When he first looked at SOLID, Julian was so taken with the simplicity and quality of results he could get without the “option paralysis” which he’d experienced with other, more comprehensively featured drum VIs that he gave it his first ever Expert’s Choice Award. When he learned that there were updates coming to all three of the UJAM virtual drummers SOLID, HEAVY and PHAT, he asked whether adding new features was going to detract from the simplicity he’d enjoyed so much about the original version?
What Has Changed?
One of the most notable omissions from SOLID, PHAT and HEAVY when compared to other drum VIs was that while there was a rudimentary mixer, there was no facilty for routing individual elements of the kit to different outputs for processing and mixing in the DAW’s mixer. This has been addressed in the new versions but in keeping with the simpler is better approach of these instruments, there is no comprehensive mixer with multiple routing options, but every drum element can be routed to its own audio track within your DAW for complete mix control. After all, if you want to take deeper control then the DAW mixer is more than up to the job.
MIDI Drag And Drop To The Timeline
If a particular style isn’t exactly what you need it is now possible to drag MIDI from the UI on to your DAW’s timeline for forensic control.
New Master Section
A new Master Section with master controls for the reverb, a maximiser and a really nice sounding saturator, all of which are controlled with single knobs because UJAM keeps things simple. That saturator is really nice…
The mixer is more fully featured than the old version but it’s not trying to be an SSL. Level, reverb, routing, solos and mutes, some filters, one-knob compression and the all new Ambience section which controls the overheads and room mics for everything from tight and close to big and “Bonham-y”.
New Styles & Presets
All the previous content which came with the UJAM Virtual Drummers is available so there will be no issues with loading old projects but there is new content available too. An additional 30 styles with 690 new grooves and 150 new presets per drummer.
Alternative Drum Sounds Within Kits
Mix and match individual elements from five meticulously recorded drum kits. Create fully custom kits or just out swap the snare to suit your tracks.
So Is It Still As Simple With These Additional Features?
There are always going to be people for whom there is never enough control. There are products out there which cater for them already but I think UJAM hit a sweet spot with this update. With the previous version there were a couple of things which I would have added given the choice. Individual outputs is one and I even detailed a workaround to get something similar to individual outputs with the old version. The system implemented here is effective and simple. Why replicate a fully featured mixer when you already have one in your DAW.
In the same way I like the simple choice of having up to 4 alternative sounds for each drum and, while tastes in drum sounds differ, something SOLID excels at is natural drums which don’t sound too modern, though if that is your taste try HEAVY.
All things considered this update gets it right. I can get the results I need with these instruments and I can’t say that about all the drum VIs I have.