For fans of drum plugins, Wave Alchemy's announcement of Evolution caused plenty of excitement. Available as Kontakt Player format, this plugin will add 28,000 samples, and almost 5Gb of sounds to your productions. Boldly claiming to be the world's most powerful drum machine, I decided to investigate...
Starting with the look of it, a clean interface blending the elegant software look of Native Instruments Polyplex, with more traditional hardware drum machines, this plugin demonstrates its ease of use from first glance. All the knobs are organised and the tabs are clearly defined.
Moving on from their previous effort, Revolution, which was an instrument based of a colossal library of vintage drum machines and hardware, this goes further and includes a broader range of sounds beyond the classics.
At the price point of £150, it is almost 3 times more expensive than Polyplex, and falling just below the price of Battery 4, (also by Native Instruments), it automatically sets the user's standards and expectations to the max. To give this a point of reference, MusicRadar did a list of the 17 best VST/AU drum machines, and the prices are weighted mostly to the cheaper side - sometimes by a lot.
Backing up that price however is the extraordinary list of featured analogue and digital kits which have been sampled and added, not to mention the vast amount of extra sounds included from foley to live percussion. If the number 28,000 sounds like a good amount of samples, and you have a use for them, then this might be the selling point in itself.
In addition Evolution sports an internal FX tab which allows FX to be added and easily adjusted with the extensive macro system involved. All in all, this does allow a very powerful system for creation.
So, what doesn't this feature? Well for starters, it doesn't allow you to load your own sounds into it.
"Being able to load your own samples would kill the flow and design of the instrument. Everything has been designed through many thousands of hours of work to give the best user experience possible, and the sounds that power Evolution (almost 30,000), are in our opinion the best collection of electronic & sound design influenced drums ever created."
- Wave Alchemy
This is obviously one of the limits of the design scope, and of using Kontakt as a host - they have stated that making a fully standalone VST would cost more and take longer. This is probably the dealbreaker for many, especially considering how NI's Battery has this feature, and is hardly any more expensive. Besides that one feature gap, this instrument manages to be inclusive and expansive in its feature set.
What's the verdict? At the price point, it has already distanced itself from many new producers and producers on a budget, but it is hard to say the price isn't fair. This is a seriously pro piece of software and is already being purchased and loved.
If you are looking for a drum plugin that is fantastic, then this is probably as good (or better) than any others out there. The main contender is Battery, which has the extra feature of loading your own samples and is bundled in with Native Instruments Komplete packages.
For this reason, if you are considering buying Komplete in the near future, it would be very unwise to get Evolution. In any other circumstance however, it's probably best to check the demo out for both Battery and Evolution, to decide for yourself the merits of the sounds and the interfaces.