Detailed guide for Superior Drummer access with NVDA

This guide is a work in progress

By now you should be up and running with a 90% mapped and functional drum set. If you haven't downloaded my preset, you may do that now. The only difference with this preset is the working choke on crash #1 that I had help setting up as the envelope section of the construct tab is inaccessible. It is not a requirement to use this preset but if you want a working choke then you'll need this. If you choose not to use this preset then you'll need to select your Alesis drum kit or which ever midi mapping preset you want to use from the midi presets menu under the midi submenu. If you choose to use my combined preset, then you need only to navigate to the load/save menu from the top of the Superior Drummer x64 bridged window using object navigation and going into the combined presets submenu, then down to user presets, and selecting the Alesis DM10 studio mesh kit which will load the correct midi mapping and the choke for the crash.

A word about combined presets

You may be confused as to what a combined preset is. A combined preset in Superior Drummer is a preset that has settings for every aspect of the SD2 interface. This means that you can set your midi mapping the way you want, and then load and save different aspects of other combined presets individually to create your own to get a rough sound before you go into actually mixing down the drums. We'll talk about mixing later on. So for example, you can have the bleed settings from the default kit with the drum kit from another preset, and say, the mixer settings from yet another preset to create something new. A word of caution, when you load other presets, you will always want to uncheck the envelope checkbox so as to retain the choke on the crash unless this is not important to you.

Hotspot set access

Below is a list of hotspots and their functionality. If you haven't gotten a copy of the hotspots, go ahead and download them now.

  • The construct tab
  • The mapping tab
  • The mixer tab
  • Mapping presets button, for selecting a drum kit midi preset
  • Load preset ok button, for loading a selected combined preset
  • Instrument button, for selecting a kit piece to remap or to edit an articulation. Not completely supported.
  • Articulation button, for selecting an articulation to edit.
  • Edit articulation only checkbox, checkbox to only edit articulation and not the entire kitpiece. For example a cymbal mute.
  • Save combined preset ok button, for confirming which settings you'd like to save to your combined preset. This may be the same button as the load combined presets ok button in the load combined preset dialog but I have it here just in case.
  • Save combined preset save button for confirming the save after entering a name for your preset.
  • 16 kit pieces including snare, kick 1, toms 1-5, cymbals 1-4, high hats, china 1, spoc, splash and ride. Selecting one of these kit pieces will bring up a menu to view other kit pieces that are available such as different snares that were sampled or different cymbals or high hats.
  • 7 check boxes for drum kit, articulation, bleed usage, bleed level/phaze, envelope, pitch and all mixer. These check boxes are in the load combined presets dialog, are all checked by default, and are unchecked when activated.
  • Check/uncheck all check box. Not clear on what this checkbox does, I believe it unchecks all 7 checkboxes in the load combined presets window.
  • EZ mixer presets button, unsure how this menu can be used but have included it for the sake of having it.
  • Mixer routing button, Very important for selecting multi-channel output for drums and microphones to be on their own track.
  • Microphone presets button, I'm unsure on the functionality of this menu but have included it for completeness.

Construct tab overview

The construct tab is the first tab and is always the default screen when you insert Superior drummer on a track. It, along with the tabs there on, have a static tab order at the top including the construct tab, mapping tab, mixer tab, grooves tab, bounce tab and a help menu. These items are not visible to NVDA in object navigation mode. The next line is visible to NVDA. Here is an example of what NVDA sees in my superior plug-in window.

V 2.4.1 (64-bit)

You will need to become very good at getting to the load/save menu because in here is where you will be loading and saving combined presets, hence the name of the menu. You can access this using navigation commands on your number pad or with the capslock key with shift, control and your arrow keys. If focus doesn't shift to the plug-in window immediately, press tab and you should hear NVDA announce the nave of the window. This is really all of using NVDA's object navigation that you will really need. The rest of the construct tab is a picture of a drum set with arrows next to each drum which, when clicked, brings up a context menu where you can choose alternative kit pieces for that particular kitpiece. For example, selecting snare kitpiece from the hotspots list it would activate that context menu and show you different snare drums they sampled for that particular expansion pack. The same goes for the rest of the drums and cymbals. This is especially nice because they sampled different sized drums which when combined give you a nice range of tones you really can't recreate with effects and this is especially so for the bass drum. The bottom of the window has buttons and menus such as the instrument button and the articulation button.

Mapping tab

The mapping tab is very similar to the construct tab with the major difference being the piano roll at the bottom of the screen and the midi presets menu and other midi mapping functions such as the learn button to map a note on the piano roll to a particular pad on your drum kit. I will go into more detail about doing this when I learn how to do it. This tab is where you can access the midi preset menu. This menu will not activate if you are not on this tab.

Mixer tab

The mixer tab is mostly inaccessible aside from the routing menu where you select multi channel which is important if you want full control over your drums and microphones in Reaper's track view. This can be accessed through the hotspot list. I am still figuring out how to get all bleed mics to show up or how they can be controlled in Reaper's track view without bouncing everything first.

Loading combined presets

When you select a combined preset from the load/save menu, a graphical dialog appears with different sections of the preset which you can uncheck if you so desire. These check boxes are as follows:

  • Drum kit
  • Articulation volume
  • Bleed usage
  • Bleed level/phaze
  • Envelope
  • Pitch
  • All mixer

By default all boxes are checked. For example, if you wanted to load the default kit but only load the bleed and mixer settings from another combined preset, you would select the combined preset from the menu and then uncheck all the boxes by selecting everything except the bleed usage, bleed level/phaze and all mixer check boxes. You would then select the load combined preset ok button and the bleed/mixer settings from that chosen combined preset would be applied to the default drum kit. Using this method of combining different combined preset settings you can get close to the sound you want without editing a bunch of S20 files. I recommend previewing all of the combined presets and drum kits for each expansion pack to see which aspects of each combined preset you like and then start loading only those settings individually from each of those presets. Once you are happy with the sound you like, you can move on to saving your combined preset from the load/save menu.

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