If you play guitar and regularly write and record songs, but you don’t have access to a drummer, EZdrummer 2 will quickly become your new best friend – here’s why…
Back in the day when I started in music production, MIDI drums positively sucked. They just sounded terrible, only being marginally better than a click track. You could use them, sure, as filler while you waited to record some actual drums but you would never dream of using them on a live track you planned on showing anyone.
Nowadays, things have changed significantly. MIDI drums – when programmed correctly – can and do sound almost as good as the real thing. And if you’re a bedroom producer that likes recording all of your own songs on your own, you will need to get acquainted with MIDI drums at some point. Or make friends with a drummer.
And one of the best MIDI drum solutions on the market right now, based on my 10+ years of using MIDI and/or virtual drums, is EZdrummer 2. I have spent thousands of dollars on drums software over the years, trying to find the most realistic, easy-to-use setup. I learned a lot, of course, things like dialing in tone and building out organic-sounding fills and beats, but I never felt truly bonded to one solution.
That was until I found EZdrummer 2. I downloaded it on the recommendation of a producer friend and, for the past 18 months or so, it is the ONLY thing I have used for creating and editing drum tracks. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use drums software that’ll sit beautifully in your workflow, adding new dynamics and textures to your riffs, EZdrummer 2 is exactly what you’ve been searching for. Here’s why…
What is EZdrummer 2? A Brief Overview
If you’ve never used drumming software before, you might be a little unclear on how software like EZdrummer 2 actually works. Essentially, what you’re getting when you purchase EZdrummer 2 is a professionally recorded drum kit, a bank of samples, based on individual parts of that kit, a selection of drums loops, and an editor for composing and putting together drum tracks. And you don’t even need to be able to program drums either; EZdrummer 2 has a “Song Creator” mode that’ll do that for you.
You can alter nearly every aspect of the drum’s sound, from things like hand power, how hard the drum is hit, to things like effects and compression. EZdrummer 2 comes with a range of presets as well, so you can dial in the sound however you like. Looking for a vintage tone for your drums? EZdrummer 2 has a preset. Need something more punchy and modern-sounding? There’s a preset for that too.
Another one of EZdrummer 2’s really cool features is that it doesn’t matter what your experience with drum software is – it can be used by anyone, from a total beginner to a seasoned pro. For instance, if you have no idea how to program a drum track, as many guitarists don’t, you can just use one of EZdrummer 2’s pre-programmed loops to get started. And there are loads to choose from as well, ranging from classic stuff to more metal-based rhythms.
You can also build out an entire drum track using EZdrummer 2’s built-in sequencer, so if you know even the vaguest structure of your song you can plan it all in EZdrummer 2. You could, for instance, add an intro beat > verse beat > chorus beat > verse beat > chorus beat > breakdown beat > chorus beat > outro beat. And, boom, you now have yourself a full song.
If you have loads of riffs lying around or ideas for songs that just require a bit of structure, I’ve found that using drums to organize things not only gives you a respite from thinking constantly in a guitar-oriented mindset, but it helps to “see” the finished song a little easier. I find that drums, once planned out and integrated in a linear fashion, tend to have this wonderful organizational quality that kind of just forces things to come together almost as if by magic.
If you’re writing regularly, and have lots of nascent riffs that require some “focus”, adding something like EZdrummer 2 to your creative workflow will force you to think more formulaically (in a good way) and this, in turn, will improve your songwriting chops.
In my case, I’ll have three or four riffs, for instance, when I sit down with EZdrummer 2. These riffs are usually a verse, a chorus, and maybe some additional licks. In my head, they’re connected, somehow, but it isn’t until I sit down with EZdrummer 2 and think about how the drums should sound that they actually come together and start evolving into an actual song.
This is where the magic starts to happen. From here, with my riffs and ideas organized, I can actually start to critique them, figure out what works, and what needs adding. From this perspective, it is so much easier to work on and create an actual song. This is why bands like Meshuggah often start with programmed drums first; it acts as the foundation for the song. And if you have a solid foundation, you can build anything.
What Does EZdrummer 2 Do?
EZdrummer 2 is what’s known as a virtual drum kit. It is designed to be portable, it lives on your computer so that it can be used in situations where using a real, live drummer is not possible, like if you record your own music at home or you’re a band that is touring and on the road a lot.
Once you have EZdrummer 2 downloaded, you can work inside EZdrummer 2 itself, using its sequencer and settings menus, and you can link it with a DAW like Cubase, Reaper, Ableton, or whatever music recording software you use. This means you can also record using EZdrummer 2. In fact, if you’re making demos or even albums, EZdrummer 2 will be all you need for percussion.
The versatility of EZdrummer 2 is what makes it so useful though; you can use it to record, practice along too, or for fleshing out song ideas, as we discussed earlier. Think of it as both a planning and creative tool. The way I use EZdrummer 2 is pretty simple: I’ll have some riff ideas for a song. I open EZdrummer 2, set up some beats, break them up into verse and chorus, and then start tinkering with things from here. After a week or two, and much trial and error, eventually, I’ll have something resembling what I envisaged.
From here, if I want to record it, I can then add EZdrummer 2 as a virtual instrument inside Reaper, my DAW of choice, and begin recording a proper demo of the track. After the guitars and drums are done, I can add bass and any other things I like synths, vocals, and any additional sound effects that are required.
Does EZdrummer 2 Sound Good?
If you have any worries about EZdrummer 2 not sounding quite as good as the real thing, I can assure you this just is NOT the case. Granted, there are plenty of MIDI drum programs that sound like trash, and some of these are paid for too, but with EZdrummer 2 your drums will sound incredible. And there is a very good reason behind why they do too…
ToonTrack, the company behind EZdrummer 2, has invested HEAVILY in this platform. It spent an ungodly amount of money developing and creating all the samples and sounds you have at your disposal. It didn’t just “lift” sounds from some royalty-free platform; rather, it went out and recorded them all in one of the best recording studios in the world.
The drums for EZdrummer 2 were recorded at one of the most meticulously built recording facilities in the world; Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios in London, England. Combining some of the most sought-after and rare vintage consoles, outboard effects and microphones with the best of the best in state of the art recording technology, the studio serves as a perfect combination of how old and new can come together in perfect harmony.ToonTrack
So, yeah, when it comes to overall sound quality with EZdrummer 2, you really do not have anything to worry about. Even if you could get yourself into a studio with a real drummer, you’d never be able to create a sound as good as what you get with EZdrummer 2. And that is one of the core reasons why I love this software so much.
How Much Does EZdrummer 2 Cost?
EZdrummer 2 is NOT free, you’ll have to pay for it sadly. But the asking price, $149 or £165, in my opinion, is very reasonable. ToonTrack has invested a ton of money and time into this program, and it really does show. The UX and drum sounds are incredible, the program is versatile as hell, and it’ll plug into whatever DAW you’re using. I’d happily pay double for EZdrummer 2 – that’s how much I love this software.
Is there a free version of EZdrummer 2? No, EZdrummer 2 is a paid-for tool, so you gotta break out the credit card to access its goldmine of sounds and features. And, for the love of God, please DO NOT use cracked versions EZdrummer. ToonTrack has invested a ton of money and time into this program, the least you could do is pay for it, and the asking price – $149 / £165 – is very reasonable for what you get with this software.
Is EZdrummer 2 Compatible With Mac?
Like all good software, EZdrummer 2 is designed to be compatible with Windows and Mac computers – both Intel and M1 versions. I haven’t tested it on ChromeOS but after doing some research online, it would appear that EZdrummer 2 is NOT compatible with Chromebooks. Not surprising, really – ChromeOS is basically just a Chrome browser, so this is to be expected.
If you’re running Mac, Windows, or Linux, however, you’ll be able to install and run EZdrummer 2 on your computer and/or laptop without any issues. Personally, I use a 2014 iMac and EZdrummer 2 runs brilliantly. With respect to performance, I haven’t experienced any issues whatsoever and the software itself doesn’t appear to be too harsh on its now-aging CPU.
EZdrummer 2 DAW Compatibility List
Here’s a quick overview of all the DAW software that EZdrummer 2 is compatible with. As you can see, all the big boys – Ableton, Cubase, REAPER, Waveform, and GarageBand – are supported. As I noted earlier, EZdrummer 2 is designed to be versatile and that means excellent DAW support as standard.
|Ableton Live||(version 9 or above)|
|Cakewalk||(version 2018 or above)|
|Cubase||(version 6 or above)|
|Digital Performer||(version 9 or above)|
|GarageBand||(version 10 or above)|
|Logic Pro||(version 9 or above)|
|Pro Tools||(version 12 or above)|
|REAPER||(version 6 or above)|
|Studio One Artist||(version 5 or above)|
|Studio One Professional||(version 2 or above)|
|Waveform||(version 10 or above)|
Is EZdrummer 2 Worth It?
EZdrummer 2 is one of the best virtual drum software programs on the market. For overall sound quality, EZdrummer 2 is about as good as gets with its myriad kits and sounds. In my 10+ years of experience using virtual drums, I honestly don’t think there is a better-sounding option on the market right now – not at this price.
But the really cool thing about EZdrummer 2 is that it is way more than just a virtual drum kit. It has effects, loops and patterns, and a sequencer for arranging parts, which ensures that everyone, from seasoned professionals to absolute beginners, can use it to quickly add epic-sounding drum tracks to their songs and compositions.
But what I like most about EZdrummer 2, aside from how good it sounds, is that you don’t have to know ZIP about programming drums to use it. You can just use its preprogrammed loops, add them in, and craft your songs that way. The end result, whether you’re designing your own patterns or using loops, is always the same, however: a KILLER-sounding drum track.
What more could you possibly want? You can pick up your copy today right here.