Ample Sound is a software brand known for making some of the best instrument samplers. Their product catalogue contains a variety of different guitars, bass instruments and a few other things. Fortunately they also offer some free downloads, including a free steel drum VST, which I’m going to review today.
Download the Ample Percussion Cloudrum plugin for free on pluginboutique.com*.
Once you have installed and opened up the Cloudrum, you’ll notice that the plugin can be divided into different sections. The biggest part, which starts at the top-left corner displays an illustration of a steel tongue drum. Right below is a 2D keyboard, which shows the notes you’re currently playing. At the right site you’ll find a mixer, some effects & ADSR. A preset “menu” and some additional settings can be found at the top.
Like with most similar plugins, notes can be triggered using MIDI, clicking on the Cloudrum illustration or the 2D keyboard. In addition to just triggering notes you can also switch between two playing styles (sustain & mute) + there are 2 buttons to stop the ringing.
After clicking certain buttons I had problems triggering notes via my “computer MIDI keyboard”. To solve this I had to click on the 2D keyboard using my mouse sometimes. However, this problem didn’t occur while triggering notes with a MIDI clip or an actual MIDI keyboard so it’s really not a big deal.
Using the mixer you can set the volumes for 2 mics + an additional synth layer. You can further control the width of the ambient mic, adjust the global panning and make use of the mute + solo buttons.
The steel drum VST further comes with 4 effects, including a reverb, delay, 5 band eq and compressor. Considering that most DAWs have pretty decent stock plugins these effects wouldn’t have been necessary. They are however a nice addition and empower you to create a wider range of presets.
ADSR & Global Settings
In the bottom-right corner you can adjust ADSR settings for “Synth”, “Sustain” and “Mute” and in the top-right corner you can access some global settings, including the master tune, voices and velocity sense.
Some of the things I noticed while playing around with the Cloudrum plugin is that you can’t reset buttons by double-click or cmd + click. Since you can use the pad in the top-right corner to type in values with your computer keyboard this isn’t a big deal tho. There also isn’t a real preset menu, but you can navigate through the presets using the previous and next buttons.
Apart from some minor details the Ample Percussion Cloudrum works fine and does exactly what it’s supposed to do (especially considering that it’s free).
The overall sound quality of this steel drum plugin is really good and since you have 3 sound sources + 4 effects you can use the instrument for different applications – no matter if you want an organic lead pluck or ambient pad.
The Cloudrum is available for Windows and Mac in VST, AU & AAX plugin formats. You need about 1 GB of free hard disk space and if your computer can handle a synth like Serum this one shouldn’t be a problem either. Some further details about the specs can be found here.
All-in-all the Cloudrum is a great free plugin and if you have some space left on your drive you should definitely consider checking it out. It can be downloaded for free via pluginboutique.com* or vst4free.com. Now it’s your turn 😉