Sampled drum libraries are becoming more and more popular as music creation becomes more accessible to bedroom producers and home studio owners.
Without a doubt, drums are the most troublesome instruments to record.
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Drum sample libraries allow for great sounding drums without the need of a live room and lots of microphones.
These libraries also give the producer more freedom to tweak individual sounds, leaving the artist with a more exceptional result.
Here are six of the best acoustic drum sample libraries you can start using today in your productions.
Looking for free options? Don’t miss my roundup of the best free drum kits of 2019.
Table of Contents
1) Addictive Drums 2 by XLN Audio
XLN Audio claims that Addictive Drums 2 is the ultimate drum production studio, and I have to agree. I began using Addictive Drums 2 because I wanted greater dynamic realism when programming drums.
Many drum libraries lack dynamism from quiet hits, rolls, and drags. When I program drums, I try to emulate the feel and playing style of the given genre.
Ghost notes are often weak sounding in other libraries when programmed. Others suffer from the dreaded machine-gun sound due to lack of multi-velocity samples.
Aside from dynamics, most of the libraries XLN sells for Addictive Drums 2 sound great.
Depending on your taste, you can pick out the kits you want. Unless you decide to purchase the entire library of drums, you can save money and only get a few.
Be sure to read my full review of Addictive Drums 2, where I detail the exact ADpaks I picked and why.
The only libraries I haven’t liked from XLN are the prog kits. They aren’t instrumental in the music I do, but maybe they will work well for you.
Addictive Drums 2 is available from Plugin Boutique.
2) GetGood Drums
I’ve written about GetGood Drums prior, and for a good reason. GGD was the first “real” sample pack I bought when it first came out. I was immediately blown away and began using it on everything.
GetGood Drums is a sample library collaboration from the members of the band Periphery. They needed a drum library that would work well for producing demos and albums. The result is the Matt Halpern Signature Pack.
I love every sample in the pack but tend to gravitate towards the larger kick sample and medium snare tuning. Overall, the library is handy for any genre, despite metal and hardcore music being the target demographic in their marketing.
GetGood Drums is available from Plugin Fox.
3) That Sound
For those producing indie and pop music, look no further. That Sound is a boutique audio company that has a ton of different sample packs suitable for modern genres.
They’re a company that should be on your radar (users of my link here receieve a 10% off coupon).
For our record STARCRUISER, I used the Nir & Jeff pack for the entire album. The kit chosen was a modified version of the Smack Tight preset.
The company has an excellent loyalty program that gives money off for simple things like your birthday, following them on twitter, sharing on Facebook, and following on Instagram. Referring That Sound to your friends also earns you money towards your next library.
Check out That Sound.
Drumforge is an audio company headed by producers Joe Wohlitz, Joel Wanasek, and Joey Sturgis. Their first sample pack, the Drumforge 1 Sampler, features an award-winning library of 54 drums and 14 cymbals that you may have heard on many major-label recordings (including ours).
I can’t give enough praise to Drumforge; I helped with the first round of sampling on the project back in 2015.
In Madison, Wisconsin lies a beautiful studio where Drumforge chose for the project: Blast House Studios.
We used a plethora of kits of all different tunings, sampling everything from the lightest tap to the loudest rimshot. And we took a lot of samples that day.
Drumforge is fantastic, in that, you get both processed and unprocessed sounds out of the box. The processed sounds are radio-ready, so if you need a drum library for writing or producing, check it out.
I am no way being paid to promote Drumforge; I’m happy to have been involved in the project and love the sampler.
As a side note, Joel, alongside Joey Sturgis and Eyal Levi, runs a website called Nail The Mix: the world’s best online recording school for rock and metal producers. Have a look if you’re interested in recording and mixing.
5) Superior Drummer 3
Toontrack hails it’s sampler as “the world’s leading virtual drum studio.” Super Drummer has seen changes across three separate iterations, with the newest boasting a whopping 230GB sized library.
SD3 comes packed with seven drum kits, shell dimensions from 6″ to 20″, tons of stick choices (sticks, brushes, mallets, rods), optional head selection, electronic samples, 25 acoustic snares, and 16 acoustic kicks.
Here are a few more of the features included:
- 11 separate room mics set up in
- Playback in stereo or surround
- Engineered by George Massenburg
- Integrated offline audio to MIDI
- 350 vintage and classic drum machine sounds
- 35 mixer effects
- Built-in MIDI editor
- DAW automation
The unique qualities and larger-than-life sounds of Galaxy Studios in Belgium were a perfect fit for SD3. The team from Toontrack and master engineer George Massenburg sampled the library with precise detail in this beautiful recording studio.
Superior Drummer 3 is available at Plugin Boutique.
6) Circle Drum Samples
Have you ever thought about recording and sampling drums outside? Oh, you have? How about out in a desert canyon?
Circle Drum Samples asked themselves this question and followed through in creating one of the most unique and exciting sample libraries I’ve ever heard.
Despite recording outside, the close sounds are slightly dry. There isn’t audible wind noise or anything you’d expect from recording outdoors.
In addition to the close mics, there are “room” mics, if you’d even call them that. These remote microphones capture both the ambiance of the outdoors and the natural reflections of the canyon.
Desert comes packed with three kits — all sound incredible. The Canyon kit piqued my interest as a sub-headline on the website reads “Zeppelin In The Desert.” I clicked immediately to listen.
In addition to Desert, Circle Drum Samples has six libraries in total and even some free samples to check out.
- Drum Room
- Drum Machine
Check out Circle Drum Samples.
What are your favorite acoustic drum sample libraries? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Thanks for reading!