« Punchy, Tight Drums »Published on 11/30/12 at 13:06
I also had GUI problems for a long time with the plug-in (Pro Tools, Mac with multiple monitors), which was a well-documented bug. Luckily, a recently release appears to have fixed that problem.
Once the plug-in is installed, authorized (iLok), and instantiated in a DAW, it is pretty easily to get started making drum sounds. Individual drums can be easily loaded, or entire kits can also be loaded. There are presets of 'processed' drums that came from the previous versions of SSD. There are also 'unprocessed' drums that are new to SSD4, called the 'deluxe' kits. If you don't want to do a lot of tweaking, the 'processed' drums are the fastest way to a polished, 'radio-ready' drum sound. If you like to tweak, the 'deluxe' kits sound great to eq, compress, and process with other effects. Most other drum sampler software (BFD2, Superior Drum 2, etc.) require a fair amount of tweaking to sound polished. Other software only gives you polished sounds (Addictive Drums, NI Studio Drums,etc). Steven Slate Drums 4 gives you both options.
SSD4 is really good at producing punchy, tight drum sounds - great for rock/metal music. It has a few kits that can be used for other styles of music like jazz, vintage 60s/70s, urban/hip-hop - but it is definitely not its specialty. I would recommend it if you want your drums to sound like modern pop/rock music heard on the radio. However, if that is not your style, Fxpansion and Toontrack products offer better results for music that needs either dampened/dull sounding drums, or drums with long sustain/ringing. In actual use, I almost always layer drums samples from both SSD4 and some other product to get the best of both worlds.
SSD4 doesn't offer internal effects like other major drum sampler software. I think this is a good idea because using the multi-channel out from the plug-in to the DAW allows the use of better effects processing anyway. I think drum software companies should focus on drums, not writing code to implement a compressor inside their software.
The cymbal sounds have been disliked by a lot of users in previous versions of SSD. I think the cymbals are much better in SSD4, but there still isn't a lot of variety.
In my opinion, SSD4 offers the most polished, radio-ready sounding drums on the market for pop/rock music. However, it doesn't offer a lot of variety if you need to go for a different kind of sound.
There are a lot of different options to pick from for drum sampler software. Each is a little bit different, so check them all out and see what fits your style best. Or just buy them all!