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Wet, Wet, Wet!

LSW Poolside Drums Sampling CD

David Mellor tastes a hot product from the London Sample Workshop.

They say that the Colman family of Norwich made the bulk of their fortune from the mustard that appreciative customers left on the side of their plates. Perhaps something similar is true of sampling CDs. At a guess, I would say that no more than a tenth of the average sample CD finds its way into the average purchaser's sample library on floppy or removable hard disk. The rest gets left on the 'side of the plate' and, even if it isn't drained down the plug hole with the dishwater, its spicy flavour is never tasted as an accompaniment to the musical meal.

Anyone who has ever bought a sample CD at great expense will know that the excitement of first listening to it on the hi-fi soon fades when it comes to the slog of recording the stuff into the sampler and creating keygroups or presets. Chances are that you'll decide to leave some of the good stuff for later, and 'later' may be a very long time coming.

I say this partly because I think it's time that we samplists had a greater variety of material available to us at a reasonable price on a format that can be loaded directly into the sampler, such as CD ROM, or DAT, or CD with data for loading directly into the digital input of a sampler such as the S1000 (with the appropriate card installed) — also because Poolside Drums is not your average drum sampling CD. If you don't have a drum CD yet, then go out and buy the one by Bob Clearmountain for all the well-recorded stock material you're likely ever to need to create a sampled drum kit suitable for your basic requirements; meat and two veg if you like. But when you feel in need of something to add a little spice to your recordings then this may be just the disc you need. There are plenty of interesting and original drum, percussion and cymbal sounds here. You will never use all of them — you probably won't even use half of them — but those you do use will add that little extra something to your production that the ultra real studio drums of the Clearmountain disc, and similar CDs, will not.


"It sounds like it was recorded in a swimming pool!" That's what people say when they find a recording over reverberant. Well this recording was made in a swimming pool, at the Janet Adegoke Leisure Centre, White City, London. One can't help but admire people with the audacity to take a drum kit and a full complement of recording equipment to such an unlikely venue. But the producers, the London Sample Workshop, have succeeded in capturing an ambience that would be difficult, if not impossible, to simulate accurately with a digital reverberation unit.

If the thought of swimming pool ambience on every sample makes you want to reach for the towel and dry off, then be assured that only the right channel has the heavy reverberation; the left is close miked so that you can mix between the two to achieve the reverb balance you want. London Sample Workshop also offer the advice that if the reverb is too long, you can shorten it simply by turning down your sampler's input level control as you record the sample! Crude, but effective, and less time-consuming than editing envelopes.

So what are the sounds like? Well they don't pop out of the speakers like some recordings of drums do. Not taking the reverb on the right channel into account, I would say that these sounds are more Status Quo than Dire Straits, if you see what I mean. Better for a slogging backbeat than a hi-fi demonstration. One reason for this may be that dynamic mics only were used (the humidity was apparently considered too high to use expensive capacitor mics). The reverberation tail is long, as you would expect, extremely smooth, and I'd say that it's the reverberation that is the star of the show. It works better on snares than bass drums, and best of all on the hi-hat "assorted hits and patterns". For reference, the complete inventory of drum and percussion sounds includes sticks, snares, bass drums, hi-hats, toms, temple blocks, claps, rototoms, octobans, boobams, cow bell, bull whip (ouch!) and cymbals.

"London Sample Workshop have succeeded in capturing an ambience that would be difficult, if not impossible, to simulate accurately with a digital reverberation unit."


An interesting feature of the Poolside Drums CD is the inclusion of hits at various dynamic levels. For instance, track 5 features a Sonor 8" snare, firstly with a damper ring, at five increasing levels of loudness, then five soft to loud hits without the damper, and lastly five soft to loud rimshots. I don't have to say that you'll need a lot of patience to get the best out of these, selecting the best hits and setting the velocity zones, but if it makes for more expressive sampled drums then let's all do it!

As well as providing varying dynamic levels, there are also a lot of patterns on this CD. Although we all cherish our samplers, even the most dedicated sampler user has to admit that no-one plays the drums better than a real drummer. Sampling rolls, fills and patterns is a great way to make your sampler sound like a real drummer, and if you delve into the individual drum hits that make up the patterns than there is an even wider variety of sounds available on this disc than those listed. If you remember too to experiment with different mixes of the reverberant and dry sounds then there really is more on this disc than anyone will ever use even a tenth of. If you follow the advice that comes with the CD you may even find yourself sampling some of the mistakes that were 'deliberately' left in at the editing stage!

In conclusion let me make a few recommendations: don't buy this disc unless you have a 'basics' drum CD; don't buy this disc if you like every single sample neatly indexed and catalogued; don't buy this disc unless you have a sense of adventure and a desire to experiment. But, if you want some sampling fun in the New Year — do buy this disc!

Further information

£49 inc VAT and delivery.

London Sample Workshop, (Contact Details).

Previous Article in this issue

Keeping Track

Next article in this issue

Crystal Clear

Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - Feb 1992

Review by David Mellor

Previous article in this issue:

> Keeping Track

Next article in this issue:

> Crystal Clear

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