Sonic Reality - Rod Morgenstein Kit - Review

Here’s my review for the Sonic Reality - Rod Morgenstein Kit

Pros:

  • This has my type of kick sound. Big, bloomy, airy, but focused. It’s amazing that only a single direct kick was recorded for these kits.

  • Good selection of snares. One kinda fat and tight, a looser one with a nice rim shot and a ringy one with overtones and less wires. These seem better to me than the Siebenberg snares, but some of this stuff is all preference at the end of the day.

  • Alternate articulations for the Ride, Crashes and Toms. Seems to be a theme with the Epik kits. I’ve gone with the alternate ride artics for both this and the Siebenberg because the bell worked better for me. The standard hits are fine, but I appreciate having the option.

  • Digging the cymbals again. You get a third Crash that’s darker sounding and very smooth. The Hi Hats are on point as well. Only the China didn’t excite me, but it’s not bad. Just a tonal preference for me. And the Ride… very alive and really makes the kit rock.

  • The Room mic seems a bit bigger than on the Siebenberg kit and it’s a great room sound. I was able to crush and dirty it up and it became a total character mic, so I was happy with that.

  • The Toms were kind of interesting. At first, I was thinking that the Siebenberg toms were better, but after eq’ing them I was able to get some interesting tones out of them. The rimshots especially, kinda remind me of Roto toms. Hard to explain, but they have a clear, snappy and boingy tone. I like them, but I’m not sure exactly why?

Cons:

  • Early on, I had an issue with what I think was the kick drum. When I was playing grooves, I would hear a clipping sound, or pop and it muted all audio from BFD3 and had to restart. I wound up trashing the artic tweaks file and that seemed to do the trick. Haven’t had that issue with it since.

  • I used my own BFD3 mapping again and just added whatever articulations I needed, I didn’t bother trying to work with the SR IMAP. Just easier for me working with grooves and where I’m used to seeing things laid out.

  • I honestly can’t really harp again on the absence of some direct mics. This was an engineering choice by Ken Scott and I think he proved with the sound of these kits, that you don’t always “need” them.

  • At unity gain, the level of the cymbals feeding the OH and Room mics seemed very low and not really balanced between each cymbal and to the shells of the kit, so it took me some time to adjust the trim and amb send volumes.

  • There are a few articulations that have volume issues with not being balanced with the other artics of the same kit piece, but BFD3 does allow you to easily adjust those, so not a huge deal.

Verdict: 8/10

So, I definitely had an easier time with this kit than the Siebenberg, but I think part of that is just being familiar with how these Epik kits were recorded and knowing how to deal with the quirks. Just to stay honest, I’m going to reserve 9’s and 10’s for something that really goes over the top, but the sound quality is there. It’s a great, natural sounding kit out of the box, once you balance it and it takes well to processing. To me, these Epik kits seem to be full of character and are very lively, but the room sounds aren’t so big that it overpowers everything, say something like London Sessions.

Here’s a video of my mix on the kit with BFD3 FX On, Off and this time I added a third example going over each kit piece and articulation.

Here’s the preset and key map I used.
SR RM Preset.zip (89.4 KB)

I found this pretty cool interview with Ken Scott and Rod Morgenstein. Ken spent 2 years on this project.

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Thanks for that, great review and very helpful :slight_smile:

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