Review: BFD2 Drum Sample Library
Stock samples sound great.
Internal effects. Complex GUI
BFD2 is a drum-sample playback engine that can be used in stand-alone or as a plug-in in a DAW. I purchased BFD2 as an upgrade to BFD1. There were some decent drums sounds in BFD1 (vistalite, ayotte), and the interface was simple to understand. BFD2 was a huge improvement in every aspect of the software. The interface is pretty complicated, but after you play around with it for a couple sessions, you will get the hang of it.
Installation takes a while as the package comes on a bunch of DVDs. It is recommended to install the samples on a separate harddrive than the drive you use for tracking in your DAW. This is supposed to improve playback. I didn’t follow this recommendation when I first bought the software and installed everything on the internal harddrive of my laptop. It wasn’t the best idea, but it worked. Eventually, I got around to storing the samples on an external drive.
Big F’ing Drums 2 lives up to its name. The samples can sound massive if you bring up the room mics and add some compression (the library comes with john bonham’s drums, what would you expect). But, what I really like about this library compared to other libraries (SSD4, Superior Drum 2, etc.) is the versatility. The massive drum sound can easily be scaled down for a more intimate drum sound, if desired, by picking the right sampled instruments. I can’t really say the same is true for SSD4 (to each his own). Fxpansion did a great job of picking different drums that complement each other in the library. I am also convinced that the drummer hit the drums a little bit differently to get different sounds depending on the style of music/playing that would typically be used for each kit piece. It seemed like some snares the drummer really pounded during record, while other snares don’t really give me the same impression. This is actually a really good thing – it gives more variety to the stock library. Toontrack SDX’s offer this same kind of playing variety, but then you have to make additional purchases to get the same thing as BFD2.
I really like the cymbals in particular in BFD2. Even if I am going to use the drums from a different software library (because they fit my song better), I almost always substitute the BFD2 cymbals. I definitely give the stock cymbals a strong recommendation, but the Zildjian Digital Vault cymbals that can be used inside BFD2 are also awesome.
BFD2 offers a pretty advanced mixer and internal effects. However, I also recommend with any drum library to utilize the ‘multi-out’ functionality, and use plug-ins in your DAW to process individual drums. This is probably the most important way to achieve realistic drum performances with sampler software. Never use internal effects! They simply can’t compare to the EQs/Compressors from WAVES/UAD/etc.
The best part of BFD2 is the fact that the stock libary is awesome. There are ‘expansion packs’ available, but my opinion is that the stock library is sufficient on its own. Superior Drummer 2 is good, but you really need to buy expansion packs to make it versatile.
I also recommend layering BFD2 samples with other drum libraries. There are a lot of drums in BFD2 that have a great sustain/ringing that I don’t find in other libraries.