Music Software Review: Thunder X3M by Strezov Sampling [VIDEO]

Thunder X3M takes everything Strezov Sampling have done so far in the field of ensemble percussion recording and wraps it up in a most flexible and powerful package. Never ones to settle for the obvious, the Strezov Sampling team got creative with the drum combinations they were able to capture with their signature recording approach. So while the single instruments themselves may have been sampled extensively by several developers before, the unique selling point is the “drum orchestration” philosophy, especially when it is presented in a uniquely well scripted engine that allows for plenty of customization.

Below is a brief description of Thunder X3M from the Strezov Sampling website, followed afterwards by the video review (including timestamps):

“The concept behind the original Thunder Series was to capture unique instrument combinations playing live – on-set mixture between timpani and toms, between Bulgarian tupans, snare drums and many more. The series was held in high regard and after some further experiments with the second volume, the third instalment even featured a 15 men percussion ensemble recorded in a big hall playing together!

THUNDER X3M takes all three previous editions of the Thunder Series and breathes new live to the sample material by implementing a powerful engine that allows the user to manipulate and map the samples. This, along with a massive amount of brand new recorded samples, opens vast musical possibilities for every composer out there! The complete Thunder Series has been recorded with multiple Dynamic layers (up to 10) and Round Robins (up to 27 per sound).


  • 12 percussion zones – you can load up instruments from different categories into 12 separate zones (Low ensembles, High Ensembles, Ethnic Percussion, Epic metals, Sound Design Percussion, Distorted Percussion) and thus create your own percussive template! 
  • Pitch knob – allows you to adjust the pitch of the samples. Really useful to load a single instrument two times and then change the pitch of one of the zones. For instance – load up a solo Taiko low on zones 1 and 2, then decrease the pitch of zone 2 all the way to the left. And now your have even thicker sound of a taiko – be sure to turn on your sub speaker for even more awesomeness!
  • Transient controls – transient attack and sustain work like a compressor; the attack amps up the beginning of the wave file, while the sustain can increase or decrease the sample tail. These are just PERFECT for getting even punchier sound!
  • Separate volume and EQ controls for each zone!
  • SAVE AND LOAD functions that allow you to easily exchange templates between projects!
  • Integrated HELP file
  • Three microphone positions – Close, Decca, Hall
  • Two custom vintage analog hardware chains, (NYC Compression and Sub-Bass Enhancement), you can seamlessly blend in to enhance the sounds”

Thunder X3M is designed for the full version of Kontakt 5.0 (or higher), and requires 27.5 GB of free space. It is priced at USD 329, and it can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Strezov Sampling website, and is also being distributed by Best Service.

Watch Meena Shamaly’s review below, and use the timestamps underneath the video to skip around if you’d like:

0:20 Introduction to Thunder X3M
5:42 Low Ensembles
15:20 High Ensembles
18:09 Toms
22:06 Solo Percussion
23:58 Ethnic Percussion
25:42 Clacks
28:15 Epic Metals
31:06 Sound Design Percussion
33:10 Distorted Percussion
35:19 Rolls & Distorted Rolls
38:16 Test/Demo Description
39:49 Test/Demo Track (Full)
40:57 Test/Demo Track (Thunder Percussion Only)
42:42 Conclusions and Wrap-up

Written by: Meena Shamaly

Meena Shamaly is a composer, artist, multi-instrumentalist and performance poet based in Melbourne, Australia. His music covers a wide range of styles and sensibilities and often intersects with his poetry. He is part of international production house EON Sounds, working on various film, TV, video game, and production library projects.

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