Greg Simmons’ Series
Issue 68



January 20, 2008

Addictive drums edit window

A product that lives up to its name?
Cal goes on a beats bender.

Text: Calum Orr

The choices are many and varied if you’re in the market for a software drum sampler or drum samples. High quality samples are a must if you’re going to program drums using MIDI, and Addictive Drums is a drum sampler/mixer that really delivers.
I have a pretty large drum sample library already, but I’m always on the lookout for great sounding kits that are recorded superbly and struck by deft hands.

I work in rock and pop mainly, so when I’m programming drums, I need open sounding kits with ‘foundation establishing’ kick sounds, snares with ‘crack’ that withstand compression and believable room miking options. Some of my favourite options that fit this criteria are Native Instruments’ Studio Drums, FXpansion’s BFD libraries and ToonTracks Superior and Classic kits. Joining this select group now is XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums.


XLN is a Euro company, but Addictive Drums is not a tobacco from Holland [thanks for clearing that up – Ed.]. In fact, it’s the Swedish firm’s first software product, but don’t let that fool you, the software writers have gone ‘all out’ here to compete with the big guns and the dedication to this single product really shows. Addictive Drums combines the tantalising mixture of functionality and stability, a great looking, user-friendly GUI and great sounding kits. But of course, it’s the great sounds that we’re all searching for, and in this department you can tell it’s been a labour of love for the sound recordists/programmers of Addictive Drums. From the onset I was impressed by the sounds – and the supplied MIDI patterns from drummer Jakob Muller do a great job of showcasing AD’s musical abilities. Then there are the onboard effects which come courtesy of PSP Audioware. These are also of a very high quality and are an integral part of AD’s sound.

The usual candidates for tweaking the individual sounds inside AD are all there. These include: compression (with threshold, ratio, attack and release controls), distortion with four distinct flavours, an EQ section that surpasses many rival EQ plug-ins, and a saturation control for that added level of ‘upfrontness’.


From the top left of the AD screen, you can select a variety of preset kits from the drop-down menu. The ’70s kit and ‘Vintage Years’ are a couple of my faves but others like ‘Krakkhedd’ and ‘Funky Pants’ may be just the ticket depending on the project!

On the top right of the screen are AD’s main window buttons. ‘Kit’ takes you to the drum selection window where it’s as easy as a couple of mouse clicks to load sounds and make customised drum kits different to the fab ones on offer. The drum shells are sampled from either the Tama Starclassic, Sonor Designer or DW Collector kits and the cymbals are from Paiste or Sabian. The sounds are easily auditioned by clicking on the picture of the selected drums or cymbals in the individual cells, and curiously, the higher on the image you click your cursor, the louder the replayed sample – velocity sensitive windows no less! Each cell has Load, Mute and Solo buttons plus a volume slider and an Edit button. The Edit button takes you to that cell’s Edit window where the aforementioned effects can be applied. Furthermore, pitch (with unique start, hold, release and velocity controls), volume (with ADSR controls) and a separate filter control round out AD’s endlessly configurable user interface. You can also get to the Edit window by selecting the Edit button in the top right of the display. Also in the top right is the FX button that gives the user access to the two FX sends. These are reverbs with pre-delay, reverb time and damping controls. The Room, Plate, Ambience and Hall settings all sound top notch and are configurable as either pre or post fader via the output section. There are no delay options here – perhaps an update will address this.

The last main window button is dedicated to beats. The Beats window has a nifty search function for finding MIDI files on your system and whatever MIDI pattern you choose (be it from your own collection or AD’s) you can elect to sync AD to the host program’s tempo.


All the individual sounds’ parameters are only a single click away in the Mixer panel – itself lurking at the bottom of the screen at all times. The mixer also provides instant access to volumes, pans, mutes, solos, polarity, FX, inserts and output assignment (if you’re using the multi output version). Aside from individual faders for the hi-hat and drum shell hits, there are also faders for the overheads, room and bus, so it’s a doddle to put the kit in a space or apply parallel compression, for instance. When either the Bus or Master channels are selected, the Edit window reveals two extra effects processors not available on other channels. Named ‘tape’ and ‘filter’, these are great for adding a little (tailored) bombast!

XLN’s Addictive Drums is a drum sampler/player that is truly XLN(T) [eurg(h) – Ed.]. I have been completely absorbed in the program from the moment I installed it. And, since I started automating parameters from within my host sequencer, Addictive Drums has totally blown my mind. Betty Ford clinic here I come!


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Greg Simmons’ Series
Issue 68