If you’ve been around electronic music production for any amount of time then you’ve no doubt heard of the various “virtual drumkit” instruments available. One of the most popular being BFD 2 from FXpansion.
Maybe you never understood what the purpose was, or maybe you just didn’t see the need to spend a decent amount on a bunch of “acoustic drums in a plugin”.
Well first I must say, I probably fall somewhere in that thought pattern of the “why” and “I don’t get it”….until I saw BFD Eco. Now I’ll be honest, I I’ve had a copy of BFD 2 to review but I haven’t gotten around to getting it installed yet! For one…it’s 55gb of drums!
So I was very interested when I heard FXpansion was preparing a “smaller, lighter, easier, yet full functional and awesome sounding version of BFD”
So let’s check it out!
What is BFD Eco?
To keep it simple, it’s basically a smaller, more space and budget friendly version of BFD 2.
It comes with less sounds, and a few less features…
yet still provides the high quality and usability that has made BFD famous over the years.
For instance, BFD Eco supports up to 24 velocity layers while BFD 2 supports up to 96.
BFD 2 can have up to 32 pieces in a drum kit, Eco maxes out at 12.
BFD Eco’s samples are loaded and played back at 16 bit while I believe BFD 2 is 24bit.
So it’s just a little bit lighter on the content, features, and depth, yet keeps the quality up front, and makes it easy to use.
- Content: 5gb of acoustic drum samles, plus 15 fx and over 1500 groove patterns
- Price: $149 ($99 for the new release promo)
How easy is it to use?
I’m not even going to lie, part of the reason I hadn’t installed BFD 2 yet, is because it seemed a bit “too involved just for some drums”, so when I saw BFD Eco on display at winter namm this past January, I was definitely intrigued. It looked simple, and I was quickly able to tweak the settings without knowing anything about it, no manual to read, just tweak and play.
The interface is very simple, and you have 3 main areas which include kit, channel, and grooves. Kit is where you view and setup your drums in the kit, the channel is where you can apply fx and eq to each channel/piece, and the grooves are where you can put together the various included drum patterns and adjust the settings to your liking.
I know what you’re thinking and NO you don’t have to just use the patterns included. You can sequence the sounds just like any other plugin, and you can even hook your e-drums up to BFD Eco and jam out that way.
The presets let you get a great sound quickly, either by loading an overall preset which includes settings for each part, or you can mix and match. Maybe you put together a custom kit but you want a specific mixer setting, or you already have the mixer setting you want but would like to browse through different kits. All easy, all drop down, and you can “lock” any parts into place that you want to keep while browsing.
How does it sound?
Okay, this is where it shines in my opinion, I figured “meh…it’ll be decent, some nice acoustic drums never hurt” but I was wrong. The sounds are very realist, and not only that, they are fun to play, the articulations and velocity response made this a blast to bang out on.
The included fx and mixer devices really allow you to get some classic tones. You also get access to things like mic bleed, room mics, overhead mics, and humanize amount for the velocity so your drums get some variation as you play them.
You may think that you can’t get much from 5 kicks, 6 snares, 12 toms, 3 hi hats, and 11 cymbals, but you’d be wrong. Think about it, drummers get all types of sound and feel from their drum kits and still may not have this many different pieces.
The power is in the mixing, the eq, and the fx…they have DCAM circuit modelling technology for compression, drive, and filtering as well as some yummy plate reverb goodness from Overloud’s Breverb.
I really liked the punch and dynamics of these drums, and you know I have thousands of drums…I see myself coming back to this often for everything from hip hop, to rnb to experimental music, the easy with which you can tweak and the quality/realness of the sounds make it that versatile.
Okay so, after all that talk, what’s the bottom line?
Fist, I must openly apologize to FXpansion for overlooking BFD for so long, now I see what all the fuss is about. Since most of my drum tracks are usually made up of single shot samples, I really didn’t see the purpose or why I would use such an instrument.
With BFD Eco, they are making it much easier to experiment and “see what the fuss is about” without sacrificing the huge space or larger price tag of BFD 2. That said, it’s very easy to upgrade and you can load the same expansion in BFD Eco as you can in BFD 2, they just load 24 layers and 16 bit when in Eco.
And I will also admit that Eco has me looking to clear a little space to test out BFD 2, but something about the simplicity of Eco keeps me focused on it.
I give BFD Eco 5 out of 5 subs, I really like it a lot. I think they hit it dead on with the simplicity, quality, and budget friendly price, yet still keeping it open to expansion.
The thing is this, for most people looking to add some acoustic drums to your music, this is more than enough and will keep you very happy…the price is undeniable and the quality is unmatched.
For those that want a little more in their kit, there’s always the upgrade option.
So go check out the demos, read up about it and if you’ve ever wanted to add some real convincing acoustic drums to your music but didn’t want to go “all in” on the virtual drum instruments….BFD Eco was made just for you. fxpasnion.com