If you are a Macintosh OS X based studio musician looking for quick and simple beats then Glaresoft's iDrum is the perfect software for you. You might not expect too much from $50 software but iDrum is very flexible and provides many useful features. They include the ability to edit the pitch, decay time, bit depth (my personal favorite!) and filtering for each drum part in your patterns. You can also import your own custom. .WAV or .AIFF samples for use in iDrum as long as they are smaller than 2MB. Unlike some "old school" drum machines, the nicely styled grid-based user interface provides individual velocity control for every step in a sequence.
iDrum comes in a simple package that contains a CD and a small Getting Started guide. The Getting Started guide covers the installation process and provides simple to use instructions on how to configure iDrum in your favorite OS X AudioUnit compatible software. Installation was a snap and authorization was painless. You simply enter the serial number found on the back of the Getting Started guide and you're done. You will need to have an internet connection to authorize iDrum. However, it is 2004 so I doubt the internet requirement should present a problem for most users. Glaresoft provides a 14 day grace period so anyone can get started with iDrum right away.
One small disappointment is that iDrum is only installed for the current OS X user. If you have multiple user accounts on your computer or if you use a server based authentication scheme for your studio users you'll need to install the program into each user's account. However, on the plus side, this process is clearly explained in the Getting Started guide and at least they even allow multiple users access to iDrum unlike other software programs like Reaktor.
One tip to finding more detailed information about iDrum is to click on the "Help" menu inside of the program or the AudioUnit plug-in. This will open OS X's Help Center where Glaresoft provides useful information in three primary sections: "Tasks, Concepts, and Musician Interface Overviews". Having detailed explanations about iDrum just a click away while working is a great feature. There is no doubt that iDrum fits right into OS X..
iDrum comes as a standalone program or it can be used as an AudioUnit instrument in Garage Band, Digital Performer, or Logic. The standalone program is simple and intuitive and the first time you press play you hear beats. I think of the standalone as a rhythmic test zone where you can create and tweak your own patterns. Integrating iDrum with your AudioUnit compatible software is very simple and the Getting Started guide provides instructions and pictures for configuring iDrum as an instrument track in Garage Band, Logic, and Digital Perfomer.
Another nice thing about iDrum is that Glaresoft did not skimp on providing a number of drum samples and patterns for you to get started with. The drum sounds range from the standard drum samples to eclectic electronic sounds to tablas. There are over 100 patterns to choose from and edit.
One of the most useful features that iDrum provides is an unlimited number of drum parts for your patterns. If your 15-part pattern needs that extra hi-hat layer adding an additional part is not a problem. Each track, or part in iDrum lingo, provides user controls for volume, pitch, bit-depth, simple high and low pass filtering, and even includes a choke control for programming realistic high-hat patterns. The iDrum GUI is very intuitive and provides a visual approach to programming your drum grooves. Each step in every sequence has its own volume control that is easily adjusted with the click of your mouse. Similar to the "follow the bouncing ball" approach, the iDrum GUI also provides a moving line along the top of its window to show you where you are time-wise in your pattern. If you are not into the pattern based style for programming iDrum you can also attach a midi controller to each part for playback.
There are also a number of other useful features which are not readily apparent but really make the software shine. They include the ability to save and load each part of a pattern as an individual file, standard midi file export options, and the most useful of all the ability to export the parts of a pattern as a set of individual .AIFF files. For example, if your sequencer can't handle a great deal of virtual tracks then you can simply export you iDrum pattern as a set of soundfiles, import them into your sequencer, and play them back via the audio engine instead of as virtual instruments.
iDrum is a great addition to any Mac OS X based music studio. It is simple and fun to use and the price can't be beat for what you get. Glaresoft makes it easy to try out iDrum by providing a full functional 30 day demo version which you can download. If you give it a try I think you'll agree that iDrum is truly THE drum machine for OS X.