Addictive Drums is a fully featured virtual drum instrument released by Swedish company XLN Audio. It gives you access to professionally recorded drum samples and pre-made kits which you can fully customise with range of high quality effects. Addictive Drums 2 (AD2) is the latest release of the software. AD2 is ideal for creating demo tracks, providing songwriting inspiration, and transforming electronic drum sounds. It’s easy to jump into for new users, thanks to intuitive screen and menu layouts, and clear graphic representations of the instruments and related settings. More advanced users and working professionals will find that the customisation features and powerful sound shaping tools allow them all the creative leeway that they need to produce top quality tracks.
There are a range of purchase options with this software, so you can easily find a package which will suit your requirements.
If you’re not sure about taking the plunge into the world of Addictive Drums without trying it first, there is a demo available which gives you a very limited number of instruments from the Fairfax Vol 1 kit. You get the Kick, Snare, Hi-hat, and Crash. Just enough to give you a taste of what to expect with the full package and you can play around with the settings without restriction.
The ‘basic’ package comes with the core Addictive Drums software, as well as three of XLN’s bestselling drum kits; The huge sounding Black Velvet kit, and Fairfax Vol 1 and Fairfax Vol 2, both of which were recorded at well-known Los Angeles studio Sound City. If you’re in a hurry to get going, the basic package comes equipped with 130 presets so you can produce a huge range of sounds, suitable for any mix, with a simple click. The 5000 included MIDI tracks will get your creative juices flowing with beats from a wide range of styles. Any of these can be changed to suit your needs.
No matter which option you decide to purchase, or even if you’re just playing with the free trial, you’re able to listen to short sample beats from XLN’s whole range of Adpaks (see below for more details). There’s a different beat assigned to a range of presets which are available with each Adpak which give you a great overview of what’s on offer.
Aside from the core AD2 package, the software has a wide range of add-ons available to expand your library of kits, MIDI tracks, and and individual kit pieces as outlined below.
Adpaks are individual kits that you can purchase to add to your library. Each Adpak comes with the same number of tracks – bass drum, snare, hi-hat, toms, overhead and room mics. You can buy Adpaks individually, or as part of a package. You’ll get full access to the Addictive Drums core software when purchasing any of these Adpaks. At the time of writing, there are 21 Adpaks on XLN’s site in a wide range of styles:
|Modern Soul and R&B
|Fairfax Vol. 1
|Fairfax Vol. 2
|Modern Jazz Sticks
|Modern Jazz Brushes
If you’re after a specific sound which isn’t included in one of the Adpaks, XLN also offers a handful of Kitpiece Paks which, as the name suggests, are made up of a single kit piece. Most of these are suited to percussion or world music styles, alongside some special edition kit drums Here are the available pieces at the time of writing:
|LP Brazilian Timbau||Brazilian Pandeiro||Mandinka Sangban||Mandinka Djembe||Valter Percussion Standard Box Cajon||Sonor Latino Bongos||Vistalite Bass Drum|
|DW Woofer Bass Drum||Premier Gen-X Bass Drum||DW Solid Piccolo Snare||DW Collector’s Bass Drum||Sonor Designer Snare||Ludwig Supraphonic 402 Snare||Pearl Masterworks Piccolo Snare|
With any of the 32 different MIDIpaks, it’s as though you have a master drummer on speed dial in your studio. Each of the packs comes with beats, grooves, and fills as played by professional drummers which have been converted to MIDI files which you can manipulate, combine, and change as you wish. Most of the MIDIpaks have more than 200 MIDI tracks specific and authentic to the genre.
When you purchase Addictive Drums, or any of its content, you run the XLN online installer program which allows you to download or update any software which has been purchased through your XLN account. Once installed, the software will work with a selection of different hosts which support VST, AU, or AAX plugins. XLN has tested the software with hosts such as Ableton 9 & 10, Reaper 4 & 5 and Steinberg Cubase 8, among others.
|Mac||macOS 10.9 or later (32 & 64-bit)||2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)||Internet connection (only for installation)|
|PC||Windows 7, 8, 10 (32 & 64-bit)||2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)||Internet connection (only for installation)|
Addictive Drums 2 is very easy to get acquainted with, as different functions are clearly separated and organised into logical menus. The easy to use interface is divided up into six main screens:
This page is a showcase of all the available ADpak kits which are available for use with AD2 with an associated description. Clicking the ‘read more’ option will link you through to XLN’s website for a full description.
From this page you can choose which ADpak you wish to load. You get a bunch of preset options available to that ADpak and the ability to hear a loop of the selected preset in action. If you click on any of the drums or cymbals in the picture of the kit, the software will play a sample of that instrument. The explore page also has quick access to some commonly used volume levels, so you can tweak them without changing screens.
AD2 allows for up to 18 different instruments which are each allocated to their own slot with a clear picture of each instrument. You can sample the sound by clicking each image, the higher up you click, the louder it becomes. From each slot you can open the kitpiece browser, a graphical library of all the available instruments for that slot.
You can change the kit pieces in realtime during playback to get the exact sound you’re looking for as quickly as possible. There’s a range of preset kits available, or you’re free to make your own from any instruments in your collection.
Access the full power of AD2’s sound shaping and customisation functionality from this page and make the raw sounds into something you can call your own.
This page is home to what AD2 calls ‘Delerb’ which is a delay fed into a reverb. There’s two Delerb units and these can receive from any channel in the mixer section, which is also where you’ll find the volume and pan settings for the Delerb which can be set before they’re mixed in with the other channels.
All the MIDI beats included with AD2 can be accessed from this page. Depending on how many files are in your library, there could be thousands of tracks here, so luckily XLN has provided a range of search options. You can search using criteria such as category, tempo, time signature, and more. One great search feature is the grid search, where you can use a visual sequencer to search for tracks with specific strokes on the bass drum, snare, and ride. Once you’ve found the perfect track, it’s easy to to import the MIDI into your host’s timeline, simply drag and drop the track.
AD2 strives to offer truly realistic sound samples with multiple layers which allow the full dynamic range of each instrument to show, so ghost notes, accents, and everything in between are brought to life. Every sample sound has been recorded with with multiple channels and you can customise the individual levels for each instrument, as well as room mics.
A wide range of sound shaping effects allow you to change an instrument either subtly or to the extreme, so you have almost unlimited possibilities. Just to name a few, each channel gets Equaliser, Compressor, Distortion, Transient Shaper functions, with individual level controls.
One neat feature is the ability to move incrementally between the front and back mics on the bass drum, as well as the top and bottom mics on the snare for a wide range of possibilities. The amount of snare buzz triggered by the kick and toms can also be adjusted easily.
Electronic kit support
The software will link seamlessly with many well-known electronic drum models, giving you the ability to breathe new life into your playing with the professional samples. XLN has written their own beginner’s guide to using e-drums with Addictive Drums.
Other Software Options
There are a bunch of other great virtual drum instruments and software packages on the market. Some big names include Superior Drummer and EZdrummer, by Toontrack, Steven Slate Drums, BFD3 by FXpansion, and the list goes on. All of these products give you great drum sounds, all in their unique way. There’s no shortage of Youtube videos for all of these products, so you can pick what is best for your own needs and budget.
Addictive Drums 2 has a lot going for it. It is relatively easy on its system requirements so you don’t need a high-end system to get rolling. The basic pack gives you plenty of great possibilities for a range of genres for a good price and the range of expansions is impressive, covering every perceivable sound requirement. There is a very shallow learning curve, even if you’ve never played with a virtual drum instrument before, and AD2 plays nicely with many DAWs straight out of the box. If nothing else, give the demo a try and see for yourself.
Have you tried AD2 in your production? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.