not play entirely well with Cubase. There is a pending update due for release shortly, which fixes the bug that prevents pattern drag and drop into a Cubase track. There is a workaround: you can manually drag any grooves from the C > Program files > IK Multimedia > MODO Drums > Grooves.

There are no Latin rhythm instruments in the package. Perhaps a later add on?

The big disappointment for me is that installation requires a PC with AVX support. Alas my laptop is rather old and has a Pentium processor – plenty for Reaper and amplifier control apps, but I cannot install MODO Drums and so have been unable to test with my Alesis DM10 kit which I can use with Addictive Drums (I know I said I am not a drummer – this is true – why I have this is a rather long and boring story).

CONCLUSION:
This is an excellent modelled acoustic drum application. Quality modellinig, real time kit element editing, first rate groove library, more kits in the package than its rivals, and above all a wonderful clear, intuitive and easy GUI. A word that is frequently heard in the promotional videos is ‘punchy’, and it is certainly that. Snap up your copy while the introductory pricing is still available.

More information and promo videos at www.ikmultimedia.com/products/mododrum

Things used in this review:
DAWs – Cubase 10 Pro and Reaper 5.99
Monitoring – Behringer Truth B2031A near field, AKG K240 headphones
ASIO Interface – Steinberg UR22
MIDI controllers – Akai MPC Element, Novation Impulse 61
OS – Windows 10 Home

System Requirements

Standalone and 64-bit plug-in. Requires a 64 bit CPU and Operating System

Mac® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ i5 with support for AVX instructions, 8GB of RAM (16 GB suggested), 20GB of available hard-disk space, macOS 10.9 or later. USB port (3.0 suggested).
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Windows® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ i5 or equivalent with support for AVX instructions, 8GB of RAM (16 GB suggested), 20GB of available hard-disk space, Windows® 7, Windows® 8 or Windows® 10. ASIO compatible sound card. USB port (3.0 suggested).
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Requires an OpenGL 2 compatible graphics adapter.



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