We are very fond of Massey Plugins, not least for their excellent L2007 limiter. Their most recent offering is the DRT v2.0, an updated version of their Drum Replacement Tool plugin for Pro Tools. It’s just what you want if you need to replace your kick or snare sound in a recording, or maybe blend in some samples with what you already have. The plugin can analyze an individual mic channel and give you editable MIDI patterns, or you can use it to print samples straight to an audio track directly from the plugin.
As with all Massey plugins the DRT v2.0 is completely free to demo for as long as you like, and when you buy a license you get control over things like manual trigger editing and the MIDI output notes (useful if you use a separate sampler).
So let’s take a look at it:
DRT operates offline rather than in real-time, which is great because it’s almost instantaneous. This also means that you wont find DRT as a channel-strip plugin in the Pro Tools mix window, instead it’s hiding under ‘Instruments’ in the ‘Audiosuite’ tab.
The transient detection system is really smart and very easy to control with the loudness and sensitivity sliders at the bottom of the main window. Once you have fine-tuned these sliders so that just the transients that you want to trigger are highlighted, you can then either drag and drop a MIDI pattern straight into the edit window or alternatively head over to the Samples tab. On this page, you can load up a sample bank and export the correct velocity samples for each trigger as a continuous audio file, straight into the edit window in about three clicks.
Here’s one of the many useful video guides from Massey which shows the plugin actually in use, so you can get more of a feel for how it works.
The learn tool which comes in the full icense version is an excellent feature, because it means you don’t have to fiddle with sensitivity sliders at all. All you do is ‘Analyze’ the clip you want to use, and then select one transient in the edit window that you know to be right, a snare hit for example. Open up the ‘Learn’ tab and hit the learn button – now DRT knows exactly what to look for so when you select the whole clip again, all the snare hits will pop up in DRT’s timeline. Simple.
On top of that, you can also use the learn tool to exclude a particular transient sound from DRT’s timeline. Massey call this ‘the inverted learn method’. For example, if you want to pull the kick drum hits off an overhead channel, you show DRT what a snare hit waveform looks like using ‘learn’- and tell it to ignore them, then adjust the sensitivity sliders so just the kick hits trigger.
It’s easier than it sounds, so here’s a link to a video demo of how this feature works: DRT Inverted Learn
DRT v2.0 is generally easy to use, but don’t expect to be able to just load it up and use ‘out the box’ as there is a lot of functionality to understand first. The other usage guide videos on the Massey website are VERY useful and make the plugin quick and easy to learn.
Overall DRT is a very simple way of changing or adding to an existing drum sound, and it’s simply brilliant at it on multitrack so it’s well worth having. Splitting an overhead or stereo mix down into kick and snare hits is fairly simple, but don’t expect to be able to pull out hi-hats and toms as they are too fiddly to get consistently.
At $96, DRT v2.0 is the most expensive of all the Massey Plugins but then it is the most complex, and has a lot of useful features.
In the meantime, try out all the Massey plugins for free and if you think you are likely to use DRT regularly, then we highly recommend you upgrade to the full license because tweaking individual triggers becomes effortless, and the learn tool is genius.