Beat machines and drum sequencers are just two of many instruments in a producers toolbox. In an ever-changing landscape of software and plugins, finding the right choice can often be tricky. Fear not, as today I’ll be showing off five of my favorite drum machine VSTs you can use today.
Looking for free options? Don’t miss my roundup of the best free drum kits, as well.
Table of Contents
1) BreakTweaker Expanded Drum Machine from Izotope
Developed by famous audio company Izotope, BreakTweaker is a drum machine plugin like you’ve never heard before. Build on the “MicroEdit Engine,” BT gives you the ability to manipulate audio easily by controlling pitch, rhythm, and texture.
Traditional drum grids are also a thing of the past. Creating complicated polyrhythms is no issue with BT.
BreakTweaker’s step sequencer can store up to 24 different step patterns that are launchable via MIDI for quick remixing. Storable sequences make for simple composition when working with chords and melodies.
The factory library included with BT includes 80 global presets with over 2GB of royalty-free sample content.
Izotope’s BreakTweaker is perfect for EDM producers: specifically electronica, house, trance, and dubstep.
2) Nerve by Xfer Records
Nerve is a powerful drum machine VST plugin created by the pros at Xfer Records. Developed by expert dance music producers, Nerve has an edge that some drum machine plugins miss.
You can either create your grooves and beats from scratch or use any of the factory presets: kits, patterns, presets, and sounds are all included.
The Step Sequencer is what Xfer calls “mouse-driven,” which gives you the ability to draw beats visually.
Nerve includes a whopping 2GB of samples. Full presets, drum kits, patterns, one-shots, and loops are all included. Notable sound designers who worked the project inc
3) Spark 2 by Arturia
Arturia is no stranger to exceptional sounding plugins and instruments. I love the V Collection, which is a set of analog synthesizer emulations.
Spark 2 is an inventive drum machine plugin that gives you access to a sound library that is at the forefront of music production. Here are some of the features:
- More than 2,800 instruments covering lots of styles
- Tons of pattern banks for each kit
- 16 track drum machine
- Virtual analog sampling, based on physical modeling
- Powerful pattern-based sequencing
- Real-time sequencer or classic TR-style sequencer
- Full-featured mixer with effects
- Modular synth engine
- Real-time performance looping
4) Punch by Rob Papen
One of the first plugins I bought was from a guy named Rob Papen. I’ve always loved the instruments from Rob, namely the Predator and BLUE-II.
Punch is a drum machine plugin with a twist: you can use synthesis to create a different sounding drum kit. You can also load samples into Punch and craft them into a unique preset.
Rob Papen’s Punch includes preset kits built by famous DJs to get you started quickly.
5) StiX by XILS Lab
XILS Lab is an audio developer famous for numerous synthesizers like the XILS 3, XILS 4, and PolyKB II. The StiX plugin is a virtual analog and multi synthesis drum machine, featuring a unique sequencer known as XoX.
StiX includes 2000 presets with 120+ globar presets, 720+ patterns, 700 drum samples, 60 drum kits, 390 exclusive samples, and more.
The StiX drum machine plugin from XILS Lab offers an incredible variety of drum sounds from several different periods. Whether you like vintage drum machines or newer digital ones, StiX has you covered.
Have you used any of these drum machine VST plugins? Let me know in the comments down below. I’d love to hear from you!
Also, for those of you looking for more of an analog vibe, be sure to read my roundup of the best hardware drum machines available today.
Thanks for reading once again.