Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 08:39 pm
Drum VSTs, 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 easier laying down a drum track than having to record one or hiring an actual drummer.
In this article, I will go over the best Drum VST plugins I found to be the best and give you my opinion on which one you should get.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Best workflow, incredibly realistic sound, and extremely easy to use.
Most realistic-sounding without much effort. Includes 7 kits.
Superior Drummer 3
Most in-depth Drum VST in existence. Hard to use and time-consuming.
The Best Drum VST Plugins
Here I will be listing the Drum VSTs that I consider to be the absolute best ones, especially the first ones on this list, such as Ezdrummer 3, Superior Drummer 3, or BFD3. I honestly prefer EzDrummer over all of the ones on this list mainly because of how easy it is to use and how great it sounds.
Now, let’s get on to the actual list itself!
EZdrummer 3 by Toontrack (Windows, Mac)
Top Choice: Easy to use and fantastic sound.
Weirdly enough, EzDrummer 2 was the first drum VST I ever bought, even though it’s fairly expensive and there are also some other free ones out there, and luckily it didn’t let me down. Fast-forward 10 years and EzDrummer 3 has been released!
EZdrummer has always been the number-one selling drum VST plugin in the world for music production since it’s designed to be quick and easy to use since you can simply drag and drop the sample grooves you need onto 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 3 you can easily create your own via a MIDI track.
It even comes with a “Song Creator” tool that allows you to drag-and-drop grooves and EZdrummer 3 will suggest other ones that have a similar feel, which simply allows you to not have to worry so much about the technical side of creating a drumbeat but rather focus on making music.
It features five different drum kits like “Modern” and “Vintage”, for example, and if you need a couple of new ones for other music genres, you can always purchase the upgrade packs.
The cool thing about EZdrummer, and also the reason that I think people like it so much, is that it’s all about creating beats quickly without any fuzz.
Additionally, you can easily adjust the tempo of the song, or even tap the tempo yourself.
In all honesty, it sounds great right out of the box, which is also the reason that I enjoyed using it so much over the years.
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
Related: Here’s a list of the best DAWs currently available.
Superior Drummer 3 by Toontrack (Windows, Mac)
Most In-depth Drum VST!
I just mentioned that EZdrummer was designed with ease of use in mind, and this is because it’s more of a quick composition tool that also sounds pretty damn good, with the whole point of it being to not make you spend hours editing the drum tracks, but rather create cool-sounding music in no time.
Superior Drummer 3 is a bit different, or quite different!
It’s designed for hours of in-depth tweaking and editing and its emphasis is not on composing music fast, but rather on 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.
It also features 6 drum kits and some additional instruments, as well as a built-in mixer.
Toontrack has made transferring presets from EZdrummer 3 to Superior Drummer extremely easy, which should at least help things get moving a bit quicker in SD3.
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 which are available here.
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
Important Note: If you want to really learn how to use this plugin, then you could definitely do so via an online course that 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)
Drag-and-drop interface. Great Sound.
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 which is always nice to have, especially for anyone who is just starting out in music production since you have all the controls right there in front of you. 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!
- 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.
Steven Slate Drums 5 by Slate Digital (Windows, Mac)
SSD5 makes editing your kits super easy. You can 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 are 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 of 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)
Ultra-realistic sound with a lot of in-depth tweaking!
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, 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
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; Specially 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.
Related: Here’s a list of the best Reverb VST Plugins available.
Battery 4 by Native Instruments (Windows, Mac)
Best Drum for Electronic Music and Hip-Hop.
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 that has a lot to offer; a 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 225 best Free VST Plugins ever!
Synthwave Drums V2 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; Specially 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, patterns, 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 of knobs.
It 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 the 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 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.
Jamstix 4 Free (Windows, Mac)
Jamstix 4 Free is basically an acoustic drum VST plugin that features samples of different styles recorded by different drummers, and you can choose who actually “plays” those samples via a drop-down menu.
Where it’s different from plugins such as EZDrummer, MT Power Drumkit 2, etc., is in the way the grooves are generated: In most drum plugins you select a groove and drag-and-drop it into the project, but with Jamstix 4 you don’t really need to do that since you can select a style and then simply use knobs to increase the number of kicks, snare hits, etc. that happen within that groove.
This means that you can start out with a really simple groove and with just a turn of a knob that groove will be completely different. This makes it ideal for beginners or for anyone who doesn’t really know how to program drums.
The free version is a tiny bit limited, but you can buy single drumkits as you go or simply buy one of the premium versions that come packed with features.
You can Download it here.
DrumMic’a! by Sennheiser (Windows, Mac)
This is a Free drum sample Software that 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.
Important Note: This VST is now a KONTAKT instrument that can be used with KONTAKT Player.
Steven Slate Drums 5.5 (Windows, Mac)
These are samples of a real acoustic drumkit by Steven Slate, and this plugin is a stripped-down version of their fully-featured premium plugin sold for $149.
However, even though you don’t get the fully-featured version, SSD 5.5 Free is an absurdly good-sounding plugin that any beginner should have; It comes with just one drumkit but it features three different presets, each already pre-mixed, and it allows you to control the dynamics of the drums.
Even though SSD Free is a cut-down version of their premium plugin, it’s much better than most other free acoustic drum plugins out there, so definitely give it a shot!
You can download it free here.
Drums by Spitfire Audio (Windows, Mac)
Spitfire Labs has launched its Labs project a few years ago which consists of a number of free sampled instruments that sound absolutely spectacular and I’ve used many of them to produce music at home.
These samples were recorded at Spitfire HQ back in 2012 by drummer Oliver Waton and engineer Stanley Gabriel and to my ears they sound perfect for something like jazz, light rock music, RnB, etc.
I would highly recommend that you also check out all of the other instruments they have available, which range from guitars, pianos, brass instruments, synths, and more.
You can download it here.
Drumatic 3 by e-phonic (Windows Only)
Drumatic 3 is a virtual-analog 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, Snare drum, Handclap, 2 Toms, Hihats, and a Rimshot / Bell.
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!