General Information

What is BFD3?

BFD3 is a complete acoustic drum software workstation. It offers: - a number of drumkits recorded with multiple mics at high levels of detail - deep functionality for tweaking aspects of each part of the kit - a versatile mixing and processing engine for sculpting the drum mic channels - a built-in Groove engine providing pattern-based drum parts with arrangement and editing - functions for routing audio outside of BFD3 alongside MIDI and audio export features

It comes with VST2.4, AU and AAX64 plugin versions and also as a standalone application. The VST2.4, AU and standalone app work in both 32-bit and 64-bit on Windows and 64bit on OSX.

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Is BFD3 supported on macOS Catalina?

BFD3 is compatible with macOS Catalina (10.15). The BFD3 demo is not currently compatible with macOS Catalina, but we're working on an update to this which we aim to release as soon as possible.

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Is BFD3 a boxed or a downloadable product?

BFD3 and the BFD3 Core Library are available as a downloadable product. The boxed USB version is no longer available - if you encounter any issues with the BFD3 Core Library download, please speak to our support team.

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Is it available in retail stores as well as online?

The boxed and download versions can be purchased directly from our website. In addition, the boxed version is available at local dealers, and the download version is available from selected online stores.

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Can I upgrade from BFD2?

Yes - the upgrade can be purchased directly from the BFD3 product page or in participating retail/online stores.

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How big is the download version?

Approximately 38GB - this is de-compressed to 55GB with a full installation, although the audio data can be installed in a small or medium disk footprint if you prefer.

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Are there any differences between the BFD3 boxed version and the download version?

No - they are exactly the same.

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Can I upgrade from BFD Eco or BFD 1.x?

Yes. There is a shop item for the BFD Eco upgrade. Please note that you must register the BFD3 upgrade to the same account as your BFD Eco registration. It is not possible to upgrade to BFD3 from any version of BFD Eco that was provided with any Digital Vaults expansion packs.

If you would like to upgrade from BFD 1.x, this can be arranged on request - please contact us for details.

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Can I upgrade from BFD Eco NFUZD?

Yes - there is a shop item for the upgrade from BFD Eco NFUZD or BFD2.

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If I buy a boxed version can I access the download right away?

No - it can only be registered for download access after it has been physically delivered to you. If you require immediate access to BFD3, you will need to purchase the download version.

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Are expansion packs available for BFD3?

Yes - any of the huge range of expansion packs compatible with BFD1 or BFD2 (or BFD Eco) is usable with BFD3.

A large range of boxed and download-only expansions is available from the FXpansion webshop.

Several third-party companies also produce BFD3-compatible expansion packs.

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Is there a printed manual supplied with BFD3?

There is no printed manual with BFD3. The operation manual is available in HTML or in PDF form for printing out your own copy.

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Can I use BFD3 without a DAW or host?

Yes - BFD3 comes with a standalone version which can be used without a host/DAW. BFD3 features pattern sequencing and audio/MIDI export functions so can be used as a self-contained tool.

If you have very advanced usage needs - for example, tempo or time-sig changes during a song you must use it as a plugin inside a DAW.

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Does BFD3 support languages other than English?

BFD3 is available only in an English language version, but it works fine in any language operating system.

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Is there a demo version?

Yes - it comes in all plugin formats and as a standalone app and times out after 30 minutes. It also does not save its state if it is used as a plugin in a project. There is also no internal saving of any preset types except MIDI key maps and automation maps.

The demo version can only load audio data that comes with it - this version cannot load expansion pack data. The demo audio data is 16-bit and includes a single kit with direct and overhead channels only, and limited articulations for kick, snare, toms (main hit articulation only), crash (bow, edge) and ride cymbal (bow).

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Can BFD3's audio data be streamed from the USB flash drive with the boxed version?

No - the USB flash drive is intended only as a delivery medium - it is not suitable for real-time streaming. Please be aware that the boxed version of BFD3 is no longer available for purchase.

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If I'm upgrading from BFD2, is BFD3 a drop-in replacement?

No, but BFD3 does load your BFD2 Presets and Kits if they are saved out first. BFD3 is a new plugin as it is very different internally and has a new key map to cover new articulations. However - you can load a BFD2 key map into BFD3 just fine and BFD2 can co-exist on the same system as BFD3.

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Are there any elements from BFD2 that cannot be loaded into BFD3?

Kit-piece presets from BFD2 cannot be loaded into BFD3 - this system has been replaced by Processed Drum presets - these allow you to save presets containing a loaded Drum along with Drum Editor and channel effects settings.

Also, the PSP Vintage Warmer effect introduced in BFD 2.1 has now been deprecated. The new DCAM Distortion effect features new algorithms which can be used for subtle warming as well as shredding distortion.

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New Features

What's new in BFD3?

Some highlights include a new high detail 7-kit library, tom resonance and spill modelling, cymbal swell modelling and a new and more flexible interface with easier sound-browsing and an extendable width window. Parts of the kit can be tweaked more deeply, with much-improved damping, dynamics and humanization functions.

The mixer features new effects including a new high-quality algorithmic reverb and DCAM-modelled envelope-shaping and distortion effects. External signals can now be used for sidechaining purposes with certain effects. It also contains more comprehensive control over bleed signals, better overviews of effect and send settings for all channels, as well as the ability for simpler BFD Eco-style mixing.

The key mapping interface has been redesigned, with several new ways of mapping articulations as well as the ability to create velocity splits.

The Groove engine features a new set of high-quality Grooves by pro session drummers, with the Groove editor now providing a suite of drum rudiments for easy creation of your own patterns.

Please see the full 'What's New' document here.

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What's new with the sounds?

BFD3 includes 4 kits recorded at Ocean Studios in LA, USA - these are geared towards... metal, indie,, 70s rock and pop, but are versatile enough to be used for all kinds of styles with the right processing.

Kits 5-7 are recorded at Omega Studios in Maryland, USA - these feature a tight and clean sounding room and provide stick, brush and mallet versions of a Mapleworks custom kit. These are perfect for jazz, pop and many other genres.

The presets supplied with BFD3 provide a wide variety of resulting sounds with the included raw kits.

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Tell me about the tom resonance modelling feature.

BFD3 contains physically modelled DSP algorithms which simulate the resonant behaviour of toms when kicks and snares in the kit are played. It also recreates the sound of kicks and snares bleeding into the tom mics without using actual recorded bleed signals for this purpose (this simulated bleed is known as 'spill' in BFD3. The benefit is that the modelled resonance and bleed vary depending on the loaded kick/snare as well as the toms themselves.

The purpose of these modelled resonances and bleed signals is to create a 'glue' for the entire kit which leads to a more realistic, organic and vibrant sound.

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How about the cymbal swell feature?

BFD3's cymbal swell function offers several models of cymbal wash behaviour. It intelligently shapes cymbal articulations when played in frequent succession to emulate the buildup of energy when playing a real cymbal.

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Sounds and Content

How detailed are the sounds?

BFD3 features new articulations: rim-clicks for Snares, rim-shots and rim-clicks for Toms and splashes and bells for hihats.

Many kits also feature additional ambient mic channels such as mono and hardware-compressed room channels, allowing greater mixing flexibility.

The following figures represent the maximum velocity layers per Drum class in the BFD3 Core Library:

Kicks: 60 Snares: 80 Toms: 50 Hihats: 65 Other: 50

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How big can I make the kit in BFD3?

The kit in BFD3 is limited internally to 64 pieces with a maximum of 5 Drums from each Drum Class.

To achieve this kit size you must have enough system resources and you must be able to map all required articulations to notes within the 128 key range of a MIDI channel unless you only want to play the kit with BFD3's built-in Groove engine, which internally addresses each articulation directly without using MIDI notes.

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Are there any brushed/mallet sounds in BFD3?

Yes - one of the kits is provided in brush and mallet versions.

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How many toms or cymbals can I load?

You can load up to 5 floor toms, 5 mid toms, 5 rides, 5 crashes and so on. However, going beyond a certain number requires you to create additional MIDI mappings unless you only want to address them directly from the Groove engine.

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What about kicks and snares?

Up to 5 kicks and 5 snares can be loaded, with access to all articulations as long as they are mapped to keys or accessed directly from the Groove engine.

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What are articulations and velocity layers?

Each drum, cymbal, hihat or percussion instrument within BFD3 features a number of articulations, each representing a way of playing the instrument.

Each articulation is recorded at gradually increased striking intensities from quiet to loud, with the range of samples designed to be addressed by the MIDI note velocity range. These individual recordings are called velocity layers.

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How long do kits take to load?

Overall, kit loading times are comparable to those in BFD2. However, please bear in mind that BFD3's library features more articulations and audio channels. The BFD3 library is compressed on disk in a lossless format, so data is quicker to load from disk.

In addition, BFD3's loading routine has been improved - it now loads velocity layers more intelligently across the kit so that each Drum is playable more quickly.

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What's this about compression?

BFD3's library is stored in a proprietary lossless compressed audio format, meaning that it consumes less disk space and resources when being streamed during playback. The CPU load for the decompression process is insignificant.

If the BFD3 Core Library was to be stored without compression, it would use approx. 160GB on disk.

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Mixing and Effects

Can BFD3's effects be used outside BFD3?

No - this is not possible.

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Does BFD3 support hosting of VST or AU plugins for internal effects?

No, but it features a wide range of high-quality internal effects.

Each channel in the mixer can be routed to a discrete output for processing in your host or with outboard hardware.

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Is there built in artificial reverb as well as the natural ambience channels?

Yes - the effects suite includes 4 Overloud Breverb algorithms as well as a new reverb developed in-house called FXverb.

FXverb is based on the Diffusor algorithm found in Bloom and is expanded to provide versatile and high-quality reverb sounds.

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Can you put separate EQ and compression on each drum?

Yes - there are 6 effect slots per mic channel, plus the ability to create further aux channels for sub-group processing.

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I see a "DCAM" logo on some of the effects. What's this?

DCAM is our proprietary analogue circuit modeling technology, and stands for "Discrete Component Analogue Modeling". DCAM enables us to build virtualized electronic circuits in code, the results of which are superbly authentic. The compressors in BFD3 are very realistic models of 2 of the most well-known studio compressors ever, and sound great even at extreme settings. The effects suite also includes DCAM-modelled envelope shaping, distortion and resonant filtering.

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I like to use group busses and side-chained effects in my mixes. Can I do that any of that in BFD3?

Yes. Aux channels can be freely created in the mixer, to which the outputs from multiple channels can be routed. Signals can also be routed as parallel sends. Certain effects, such as the Bus Compressor, can be sidechained from any other signal in the mixer. BFD3 also includes an external sidechain input for using with sidechain-enabled effects.

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Does the standalone support multiple outputs?

Yes, if your audio interface features multiple outputs, the standalone application will support them.

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Technical Information

What operating systems are supported by BFD3?

On Mac, BFD3 supports Mac OSX 10.9 or later versions. On Windows, BFD3 v3.2.3.3 supports Windows 7 or later versions. BFD3 v3.3.0.32 (Beta) supports Windows 8.1 or later.

Older OS versions may work, but we cannot support or test for them.

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Do I have to install all the content?

Yes, although 3 detail levels are available for the installation.

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Can I use my own samples in BFD3?

Yes - you can import your own sets of mono or stereo multi-velocity samples.

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Will my BFD2 and expansion pack content work in BFD3?

Yes - the BFD2 and BFD 1.x libraries, and all other BFD-compatible expansion packs - are usable after they have been specified within BFD3's content locations (data paths). If you have already authorized your expansion packs for use on your system, you will not need to re-authorize them for use with BFD3.

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I'm having problems with adding expansion packs to my BFD3 installation - please help?

Each content location can have either a /Data or /Audio sub-folder - not both.

If any of your specified content locations features both a /Data and /Audio sub-folder, the easiest way to overcome the issue is to create a new folder elsewhere, move the /Audio folder to it, then add and activate the new folder as another content location.

If you are continuing to use BFD2 on your system to load older sessions, the new folder should also be added to your BFD2 data paths after which the database must be rescanned.

If in any doubt regarding this procedure, please contact our support team who will be happy to assist you.

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Is there any latency built into BFD3?

No - there is no latency involved when using BFD3 apart from that inherent within your audio card itself.

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Does BFD3 support 64-bit architecture?

BFD3 supports 64-bit and 32-bit on Windows and 64bit on OSX.

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Does BFD3 support / take advantage of multi core CPUs?

Yes - BFD3 complies fully with your DAW's multi-core CPU management.

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Can I run BFD3 on a DAW with no Internet connection?

Yes, as long as you have access to a machine somewhere with Internet connectivity and a means of moving a small key file between the two machines (a USB flash memory key, CDRW, floppy disk or iPod for example).

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Does BFD3 support PowerPC processors on Mac?

No - on MacOSX, BFD3 works with Intel processors only.

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Is the sandboxing functionality in Garageband X or later supported by FXpansion products?

At this time, it is not possible to use FXpansion products in Garageband X or any other DAW/host which uses sandboxing. It is unlikely that this will change in the foreseeable future.

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Can BFD3 be set to lower detail settings to save memory even if I installed the full detail version of the library?

Yes - BFD3's engine preferences lets you reduce the maximum number of velocity layers or run in 16-bit mode which halves the amount of RAM used by BFD3. It is also possible to adjust the sizes of buffers used by the streaming routines which can also substantially reduce RAM use.

BFD3 also allows you to save/load profiles of these engine settings, making it quick and easy to alter BFD3's settings for different working environments such as a less powerful laptop for working while travelling.

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Is it possible to adjust the detail level of each part of the kit?

There are global preferences for detail settings and also a detail setting per Drum class so you can specify a single layer, 25%, 50% or the full set of velocity layers for all kicks, snares, toms, cymbals, hihats and percussion instruments.

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How many data paths does BFD3 allow?

Unlimited paths across multiple drives.

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Does BFD3 support drag-n-drop of grooves to hosts?

Yes, as MIDI or bounced audio.

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Does the new Groove engine load existing MIDI drum file/performances into it?


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Can MIDI files be exported directly from BFD3?

Yes, via drag&drop direct to host, Finder, etc, or using the Save menu in the Groove page.

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Can audio be exported directly from BFD3?

Yes, multi track audio rendering & export is built-in and extremely easy to use. You can export Grooves as audio, and also set up BFD3 to export what it's playing in sync with a host that is sending it MIDI. The export features allow you to 'record-arm' any channel in the BFD3 mixer - whether it is a direct mic channel, ambience channel or aux/master channel - so that the channel is exported as a discrete audio file. This means you can create multi-channel bounces very easily, which is something that not all hosts can do. The audio export features are built into the BFD3 interface itself, so you can use them either when running the plugin in a host or when using the standalone application.

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Using Electronic Drums

Which electronic drumkits and MIDI controllers does BFD3 support?

BFD3 comes with factory mappings for the following:

  • Alesis ControlPad, DM5, DM5 Pro, Trigger I/O
  • Alternate Mode DrumKat, TrapKat
  • Clavia DDrum
  • KAT KT1, KT2
  • Korg Pad Kontrol
  • MAudio Trigger Finger
  • Roland TD-10, TD-11, TD-12, TD-15, TD-20, TD-20X, TD-3, TD-30, TD-4, TD-6, TD-8, TD-10, TD-12, TD-20, TD-3, TD-6, TD-8
  • Simmons SD1000
  • Yamaha DTX Multi12, DTX500, DTX502, DTX700, DTX900, DTXtreme

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My E-Drum kit isn't on this list. Can I still use it?

Easy-to-use functionality is built in for setting up mappings for less common controllers like Zendrums, TrapKats, Mandala Drums, Hart, XDrum, Pintech, RET, Roland HD-1, HPDs and SPDs, Ion IED-1s etc., as well as customized or DIY controllers and modified versions of the factory supported controllers (e.g. TD brains with extra toms or cymbals from Roland or elsehwere).

You should be able to get a response comparable to your drum brain sounds as long as you have a suitable low-latency system on which to run BFD3.

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Does BFD3 support positional sensing?

Yes - BFD3 supports positional sensing using a MIDI CC for snares - to switch between the hit/half-edge articulations.

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Purchasing / Licensing

What kind of copy protection scheme is used?

This product features a challenge-response authorization system, with three installs on your own machines allowed simultaneously.

  • You do NOT need to have an internet connection on the computers on which it is installed.
  • You must, however, authorize the product before it can be used - there is no 'grace period' after installation.

We have tried very hard to make the authorization procedure as pain-free as possible. Please understand that it is necessary for safeguarding your investment in future development and user support.

Our products do not use iLok or any other unified protection scheme. We do not believe in such systems' security, and would rather not pass on their costs to our customers.

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Can I use it on both my laptop and main machine?

Yes - you can install on up to 3 machines as long as only 1 is running it at any one time. Site / volume licensing is also available (POA - please contact us for details).

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Do I need to re-authorize when installing the OS again or upgrading the OS/hardware?

A new major operating system version is enough of a change that the authorization system will require re-authing the product; point releases should be fine. Likewise, a significant hardware change will also require re-authorization. We will be monitoring the situation closely and adjusting the flexibility of the authorization system to get the best balance of copy protection and annoyance levels.

If reinstalling an existing OS without changing any hardware, you will be able to save the auth file and simply re-import it when authorizing the product again.

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Do you allow license transfers?

Yes, however:

  • If you're the seller, you must contact us in advance of the sale. If you're the prospective second-hand buyer, you must check that the seller is cleared to sell. If in doubt, contact us.
  • There is a flat $50 fee per product for a license transfer, which can be purchased from our online shop.
  • Review copies, NFRs (Not For Resale copies, sometimes used for in-store demos), etc., cannot be transferred under any circumstances.
  • We reserve the right to refuse a license transfer request.

Once a transfer is authorised and the fee has been paid, the new owner is entitled to exactly the same upgrade paths and technical support resources as if they had bought the product new.

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