“It’s well worth picking up for any Rockband drum aficionado and it makes for a great practice tool for aspiring drummers!”
A review by Jon Saulnier.
I’ve always been a fan of goofy peripherals and I applaud any effort that allows you to squeeze a bit more utility out of the ridiculous plastic contraptions purchased for gaming systems. Drum Studio lets you breath some new life into your Rockband drum kit by basically turning it into a low budget, but satisfying, electronic drum kit.
Drum Studio includes a rudimentary sequencing program. You can record your playing; rewind and fast-forward through it to delete notes and do punch-ins and you can do overdubs. The lack of a step editor makes it kind of limiting in terms of how good the finished song will be, but step/staff editors are also always ungainly and downright unusable or painfully oversimplified when implemented on console based music apps, so you’re not missing too much by not having one. The lack of any kind of autoquantize feature is, however, kind of lame. What’s really awesome about Drum Studio is that it can be taken online, and you can jam out with people over your internet connection. The fact that you can engage in a virtual drum circle without any exposure to patchouli fumes using a one-dollar XBLIG app is an unprecedented triumph for technology.
The sample sets aren’t bad. There are some problems with normalization, so some are louder than others, but there’s a good mix of the sort of stock drum sounds you’d expect (yes, including more cowbell). The samples themselves sound pretty good, respond to velocity sensitivity when you’re using the higher end toy drum kits and the open/closed hihat samples work like they should (with the closed HH gating off the open HH). There’s a good mix of electronic and acoustic drum samples and a good selection within every type of drum and cymbal. You can mix, match and remap samples to your heart’s content and up to four drum kits and/or controllers are supported so you can have a maximum of twenty-four triggers available to you. My only complaints regarding the sound set are that there’s no way to import your own samples and there aren’t any sets of melodic samples. This is a drum studio so the latter can be ignored (though with a few bass samples and some lead stuff it would be possible, in principle, to make some fairly well produced full songs using the app), but I don’t really see any reason to not, at least, be able to record some quick vocal samples using the xbox mic. While the basic drum sounds are well covered, there’s a very limited selection of flavor sounds.
The animations are a bit cheesy, open and closed hihat sounds triggering the same animation of your avatar striking the hihat with its drum stick may cause a few of you to cringe ever so slightly, but this could have had no visual feedback other than the playback bar and have worked just as well. While the visuals kind of suck, they aren’t part and parcel of the experience so bad visuals don’t really detract from it.
While Drum Studio won’t work out as a substitute for a good sequencer/sampler combo or a real electronic drum kit it’s fun, musically usable and extremely well executed for what it is. It’s also, even with the addition of two Rockband drum kits (for the FULL experience), exponentially cheaper than anything resembling it in the proaudio world. It’s well worth picking up for any Rockband drum aficionado and it makes for a great practice tool for aspiring drummers (though the lack of a built in metronome feature is kind of strange).
Game Score: 8/10.
Download a free demo of the game here.