Here’s a choice selection of the best drum VST plugins that you can get for a decent price as well as free downloads.
Nice and simple, KickR is a very basic kick plugin, which uses synthesis for the ‘body’ of the sound, samples for the ‘thump’ and then offers a noise generator for colour plus three-band EQ and a distortion effect for final tone shaping. The parameters are fairly basic, but they give you enough control over the sound to create a range of results. With the ability to load custom samples as well as choose from the built-in selection, you can get a huge range of sounds out of KickR and really tailor your kicks to suit each track. At just $19, it’s a very inexpensive way to get a taste of what makes the hybrid samples-and-synthesis approach so effective.
D16 Nithonat, Nepheton and Drumazon. €99 each.
This set of three VSTs emulate the legendary Roland TR-606, TR-808 and TR-909. All three synthesise their sounds in real time, based on models of the original hardware. The D16 instruments recreate the sound of the originals with incredible accuracy. But they’re also more flexible than the originals. Sets of parameters can also be stored as presets, allowing you to expand the plugins’ built-in sound palettes with your own custom combinations of sound settings. If you’re looking for the closest software equivalents to Roland’s legendary rhythm boxes, D16’s software tributes are an absolute no-brainer.
Dr-Fusion 2. Free.
Dr-Fusion 2 is a drum sampler and synth with 7 instruments with dual samples (kick, 2 snares, 2 percussion, hihat, ride and crash, 2 instruments with dual samples into which the user can load samples, 2 instruments with single sample slots (closed hihats, claps), 2 synths for toms and kicks, pads (for auditioning), LEDs (for monitoring) and Mute buttons, 2 samples can be loaded into many of the instruments for layering (the second sample can be muted), over 560 samples are built in, each sample-based instrument has a comprehensive set of controls (many can be automated), tune (1 octave), octaves and volume controls for each sample, main volume, volume envelope (ADSR), pan, any one of four FX: Distortion, Filter, Bit Crusher and Clipper, each with their own controls.
DigiDrum Pro. Free.
DigiDrum Pro is a five part drum and percussion VST plugin suitable for most genres of digital music production. It features an intuitive user interface packed with loads of sound editing parameters. The sound itself comes from a wave rom containing reproductions designed to resemble classic percussive instruments. These sounds are processed as you wish through the use of sound parameters and velocity controlled expression parameters.
- 5 separate DigiDrum parts with 5 user definable audio outputs
- 27 classic drum and percussion waveforms
- User wavefile import
- Parts can easily be layered to create even more complex sounds
- easy sound preview ensures intuitive preset programming
- A Versatile filter setup capable of many different timbres
- Velocity modulation of amp, pitch and filter to ‘humanize’ the feel of the beat
- Full VST automation of every sound editing controls
PunchBOX easily brings together the best of the two worlds. The expressiveness of synthesized sounds next to the richness and complexity of samples that end up delivering top-notch, never-heard of and dancefloor-crushing kick sounds.
DrumBurst X-824. Free.
DrumBurst is an 8 parts drum machine with 64 waves at each slot making 512 waves in total: not too much for a quick selection but a good variety to work with. This free VST plugin also has an inbuilt sequencer features 24 Main Pattern each based on the combination of a dedicated wave, Mute status and 1 out of 6 Step Pattern variations per part. This provides a lot of variation and less of programming effort as pattern can be re-used with a different instrument.