I’m always on the lookout for good drum samples and the name Ocean Way couldn’t convey more expectation of quality. Ocean Way has become somewhat legendary when it comes to recording. It is the world’s most awarded studio complex with the recordings made there selling in excess of 1 billion units. Artists recording at Ocean Way include Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Green Day, Radiohead, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kanye West to name but a few. You really can’t get a better pedigree.
Ocean Way Drums DL is a 24bit/48k expandable format providing stereo mixes for each instrument within the drum kit. Coming from a background where kit construction on a sampler was both time consuming and necessary if you wanted to get a decent sound, I was looking forward with anticipation and interest to getting my paws on Ocean Way Drums DL.
Performing The Review
I used Ocean Way Drums DL as a stand alone version and as a VST plug in from within Cakewalk Sonar. Both versions rely upon Kontakt Player from Native Instruments which is bundled with the pack.
Download and Installation
Be prepared. Downloading takes a long time due to the amount of sample data. The download server always seemed to be on medium high to high traffic resulting in download time outs. I used the suggested Free Download Manager and the downloads were much, much faster. Download and installation instructions were pretty clear although.
The registration process wasn't exactly clear. I had a serial number, but where to enter it wasn't contained in the help files. It didn't take too much effort to find where the code went but the process should still have been included in the help file.
Ocean Way Drums DL is a 24bit/48k expandable format providing stereo mixes for each instrument within the drum kit. There are five kits (Kits 2, 4, 10, 13, and 16) included in the DL package. It also includes a FREE Download Card redeemable for 2 additional DL Kits or 1 Multi-track Kit (see section "Differences Between Ocean Way Drums DL and the Silver, Gold and Platinum Editions").
Ocean Way give you several mixes created by Allen Sides and Steven Miller lifted from the Ocean Way Drums Gold Edition. Each kit comes in 3 pre-mixed preset flavors - Dry, Medium, and Ambient with each instrument mixed to provide a balanced stereo image. It's also pretty easy to mix and match each individual drum and cymbal to create your own custom kits.
The presets are all very usable and the balance of the mixed kits means that you can easily use them without any tweaking... although tweaking is almost compulsory for recording engineers and musicians, isn't it?
The interface within Kontakt Player couldn't be much simpler. On each instrument within DL Kits, you can adjust:
- Pan (instruments are pre panned in their "true" stereo position, but you can adjust pan to suit your mix)
- Velocity (optimize the performance capabilities for your specific MIDI keyboard)
- Envelope (attack and release).
You can also switch between IMAP (Sonic Foundry proprietary keyboard map) and GM keyboard maps for drum triggering.
It's very easy to mix and match instruments and presets to create your own custom kits. There are a number of video tutorials available that really help with understanding the capabilities of the system
You can use Ocean Way DL as a VST, DXi or RTAS plug in. The help information provided covers launching Ocean Way Drums DL from a variety of host applications including all the main DAW software. I used Cakewalk Sonar with no problems at all.
I started the Kontakt Player as a stand alone and loaded in kit 10 using first GM format and then IMAP format. The IMAP format is remarkably easy to get into and ultimately very easy to work with.
Amazingly detailed recordings and excellent velocity sensitivity due no doubt to multilayers of quality samples. I kept thinking... "Ooh I love that!". Each instrument is lovingly reproduced and the preset mixes are excellent. It's hard to pick out any one thing, but I'd have to go with the toms. Toms often let sampled kits down and in this department Ocean Way kicks much of the competition off the pitch (no joke intended). I was also pretty impressed with the cymbal sounds and the fact that all the drums were recorded with both snare on and off, all of which detail simply adds to the authenticity of the kit sound.
The dry, medium and ambient variations just add to the versatility of each kit. As you can also create custom kits with drums drawn from all kits and all preset mixes you can easily spend ages creating the overall kit sound you are after simply from the variety and choice that is on offer.
Even with five kits there are plenty of options in terms of numbers and variation of sound, although as ever I would still have liked to have seen some other general percussion sounds included as part of the basic pack.
note: On rendering you may need to increase your DFD memory to provide ample memory for the number of voices you are using. This can easily be done within Kontakt player > Options > DFD using a simple slider
Expansion / Upgrade Path
You can expand kit by kit or add individual packages from the Ocean Way Drums Series. Created in cooperation with Native Instruments the Ocean Way Drums Expandable Player utilizes Kontakt Player making expansion very easy.
All the samples and the sample management and mix controls are packed within their Kontakt Player, so it can easily be added to or used with other Kontakt collections.
Differences between DL and the Silver, Gold and Platinum Editions
The difference with DL stereo mix kits is that there is no discrete mic mixing control as you find in the Silver, Gold and Platinum Edition's Multi-track Drum Kits.
DL Kits do not currently include V-Drum Mapping, only GM and IMAP.
I found the help system to be clear and well explained. I'm a big fan of integrated help and found their pdf help a bit disappointing. Sure you can easily print it out from the pdf but, ecological issues with printing aside, there the advantages stop.
The quality of the kits is outstanding, the subtlety of the mixes excellent and the ease of use pretty well nails it. It's easy to expand and fairly versatile. The quality of my example track doesn't really do it justice, but I think the drums do add a high quality level of realism to the drums.
It's a little bit more expensive than I would have liked but the quality is unquestionable. Ocean Way Drums DL is by far the closest I've come to a sequence actually sounding like a real drummer.
I will happily use this in future recordings. Somehow my old sample kits seem pale by comparison.
You can find out more by following these links:
Discuss this article in our Music Forum.