Fxpansion BFD 2.0
It is time for yet another review and this time the nice people at Fxpansion
sent me not only one but two drum plugins to review.
I’m going to start of with the big brother BFD 2.0
FXpansion has been one of the industry’s foremost independent music software developers since 1999. Headquartered in London, with a worldwide team of creative engineers and passionate musicians, the company has established a growing range of plug-ins and applications which consistently win press awards and inspire a large and devoted user base.
FXpansion’s mission is to push the boundaries of audio software. Its products introduce fresh ideas and new musical possibilities while providing intuitive, usable interfaces for creative people to harness technology for artistic expression.
Brief history: Founded in 1999, FXpansion’s first products included plugin format conversion utilities and DR-008, a powerful drum synthesis/sampling instrument years ahead of its 2001 release date. In 2003 it released BFD, a revolutionary acoustic drum sample instrument which brought studio-grade multi-channel drum mixing within the reach of everyday musicians & composers. GURU was the company’s next major release in 2005, a sampling drum machine and loop slicer with a fast and creative work-flow that spawned a slew of imitators.
BFD2, released in 2007, and its ever-increasing library of compatible expansion packs built on an already wildly successful platform, making it the most flexible and feature-packed software drum solution on the market. 2009 saw the release of FXpansion’s first full-scale synthesis product, DCAM: Synth Squad. In development for 6 years, its included instruments typify the ethos of the company: forward-thinking technology, cutting-edge sound quality and new sonic possibilities, alongside innovative user interface ideas to make sound design easier and more intuitive.
About BFD 2.0
Customized 10, 18 or 32 piece kits are at your fingertips, with full control over tuning, damping, ambience levels, velocity response and more. Layer parts of the kit for powerful hybrid sounds perfect for modern productions and flick through preset kit-piece profiles for quick access to dry, damped and other useful settings. BFD2 lets you configure your sounds like a real drum kit instead of pushing buttons on a sampler.
You can even import your own stereo sample-sets with multiple velocity layers so you can mix and layer your own sounds with BFD2’s for experimental kits and ‘drum-replacement’ production tricks.
Normally i would now tell you about all the drums included in BFD 2.0,
but Fxpansion has a very nice page for this so get over to it and listen. click to se the Kit pieces
Installing BFD does take some time, even when installed to a Velociraptor dedicated for samples.
After some updating of sound files and the program, i had BFD 2.0 running as 64bit vst.
The GUI of BFD 2.0 seamed to have allot of tweaking potentials, That will in most cases be a good thing,
it all depends on how the tweaking behaves and how easy it is to understand what all things does.
With a plugin like this i really do recommend reading the manual.
All in all the first impression of BFD 2.0 was good.
The BFD 2.0 GUI is divided in pages, and the pages is divided in sections.
On the top you will find a static section selector that will take you to the main / kit page, mixer page, Grooves page , key map / automation page and last is the Preference page.
On the top right you have another static part with load and save options and a gain knob.
A common feature with drum plugins nowadays is that there is a complete drum kit showing where you can
pre-listen the different kit pieces by clicking them and it will show what slot its loaded in.
This feature is also included in BFD 2.0, but there is a big difference to how this section works,
The kit image changes and expands the drum view if you click the 18 or 32 tick boxes on the left.
The lower section have slots for each individual drum, Alt click a slot also lets you hear that piece.
You can do some minor tweaking here for pan and volume, you can also use quick swap arrows to brows pieces for that slot and you can double click to get a window showing all pieces for that slot.
These slots will also increase if you chenge the sice from 10, to 18 or 32 kit pieces.
On the left side there is a small pane that holds a link tool for linking kit pieces, Note learn for applying midi notes to pieces. A clear kit option and a move tool so you can move pieces around.
As i mentioned before you can here expand the kit (default is 10 slots) to 18 and 32 slots.
Midi selection shows the kit piece that you are trigging with a midi note and info will show extra info
like memory usage of the loaded kit piece.
The right side is divided in 3 parts.
On the top you will have more tweaking options for the selected kit piece.
A nice feature is presets for some elements on that kit piece this is a very sweet thing to toy with.
Here you can also control volume, panning how much you want the kit to be sent to the room ambient and overhead channels.
Below that you will find knobs for damping, tuning and dynamics control,
I have to say that this is very easy to understand and a cool approach to the tweaking of the drums.
You can easily tell BFD if you want a kit to bleed to kick or snare.
Below that you also find tweaking of the articulation and velocity.
and the lowest part is level control of the microphones.
Fxpansion has approached the mixer window in a real world mixer way.
There is bus channels, inserts and sends for each channel.
The mixer also contains 21 high quality plugins, all from eq, compressors to distortion and reverbs.
They all sound really Really good and i don’t think there will never ever be a need to buss each channel
out to separate tracks in the sequencer.
Not only that.. they are very easy on the cpu.
For me who loves Presets, BFD comes with presets for allot of different ellements in the Plugin ,
This part is something i feel is a bitt week in many plugins and sequencers.
They Key map window seams to be a god idea, however i found it very hard to use and iv been trying
to get it to work as i like but i always end up with using the default settings.
Sadly if Fxpansion did very good with presets throughout BFD 2.0 i feel this was left unfinished.
I do believe i will get it to work but i feel the concept is fuzzy or even a bit to hard for regular users,
musicians and songwriters to get a full featured drum kit set it up in a proper way.
I tried loading a GM key map that was included and it did not fit to the GM Drum map in Cubase 6,
the default key map only holds 3 toms, yet there is at least 2 kits that can load 4 toms!!
I am a big fan of Toto just listen to the Tambu album and you will hear some amazing drum mixes.
Using toms to gain more strength in the Beat and flow of the song can do sweet differences,
so i wish Fxpansion would have made a key map or 2 that uses all tom slots and double kick.
Remember not everybody is a Drummer.
The beat page on the other hand is flawless, i fell in love with it at the first minute.
And even though i complained about the key map features in BFD 2.0, the beat section is so great
that issues with Cubase drum maps can be overlooked when you start using the BFD beat editor instead.
You can actually do everything inside of BFD 2.0!!!!
Load a kit, Adjust the drums do some tweaks in the mixer to get the sound you want
and then go into the beat page and start making beats.
When you have a beat ready drag it out to your sequencer and start recording,
or make the complete drum track inside of BFD and sync BFD 2.0 it with your sequencer.
Or you can drag the complete drum track into your sequencer and Walla.. your ready.
If that’s not enough, you can actually assign beats to the keyboard as well .
Another thin i usual i do is to make a small sound sample for you using the included midi.
I did two this time 1 with only drums and one with some guitar and base guitar.
Remember this is just with minor tweaks and a some mixing compression on the master channel in Cubase.
BFD sound test and with instruments Rock test
The last page includes allot of settings for the BFD engine.
I am not going to write much about it since BFD runs stable direct out of the box as 64bit vst.
+++++ Sound quality is the best i have heard.
+++ Good and feature rich GUI
++++ Drum library has sound for all music styles.
++++ The mixer.
+++++ The built in plugins.
++++ Low cpu demands for this kind of plugin.
+++++ The drum Beat editor.
+++ Up to 32 kit pieces.
++++ Has a standalone mode.
— The size ( if that really matters, like on portable computers)
— The key mapping… No true GM support and no 18 piece key map.
— I have to point it out again. only 3 toms in default key map.
— Long learning curve.
— Would have been nice to have seen a bit more percussion sounds with the library
So after a few weeks of using the BFD 2.0 i am very pleased with it.
BFD 2.0 brings a Killer sound library for nearly every music style… if not all!
The GUI has everything close at hand but it has a bit of a learning curve,
once you get a hang of it BFD 2.0 is very nice to work with.
The sound you get from BFD 2.0 is state of the art and you cant go wrong with it.
It amazes me that i can get so many different sounds out of this monster.
The downside of this plugin and the main reason that Addictive drums is my recommended drum plugin is the huge size f BFD, its not suited for portable situations.
But all in all I’m very happy to have the BFD 2.0 and I’m looking forward to se what Fxpansion will change in BFD 3.0.
If Fxpansion can somehow squeeze the size and still deliver this sound quality, make the Key mapping a bit more user friendly i am sure that BFD 3.0 will be very hard to beat.
So if you have the space (hdd´s aren’t that expensive nowadays) and want the ability to tweak the drums to oblivion, and want to tweak the drums getting the sound you want? then i do recommend BFD 2.0
If you are in a portable situation or you have very little space at hand you probably should look at Fxpansion´s BFD Eco that i soon will review here on Dawfreak or Addictive drums .
Me.. I’m going to look into my wallet for BFD Heavy
”The downside of this plugin and the main reason that Addictive drums is my
recommended drum plugin is the huge size f BFD, its not suited for portable situations.”
But all in all BFD 2.0 is a Killer drum plugin.
Again thank you Fxpansion for giving me the chance to review this nice plugin.
And to all my readers.