Review: Toontrack Electronic Edge EZX
Toontrack releases a new sound set for EZDrummer that focuses on edgy, mangled electronic sounds ready for modern electronic productions.
Toontrack Electronic Edge EZX Hero
⊕ A good selection of radio-ready kits
⊕ Interesting effects ideal for sound design
⊕ Ability to easily build your own kits
⊕ Melodic instruments are a welcome bonus
⊖ Not enough MIDI grooves
With unique, hybrid drum textures, groovy MIDI parts, melodic instruments and tailored effects, this is an excellent expansion for anyone looking beyond the go-to 808 and 909 sound.
Toontrack is aiming at modern electronic music producers with their latest offering, Electronic Edge. This EZX pack includes over 370 percussion sounds moulded into 30 mix-ready kits. Each sound has been sourced from acoustic recordings, old drum machines, Foley sounds and modular electronics by sound designer Richard Veenstra. He aimed to mangle each sound to get unusual and very unique percussive sounds.
There are also atmospheric and melodic sounds – and even some riser-type sounds. Many of these are chromatically playable, giving you options for more than just percussive compositions.
The sounds in Electronic Edge are divided into categories, each with loads of variety. There are 57 kicks, almost 50 snares, rims, claps, snaps, hi-hats, toms, crashes, FX, percussion, melodic elements, subs, risers and atmospheric elements.
And these are not your standard instruments, either. Richard often uses something completely outrageous to create a percussion instrument. For example, he might use the sound of a guitar snap to generate a clap sound; or the sound of hitting a brick to make a snare. He has meticulously recorded and then mangled his recordings to bring you these sounds; some are distorted, others are glitchy, while still others come through clean and punchy.
When you open Electronic Edge, you see a kit full of electronic pads. Each pad is named for its basic element (kick, snare, etc.). There are three kicks, three snares and three hi-hats available at any given time. There are also loads of other percussion and drum elements, each with their own pads.
A drop-down on each pad lets you switch out a pad’s sound for any other sounds from the same family within the pack or, in fact, from other EZX packs. This makes customising your kit extremely easy.
You also have three standard instruments in the interface’s upper-right corner: claps, shakers, and tambourine. In the claps dropdown, additional ‘normal’ elements are available in the form of finger snaps and a cowbell. The same is true for the shaker pad, which includes maracas in the drop-down.
The mixer in Electronic Edge adds a tonne of options for making the sounds and kits your own. Not only can you mix the individual elements to your taste, but you can also assign each element to an individual output allowing you to route each instrument group to its own input in your DAW. This is common amongst all EZDrummer kits and is, in fact, part of the EZDrummer interface itself.
The big bonus here (aside from the weird and wild sounds) is the effects busses: Reverb, Delay (tempo-synced to EZDrummer), a bus called Space, and one called Edge. Each of these busses goes a long way in helping develop your kit and get it just the way you want it. The reverb and delay busses are self-explanatory. The one thing to know is that each is driven by the kit preset you choose. The other two require further investigation.
Space is, quite simply, a deeper and more unusual reverb. It helps create much larger or more unique percussive elements. It also has a dial below the bus fader where you can adjust the size of the reverb. Once you’ve changed the size, you can adjust the bus fader until it’s just the right amount.
The last bus is called Edge. With it, you can adjust four parameters: Character, Character Colour, Motion and Motion Time. Character adjusts the overall volume of this effect, which adds character to the sound. The Character Colour changes that character tone. Motion adds movement to the sound, and Motion Time lengthens the amount of the effect. It is akin to a short slap delay – but it’s unique. These effects, unfortunately, cannot be modified other than as mentioned. Toontrack opted to keep these simple, so all the multi-effects are behind the scenes only. While I was disappointed that I couldn’t select my own effects processors, it makes sense, and the effects are tailored to enhance the types of percussion on offer here.
Additional knobs are available in the bottom row of the mixer. The first is called Dirt and adds, well, dirt to certain bussed percussion elements. This can go from subtle grime (saturation) all the way up to full-on extreme distortion for drums that remind me of Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie or Rammstein. Again, the type of distortion changes based on the preset.
Next in line is Filter. As the name suggests, this allows you to filter out frequencies of the kit as a whole for that classic EDM drum filter sweep. And Pitch does intelligent pitch shifting. That is, it only pitch-shifts in reasonable ranges per instrument. So, something like a kick drum wouldn’t shift as far as a snare or hi-hats might. This is very slick in practice.
This pack includes a total of four MIDI files per drum kit for a total of 120 files. Each set of four files are programmed to make the best use of the drum kit they’re assigned to. And they are perfect starting points for many of today’s electronic genres. These files are broken down further by Basic – meaning there are two drum groove variations – and Melodic – meaning the grooves include the use of some of the melodic instruments included in this pack. This is a handy feature that allows you to create and modify melodies to go with your drum grooves. These grooves – or any constituent part of the MIDI file – can be deleted or copied into another MIDI groove. This system is very flexible; I only wish there were more grooves.
If you’re looking for realistic acoustic drums – or classic 909 and 808 sounds, then you’re in the wrong place. If, however, you are looking for something unique, these drum kits with some pretty groovy electronic MIDI parts and tailored effects work well to give you an excellent expansion.
- EZdrummer 2.2.0 and up is 64-bit only on Mac and requires macOS 10.9 or higher.
- Requires EZdrummer 2.2.0 or Superior Drummer 3.2.4 (or above) installation.
- 1.6 GB free disk space, 4 GB RAM
- Electronic, acoustic and Foley sounds combined
- 370+ unique and interesting sounds
- 30 unique kits
- 57 kicks, 49 snares, plus toms, rims, FX sounds, risers and cymbals
- Includes chromatic instruments
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