A good drum VST can really take your beats to the next level. These can help you create a variety of sounds, from real-sounding drum tracks to electronic drum machine sounds.
You can find plenty of emulators of iconic vintage instruments, samplers, step sequencers, all-in-one plugins, as well as virtual studio acoustic drum kits.
This list includes the best pro options as well as good quality free drum plugins.
Note: This list includes Drum AU, VST, and AAX plugins, so there should be something for everyone. Make sure to check with each to ensure they are compatible with your DAW!
Related: Check out our great list of the best drum samples.
Here is our list of the 10 best drum VSTs that can take your beats to the next level:
1. Addictive Drums 2
Addictive Drums 2 is a very popular virtual drum production studio.
I like the interface on this one because you can choose the level of complexity you want to get into. You can get some great drum lines with just the click of a few buttons while also having a lot of options to really configure the sound you want.
Note: We received a copy of Addictive Drums 2 from XLN audio, but putting it on this list was certainly not a condition of receiving it!
It includes drum beats with many different styles of drum kits, from realistic-sounding classic drums, to more modern punchy sounds, to electronic drum sounds and other types of percussion.
Here is our demo video of a few of the presets from this drum plugin:
It sounds very realistic, and it’s particularly good if you want to use this plugin with an electronic drum set via MIDI connection because they map very nicely together.
There are a bunch of different options to choose from when getting this drum VST, so make sure to check out our review of Addictive Drums 2 because we go through it in more detail there.
2. Drum Mic’a by Sennheiser (Free)
Drum Mic’a is one of the best free virtual drum instruments around. You need Kontakt Player in order to use this, but the free version actually works fine, which is a great advantage.
This plugin has been made by Sennheiser, and its purpose is to demonstrate the versatility of their microphones. This comprises more than 13,000 audio samples. There are a lot of different features and a lot of things you can do with this plugin, so this is definitely one to check out.
It’s not limited; there’s no catch to downloading this (other than the library itself being a promotion tool for Sennheiser, which I think we’re all ok with!), and it works really well in productions. So, if you want to get something for free, then go for this!
3. Xfer Nerve
When it comes from Xfer, the maker of the much-loved “Serum” synth plugin, this is one to expect quality from.
Xfer Nerve is a fantastic drum VST. It was designed by experienced dance music producers, and it’s great for use in many genres.
You can either create your own beats by using the sounds you already have or use some of the thousands of presets, patterns, and sounds that come with the product. You can count on a very rich effects section, as well as on up to 8 stereo outputs.
It is a perfect tool for pretty much every electronic music genre, offering excellent sound quality. Despite numerous options, it’s pretty simple to use.
4. Dub Turbo DrumTROOP (Free)
DrumTROOP is a good option if you can’t invest in a more fully-featured plugin. Although free, it offers pretty good quality and plenty of features.
First of all, it is pretty easy to use thanks to its highly-transparent control. Also, it features pretty nice 3D graphics with several skins in the offer. In terms of sounds, there are 16-20 of them per kit. Still, the best thing about the plugin is that it should work on most computers pretty smoothly.
It doesn’t have high system requirements at all. Just two—1GB of RAM and 2 GB on a hard disc, despite tons of features, a nice layout, and up to 16 outputs. Above all, it offers pretty decent sound quality. It’s definitely worth trying out.
5. Superior Drummer 3
Another popular virtual drum VST is Superior Drummer 3. This includes some very high-quality drum kit emulations for recording. It was designed by award-winning engineer George Massenburg.
It is also extremely easy to use since its graphics emulate conventional drum kits.
There are six drum kits in total, which you can get a lot of variety of sound from, as well as various other instruments.
The sound library is huge, while connecting electronic drums via MIDI works very well.
Besides traditional drum kits, you can count on more than 350 vintage drum machines, as well as 35 mixer effects.
Such additional features make this product suitable not only for traditional pop and rock genres, but for electronic producers as well.
6. Single Cycle Vintage Drum Elements (Free)
For many of us, there is nothing better than the sound of an old analog drum machine.
The Single Cycle Vintage Drum Elements AU/VST plugin mimics the sound as well as the look of the legendary Yamaha RX5 drum machine, which was used by numerous icons like Vangelis, The Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Louie Vega, and many others.
It comes with 4 drum kits (Yamaha RX5 Kit 1, Yamaha RX5 Kit 2, Synthetic Kit, Ethnic Kit), 1 FX set, and 4 instruments (Bass, Clavecin, Marimba, and Orchestra).
It’s extremely easy to use since it comes in a classic 12-pad layout. All preloaded samples are very good. Not bad at all for a free plugin.
7. Native Instruments Battery 4
Native Instruments Battery 4 is the drum sampler that comes from a renowned German company that is well-known for its software and hardware for audio creation, production, recording, DJ-ing, etc.
This plugin has a lot to offer. First of all, you can count on a huge library of samples with 143 top-quality kits. Despite tons of options, it seems quite easy to use since main parameters like L-R switching, Volume, Key Range, Reverse, Phase invert, and similar things are easily accessible.
It’s a great tool for electronic music producers. You can buy this one either separately or as a part of the complete NI Ultimate package.
8. Djinndrum (Free)
Djinndrum is a pretty simple piece of software that emulates the iconic Linn LM-1. This classic drum machine was used by numerous pop icons, including Michael Jackson and Prince.
The graphics closely mimic the legendary unit, with almost identical controls and configuration.
Although it is free, it offers pretty decent sound quality. Ok, it might be a little dry for some, but nothing that a good EQ can’t fix. Definitely worth trying.
9. EZdrummer 2 by Toontrack
EZdrummer 2 is another drum plugin from Toontrack, although it’s usually a lot cheaper than the “Superior Drummer” line.
EZdrummer has some great sounds, but you do not get as much control when it comes to processing and manipulation of the sound.
It offers you sounds that you can use right away, and if you’re just looking for something quick and easy to use, then EZdrummer might be a nice option.
However, if you really want to get in-depth into the possibilities of sounds and the processing of the sounds, then EZdrummer might not have enough features for you when it comes to a paid plugin.
10. T-Rex 606 (Free)
If you want to go for a really simple VST made from the Roland TR-606 drum machine, then check out the T-Rex 606.
It contains 7 samples, a master volume, and a reverb. It doesn’t get much more basic than that, but if that’s what you want, then go for it. It’s free!
Drum sampling and synthesis have been around for decades. In the early days, these instruments were a synonym of electronic music. Today, these units are an integral part of many genres.
Not only is electronic drumming used by DJs and producers of electronic music, but even pop music producers use this tool largely in order to cut their expenses by replacing a human drummer. It can also help get a cleaner and more refined sound.
Even traditional drum machine devices are not as frequent these days. Modern technology brings drum machines in the form of software, which makes things much more accessible to all.
We hope this list has proved useful in your search for the best drum VST plugin!