Today we are introducing a new feature of the site – REVIEWS. Lawson Madlener, a composer and virtual instrument buff, provides our first review of 8dio’s Advanced Drum Series: Blackbird. Others reviews are on tap, such as Output’s “Signal” and Handheld Sound’s incredible percussion library, “Flying HandPercussion.”  

Today we’re going to take a look at the newest drum sample library on the market.  It is 8dio’s 2nd product in their Advanced Drum Series line, and is (according to 8dio), “one of the most comprehensive drum kits ever sampled.”  This is: Blackbird.  Blackbird requires a full version of Kontakt 5.3, and takes up 6GB on your drive with a whopping 35,000+ samples including 10 mic positions.  Holy wow, that’s a lot of mic positions.  Plus, you have up to 10 velocity-controlled dynamic layers (depending on type; for example the bass drum only has 6) and 10 round robins overall!

Before opening in Kontakt for the first time, you’ll notice that there are actually TWO patches, not one.  There is the Light version, which loads up a lighter version of this beast (I’m assuming it has less velocity layers and round robins, though the manual doesn’t specifically say), and the Master version, with everything.  Light weighs in at 1.19GB in RAM, while Master uses 2.35GB.  You can run this off of a conventional 7200rpm drive, but if you’re impatient, I would try to use an SSD with this.  If you don’t have much RAM, you can always purge all the samples and just stream it off your SSD as well, which is pretty handy.

Upon opening, the first thing I noticed is just how pretty everything looks.  8dio went all out on the visuals; you could totally imagine yourself in a recording studio!  According to their website, the whole GUI was modeled in 3D, and you could definitely tell.  Visuals shouldn’t be a deciding factor on sample libraries, but it’s a nice bonus to have!

As you can see, you have all of your basic controls: attack, delay, tuning, panning, and volume.  The keys are color-coded, and you can switch between three different snares.  You can also re-assign all the key mapping by clicking the gear icon.  You have 9 different mixing presets from “Groovy” to “Slamming,” as well as a default setting which I am currently on.  I prefer the default mix, but there are plenty of options to choose from!  And of course, if you click the mixing board on the far left of the drum set, you can get to the heart of the sound.  Presenting: your 10 mic mixing board including FX!

Yep, this drum set includes a full mixing board with effects!  Stereo spread, EQ, compression, lo-fi (a bit crusher type thing), and reverb (that includes 16 different rooms/halls).  You can also send each mic to different outputs in Kontakt, for even more mixing in your DAW.

Another cool feature I want to point out is this proprietary 8dio technology called “Flow-Note.”  This is like a true legato type of thing for drums.  It basically allows rapid hits to stay in focus and not get blurred out like with most types of samples.  Instead of a constant shhshhshhshh sound on the cymbals, you get a pronounced ShhShhShhShh.  Here is an audio example to show you what I mean.  The first is a ride cymbal without flow note, and the second is with.  And yes, they are identical MIDI files.


Now, the most important questions of them all!  How does it sound?

I think it sounds great!  It’s very crisp and tight, and you can get a very large varieties in sound by changing the mic positions.  I should point out, though, that it seems to be aimed at rock/progressive/alternative genres.  It doesn’t have any brushes, and there aren’t any rudiments except on the snare, which makes it harder to do jazz and swing stuff.  Also, it took me forever to actually find the mixing board and instead I kept clicking on the console!  About 10 minutes into it I finally figured out that it was located next to the drum set.  This was probably just my own mistake though; however if anyone else has/had this issue please tell me so I can feel better about myself!  😀

At a price of $250, this is a pretty nice drum library for the price, especially with all of the different mics and built-in FX.  It doesn’t cover everything, but if you’re looking for a solid progressive kit, this is a very viable option.

Here is a demo I made, featuring only Blackbird in it’s default settings.  I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!


About the Author

Lawson Madlener is a multi-award winning composer/musician/music-consultant/college-student. He plays many instruments ranging from violin to ukulele to drums to electric bass to viola, and  many genres from classical to jazz to bluegrass to rock.

Learn more about him HERE.


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