The 15 Best Drum VST Plugins (Free and Paid Options)

drum-vst-plugins

The right drum VST can make your beats sound amazing. These can help you create real-sounding drum tracks and e-drum machine sounds. There are plenty of emulators of iconic vintage instruments, samplers, step sequencers, all-in-one plugins, and virtual studio acoustic drum kits out there.

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.

1. Addictive Drums 2

Screenshot of www.xlnaudio.com

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 by just pressing 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. Xfer Nerve

Screenshot of xferrecords.com

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.

3. Dub Turbo DrumTROOP (Free)

Screenshot of plugins4free.com

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 on 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.

4. Superior Drummer 3

Screenshot of www.toontrack.com

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.

5. 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.

6. Native Instruments Battery 4

Screenshot of www.native-instruments.com

Native Instruments Battery 4 is a 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.

7. 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.

8. EZdrummer 2 by Toontrack

Screenshot of www.toontrack.com

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.

9. T-Rex 606 (Free)

Screenshot of plugins4free.com

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!

10. Synthwave Drums V2

Screenshot of www.beatskillz.com

Synthwave Drums V2 is a paid VST plugin for 80s lovers who enjoy that signature sound. This plugin includes a variety of sounds and kits, more specifically, 1300+ drum sounds, 73 multi-drum kits, and over 100 presets.

You can employ the simple drag-and-drop procedure for samples in your DAW of choice. It also comes with a set of effects and filters like volume, pitch, pan, release, equalizer, and compressor. Not only that, but it’s also quite affordable.

Overall, it’s an all-in-one solution of a drum VST that is compatible with Mac and PC and comes in VST3, AU, and AAX formats on a 64-bit host.

11. MT Power Drumkit 2 (free)

Screenshot of www.powerdrumkit.com

The MT Power Drumkit 2 is a free drum VST plugin with high-quality drum sounds that are pre-recorded with equalizers and compressors, bringing you natural and realistic acoustic sounds. This plugin applies to any DAW you can think of and supports Mac, PC, and Linux operating systems.

There is a multitude of sounds, rhythms, and grooves to choose from that are ideal for pop, rock, and metal genres. It comes in VST, AAX, and AU formats.

If you want a free, realistic drum VST library with high-quality, pre-recorded, and processed sounds, the MT Power Drumkit 2 is an excellent choice.

12. FXpansion BFD 3

Screenshot of www.fxpansion.com

FXpansion BFD 3 is a paid drum VST of BFD’s flagship software acoustic drum studio. It features high-quality tom resonance and cymbal swell modeling, along with many drum kits to choose from (all pre-recorded, mixed, and processed).

The BFD3 has an intuitive and extendable interface for a great workflow with mix-ready presets, a groove engine, a rudiments tool, and many more useful features. It supports both Mac and Windows users and comes in VST, AU, RTAS, and AAX formats as well as a standalone format.

With amazing modeling technology, detailed sounds, a huge variety of drums, endless tweaking controls, and a modest price tag, the BFD 3 is a great drum VST worth considering.

13. ML Drums (free)

Screenshot of ml-sound-lab.com

ML Drums is yet another free drum VST and one of the easiest drum samplers out there. This drum VST may not offer a HUGE variety of drum sounds, however, it has all the basics like a snare, kick, tom, floor tom, ride, crash, hi-hat, and china sounds.

There is also an extension package, the ML Drums Essentials (paid package), which adds more drum sounds and variety. All the sounds come with inbuilt reverb, compressors, and EQs, so the level of detail is astounding, especially for a free plugin.

If you want the basics, the ML Drums free VST is one of the best free plugins out there that delivers a realistic acoustic drum sound.

14. EZdrummer 3 by Toontrack

Screenshot of www.toontrack.com

EZdrummer 3 is the updated version of the previous Toontrack EZdrummer on the list. This is also a paid drum VST plugin but very worth the price. It comes with a very intuitive interface, with 7 drum kits and additional snares, kicks, etc.

This VST features onboard controls and effects, a step sequencer, a wide range of drums, cymbals, and percussion sounds, and an extensive MIDI library of grooves and fills. It’s the all-in-one solution for all your drum sound needs.

All the sounds are pre-recorded and mixed so they sound good right off the bat. The quality of this VST is superb, especially considering the elaborate recording process. With fully tweakable controls, you can bring out an amazing drum sound from this plugin.

15. Drum Mic’a by Sennheiser (Free)

drum-mica

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 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!

Conclusion

Drum sampling and synthesis have been around for decades. In the early days, these instruments were a synonym for 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 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.

Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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