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EZDrummer vs Superior Drummer - noticeable difference in sound quality?
November 3, 2010
5:04 am CEST
jgro002
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November 24, 2009
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Hi there,

I am looking at getting the bottom-of-the-line 13" Macbook Pro (2.4 GHz, 4Gb, 250 gig hard drive) - I have Superior Drummer and a bunch of expansions, but I am seriously considering loading the new laptop with EZDrummer due to the lower resource requirements and smaller size of the libraries. (By the way I know I can use Superior Drummer in 16-bit, cache mode etc to save on resources).

Anyway, my question is how the EZX libraries compare sound-wise to their SDX big-brothers. Eg. how does Vintage EZX sound compared to C&V SDX? How does Nashville EZX sound compared to Music City SDX? Etc.

Specifically, how does having the samples only available as 16-bit and having fewer samples and fewer available velocity layers in the EZXs affect the realism that one is able to achieve? Do any commercial albums/songs use EZDrummer in the final mix, or is EZDrummer really aimed at being more of a 'demo'/home-user's tool?

Cheers,
Jeremy.

iMac 3.06 GHz 4 GB OSX 10.6.5, Focusrite Saffire 6 USB, Logic Pro 9.1.3, Lacie D2 Quadra
November 3, 2010
12:58 pm CEST
Rogue
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EZX-s can most definitely be used in professional productions, and are on a common basis (particularly in music to film). EZX-s are 'out-of-the-box' sound sets made by professionals and the 16/24 bit aspect is 100% irrelevant if you are content with the outboard processing that has been done (or at least like the 'ballpark' territory).

As to the sample pool reduction it depends on how you program your drums, there is a 'lazy' way which consists of drawing notes all at the same velocity and another which is to either use the provided grooves (with ad-hoc edits), program carefully your parts, or play them in. For all these methods but the very first, the reduced pool is more than adequate.

So, IMO, while there is no question that the raw to mildly produced sounds of SDX-s, extended sample pool (or rather full/original), and extra microphones (and extra articulations) are a Superior tool (pun intended) in the right hands, if your mixing skills are not up to scratch then an EZX can come in very handy without compromising much.

Anyway there are no single answer to your question, each individual is different. For me, EZX-s in Superior are the best solution most of the time. Where appropriate I do switch to the Superior equivalent (Nashville to Music City most frequently, but recently MetalHeads to Metal Foundry) but that's usually to render tracks for someone else to mix. YMMV.

November 3, 2010
6:49 pm CEST
jgro002
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November 24, 2009
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Hi Rogue,

Thanks for the detailed answer.

Cheers,
Jeremy.

iMac 3.06 GHz 4 GB OSX 10.6.5, Focusrite Saffire 6 USB, Logic Pro 9.1.3, Lacie D2 Quadra
November 4, 2010
2:07 am CEST
jgro002
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November 24, 2009
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Hi Rogue (again),

so does

the 16/24 bit aspect is 100% irrelevant if you are content with the outboard processing that has been done (or at least like the 'ballpark' territory)

mean that if you start to further process the 16-bit samples with eqs, comps etc that that is when you will start to notice a difference in quality? If you could please elaborate on what you were saying there I would be appreciative.

Cheers,
Jeremy.

iMac 3.06 GHz 4 GB OSX 10.6.5, Focusrite Saffire 6 USB, Logic Pro 9.1.3, Lacie D2 Quadra
November 4, 2010
8:56 am CEST
John
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I don't think it's about quality as much as it is about applying EQ's and Comp's to already EQ'd and Comp'd material. Sometimes it's OK to add a spoon of sugar to the cream but sometimes it's not;-)

November 4, 2010
8:16 pm CEST
jgro002
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November 24, 2009
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Hi John,

Thanks for that. The only reason I asked about processing the 16-bit samples producing a noticeable difference in sound quality is that Mattias talked about it in the Superior Drummer tutorial videos that are up on the Toontrack site. Neil Dorfsman asked him if there was a noticeable difference in sound quality between the 16-bit and 24-bit bit files and Mattias said something along the lines of "sure if you start processing them you'll hear a difference". Obviously because they were talking about the Superior Drummer samples, the difference Mattias was referring to was not going to be so much to do with processing on top of already processed drums (since Superior is much less pre-processed than EZdrummer). The inference I got from it was that because the files were 16-bit they would react differently (in terms of quality) to compression, eq etc than 24-bit samples would. I was just wondering how subtle that difference would be. I think chances are I wouldn't be able to tell the difference at all.

Cheers,
Jeremy.

iMac 3.06 GHz 4 GB OSX 10.6.5, Focusrite Saffire 6 USB, Logic Pro 9.1.3, Lacie D2 Quadra
November 5, 2010
12:34 pm CEST
Rogue
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it depends on the source instrument, the processing applied, and more generally the exact audio and FX chain involved.

The point I made as a passing note was, exactly as John eloquently put it, that EZX-s are designed to be pre-processed to fit in a mix. If that sound is nothing like what you envisage as an end result then starting from an un- or lightly compressed/EQed source is a better choice, and the extended bit depth may/will help retaining the sonic integrity/quality throughout the bit mangling steps.

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