Having a good drum plugin is essential to your mix, whether you’re sampling or playing a drum synth it provides the blueprint to your tracks. We don’t all have the convenience of an in-house drummer and the control you have over the sound when using digital drums is unrivalled.
We’ve collected ten of the greatest drum plugins available so you’re never at a loss producing your beats.
If you don’t have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to insert plugins into we collected our ten favourite free DAWs here or if you just want to play around with them there’s a great list of VST hosts here.
Drumatic 3 by e-phonic (Windows)
Drumatic 3 is an analog drum synth that provides a great deal of flexibility thanks to it’s 100% synthesised sounds. There are graphical envelopes for each element of the ‘kit’ and 6 stereo outputs assignable to any of the seven different sounds. The video below doesn’t really explore Drumatic 3’s capabilities but it gives you an idea of the tools within it.
MT Power Drum Kit by Manda Audio (Windows & Mac)
This kit is made up of samples and sounds brilliant. All sounds in the kit have been processed to give the best sound possible. You can adjust the compression levels yourself for a more personal sound and choose from a Groove Library of thousands of rhythms to accompany you. Check out this awesome plugin kit.
SM MegaReaper Drumkit by SMM (Windows & Mac)
“The deepest sampled drum kit in the world” is your introduction to this incredible plugin. It features 127 velocity layers per kit piece and has 2-4 samples for each note velocity. It’s sampled from the excellent 1960s Ludwig Oyster Blue Pearl Drum Kit and has an unholy amount of amazing sounding samples. Unfortunately the kit only works with Reaper software but you can still download and use the almost 2 GB of drum samples in software of your choice.
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Beatfactory Drums by BeatSkillz (Windows & Mac)
This fat sounding drum machine emulator is sampled from the notorious MPC 2500 and is perfect for some heavy hip-hop beats. There are 10 kits included, an ADSR envelope to shape your sound and built in reverb to make your drum tracks boom. There are 12 pads each with individual faders and it’s simple interface means no-one gets left behind.
MiniSpillage by AudioSpillage (Mac)
MiniSpillage is a professional quality drum synth capable of high-res 64-bit DSP processing. It features a bass drum, flexible wood drum synthesising timbres to toms, and a 6 oscillator hi-hat generator each with a good level of customisable effects and filters.
EXD-80 by Third Harmonic Studios (Windows)
This virtual analog drum and percussion synthesiser is capable of a massive range of sound, from old school drum machines to “crazy, mangled glitch sounds”. This plugin is great for loads of styles like Dubstep, ambient, drum & bass, hip-hop and many more.
TS-808 by Tactile Sounds (Windows)
What would a list of drum VSTs be without an 808 emulator in there somewhere. Tactile Sounds’ 808 is software emulated on the Roland TR-808 so you know it sounds great. There are 15 different drum sounds with tune and decay knobs for most. Their creator claims his version has more parameters and range than their predecessor.
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Drum Pro by StudioLinked (Windows & Mac)
Drum Pro includes 20 drum kits, all of which can be expanded with more sounds and kits from StudioLinked‘s website. It’s got a great electronic sound and it’s kits take samples from a variety of classic drum machines. The customisation with effects and parameters is unfortunately limited but you can tweak a number of parameters globally like attack and decay.
TheDrumSource by Witech (Windows)
This a sample based drum machine built by Ola Wistedt when a friend told him he missed being able to program drums like he could on classic hardware drum machine. It features a 24 pattern sequencer, each pattern can be a 16/32/64/128 sequence and it supports a massive range of audio files for your samples. It genuinely works as well as a proper drum machine and has unlimited potential with it’s easily navigated sample browser.
MyDrumset by Bluenoise Plugins (Windows)
MyDrumset features kit recordings to recreate an acoustic kit in your computer. It sounds great as the recordings have been left untampered like many plugins so you have the noise of a raw kit. You can also set it up so each microphone sends separately to 12 different outputs so you can mix it like you would recording a real drum kit. There are 3 presets included recorded on a Ludwig Fab Four kit.
That’s our list of ten of the greatest drum plugins available for free.Hopefully there’s some ammo to fuel a load of new beats for you in the list. Are there any you love that we missed? Let us know down in the comments below.