Drum VST plugins are becoming increasingly popular as sampling becomes more and more common. The term ‘drum VST’ is rather broad, so I’ll be focusing on all types, including virtual drum libraries, percussion libraries, beat machines, and even drum synthesis.
Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 is by far the best drum VST plugin available. The developers of the software went to extreme lengths to capture the level-of-detail contained in the massive 230GB library. But don’t write off all the others. I still have a tough time deciding between Addictive Drums 2, GetGood Drums Modern & Massive, and Superior Drummer 3. They are by far the best three libraries available.
Table of Contents
- The Best Drum VSTs at a Glance
- 1) Toontrack Superior Drummer 3
- 2. Addictive Drums 2
- 3) GetGood Drums Modern & Massive
- 4) Steven Slate Drums 5
- 5) Momentum by Impact Soundworks
- 6) Drum Weapons 3
- 7) Sync 3 from Audio Modern
- 8) Xfer Nerve
- 9) Tony Coleman Drums
- 10) Heavyocity DM-307
- 11) FXpansion BFD 3
- 12) Beat Machine 2
- 13) Drum Drops Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit
- 14) Synthwave Drums V2
- Free Drum VST Plugins?
- Wrapping Up
The Best Drum VSTs at a Glance
Today’s big-name drummer/producers, like Steven Wolf, rely on sample libraries to create hits for artists. The purist mentality of recording real drums for every record has vanished. Sample libraries are the way of the future.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are looking for more organic options, be sure to check out my roundup of the best acoustic drum samples in a new tab and read that after. I’ll be covering all different types of drum plugins for varying genres, so be sure to read through. Let’s take a look at some of the best drum VST plugins.
1) Toontrack Superior Drummer 3
SD3 was meticulously recorded by George Massenburg at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. The library is an impressively massive 230GB in size. SD3 includes six drum kits, additional percussion instruments, and approximately 350 vintage drum machine sounds.
Toontrack took this library a step further than it’s predecessor by recording an additional eleven separate room microphones set up in surround for a truly lifelike experience.
“Superior Drummer 3 takes music creation to a level of quality, flexibility, and authenticity beyond the imagination.” – George Massenburg, Recording Engineer.
“Superior Drummer 3 takes music creation to a level of quality, flexibility, and authenticity beyond the imagination.”George Massenburg – Recording Engineer.
2. Addictive Drums 2
Addictive Drums 2 is by far my favorite acoustic drum library on the list. The samples sound incredible, and XLN continues to add expansion packs. Be sure to check out my in-depth review of Addictive Drums 2 for more info.
The Custom XL bundle includes the Addictive Drums engine along with your choice of six ADpaks, six MIDIpacks, and six Kitpiece packs. My favorite kit currently is United Pop. It’s perfect for modern production.
While I use a multitude of different drum VST plugins (like GetGood Drums, for instance), I find myself coming back to Addictive Drums 2 the most.
The plugin includes a simple-to-use user interface complete with a mixer. Typically I don’t utilize the mixer included with sample libraries, as I route the outputs to Cubase, but the option’s there if you need it.
3) GetGood Drums Modern & Massive
I’ve raved about GetGood Drums in other articles. The sample libraries from Nolly and the guys are a go-to for me when working on demo productions. Modern and Massive is an incredible-sounding library, perfect for rock and metal production.
The drum software plugin is built on the backs of the Matt Halpern packs, which to its credit, is also a wonderful library I own. Here are some of the features:
- Perfect for contemporary rock and metal
- 9 snares, 6 kicks, 14 toms, two sets of cymbals
- Minimally processed for full creative control
- One-knob “turbo” for instant radio-ready production
- Trigger via electronic drums or program your own MIDI
- Awesome GUI
- Blend close and far mics to taste
4) Steven Slate Drums 5
If you browsed internet forums in the late 2000s, there’s no doubt you’ve already heard of Steven Slate. SSD5 is the latest iteration of Steven Slate’s drum library. SSD5 comes with a whopping 103 kick drums, 111 snares, hundreds of tom/cymbal/percussion sounds, and 1,000 groves. Some features include:
- A streamlined interface — super easy to load your favorite tones
- Advanced playback algorithm
- Deluxe 2 drum library — 50 new instruments, 10 new kicks and 10 new snares
- Easier routing
- Fader grouping
- Live preview — quickly audition sounds by clicking an instrument in the browser
In addition, there are plenty of expansion packs you can download from producers like Chris Lord Alge, Terry Date, and David Bendeth.
5) Momentum by Impact Soundworks
Created by Impact Soundworks, Momentum is a massive collection of 2,500+ unique and organic percussion performances. Each are categorized and tagged for simplicity while writing.
Note: you must have the full version of Kontakt (not the player). Here are some of the standout features:
- 2,500+ 24-bit rhythm performances
- 100+ instruments and kits sampled
- Both tonal and unpitched percussion included
- All loops also provided as WAV/REX2
- 120+ multisampled playable instruments and sounds
6) Drum Weapons 3
Drum Weapons 3 includes a massive library of 530 kits. You get 12 separate sounds per preset with 3,500 different sounds. Each preset kit has functionality for both the MP60 and SP1200.
And if you’re looking for more unique drum samples for your hip-hop productions, don’t miss out on one of my favorite sample packs from Real Drum Samples — Line of Legends.
7) Sync 3 from Audio Modern
Who doesn’t like glitchy drum samples?
SYNC 3 is a loop-based sampler instrument for Kontakt — perfect for electronic, trip-hop, futuristic, and other genres. SYNC 3 includes 28 construction kits with 1.19GB sounds in total. It’s perfect for sci-fi sound design in movies and video games, as well.
The kit comes from the team at Audio Modern, the creators of Atom Riffer, Opacity, and other award-winning virtual instruments.
8) Xfer Nerve
Producers, including myself, rave about Xfer’s excellent line of software instruments like Serum. Nerve is excellent, as well.
Sound designers/companies responsible for the creation of Nerve include SampleMagic, Richard Devine, Dom Kane, SampeSquad, Bitword, Noise Inc, and more. Nerve’s Step Sequencer is intuitive, allowing you to make adjustments with the mouse by either clicking rhythmically or dragging on the interface.
9) Tony Coleman Drums
Right off the bat on the more-affordable end is Tony Coleman Drums. For those unaware, Tony Coleman is a legend in the R&B scene, having worked with many artists including B.B. King, Etta James, Buddy Guy, and Albert King. The library captures his sound perfectly.
Tony likes a big and open sound to his drums; there are no dampened drum samples. I love the tonal quality of the kick in this library. Tony Coleman Drums includes over 20GB of samples recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN.
The kit from the session consists of a Mapex Black Panther snare (maple), Mapex Saturn Series Kit with 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, 16″ toms, 22″ bass drum, a Sabian 22″ AAX ride, a Sabian 18″ AAX crash, a 20″ Vault, a 18″ AAX Fast Crash, a Sabian 16″ AA hats.
10) Heavyocity DM-307
Heavyocity has been making big waves with sample libraries recently. They’ve made some of my favorite Kontakt instruments, including Gravity and Forzo.
The DM-307 is a powerful drum machine that includes 3,600 unique sounds, including modular synth drums, live percussion, processed analog drum machine samples. Oh, and you get 1,500 different presets to streamline your production.
Heavyocity’s drum machine is perfect for styles such as cinematic, electronic, hip hop, industrial, and many more.
The DM-307 features your standard 16 step-sequencer with a massive feature: you’re able to program an additional eight bars of sixteen steps, effectively making the DM-307 a 128 step-sequencer.
11) FXpansion BFD 3
BFD 3 contains seven new kits, a streamlined user interface, a faster audio engine, mix-ready presets, an improved groove engine, a rudiment tool, and tons of grooves played by famous drummers Steve Ferrone, Brooks Wackerman, Bobby Jarzombek, Peter Erskine & Stanton Moore.
The level of detail is remarkable, as many samples contain up to eighty velocity layers. The library’s total size is 160GB, but FXpansion has managed to create a lossless compression engine that squeezes the size down to 55GB.
12) Beat Machine 2
Soul-Tastik Drums is no longer supported. We recommend Beat Machine 2 as an alternative.
Beat Machine 2 has 600 kits pre-mixed and EQ’d—they’re radio-ready. The library features three decades of hip-hop drums: 90s, 2000s, and 2010s.
- 600 Brand new pre-mixed quality drum kits that cover the entire spectrum of Hip Hop
- 300 Stereo kits
- 1200+ dope drum samples included, already EQ’ed and treated for instant use
- 30 years of Hip Hop drums in one unit inc Boombap, East Coast, West Coast, Trap and more!
- 50 Brand new Hip Hop MIDI drum patterns included
- Easy stereo or more flexible sub-mix output options
- Separate kick, snare, hi-hat & percussion volume and pan controls
- Much more
13) Drum Drops Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit
I hadn’t heard of DrumDrops until recently when I stumbled upon these two disco kits. Lately, I’ve had a big love for kits from the 70s on records like Aja by Steely Dan and Storm at Sunup by Gino Vanelli. That’s precisely the type of sound you’ll get.
Those who like dry-sounding drums will love the Vintage Funk & Disco Dual kit. Both kits run off of the Kontakt player, so you won’t have to purchase Kontakt if you don’t have it.
14) Synthwave Drums V2
A total of 63 kits are included with twelve sounds each. Both processed and dry samples are included with Synthwave Drums. There’s thirteen kick-snare combo kits, five clap banks, four cymbal banks, eight hi-hat banks, four percussion banks, four reverse sound/cymbal banks, twelve tom banks, and a total of 1,356 one-shot samples.
Free Drum VST Plugins?
For those on a budget, check out some of these free drum VSTs. My favorite on the list below is the MT Power Drumkit 2.
- ML Drums — incredible free drum kit
- DrumTROOP — basic drum kit rompler
- Spitfire LAB drums — great sounding free kit
- MT Power Drumkit 2 — acoustic drums, one of the best free drum VSTs
- SSD Free — basic version of Steven Slate Drums, one kit included
- Drumactic 3 — now Drumatic 4, free version only offered as a demo
- T.REX 606 — made from a Roland TR-606 drum machine
- Djinndrum — free lofi drum kit
- Drum PRO — free drum machine for hip-hop
- Line of Legends — another hip-hop drum kit
- DrumMic’a — created by Sennheieser as a showcase of their drum microphones (huge library)
Obvious as it may be, free drum software is no where near the level of the paid options on the list in terms of tone and versatility.
I hope my article showcasing the best drum VST plugins has helped you in your quest for better productions. What are your favorites? Let us know down in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Looking for more options? Don’t miss my roundup of the best free drum kits and best metal drum VSTs of 2022. Also, for all the hip hop producers out there, don’t my article highlighting my five favorite drum machine VSTs.