Westwood Drums by Audio Assault is an all-in-one virtual drum instrument built around a Yamaha Custom Recording kit and a set of Zildjian cymbals, and features various tools for shaping and customizing your sound. With it’s affordable price and easy routing, it makes for a great introduction to more complex software instruments which allow for multi channel applications, while still being a tool you can continue to reach for as you grow with your skills.
What you get
The sampled kit consists of a five piece shell pack, including a kick, snare, and three toms. A set of cymbals including two crashes, a ride, a splash, and a set of hi-hats is also provided, with articulations for each mapped to individual keys. These articulations include samples of the hats closed, open, semi open, and pedaled, choked sounds for the crashes, and both bell and bow samples of the ride. The instrument also comes with a variety of tools to fine tune your sound, including effects such as reverb and EQ shaping for individual kit elements, volume faders for each element, and the ability to route the output of individual kit pieces to dedicated output channels.
The instrument is well made, and for the price, you can’t get much better than this. The only real negatives is its lack of the ability to choke the hats and there being no samples of cross stick hits. This aside, though, it has some tricks up its sleeve that I wouldn’t have expected of an instrument this affordable, such as how much control you are given over the sound of the kit, and a neat little trick where, by routing just the shells to individual output tracks, you are left with a master output that contains the cymbals and some remnants of the shells that essentially work as a makeshift overhead track.
When initially loaded, the “Default” setting gives you a relatively dry kit that will fit well across multiple genres, and it is conveniently set up with proper levels and panning, which cuts down on setup time. There are a handful of other presets which you can load that are geared toward heavy metal and hard rock, which take the default kit and mmodify it with different reverb and EQ settings. By default, all output from the instrument is sent through the track on which the instrument is loaded. If you choose to build the routing for the instrument, this same signal will also be sent to the master output, and you get eight additional tracks which you can assign to individual kit elements. As described above, doing this partially takes the signal of the kit element out of the master track, and routes an isolated feed of that element to the designated track. The clip below demonstrates this with a simple drum loop. The first repetition is the full mix, followed by an isolated kick track, isolated snare track, and finally an isolated master track of the cymbals with the partial signal of the kick and snare as described.
The next clip is an eight bar drum loop played across each of the instrument’s presets in the following order: Default, Big Open, Big Wet, Old School, and Trashing.
The default keymap is similar to a typical MIDI drum map, with the exception of having some extra keys for the extra articulations for the cymbals. Another plus is an extra key for the kick and snare samples, with the kick mapped to both B1 and C2, and the snare to D2 and E2. This allows for easier live performances of parts that require rapid triggering of these two elements.
Note: The following information applies to using Westwood Drums in Reaper with NVDA and Osara.
Installation was simple and straightforward, with the setup wizard having no accessibility issues. Once launched within reaper, the preset can be changed by navigating in the FX window for the plugin using NVDA’s screen review mode, and clicking on “Default.” This will bring up a context menu, from which another preset can be selected. The parameters can be accessed via the parameter list, and though they are labeled in the sense that each is indicated what parameter it is, unfortunately many of them are not properly labeled as to which parameter points to which element. I have taken some of the guess work out of some of the parameters I found myself reaching for regularly, and they are listed below as what they seem to do.
There are 9 fader parameters, listed as parameters 35 to 43. Each controls the following parameter:
- 35: snare room volume
- 36: kick room volume
- 37: room volume
- 38: cymbal volume
- 39: reverb
- 40: toms volume
- 41: dry snare volume
- 42: dry kick volume
- 43: dry toms volume
Below these parameters are a set of 8 channel settings, listed as parameters 44 through 51. Each of these corresponds to a specific kit element, and can be set to a value of 1 through 8 for one of the 8 output channels, or 0 for the master channel. The elements are listed as parameters in the following order:
- 44: snare
- 45: kick
- 46: overheads
- 47: cymbals
- 48: overheads with reverb
- 49: toms
- 50: snare mic 2
- 51: kick mic 2
Accessibility issues regarding mixer and effects parameters aside, Westwood Drums is a solid plugin for the price. If you are patient, you can grab it at a discount, and I would recommend staying on top of Audio Assault’s newsletter for this. It’s easy enough to use and great sounding that I have no doubt I will find myself reaching for this as a writing tool on a regular basis, and I’m sure it will even fit in well for smaller projects which do not require relatively complex drum parts.
To read more about and purchase Westwood Drums, click here.