FXpansion BFD Deluxe Collection ($249) is the company's third expansion pack for its popular virtual-drum instrument, BFD. Boasting eight drum kits recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Deluxe Collection includes additional drum kit pieces and articulations beyond the capabilities of the original BFD. As a result, the library requires BFD 1.5, and a free upgrade is available for registered users from the FXpansion Web site.
FXpansion BFD Deluxe Collection is a library of eight new drum kits for BFD, which were recorded by Steve Albini at -Electrical Audio.
The upgrade contains other enhancements, including an Envelope Damping control, which allows you to scale back long, ringing decays on some of the drums (see Web Clip 1). This has been one of the program's most requested features, and I recommend the version 1.5 upgrade to all users for that feature alone.
When first introduced, BFD (for Big F---ing Drums) was one of the most ambitious drum-sampling projects to date, capturing 24-bit drums in meticulous detail with multiple microphones and up to 46 layers of Velocity. Massive amounts of data, with a drum-oriented mixing/editing environment and a MIDI groove engine, have helped BFD set new standards for the realistic emulation of acoustic drums. (Visit www.emusician.com to read the May 2004 review of BFD 1.07.)
BFD Deluxe Collection consists of a staggering 55 GB of new drum sounds, sampled with up to 128 layers of Velocity. This higher level of detail demands greater disk space and RAM resources, and the collection gives you three installation options for various systems: Small has 30 GB of data and 32 Velocity layers; Medium has 42.5 GB of data and 64 Velocity layers; and Deluxe has 55 GB of data with the full 128 Velocity layers. You'll need 2 GB of RAM to take advantage of the full 24-bit Deluxe resolution.
The Medium set, according to my tests, will work well on a PC with only 1 GB of RAM but may require that you work in 16-bit mode with less than 64 Velocity layers for the largest kit. Even in this configuration, the library was rich and expressive. The package comes on five DVDs, uses a serial number for authorization, and can take an hour or more to install.
Kits and Pieces
The collection includes three vintage Ludwig kits from the '60s and '70s, and a selection of modern-era kits from DW, Gretsch, Sonor, Yamaha, and Backyard Drums. The star attraction of the collection is the Ludwig Vistalite Deluxe kit, which is featured on the front of the box. This classic clear-acrylic kit from the '70s is presented in all its glory, with six toms and double bass drums. Its dual kick drums are two sizes (22 and 24 inches), and while the 24-inch drum is lush and punchy, the smaller one was too boomy for my taste. That, however, is easily remedied thanks to the new Envelope Damping feature. The Vistalite snare is deep and beefy, with lots of snare buzz.
Snares with a tighter, crisper quality can be found in kits such as the Backyard, DW, and Gretsch sets, providing a well-balanced tonal palette. From the monster rock power drums of the Yamaha kit to the lively organic '60s sound of the Ludwig Mod Orange kit, the collection offers a variety of options well suited for straight-ahead and classic rock, as well as pop, funk, and fusion styles.
The pack's hi-hats and cymbals benefit from the added articulations and Velocity detail, and they are universally excellent. The hi-hats include ten articulations: struck with tip and shank of the stick while one-quarter, one-half, and three-quarters open or fully closed, as well as one articulation each for fully open and pedal closed. Ride cymbal sounds include hits on the shoulder and bell, and crashes include both shoulder and edge strikes. Snares include five articulations (hit, drag, flam, rim, and side stick), and kick drum samples are offered with a variety of beaters and with and without sympathetic snare resonance.
Overall, BFD Deluxe Collection is worthy of its name. Its emphasis on subtle detail can help impart the kind of nuance and living, breathing character that continues to blur the distinction between virtual instruments and the real deal. This kind of expressiveness and quality will make your BFD tracks a truly deluxe experience.
Value (1 through 5): 4