The vibe and sound of an historical recording at your fingertips
The Black Album Drums is a drum library for BFD3 and Kontakt 5.5 (full version) inspired by the drum sound featured on the "Black Album" by Metallica from 1991:
- it features the kit played on that record, not just the same model, that exact kit (a 1980 Gretsch with Zildjian cymbals and a Tama Bell Brass snare)
- 2 snares (we added an extra Ludwig 1970s vintage Black Beauty), dual kicks (L&R), 5 toms, 4 crashes, 1 china and an additional ride cymbal.
We approached the production of this library with an enormous amount of respect and love for the sound we wanted to capture: one of the signature sounds of the history of Rock and Metal music. To this extent, we were lucky to track down a large number of information and material regarding the sessions we were inspired by.
Please Enjoy these videos and audio demos describing the features of the library and further info on the recording sessions and see you in a bit, below here.
"Making of" Video
Enjoy these audio demos: each demo is also presented in a Drums++++ version with the rest of the arrangement mixed very low so you can better enjoy the sound of the library.
All demos feature the drums purposely mixed inside the hosting plugin (Kontakt 5.5 on Grinders By Little Dom and Your Time Has Come, BFD 3 on Black Drive and Too Bad To Be Forgiven), hence using only the stock effects available on each supported platform.
The only processes applied to the drum sound after it exits the hosting instrument are: a brickwall limiter on the master (Fabfilter Pro-L) and the mp3 encoding.
After finding out the former One On One Studio, famous in the 80s and early 90s for some of the best rock records of the times, got back in business under the name of 17 Hertz in the same exact location and with the room sound perfectly preserved, we decided we wanted to produce a drum library there.
Out of luck we also found out that Ross (the Drum Doctor) still owns the kit which was originally used on the "Black Album". The next step was finding out Mike Tacci, originally the assistant engineer of that record, was available for the session.
Located in North Hollywood, One On One Recording studio gained popularity in the 80s for having the best drum sound in Los Angeles and became home to many of world top acts: Alice in Chains, Aretha Franklin, Bad English, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Earth, Wind & Fire, Etta James, Hal David, KISS, Lita Ford, Megadeth, Metallica, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, Mötley Crüe, Sammy Hagar, Survivor, The Temptations and Tom Petty are among the legends who recorder and/or mixed at One On One Recording along the years. During the 90s the studio was bought by a Japanese rock star and became a private facility. The studio ended up in a dire status until Jason Gluz, the new owner under the 17 Hertz Studio moniker, got it and restored it to its original glory.
The "Black Album" was tracked using a 1980 Gretsch drum kit Ross Garfield rented to Metallica during the long months they were resident at One On One starting autumn 1990. Featuring Lars' Zildjian cymbal set of that time and the famous Tama Bell Brass 6.5 inch snare drum.
The drums are in perfect shape (just a little bit of rust on the Bell Brass) and were equipped with matching drum heads, After the initial setup we spent quite a bit of time matching the tuning of the drums to the one on the record before we set off to sample the drums.
To the original kit setup we added a vintage 1970 Ludwig Black Beauty 6.5 inch snare and a ride cymbal to augment the expressive power allowed by the library.
The microphones (and outboard)
The original recording featured a quite amazing recording setup and mics. The net is awash with myths regarding those sounds. The studio currently doesn't feature the same mic locker as the one the original production had at their disposal, so we had to rent quite a bit of material. Then we decided to add a bit of options based on our taste and ears, always to augment the possibilities given by the library
- Kicks were recorded with EV RE20, Sennheiser MD421 and a Neumann Fet-47 on the outside
- Snares featured a Neumann KM-86 and a Shure SM-57 on top with an AKG C451 on the bottom
- Hi-Hat is presented miked with a Shure SM-7 and an AKG C451
- all other Cymbals are closed-miked with AKG C451s
- Toms are top and bottom miked with Sennheiser MD409s and MD421s
- Overheads were high hanging Neumann U87s
- Rooms feature a single AKG C414 as a mono rear room mic, 2 + 2 AKG C414 in XY on the left and right front of the kit, mixed down to stereo, 2 AKG C12s tube mics as front close rooms, focused on the drums (and especially the kick) and a couple of extremely coveted Telefunken ELAM 251E tube mics placed up above the original mic locker acting as far rooms
None of this attention to detail would have been possible without the expertise and direct hands-on experience we gained by hiring Mike Tacci to engineer the sampling sessions.
Mike, a northern California native (and of proud Italian origins), has been a top notch recording engineer in the L.A. area for more than 25 years and has engineered for Metallica, Whitesnake, Impellitteri, Eros Ramazzotti, George Lynch, Vasco Rossi, Richard Marx, Megadeth, Michael McDonald, REO Speedwagon, Bad English, L.A. Guns and Steve Lukather among others.
Mike had a lot of first-hand memories and information regarding the original recording session and was crucial in helping us getting as close as feasible to our source of inspiration. Add to this a wonderful attitude and the ear of an expert engineer together with a deep knowledge of the room, since he used to be assistant engineer at One On One Recording for quite a few years early in his career.
In January 2016, we reunited with Mike at 17 Hertz to create a set of signature presets for BFD3 and Kontakt which will place his own take on this historical sound under your fingertips or drumsticks (update required).
The Black Album Drums - the Engines
We strived to capture the vibe and keep it along the tedious and long hours of editing required to turn any recording into a sample library of the highest quality.
The engines we chose to run our drum libraries are the best for what we feel are today's top usage scenarios.
Fxpansion's BFD3 gives you a dedicated engine, made, thought and tailored for drums from the ground up and with 13 years of history behind its back. The Black Album Drums integrates perfectly inside BFD3 and makes use of its DSP capabilities to bring you 13 presets which can be used for final mixes or as starting points for your own experimentations.
NI Kontakt, on the other hand, allows us to customize the user experience in different ways and presents the library in a format which is a standard for the composer/songwriter nowadays.
Sounds and Patterns Video
Kontakt - a custom engine
When we decided to support Kontakt we knew we needed to offer a custom interface for drums. Development took a bit under two years and now we are proudly shipping the first version.
The user interface is thought out to be easy and quick to learn and use while featuring the power-user tools some of us love to tweak when working with drums.
Behind the curtains of the engine allows us to:
- feature up to 11 round robins - hitting a drum many consecutive times will hardly trigger the same sample
- give you the chance to easily build the kit in both the 3D (DrumKit) and Mixer pages
- manage RAM very efficiently with purge - no need to load separate .nki just to load another kit
- feature a full-fledged mixer with mute, solo, 4 insert effects: EQ, comp, transient and tape
- insert a built-in global and channel-specific preset management
- be a MIDI mapping agnostic - we already built in support for a large number of articulations (input from you for future productions is very welcome!)
- color-coding for easy recognition of drums on Kontakt keyboard
- feature up to 4 Room mic channels
- give you up to 4 mixable Close mics on Kicks and Snare, 2 for hi-hats, rides and toms
- grant drum-specific control on tuning, velocity curve and attack, hold and release times - instant damping, gating or creative effects
- feature an exclusive ADH envelope on Room channels for creative effects
- intelligently switch pan-pot and width controls in case of mono or stereo channels (and stereo Rooms get both width and pan for maximum flexibility)
- insert channel-specific controls in the settings page, like hi-hat control, snare bleed, or cymbals/percussions management
- ... and much more
Reverb, with class
The IR Reverb module in our engine currently features 36 unique proprietary impulse responses. These are originated from vintage plates, hardware and coveted real rooms, which, when used with drums, push the limits of what can be done with a single drum kit.
10 global mix-ready factory presets ease your way into using these drum kits, to which we add presets for each channel, including the reverb.
The Style Player in Kontakt
We developed a custom Style Player for the Kontakt version.
In depth info is available in the walkthrough video above, in short:
- 3 ways of interacting with the MIDI Player:
- Play from the Kontakt interface: switch in realtime (and in Sync to the host, if desired) between multiple intros, main grooves, fills and outros.
- Drag and Drop any pattern to the desktop or your DAW for further editing on MIDI tracks
- Assign any pattern to a MIDI key on your MIDI Keyboard and play through in a "one-finger-drummer" fashion
- Modify each pattern in realtime (and modifications are kept when assigning to a MIDI Key or dragging to the DAW) at the global or atomic level in terms of:
- tempo (original, x2, 1/2x)
- delay: both in ticks (960 PPQ) and musical terms
- grid (used for quantize and swing operators)
- remap: used on some kit pieces (for example: remap all snare notes to sidestick or rimshots)
- activate each single instrument group (kick, snare, hihat, toms, ride, cymbals, percussions)
- You can randomize fills and main grooves while calling automatically a fill every 2, 4, 8, 16 bars (via the Player preferences panel)
- All of this turns the 800 available Patterns, organized in 10 Styles and recorded using a real drummer especially for the release using the same samples, into billions of possibilities at your fingertip.
Quality you can tell
We released the first multi-mic drum library in 2003, with Scarbee.
We know drums. We know drum-sampling.
We know how to turn a drum recording session into a set of coherent, greatly playable sampled instruments. Not just a collection of sounds. This effort needs a lot of love for drums, time, ear, knowledge, dedication and experience.
Our drum samples have been used on countless tracks in the last 13 years, counting on an ongoing success still sprawling from our first library, Imperial Drums, re-released in BFD format through FXpansion at the end of 2013, our ever-growing product line and the large large number of companies we worked with along the years: Native Instruments, Ableton, Steinberg, Arobas, Cakewalk and Presonus to name just a few.
List price of The Black Album Drums Bundle is $ 198.00.
(25% off list of 198.00 USD)
- this Instrument requires either BFD 3 from FXpansion or the FULL RETAIL VERSION OF KONTAKT 5.5.2 or higher, the free Kontakt Player will run this Instrument in demo mode ONLY for a few minutes.
- this Instrument may be acquired only in downloadable format, download size is about 12.5 Gigabytes for each format (separate downloads), so expect longer download times on slower connections
(25% off list of 198.00 USD)
(regular bundle 198.00 USD)
- aims at recreating the magic vibe and sound of an historical record
- features the same exact kit used on the "Black Album" by Metallica
- same microphones and recording path as used on the "Black Album"
- engineered by Mike Tacci (originally the assistant engineer on the "Black Album")
- recorded in the same room, at One On One studio (now 17 Hertz) in North Hollywood (CA)
- BFD3 Expander and Kontakt versions - all in one pack
- 12.5 GB BFD3 Expander and Kontakt versions (both compressed on disk and compressed downloads)
- 25000 samples
- 1 full drum kit
- 17 drum pieces
- sampled in full detail: up to 286 samples per articulation divided into up to 11 round robins (Kontakt)
- 5 round robins on Cymbals and more than 16 dynamics each
- the best of both worlds: the power of BFD for drums, the ease of use and integration of Kontakt
- up to 3 close mics on each drum piece
- 5 sets of room mics (BFD version): Overheads (2xU87), Close Room (2xAKG C12), XYs Room (a set of 4 AKG414), Far Room (2xTelefunken ELAM 251s), Rear Room (a single AKG414)
- 4 sets of room mics (Kontakt version): 2xOverheads, 1xRear Room, 2xFar Room and a stereo mixdown of Close, XYs and a small hint of PZMs
- warm and deep sound, processed through an analog tape machine (Studer A800)
- advanced mixing and management (Kontakt) thanks to our custom advanced scripting
- digitally recorded at 24 bit / 88.2 KHz, released at 24 bit / 44.1 KHz
- features presets mixed by Mike Tacci
BFD Expander Features
- BFD3 only: takes advantage of the additional features available on BFD 3.1 and up
- 2 Kits and 13 BFD Presets for BFD 3
- Read the dive-in manual for the Kontakt version here
- custom 3D graphics with animation on snare drum changes
- build your own kit
- very quick startup times
- advanced RAM management thanks to RAM purge
- up to 3 Close and 4 Room mics
- tuning, velocity curve and AHD envelope controls on each drum
- advanced engine, shared with all future drum libraries
- 10 global factory presets
- innovative integrated MIDI file player
- 10 MIDI Styles, 800 Patterns, billions of possible combinations
- up to 11 round robins
- large number of velocity splits (always > 16)
- 30 custom IR reverbs