Drum VST, be it free or paid ones, are becoming increasingly more popular for the simple fact that we are all producing music at home…
And let’s face it, it’s far simpler laying down a drum track than having to record one.
The are differences between both methods and each has their place, but today I’ll focus on Drum VST plugins the ones I consider to be the best.
I’ll go over the paid/premium ones first, and then I’ll list a couple of the free ones.
Let’s get started…
EZdrummer 2 by Toontrack (Windows, Mac)
Weirdly enough this was my first drum VST I ever bought, even through it’s fairly expensive and there are also some other free ones out there… but I love it.
EZdrummer 2 is the number-one selling drum vst plugin in the world for music production.
It’s designed to be quick and easy to use, since you can simply drag-and-drop the sample grooves you need on-to a midi track and you’re ready to go.
The grooves are performed by professional drummers and are recorded with top-notch gear in some of the best studios available.
If you don’t want to use the grooves that come with EZdrummer 2 you can easily create your own via a MIDI track.
It even comes with a “Song Creator” tool which allows you to drag-and-drop grooves on-to it and EZdrummer 2 will suggest other ones that have a similar feel.
This will allow you to compose a lot faster and even get new ideas quickly.
It features five different drum kits like “Modern” and “Vintage”, and if you need a couple new ones for other music genres, you can always purchase the upgrade packs.
The cool thing about EZdrummer, which is why I think it’s so popular, is its ease of use.
You can easily adjust the tempo of the song. You can even tap the tempo yourself.
Additionally, it sounds fantastic right out of the box…
Meaning that you won’t need to spend loads of time editing the sound… This is a clear pro.
However, should you want to add some effects, EQ, Compress, or do anything of this sort, the built-in mixer will allow you to do this easily.
What are its strengths; Good for composing and quickly laying down drum tracks. Good all-rounder.
- Tap to find your groove
- Add percussion on the fly
- Customize any groove in real-time
- Write an entire drum track without leaving the program
- Two sound libraries with five (5) kits in total
- Powerful audio engine
Find out more about Edrummer 2 here.
Related: Here’s a list of the best DAWs currently available.
Superior Drummer 3 by Toontrack (Windows, Mac)
I just mentioned that EZdrummer was designed with ease of use in mind.
This is because it’s more of a quick composition tool that also sounds pretty damn good.
But the whole point of it is to not spend hours editing the drum tracks, but rather create cool sounding tracks in no time.
Superior Drummer is a bit different.
It’s designed for hours of in-depth tweaking and editing, and its emphasis is not on composing music fast, but rather creating the best sounding drum tracks you can.
This is because it comes with over 230 GB of raw, unprocessed sounds in 44.1kHz/24-bit, giving you full control over the processing of those files, unlike EZdrummer.
Also, it features 6 drum kits and some additional instruments, as well as a built-in mixer.
Toontrack has also made transferring presets from EZdrummer 2 to Superior Drummer extremely easy.
Lastly, Superior Drummer 3 also allows you to drag-and-drop drum audio tracks into the “Tracker” window to identify hits, replace sounds or convert entire drum tracks to MIDI.
Just like with EZdrummer, SD3 allows for loads of expansion packs.
What are its strengths; Good for creating the best-sounding drum tracks thanks to its in-depth tweaking capabilities.
- Over 230 GB of raw, unprocessed sounds in 44.1 kHz/24 bit
- 6 Drum Kits and additional instruments
- Recorded with an additional eleven separate room microphones set up in a surround configuration for a completely immersive experience
- Playback in stereo or up to 11 channel surround systems
- Engineered by George Massenburg
- Integrated offline audio to MIDI conversion
- Approx. 350 vintage and classic drum machine sounds
- 35 mixer effects
Find out more about Superior Drummer 3 here.
Important Note: If you want to really learn how to use this plugin, then you could definitely do so via an online course which not only is excellent, but also affordable.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just learning on your own, which is actually how I like to do it, but if you don’t want to waste time at least you have this alternative.
Addictive Drums 2 by XLN Audio (Windows, Mac)
This is a great yet simple to use drum vst plugin.
The samples sound absolutely fantastic and the interface is clean and easy to navigate.
Just like EZDrummer, Addictive Drums 2 comes with a built-in mixer.
This is always nice to have, especially for anyone who is just starting out.
However, I prefer to use the tools my DAW offers… But it’s still a nice feature to have.
To get you started, this package includes the AD2 engine as well as the Fairfax Vol. 1, Fairfax Vol. 2, and Black Velvet drum kits so you can get to work right away.
It comes with over 5000 beats and 130 presets, ranging from super-clean to extremely processed and distorted-sounding.
Just like EZdrummer, you can drag-and-drop audio and MIDI to create cool-sounding beats in no time.
Basically, it’s designed to keep you in the creative zone since you don’t have to consistently tweak every single thing, plus setting up a drum track is extremely easy and fast.
What are its strengths; Good for composing and quickly laying down drum tracks. Good all-rounder.
- 3 AD packs (Fairfax Vol 1, Fairfax Vol 2, Black Velvet)
- MIDI Library (5000 beats)
- Specialty “Trig” Sounds included
- 130 Production-ready Presets
Find out more about Addictive Drums 2 here.
Related: Here’s a list of the best Synth VST/AU Plugins available.
Tony Coleman Drums by SONiVOX (Windows, Mac)
Tony Coleman is one of the best blues drummers to ever grace a stage.
He has toured and recorded with some of the greatest blues and soul artists ever, such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert King, and more.
This plugin captures his sound extremely well, and at a very affordable price, may I add.
The samples were recorded at the Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, and it’s over 20GB of them…
What is impressive about this plugin is how little it costs, which is just a little shy of $20.
If you don’t want to download one of the free Drum VSTs I list at the end, but want to keep the budget to a minimum, then this one might fit your needs.
What are its strengths;Good for composers. Plus, it’s super cheap!
Coleman’s kit that was recorded is as follows;
- Mapex Black Panther snare (maple)
- Mapex Saturn Series Kit: 10”, 12”, 13” Toms; 14”, 16” Floor Toms; 22” Bass Drum
- Ride: Sabian 22” AAX
- Crash: Sabian 18” AAX, 20” Vault, 18” AAX Fast Crash
- Hi Hat: Sabian 16” AA
- Over 20 GB of expertly captured drum samples played by blues legend Tony Coleman
- Recorded at Ardent Studios using top-shelf microphones and pre-amps
- Select kick and snare drums feature 2-inch Studer tape compression
- Intelligent Rhythm Control corrects note timing without sacrificing musically
- All-new audio engine for uncanny realism in any DAW
- Comprehensive part editing; pitch, compression, filters, and EQ
- Studio-grade master effects; reverb, compression, and EQ
Find out more about Tony Coleman Drums here.
Battery 4 by Native Instruments (Windows, Mac)
Native Instruments is one of the best-known names in the software- as well as hardware-creation business.
They are the creators of the best-selling guitar amp simulator, Guitar Rig.
Battery 4 is a drum sampler which has a lot to offer; Huge library of samples, 143 top-quality kits, and it’s very easy to use.
Battery 4 focuses mainly on electronic and hip-hop production, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants to produce pop- or rock music.
What are its strengths;Great for Electronic music, Hip-Hop, etc.
- Lightning-fast workflow for maximum creativity
- Supercharged library for electronic and urban styles
- Inspiring effects, intuitive routing and sidechaining
Find out more about Battery 4 here.
Related: Here’s a list of the best Reverb VST Plugins available.
Steven Slate Drums 5 by Slate Digital (Windows, Mac)
SSD5 makes editing your kits super easy.
Select individual drums, customize the mics and routing, choose your MIDI maps, customize your velocity and dynamic curves for each drum, and build your custom tone exactly as you want it.
This plugin offers; 84 kicks, 77 snares, 58 toms, 11 Hi-Hats, 6 Rides, 15 Crashed, 4 Splashes, 3 Chinas, 9 Percussion, 4 SFX.
What is impressive about SSD5 is not the number of samples, or even parts of the kit, that is so good…
It’s the sound quality, which sounds pretty much like a real drummer.
You can choose from dozens of presets and pre-made grooves for all music genres, but what’s also interesting is that SSD5 even features a couple electronic samples if you’re into hip-hop or EDM.
What are its strengths; Sounds fantastic. Good for composing since it’s easy to create grooves. Great All-rounder.
- Built-in Mixer
- MIDI map converter
- Easy to use interface
- Includes 84 kick drums, 77 snares, and hundreds of toms, cymbals, and percussion sounds
Find out more about Steven Slate Drums 5 here.
BFD3 Virtual Drumkit by FXpansion (Windows, Mac)
BFD3 is the third generation of FXpansion’s virtual drum software and it features 7 new kits recorded in 2 locations and dedicated rock, metal, jazz and brush kits.
Four of the included kits were recorded at the Ocean Studios in LA and feature additional mono room and hardware-compressed channels in addition to stereo overhead and room mics.
The remaining 3 kits are stick, brush and mallet versions of a custom Mapleworks kit recorded at the Omega Studios in Rockville, Maryland.
The focus of BFD3 lies mainly on realism, which is achieved especially in cymbal swells and tom resonance and bleed, which creates a sort of natural sounding “glue”.
Like most virtual drum kits, it also features a built-in mixer, which is always an added bonus if you want to adjust the drum sound directly from the plugin.
BFD3’s grooves are played by famous drummers Steve Ferrone, Brooks Wackerman, Bobby Jarzombek, Peter Erskine & Stanton Moore.
The user interface is also fairly simple and easy to navigate.
Not only that, but it comes with loads of different grooves with detail levels of up to 80 velocity layers, rim-clicks and rim-shots for toms and bells and splashes for hi-hats.
What are its strengths; Great all-rounder with fantastic sounding samples.
- 7 new kits recorded in 2 locations
- Dedicated rock, metal, jazz and brush kits
- More detail in less disk space
- Tom resonance / cymbal swell modelling
- Streamlined new browser and workflow
- Faster, more efficient audio engine
- Extendable interface for larger screens
Find out more about FXpansion BFD3 here.
Related: Here’s a list of the 225 best Free VST Plugins ever!
The Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit by DrumDrops (Windows, Mac)
You probably haven’t heard of DrumDrops before, but if you like the drum sound of the 70’s, specifically funk and disco, then these drum kits might be just for you.
It combines the DrumDrops Vintage Funk and Vintage Disco kits into a single Kontakt Player package.
When combined, both sample kits feature over 20.000 individual samples in about 4GB of compressed data.
The funk kit is a good all-rounder since it sounds a bit more traditional, or normal, if you will.
This is why it can work in almost any kind of mix; Funk, pop, country, etc.
Even though disco has -sort of- been dead for a long time now, having this kind of sound can be really useful.
Disco drums tend to sound a lot more “dead”, or dampened, which isn’t a bad thing at all… it all depends on what kind of sound your song needs.
Basically, if you like dry-sounding drums, you will absolutely love the Vintage Funk & Disco pack.
What are its strengths; Especially designed for funk and disco music.
Note: Both of the kits in this pack run off the Kontakt Player and load up in your Kontakt Library.
If you don’t own the full version of Kontakt you can load these kits in the free Kontakt Player sampler.
Find out more about The Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit here.
Synthwave Drums by BeatSkillz (Windows, Mac)
Synthwave Drums is a resurgence of the 80s drum sound.
Synthwave Drums not only brings you all the popular drum machine sounds but also brings dry and processed versions that sound exactly like the records of those years.
It features a total of 63 kits with twelve sounds each and they all sound phenomenal!… I absolutely love that “Stranger Things” kind of sound it has.
The interface has that retro vibe to it and is also super easy to use.
Not only that, but this is one of the most affordable plugins on this list and one of the greatest retro-sounding drum plugins.
What are its strengths; Especially designed to achieve that awesome retro sound.
- 12 drum samples per kit
- 63 drum kits
- Effects such as reverb, pitch, volume, pan, release
Find out more about Synthawave Drums here.
Nerve by Xfer Records (Windows, Mac)
Designed by experienced EDM producers, Nerve is an extremely versatile and great-sounding plugin.
With Nerve you can create your own beats entirely from scratch.
However, with its huge number of factory-included presets, drum kits, patters, and sounds, you already will have access to a huge number of sounds that come with it.
Even though this plugin offers numerous options and ways of tweaking the sound, it’s still really easy to use, which just means that you won’t need to invest as much time into it as you would with other plugins.
Nerve features a unique Repeater control which allows you to re-trigger one or more pads to create fills and variations, using the mouse or MIDI notes, on-the-fly.
What are its strengths; Nerve is specifically designed for Electronic Music.
Find out more about Nerve here.
Soul-Tastik Drums by Beatskills (Windows, Mac)
First of all, let me say that even though I don’t produce Trap Soul music, this plugin is wonderful.
The samples sound great and its ease of use is just ridiculous since the UI only has a couple knobs.
It’s was designed to be able to lay down a beat in a matter of seconds and keep the creative juices flowing.
It features 50 drum kits containing 12 samples each, which simply means that you get 600 samples in total.
Additionally, there are pan and release settings for every sample.
Lastly, it is super affordable!
What are its strengths; Great for easily laying down Trap Soul beats.
- 50 drums kits containing 12 samples each.
- Pan & Release settings for each sample.
- Master output, Pitch controls.
- Add reverb to glue the sounds with just one knob.
- GUI that’s pleasing to eyes and keeps you involved.
Find out more about Soul-Tastik Drums here.
Free Drum VST
I will list four free drum vst here since I already have a complete post about the 14 best free drum vst plugins.
If you need more information about those free plugins feel free to read that post.
MT Power DrumKit 2 (Windows, Mac)
The MT Power DrumKit 2 is a free sampler which offers high-quality samples of an acoustic, realistic drum kit.
The Samples come pre-processed which should make them sit nicely in any mix without any tweaking.
In addition to the incredible drum sounds that cut through any mix, it also has a fully pre-programmed groove library, which makes it extremely easy to set up a quick drum track for any song.
It also comes with a mixer where you can adjust the levels of each component, plus you can control the level of compression and panning.
Make sure to check out the official website here.
DrumMic’a! by Sennheiser (Windows, Mac)
This is a Free drum sample Software which loads inside of the free native Instruments Kontact Player.
This one allows you to change between Sennheiser and Neumann Microphones which will change the drum sound a bit.
This one also comes with a mixer where you can adjust the volume of each individual component of the kit and also allowing you to EQ, Compress, add reverb and delay, pan, etc.
DrumMic’a! is a fantastic option, especially because it’s free, check its official website here.
Line of Legends (Windows, Mac)
Line of Legends may look extremely simple to you, but don’t let it fool you, it’s a great plugin
It features high quality drum samples from the eponymous free sample pack released by realdrumsamples.com.
The interface is divided into 8 sections (Kick, Snare, Clap, Snap, Toms, Hi hat, Ride and Crash).
Each section uses its own individual output for an easier handling in a productive environment.
- 47 high quality samples.
- 8 individual outputs.
- Punch knobs for attack sculpting.
- Release and Pan knobs
Drumatic 3 by e-phonic (Windows Only)
Drumatic 3 is a virtual-analogue drum synthesizer.
All sounds are 100% synthetic and allow for huge flexibility and variation.
It sounds pretty good, just remember that the sounds are nowhere close to a real drum, but that’s the whole point.
Sounds: Bassdrum, Snaredrum, Handclap, 2 Toms, Hihats and a Rimshot / Bell.
- Graphical envelopes for amplitude and modulation
- Load / save presets for single sounds
- Simple but effective effect section for each sound with distortion and bitcrusher and a filter.
- 6 Stereo outputs, assignable for each sound.
- All parameters can be automated (midi-CC not yet supported)
Here’s a link to the Official Website.
Even though most paid plugins tend to be better than the free ones, in my post about the 14 best free drum vst plugins you will surely find one that suits your needs.
However, if you truly want the best sound and the best experience possible, definitely go with a premium one like EZdrummer, Superior Drummer, etc.
I hope this information was useful.
Have a great day!
- Best Choir VST/AU Plugins; Free & Premium! - April 7, 2020
- Audio-Technica ATH-M40X Review after Months of Use! - April 4, 2020
- Zoom H2n Review after two years of use (With Audio Samples) - March 31, 2020