The prices of top drum VSTs can often be outside of the budget for many people. Fortunately, there are enthusiasts all over the world that are willing to share their VSTs for free.
Most people feel skeptic about these plugins. Simply, it makes perfect sense that paid software feature better quality, especially in terms of sound characteristics. We can say that this is a general rule, but a great thing with general rules is that there is always room for exceptions.
In fact, there are many free drum VSTs that feature surprisingly good quality, not just in terms of the sound, but also in terms of additional features. Many of them come with large sound libraries, additional effect, separate outputs, and other things. Also, a great thing is that many of them work both on Mac and PC, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t try some of them.
Here is the list of 20 Free Drum VSTs that are actually great:
1. TS 808
One of the easiest ways to pick a good VST is to get one that emulates some famous drum machine from the past. As the Roland TR-808 is one of the most legendary drum machines of all time, it’s no wonder that there are numerous VST clones. The TS 808 is among the best ones.
Of course, this plugin includes all the sounds that the legendary drum machine features. Moreover, it also features schematics for each sound, which allows plenty of tweaking. In fact, it has a wider range for modifying than the original unit.
The only drawback may be the fact that there is no sequencer. Still, the TS 808 is an amazing plugin, definitely one of the best free TR 808 clones you can find, easy to use and great-sounding.
Download TS 808
2. Mini Spillage
This is a quite simple but hi-quality plugin, which is pretty much a typical drum synthesizer. It comes with three drum algorithms and features Bass Drum, Wood Drum, and Hi-Hat. These three pads are capable of creating a wide range of tones, drums, and other percussion instruments. Additionally, there are effects like distortion, as well as resonant filters.
The plugin may be simple, but it offers amazing sound quality. It features a 64-bit HD digital sound, and you will definitely hear all the benefits if you have good studio equipment. On the other side, a big drawback is a fact that it works with Apple Mac OS only.
Download Mini Spillage
3. Gnome Kick
While some plugins are designed to be versatile, this one is rather focused on just one thing – bass drum. It is designed to improve the sound quality of a kick drum. There is a so-called “Analog” knob, so you can adjust analog-like modulation and boost up the oscillators. In that way, you will get an extra thud, which is often missing in studio recordings.
Besides good sound quality, this plugin is also very easy to use. Everything is super-simple, while the plugin doesn’t have any special system requirements. It will work on pretty much any device and software.
Download Gnome Kick
Designed for Windows, the EXD-80 is a typical drum synthesizer, which primarily emulates a classic drum kit. Therefore, you can find typical modules like kick, snare, and hi-hat, as well as five pads for various percussion sounds.
Additionally, there are tons of sounds that are perfect for electronic music genres. There are 128 patches and 16 drum kit presets in total, which offers a large variety of sounds. You can count on a pretty solid 32-bit sound quality, while another important thing to mention is that all sounds are synthesized, not sampled.
Among additional features, we should mention 4 stereo output pairs, effects like Granulator and Waveshaper, MIDI note mapping, etc.
5. GTG-DPC 3
One of the best things about this plugin is the easiness of use. You will hardly find many drum samplers that are such simple, but also deliver a pretty good sound quality. If you look at the plugin’s overall layout, you will easily notice that there aren’t too many options, but rather 8 simple drum pads along with a couple of effects and parameters.
Speaking of the effects, there is a decent-sounding reverb, which works separately for each drum part. Also, a great thing is that you can upload your samples.
6. Synsonic BD-808
This plugin puts focus on 808 bass drum sounds and besides original features, it also comes with several nice additions. In terms of original features, there are typical controls like Accent, Level, Decay and Tone. Additionally, this plugin offers things like tuning in halftones, fine-tuning in cents, LongDecay function and several MIDI options.
All in all, this is a great plugin. Not only that is super-functional, but the sound quality is also pretty amazing. Also, it is important to mention that the plugin works both on Windows and Mac.
7. Synsonic BD-909
Another Synsonic product that resembles a legendary drum machine. In this case, it’s about the TR-909 Bass Drum tones. Visually, the plugin looks similar to the famous hardware, while the sounds are very close as well. Besides typical features of the original unit, there are also several additions, which provide more possibilities in terms of sound tweaking. You can use distortion, noise decay, tune depth and hold and pitch to shape the sound.
The plugin comes with a long list of factory samples, but you can upload your own sounds as well. Just like the BD-808, it works on both Mac and Windows.
8. Nasty Looper
The Nasty Looper is a quite powerful drum machine, which can be used for live performances as well. Its layout is pretty transparent and easy to use. There are 16 pads on the screen. 12 of them are used for various effects and controls. The last 4 are looper pads and this is the most interesting part of the plugin.
You can configure the beats number, while the break sequencer is included as well. Also, it counts with a fancy built-in Synth and a Brickwall Limiter instead of those annoying clips.
Finally, you can count on a generous soundbank of demos, which are provided by beat assist.EU, loopmasters.com, and VIPsoundlab. The plugin is designed for Windows.
9. Drum Boxx Synth
If you are looking for a versatile drum synthesizer, this may be a perfect plugin for you. The main feature of this freeware is that there are 12 individual signal channels, so you can independently tweak each one with equalizer, pitch, filter, distortion and many other effects. Of course, you can save all these individual settings as a part of a preset, which in practice means that you can make an extremely wide palette of drum tones.
Also, there are three independent stereo outputs, MIDI automation, delay and chorus effects, etc. The plugin comes with 10 factories presets, while there is also space to save 128 users presets. The only drawback is that you can’t use it on Mac.
10. Beat Factory Drums
This is one of the most popular VSTs around and there is a very good reason for that. First of all, there is a large library of sounds and all of them are sampled from hi-end drum machines, particularly from the MPC 2500. Also, it is available in several versions – for Windows, Mac, 32- and 64-bit, etc.
Also, VST is super easy to use. All controls and functions are on board and they are very transparent, so getting used to it is pretty much a matter of minutes. Definitely, something you should try at least.
11. Wollo Beat
Like many other virtual drum machines, this one is also inspired by the legendary TR 808. Not only that, but it also comes with tons of additional features, so it is actually a quite usable VST for any situation. Practically, there are two drumsets on the board, each with 15 velocity-sensitive sounds.
Of course, there are tons of additional effects and controls, such as volume, pan, filters, and pitch for each sound, as well as delay and reverb. The overall layout is very nice, though a huge number of controls may look confusing to some. Still, it won’t take too much time to get used on it.
A 3D-like layout is something you will probably like on this VST. Still, a nice-looking interface isn’t the only great thing about this plugin. It is also quite easy to use, as all controls are highly transparent. You can count on 20 free drum kits. There are 128 sounds on every kit, while 16 outputs make it highly versatile. Of course, you will also find those typical drum machine knobs, like pan, attack, pitch, release, etc. The sound quality is also pretty decent. It comes in 32- and 64-bit versions, both for Windows and Mac. You will definitely appreciate the fact that system requirements aren’t high at all, considering that there is an attractive interface, tons of features, etc. Even o with just 1GB of Ram memory, this plugin will work great.
13. MT Power Drum Kit 2
Although these VSTs are mostly about electronic music, you can also find a quality freeware that is designed for more common music styles, such as pop, rock, metal etc. This one is a perfect example. Just one look and you can see that the interface comes in typical drum kit layout.
Of course, you can configure a drum kit in the way you want, while there are already several factory presets. Moreover, the company offers access to a so-called Groove Library, where you can find thousands of already-built rhythms of various music styles.
Working on this VST is easy, but the thing we like most is the sound quality, which is pretty high considering that we are talking about free software. All sounds are sampled and deliver pretty realistic, natural drum sounds.
The KickMaker is another simple but highly effective drum plugin, which is designed to provide quality drum sounds. The interface looks great and it is very easy to use. It is a typical synthesizer drum, which uses four independent oscillators to create quality sounds. Each oscillator comes with independent ADSR curve, so you can easily conclude that designers of this plugin did a great job. The sound quality is great, but there is more. The VST also includes numerous built-in effects.
If you are a lover of old-school drum machines, here is a perfect VST for you. This one resembles the iconic LM-1 unit, which was used by pretty much everyone, starting from icons like Prince, Peter Gabriel, and others.
The interface closely resembles the original hardware, so you can count on that genuine feel. All controls and knobs are ordered in the same way. Just like the original unit, this one is also very simple, so you will probably have to add compressor and EQ after it.
The VST comes in both 32- and 64-bit versions for Windows, while the version for Mac has also been launched recently.
16. Vintage Drum Elements
Older generations definitely remember the iconic Yamaha RX5 drum machine, which has been hugely popular in the ‘80s. It was used literally by everyone, including some huge names like Vangelis, The Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, and others.
These days, it is very popular among musicians and producers who prefer synth-wave, vaporwave, synthpop, chillwave and other genres that bring that ‘80s flavor. However, these units are very expensive, so this may be a perfect alternative.
You actually get four setups (RX5 Kit 1, RX5 Kit 2, Synthetic and Ethnic), as well as one FX set. Also, there are four instruments (Bass, Clavecin, Marimba and Orchestra), so you actually get a pretty wide palette of sounds.
A classic 12-pad layout makes things super-easy, while the quality of preloaded samples is very good. Definitely a plugin you should try.
17. T.Rex 606
In the whole bunch of modern VSTs that offer tons of features and options, you may want to keep things super simple sometimes. If so, check this plugin. In terms of the sound, it resembles the famous Roland TR 606 drum machine and the sound is very realistic. However, the complete interface is so simple that even a child can play with it.
Compared to the original hardware unit, this one is much simpler. Practically, there are just seven classic sounds, on seven pads. Additionally, there are just two pots – Volume and Reverb. It can’t go simpler than that.
Both PC and Mac versions are available for download.
18. Drum Pro
According to most reviews, this VST is extremely easy and convenient to use. It looks like the designer managed to find a perfect balance between a number of features and easiness of use. 12 pads are pretty much everything you need to get a wide palette of sounds. In addition, there are numerous effects. Finally, 20 built-in drum kits of surprisingly good quality are everything most of us will ever need.
Another great thing is that both PC and Mac users can enjoy it.
Despite the age, the CM-505 is still a quite usable VST, especially for those who are searching for reliable and fast software. The overall layout is quite simple. The interface is very user-friendly, especially if we consider that this is a 12-pad drum synth and that each one comes with lots of independent setting possibilities. Still, none of them is overflowed with unnecessary parameters, so tweaking the sound is quite easy.
Speaking of the sound, I would say that the quality is quite ok. Some of the sounds are great, like kick drums. On the other side, toms and hi-hats are nothing more than okay. The overall impression is that the VST is more than decent.
20. Line of Legends
This VST may not look too attractive, but it definitely sounds great. This would be the easiest way to describe the Line of Legends. Those who prefer Hip Hop and similar genres are probably familiar with this one. Although the interface looks like a cheap app from the ‘90s, it is actually a very useful plugin.
The sound quality is actually very good. There are 8 individual outputs and each pad can be assigned to one of the 47 sound samples. Also, each pad comes with a lot of options for tweaking, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble to find a perfect sound.
As we’ve just mentioned, the sound quality is very good. However, keep in mind that this is not the most versatile plugin you can find. If Hip Hop music is your preoccupation, then you should definitely try it. Otherwise, you won’t regret if you skip it.
As you can see, it is possible to find a quality drum VST for free. This list includes various types of plugins, which are less or more suitable for certain music genres. Therefore, be sure to make a good selection in accordance with your preferences and try some of them.
I’m pretty sure that there is something for you. My advice would be to try as much VSTs as you can. Since they are all free, there is nothing to lose.