Review: BFD Crush expansion pack

Tuesday, 27 March 2018 8:10 am

American drum maker Crush has no modesty when it comes to describing its mid-range Sublime AXM Series as “truly a work of playable art”.

The kit has got good reviews thanks to its hybrid construction, pairing the “precise attack of ash ... with the warmth of maple”.

No, we haven’t taken leave of our senses and started testing acoustic drums, we found this out when pondering why BFD had selected this kit as its recent expansion pack. The answer: this is a punchy kit with enough cut-through power to satisfy the growing army of metal players. Until now, that other VST maker has been synonymous with metal, so it’s good to see BFD having more of a go.

What’s in the box

The BFD Crush expansion pack for BFD2, BFD3 and BFD Eco is a 6 GB digital download (which unpacks to 21 GB for BFD2 and Eco). In this age of digital delivery, that’s a decent size, but when you consider that it’s just one kit, you get a sense of how detailed the sampling is.

The kit used for the recordings has a 24” x 16” bass drum, 10”, 12”, 14” and 16” toms and three snares: a 14" x 5" Sublime, a 14” x 5.5” aluminium snare and a 14” x 7” hybrid hand-hammered steel snare.

The cymbals are Meinls: 14" Heavy Soundwave hats, Byznace ride, crashes and China and three crash/China stacks.

In action

When I said there was just one kit in the pack, that’s not quite accurate. In fact, there are five versions of the kit in different configurations and tunings. Then, there are 10 presets, from muffled to full-on ambient with lots of reverb. So, in effect, there are 50 kits out of the box. And, of course, the power of BFD means that’s just the starting point. You can duplicate toms and repitch them, you can add FX and change the sounds dramatically.

As well as a plethora of sonic options, there are plenty of articulations. The snare samples cover a centre hit, rimshot, rim click, side stick, half edge and drag.

The hi-hat has tip and shank samples, with five degrees of openness and a chick sound while the cymbals have edge, bow and bell articulations.

As you’d expect in a heavy pack, there are only stick articulations – no brushes, rods or mallets.

Overall

The Crush expansion pack adds some unique sounds to the BFD catalogue. It is based on a kit that has a cult following, and that in itself will encourage some folks to part with $99.

It is a relatively modest download and contains a large number of sound choices when you explore the presets and the kit options. And the sounds are pretty impressive: some thumping bass drums and toms, cracking cut-through snares and aggressive cymbals.

Coming back to BFD after spending some time with the new Superior Drummer 3, I have to admit that the host program is showing its age. It was a real breakthrough when it appeared in 2014 – streets ahead of the competition (although I never liked the CAD-style kit representations). Sure, BFD 3 is still a very powerful and relatively easy-to-use host with great sounds, but four years is a long time in technology and we can’t help wondering when it will get a revamp – especially now that it is part of Roli.