Hands-On Review:BFD Premium Acoustic Drum Module and Expansion Packs

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A fully equipped virtual drum studio

By Gene Rauch



BFD Premium Acoustic Drum Module and Expansion Packs

As technology continues to develop, products that are available for recording music today dwarf those released just a few years ago. And better yet, many of the features found in the world’s finest recording studios are now also available to smaller project studios—and at a fraction of the price.


However, unless you’ve had access to a world-class studio, a top engineer, first-call session players, a collection of instruments and mics from vintage to modern, and an unlimited budget, recording perfect drums has always been a problem for the project or home studio.


That’s why the software gurus at FXpansion UK teamed up to create BFD. Real-sounding pristine drums from a software program? Seems impossible, eh? Read on...


The moment you hear the first hit you will know


BFD is a multiplatform (Mac 10.2.8 & higher/PC Win 2000 & XP) 24-bit program that runs in standalone mode or inside your favorite host recording application as a virtual MIDI instrument. The easy-to-use intuitive interface provides all of the dynamic variables you’d expect from working with a live drummer in a studio environment.

BFD comes with seven distinct acoustic drum sets to get you started, and each kit may be loaded complete or you can load individual drums to create your own custom kit blends from the seven drum sets.


BFD has unique features that allow you to create drum tracks that are indistinguishable from the real thing. These include; multi velocity disc-streamed file access architecture for unparalleled sample layer reality at any volume; realtime adjustable overhead, room, and PZM stereo mic pairs; variable phase switches for kick and snare mics; variable direct-mic-to-stereo-mic trims for perfect room blending of individual instruments; full tuning; panning; solo; mute; and a complement of host application and MIDI adjustments for perfect studio synchronicity. And for that "can’t tell the difference between this and the real thing", BFD allows you to tweak and randomize timing and strike velocities for perfect realism.


More than fantastic realism


Built into BFD’s platform is a Groove Librarian that allows you to audition several thousand different MIDI drum files spanning many types of musical genres. You can listen and link various grooves and fills to find those that are just right for your next masterpiece. Since they were created by real drummers, you can employ details with hi-hat work and fills, for example, that would otherwise take hours of programming for any of us non-drummers. These files can be imported onto your host application’s MIDI track(s) and quickly assembled there to create an entire song in no time. And because they are standard MIDI files, micro-tweaking is easy, should you wish to manipulate any of the preprogrammed notes to suit your taste via your MIDI note editor.



Going way down deep


Digging into the underbelly of BFD, you will find many features that deliver perfect cohesiveness with your studio setup. Interface options, choke-fade options, engine options, a complete MIDI setup page for the ultimate MIDI triggers, and a comprehensive routing page that allows you to adjust things like the amount of kick, snare, and overall kit bleed from one mic to another! See www.fxpansion.com for even more details about BFD’s easy-to-use yet feature-rich interface.

BFD offers so much that you’ll want a quick, dedicated hard drive to enjoy peak performance—at least 7200 RPM or faster. BFD is a disc-streaming program and as such requires its data folder to reside on a hard drive that is separate from your system/OS hard drive. For laptop users, a firewire 800 external drive is strongly recommended.


Simply put, if you’re looking for acoustic drums that no one will be able to differentiate from the work of a top call session player, engineer, and studio, then this is the program for you.


And there’s even more


Occasionally people just don’t know when to stop and luckily for us all, FXpansion’s design team is no exception! While BFD comes with seven complete acoustic drum kits, FXpansion has produced several other additional libraries that can be loaded into BFD to expand your sonic options:


  1. XFL—22 gigs of incredible acoustic drums. Think BFD on steroids.

  2. Deluxe Collection—55 gigs of an exclusive library created by producer extraordinaire Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago.

  3. Jazz & Funk—55 gigs of the purest and most detailed jazz and funk kits for the audiophile musician.

And if electronica is also your thing


Then you owe it to yourself to check out GURU from FXpansion. GURU is your beatbox dream come true. Advanced step sequencing, groove manipulation, sample editing, and beat slicing—in an inspirational, all-in-one workstation plug-in. Based on an enlightened approach to drum loop creation, GURU makes building that perfect beat faster and easier than ever.


Check it all out!


You can sample all these incredible products through online tutorials and mp3 sound files by going to www.fxpansion.com. There you will find an abundance of product information that will answer any questions you may have. When it’s time to buy, Musician’s Friend is an exclusive retailer of FXpansion products and can quickly provide you with any of them by way of their award-winning sales and service team. So check out FXpansion and see if you agree that virtual drums never sounded so real.


Features & Specs:


BFD Premium Acoustic Drum Module Plug-In DVD

  • 9GB of sounds from 7 real drum kits
  • Additional hats, snares, and cymbals
  • Each drum recorded with 11 different mics
  • High-quality drum sample library
  • Studio-like control of mic blends
  • Up to 46 velocity layers
  • Comprehensive MIDI groove library
  • Triggers in real time from a keyboard or BFD
  • Humanization functions
  • Integrated swing controls
  • Controlled velocity and timing randomization
  • Mac & PC compatible

XFL 22GB Expansion Pack for BFD

  • 5 DVDs with 22GB of real drum kits
  • Recorded with high-end gear
  • Every drum recorded with 11 different mics
  • Includes huge variety of brushes and mallet hits, toms, kicks
  • Cymbals include splashes, Chinas, accents, and rides with bell
  • Percussion includes cowbells, jam blocks, tambourines, handclaps, and fingersnaps

BFD Deluxe Collection Jazz & Funk

  • 55GB of immaculately recorded, detailed drums
  • Complete kits by Gretsch, Yamaha & Slingerland
  • Snares include Ludwig, Pearl, Rogers, Luxor, and more
  • Wide cymbal selection includes extensive Sabian plus Wuhan
  • Selected hits played with mallets, rods, and hands

BFD System Requirements:

  • 1 GHz Pentium III or Athlon (Windows)
  • Apple PowerMac G4, OSX 10.2.8 733 MHz (G4 1.2 GHz recommended) (MacOSX)
  • 512 MB of RAM (1GB Recommended)
  • DVD drive(For installation)
  • Windows 2000 or XP or MacOSX 10.2.8
  • 9 GB of free hard disk space (Separate drive with a minimum speed of 7200 RPM recommended.)