Technology

FXpansion BFD Eco Virtual Drum Instrument Review

Over the years, FXpansion has built up a huge fan base for its BFD virtual acoustic drum module, available libraries and expansion packs in every style. Now the company reaches out to a wider audienc 8/18/2010 10:14 AM Eastern

Over the years, FXpansion has built up a huge fan base for its BFD virtual acoustic drum module, available libraries and expansion packs in every style. Now the company reaches out to a wider audience with BFD Eco, an entry-level “starter set” with a selection of the best BFD2 sounds (recorded at London’s AIR Studios using high-end mics, a vintage Neve console and top-end Prism converters).

Offered for Mac or PC with RTAS, AU and VST support (or stand-alone operation), BFD Eco has an intuitive GUI with presets that get you going quickly, or you can dig in with 15 onboard effects (EQ, filtering, dynamics, drive, reverb and more) and a huge, well-organized groove section, with advanced humanization and customizable keymaps to create your own sound. The level of control is impressive, with features like a Bleed knob that lets you tweak the amount of sounds entering into adjacent “mics”—just like a real kit—or adjust the individual top and bottom “mics” on a snare sample, along with the amount of overhead and room mics in the mix. Other features, like “Anti-Machine Gun,” add realism to rolls and fast repeated sections, while “Drummer Perspective” flips your entire mix to hear it from the player’s angle.

The Groove section has more than 1,500 patterns to loop and or/edit and then drag/drop as a MIDI file or as stereo audio mixes to your DAW, sequencer or sampler. Quantize, Humanize Time and Swing controls offer fingertip variations on your sequences, while a Simplify function strips out certain hits in complex sections to instantly create back-to-basics breakbeats.

The variety (and quality) of drum sounds is impressive without becoming overwhelming. It’s “just” five kicks, six snares, 12 toms, three hi-hats, 11 cymbals and various percussion—but top-notch stuff and completely expandable with more sounds from FXpansion and third-parties. At $199 ($99 street), I highly recommend BFD Eco as an affordable entry into the world of BFD instruments.