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Best Drum VST Plugins 2024: I Tested 27 Top Picks

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Are you looking to find the best drum VST plugins that sound great and aren’t outdated? Keep reading—I’ve got 27 great picks, both free and paid, for almost every genre to help you find what you need.

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’s Superior Drummer 3 is the best drum VST plugin I’ve used, featuring a massive 230GB library recorded by the legendary George Massenburg.

The Best Drum VSTs: Gear Guide

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

  • Drum sample engine with over 230GB of raw, unprocessed sounds
  • Recorded by the legendary George Massenburg
  • 35 studio-quality insert effects
  • Built-in grid editor
SweetwaterGuitar Center
Read Review
Addictive Drums 2

Addictive Drums 2

  • Professionally recorded acoustic drums
  • Live rhythm performance MIDI files
  • Tons of additional ADpaks to expand your library
Read Review
GetGood Drums Modern & Massive

GetGood Drums Modern & Massive

  • Nine snares, six kick drums, fourteen toms, and ten cymbals
  • Works with the free Kontakt Player
  • Built-in groove player
SweetwaterPlugin Fox
Read Review
Steven Slate Drums 5

Steven Slate Drums 5

  • 84 kicks, 77 snares, 58 toms, 11 hats, 6 rides, 14 crashes, 4 splashes, 3 chinas, 9 various percussion, 4 SFX
  • Easy routing
  • Tons of expansions from Chris Lord Alge, Terry Date, and David Bendeth, and more
SweetwaterGuitar Center
Read Review

Today’s big-name drummers and producers 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.

Part One: Acoustic Drum Set VSTs

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 acoustic drum VST plugins for pop and rock production.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3
Best drum VST software available

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

  • Drum sample engine with over 230GB of raw, unprocessed sounds
  • Captured at Galaxy Studios
  • Recorded by the legendary George Massenburg
  • Recorded using 11 surround microphones
  • 35 studio-quality insert effects
  • Built-in grid editor

Why pick Toontrack Superior Drummer 3?

Superior Drummer 3 is easily the best drum VST sampler around, boasting 230GB of sounds captured at Galaxy Studios by the legendary producer George Massenburg. For producers looking for an all-in-one solution, it's a fantastic pick.

  • Incredibly-recorded libraries
  • Useful built-in tools
  • Fully-functional mixer with EQ, compression, verb, and more
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Limited type of stick choices
  • Big learning curve

SD3 is one of the best drum VST plugins available. Superior Drummer 3 was meticulously recorded by George Massenburg at Galaxy Studios in Belgium—it’s an impressively massive 230GB in size. Take a listen to one of the presets from the Fields of Rock – Stone library:

Click play to hear a preset from Superior Drummer 3

SD3 includes six drum kits, additional percussion instruments, and approximately 350 vintage drum sounds. The drum sounds are phenomenal, especially in some of the expansion packs available from Toontrack. Read our full review of Superior Drummer 3 here.

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 offers the most realistic drum sounds you can find in a drum VST plugin. It’s also a blast to use alongside an electronic drum kit.

Superior Drummer 3 Interface
My modified kit used for new Vinyl Theatre songs, using the Fields of Rock – Stone expansion pack (no I don’t use all the toms 😂)

When I work with bands, I use SD3 as my primary drum engine. In my Cubase session, I route the audio from Superior Drummer 3 out of the sampler and into my individual DAW channels.

Not only does this make mixing a breeze, I have full control over the sound I like when using SD3 for drum programming and samples. From here, I’ll use Slate Trigger2 on the kick and snare when necessary for additional sampling.

Superior Drummer 3 is also compatible with EZ Drummer 3 libraries. I use expansion libraries from both softwares, so good on Toontrack for making these compatible (SD3 libraries do not work with EZDrummer 3, so don’t think that this will work in reverse).

Of all the expansions Toontrack offers, the best ones by far are Alt Rock EZX, Big Rock Drums EZX, Pop Punk EZX, Custom & Vintage SDX, Fields of Rock SDX, Hitmaker SDX, Legacy of Rock SDX, and The Rooms of Hansa SDX—all of which I own and use on pop rock productions daily.

Superior Drummer 3 also has the best product installer I’ve used to date. The Toontrack Product Manager lets you download and activate both SD3 and any expansions you end up buying—the interface works great and I’ve never experienced a headache when installing libraries (I’m looking at you Native Instruments…).

Addictive Drums 2
Best drum VST for alt-rock

Addictive Drums 2

  • Professionally recorded acoustic drums
  • Live rhythm performance MIDI files
  • High-quality built-in effects
  • Tons of additional ADpaks to expand your library
  • Mix-and-match drums and cymbals from any ADpak

Why pick Addictive Drums 2?

Addictive Drums 2 from XLN Audio is the perfect all-around rock and pop drum library plugin, featuring incredible libraries to choose from and a great sampling engine.

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Tons of great-sounding add-on packs
  • Built-in FX engine
  • Lots of MIDI packs available for songwriters
  • Some presets are overly processed
  • MIDI is quite different than most GM mappings

Addictive Drums 2 is my second favorite acoustic drum VST plugin 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.

Click play to listen to the AD2 – Dry Room preset

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.

Addictive Drums 2 Fairfax Vol 2 UI

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. I typically use AD2 when making quick demos of songs with my band.

The interface loads fast and it’s simple to choose a preset that works with almost any genre of music. Like SD3, Addictive Drums 2 also works great with your electronic drum kit.

GetGood Drums Modern & Massive

GetGood Drums Modern & Massive

  • 9 snares, 6 kick drums, 14 toms, and 10 cymbals
  • Works with the free Kontakt Player
  • Built-in groove player

Why pick GetGood Drums Modern & Massive?

Bands on the heavier side looking for big drums recorded in an incredible room, look no further. Modern and Massive has radio-ready drums for your productions.

  • Raw and processed samples included
  • Mix-ready drums
  • Requires use of Kontakt
  • Limited customization in the GUI

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 for heavier songs. These drums are punchy and work straight out of the digital box.

GetGood Drums Modern and Massive UI Window

Modern and Massive is an incredible-sounding drum VST library, perfect for rock and metal production. Just like AD2 and SD3, GetGood Drums offers extremely realistic drum sounds.

Click play to listen to a processed preset of Modern & Massive

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
Steven Slate Drums 5
Most versatile drum VST pack for rock and metal

Steven Slate Drums 5

  • 84 kicks, 77 snares, 58 toms, 11 hats, 6 rides, 14 crashes, 4 splashes, 3 chinas, 9 various percussion, 4 SFX
  • Tons of artist presets
  • Hundreds of tom/cymbal/percussion sounds
  • Easy routing
  • Tons of expansions from Chris Lord Alge, Terry Date, and David Bendeth, and more

Why pick Steven Slate Drums 5?

SSD5 is a high-quality sample pack perfect for rock, country, and metal. A plethora of expansions are available for the software, as well.

  • Light load on CPU
  • Easy routing to DAW
  • Tons of great MIDI loops
  • Poor interface
  • Feels a bit dated

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 VST plugin library.

SSD5 comes with a whopping 103 kick drums, 111 snares, hundreds of tom/cymbal/percussion sounds, and 1,000 grooves.

SSD5 UI Window
Click play to listen to a preset made with Steven Slate Drums 5

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. SSD5 is one of the best drum VST libraries around.

5) Room Sound – Beau Burchell

Room Sound - Beau Burchell Signature Series Drums
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With Beau Burchell’s Signature Series Drums, you can program or play the drum kit of your dreams. Room Sound’s Beau Burchell features a realistic room sound and allows controlling the individual mic channels and bleed for a truly immersive experience.

Click play to hear a Room Sound demo preset

The drum VST plugin allows you to build your own custom drum kit with 26 unique pieces, including samples of drums. You can customize each drum to your liking by adjusting pitch, envelope, and MIDI dynamics, creating a one-of-a-kind sound.

One of the standout features of this VST plugin is its 16 individually controllable close, overhead, and room mic channels. This level of control over the mix allows for an incredibly realistic sound that captures all of the nuances of a live performance.

With full bleed controls, you can further enhance the realism of your drum sound. The plugin also includes presets created using the internal mixer and effects, making it easy to mix your audio.

In addition to the comprehensive control over your drum sound, the VST plugin also includes a large library of customized drum grooves. You can audition and select drums in the kit select area, and there is a customizable key mapping page for alternate MIDI mappings and electronic drum kits.

Overall, the use of real drums and maximum control over drum sound make this VST plugin a must-have for any music producer.

6) Native Instruments Studio Drummer

Native Instruments Studio Drummer

Drummer Virtual Instrument with 3,500+ Samples and Built-in Effects - Mac/PC Standalone, VST, AU, AAX Native

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With over 3,500 samples and three top-of-the-line kits with premium cymbals and additional percussion, this virtual instrument offers an impressive range and quality of sampled drum sounds.

Built upon the features of Kontakt, NIs powerhouse sampling engine, Studio Drummer gives you a robust toolkit for creating realistic drum tracks.

Click play to hear a Studio Drummer preset
  • Compatible with Mac/PC standalone, VST, AU and AAX Native
  • 3 top-of-the-line kits with premium cymbals and additional percussion
  • Over 3,500 samples
  • Groove library featuring MIDI patterns
  • Customizable individual drums within each kit
  • Built-in effects including compression, reverb, delay & distortion

One of the standout features of Native Instruments Studio Drummer is its groove library. The built-in grooves are MIDI patterns that can be dragged into your DAW for quick inspiration or used as building blocks to create your own beats.

Additionally, the intuitive interface allows for easy customization of individual drums within each kit, including tuning, level, panning, and EQ. Finally, Studio Drummer’s built-in effects provide further sonic flexibility with compression, reverb, delay and distortion.


  • High-quality sampled drum sounds
  • Versatile use in multiple genres
  • Intuitive interface for easy customization
  • Built-in groove library for quick inspiration


  • Limited to acoustic drums only
  • May require some processing to fit seamlessly into mix

7) Tony Coleman Drums

Legendary studio sound
Tony Coleman Drums

Tony Coleman Drums brings both an exciting and extraordinary sound to your records.

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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.

Click play to hear a sample of Tony Coleman Drums

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 VST plugin includes over 20GB of samples recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN.

Tony Coleman Drum VST Plugin

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.

  • 20+ GB of meticulously recorded drum samples by legendary blues drummer Tony Coleman
  • Recorded at Ardent Studios
  • Certain kick and snare samples feature 2-inch Studer tape compression
  • Studio-grade effects engine for reverb, compression, and EQ
  • VST, AU compatible

The only issue I found—I can’t find a way to route the individual channels out to my DAW.

8) FXpansion BFD 3

A meticulously recorded live drum sample library
FXpansion BFD 3 Virtual Drumkit

BFD 3 is the third generation of virtual drum software from FXpansion. BFD features ground-breaking realism, especially in cymbal swells and tom resonance.

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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.

  • 7 new kits recorded in 2 locations
  • Dedicated rock, metal, jazz, brush kits
  • More detail, less disk space
  • Tom resonance / cymbal swell modelling
  • Streamlined browser workflow
  • Faster audio engine
  • MIDI grooves by Steve Ferrone, Brooks Wackerman, Bobby Jarzombek, Perter Erskine, and Stanton Moore
  • VST, AU, AAX plugin compatibility & standalone

9) Drum Drops Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit

Great for retro-sounding recordings
Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit

A total of 25,537 samples are included in the Vintage Funk and Disco kits combined, with many round robins and velocities maximizing realism.

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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.

  • Samples recorded from Jan Kincaid’s Sonor Hi Lite Drum Kit
  • Vintage cymbals and bonus percussion
  • Recorded at Ironworks Studio in Brighton, UK by Mike Pelanconi

10) Momentum by Impact Soundworks (Best Drum VST for Cinematic Music)

Best percussion loop plugin for film, TV, and game composers
Momentum By Impact Soundworks

Film, TV, and video game composers can rejoice—Momentum is the perfect plugin for your percussion needs in composition.

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Created by Impact Soundworks, Momentum is a massive collection of 2,500+ unique and organic drum performances packaged into a drum VST. 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

11) Drum Weapons 3

Perfect for hip-hop producers
Drum Weapons 3 - Hip Hop Drum VSTi

For all the hip-hop producers out there, look no further than Drum Weapons 3 by Music Weapons. The kits included in DW3 are very useable and it’s perfect for everything from trap to boom bap.

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Drum Weapons 3 is a massive drum VST plugin 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.

The Touchscreen Optimized GUI makes it easy to navigate and use. The improved audio engine delivers excellent sound quality, while the accurate analog technology provides a classic console and tape machine sound.

Each kit includes variations such as MP60 & SP1200, and a categorized WAV collection is included for free. According to Modern Producers, these drums are “the illest ever made, period.”

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.

12) Sync 3 from Audio Modern

Perfect for hip-hop, electronic, and future genres
Sync 3 from Audio Modern

Producers who love deep atmospheres and glitchy sounds look no further than Sync 3.

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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. 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.

Sync 3 offers crystal-clear samples at 48kHz/24-bit, producing excellent sound quality. With 28 construction kits, 1.19 GB of sounds, and 250+ loops, there are plenty of options. In addition, the ten reverb types and simple 2 Tab GUI with FX and tweaking options make it easy to customize your sound.

Additionally, you have complete control over your mix with reverb, pan, solo, and mute options on every loop in every construction kit. There are unlimited mix-and-match combinations; all loops and kits automatically sync to your DAW’s tempo. Sync 3 offers professional-quality sound in a flexible module and is available in Kontakt, WAV, AIFF, and REX formats.

13) Xfer Nerve (Best Drum VST for EDM)

Perfect for dance music producers
Xfer Nerve

Xfer's Nerve is an excellent drum machine created by veterans of the dance music scene. Nerve has a massive 2GB library full of presets, kits, patterns, one-shots, and loops.

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Producers, including myself, rave about Xfer’s excellent line of software instruments like Serum. Nerve is excellent, as well, as a drum VST plugin.

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.

And if sound design is your thing, you’re probably always looking for new synth engines. I recently read a great article from Integraudio on kick drum design plugins—you don’t want to miss it if you’re an EDM producer.

  • Powerful Internal Step-Sequencer
  • Compact interface
  • 2GB library of presets, patterns, drum kits, one-shots, and loops
  • Drag-and-drop your own samples
  • Slice and re-arrange loops
  • Multiple outputs
  • VST, AU compatibility

14) Heavyocity DM-307

Great for cinematic and electronic production
DM-307 from Heavyocity

The DM-307 is derived from modular synth drums, percussion, and drum machines. You get a whopping 7.5GB of uncompressed samples and 1,500 presets.

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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 drums, processed analog drum samples. Oh, and you get 1,500 different presets to streamline your production.

Heavyocity’s drum VST is perfect for styles such as cinematic, electronic, industrial, and many more.

The DM-307 drum VST 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.

  • 3,600+ samples
  • 1,500+ NKIs
  • 85 kits, 180+ kit grooves, 55 loop menus, 1200+ loop presets
  • 300 Performance multis
  • Standalone, VST, AU, AAX plugin compatibility

15) Beat Machine 2

Unique hip-hop drum machine
Beat Machine 2

Specifically made for producers who require the huge range of Hip Hop drum sounds made famous over the last 30 years.

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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 drums in one unit inc Boombap, East Coast, West Coast, Trap and more!
  • 50 Brand new 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

16) Synthwave Drums V2

For synthwave and 80s-sounding records
Synthwave Drums V2

For all the 80s lovers out there, you can rejoice. Synthwave Drums from BeatSkillz brings synth drum sounds from the 1980s right to your DAW.

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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 drum banks, four reverse sound/cymbal banks, twelve tom banks, and a total of 1,356 one-shot samples. Here’s some of the features:

  • 1300+ drum sounds, 73 multi-drum kits, over 100 presets
  • Drag-and-drop your own samples
  • Multi-out to your DAW
  • Library relocate in the event of a different hard drive
  • Volume, pitch, pan, and release per pad, equalizer and compressor included
  • Save your custom kits

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.

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.

Using a Drum VST Plugin VS Recording a Real Drum Set

Why, in the first place, would you want to use a drum VST plugin when you can record the real thing? There are several advantages which I’ll detail below.

Advantages of Using Drum VSTs

  • Recording drums is arguably the most complex instrument to track
    • Recording drums is meticulous, and to do it properly, requires thousands of dollars of gear and an incredible-sounding room.
    • Some bands get away with recording drums themselves, but usually, they sound terrible. Using drum VST plugins lets us get a radio-ready sound with a minimal investment when compared.
  • Quickly find a kit sound you want to use
    • Rather than wasting time miking up drums, finding a good player, and capturing the performance on the spot, drum VSTs allow producers to work faster and focus on what matters most—the song.
  • Not needing the space to record drums
    • Not only are drums hard to record, but they also take up a lot of space in the studio! You may want to set up more keyboards or have extra room for the band to hang out while working on an album. 
  • Producers in apartments
    • In my case, I make music out of my apartment, and there’s no way in hell I’d ever imagine setting up a drum kit and recording here. I already get enough complaints from my sub and mix monitors. Drum VSTs like Superior Drummer 3 make my life easier when working with bands.
  • MIDI grooves are often included with software
    • If you’re not a drummer or need to learn how to program drums, preset rhythms are an easy way to get going in creating simple structures for songwriting.
    • Whether just a source for inspiration or a MIDI preset that makes it into the final mix, drum VST plugins offer a way for non-drummers to write compelling music in the 21st century without the presence of a real drummer.

But just like everything, drum VST software has its cons.

Disadvantages of Using Drum VST Plugins

  • Beware of Drag-n-Drop MIDI Loops
    • If this is your first time programming MIDI drums, you’ll mostly be limited to using the drag-and-drop loops provided by the software.
    • Using MIDI loops is okay, but they will make your productions sound stale until you add variation and fills to your parts.
    • Likewise, songs that start from copy-paste drum loops often only come to life once you go in by hand and change details.
  • Snare Rolls and Buzzes are Not Realistic
    • Snare rolls and buzzes are tough to re-create without the correct libraries via programming.
    • You’re limited to what the software gives you regarding how the library was recorded. What articulations are included will determine the parts you can program the computer drummer to play.
  • The Major Learning Curve to Programming Drums
    • Even if you’ve got a good grasp on rhythm and writing in drum parts, mastering velocity and how the drummer actually would play is another thing.
    • For example, a unison hit with the hi-hat and two crash cymbal hits is physically impossible since a drummer doesn’t have three arms.
    • Learning how to write drum parts is like understanding the range of an instrument when writing a score; it’s complicated.
  • Drum VSTs are Often a Money Pit
    • As producers, we constantly seek the next cool sound, and that’s a great thing! However, it’s easy to fall into the money trap of buying new plugins thinking they will improve the quality of your songwriting.
    • Sure, some new and exciting sounds can inspire good ideas, but I often buy another piece of drum software only for it to sit in my unused plugins folder in Cubase.

Choosing the Best Drum VST Plugin

Which drum VSTs you choose relies heavily on what style of music your artist or client plays. Our comprehensive list features several options from rock, jazz, EDM, hip-hop, and cinematic.

Head over to YouTube and listen to the demos of each plugin to get an idea of how they will sound in your productions. Refrain from blindly buying something based on reading, especially when it concerns audio production.


Before purchasing a drum VST plugin, it’s important to ensure that the software is compatible with your hardware and operating system. Here are three things to check when checking compatibility:

  1. Operating System: Check the minimum requirements for the software and make sure it’s compatible with your computer’s OS.
  2. RAM and Storage: Make sure you have enough space on your hard drive for both the plugin itself and any additional sample libraries that come with it.
  3. DAW Compatibility: Confirm that the plugin is compatible with your specific DAW software.

Sound Quality

To truly enhance your music production, it’s vital to consider the engineers, rooms, mics, and hardware used to create each drum VST. The best drum VST plugins offer a wide variety of high-quality drum samples that can accurately mimic the sound of real drums. Multi-sampled technology is commonly used to ensure that each hit sounds realistic and natural, with different velocity levels and articulations.

Software drum VSTs can become extremely large due to their extensive libraries of samples. This large storage requirement is necessary for achieving a high level of sound quality. You may need to invest in a separate high-storage hard drive to use some of the plugins on this list if you don’t have much space free on your main drive.

User Interface

Navigating the user interface of a drum VST plugin can greatly impact your workflow and creativity. A well-designed UI should be intuitive, allowing you to quickly find the sounds you need, adjust settings, and make customizations without having to dig through menu after menu.

On the other hand, a poorly designed UI can slow down your workflow and hinder your ability to write or play music. When evaluating drum VST plugins, pay close attention to their user interfaces. Look for plugins that provide easy-to-use controls, clear visual feedback on settings and adjustments, and intuitive navigation between different sections of the plugin.

By choosing a plugin with a well-designed UI, you’ll be able to focus on creating music instead of getting bogged down in confusing menus or frustrating controls.

Customization Options

Most drum VSTs offer a range of customization options that enable you to tweak individual drum parts, microphone levels, and effects processing. Here are some ways you can customize your drums with VST plugins:

  • Adjust EQ: Many drum VSTs provide EQ controls for each individual part of the kit, allowing you to sculpt the sound to match the vibe of your track.
  • Add Effects: Reverb, delay, distortion, and other effects can be applied globally or on individual drums within a kit.
  • Customize MIDI Mapping: Some VSTs let you remap MIDI notes so that they trigger different drum sounds than what comes with the default mapping.


The cost of a drum VST plugin can vary greatly depending on the features and quality of the product. Some plugins may be more affordable but offer limited options, while others may be more expensive but provide a complete production suite for drums.

It’s important to consider your budget when choosing a drum VST plugin. But also keep in mind that investing in a high-quality plugin can greatly enhance the overall sound and production value of your music.

Don’t be afraid to do some research and read reviews before making a purchase to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Support and Updates

Choosing a drum plugin that has a strong support team and frequent updates can save you time and frustration in the long run. Here are some things to consider when evaluating a drum VST’s support and updates:

  • Is there an active user forum or community where you can seek help or advice?
  • Does the company offer regular software updates to fix bugs or add new features?
  • Are customer service representatives readily available to assist you with any issues or questions?

Integration with DAWs is also an important factor to take into account when selecting a drum VST plugin. Ensuring compatibility between your chosen plugin and DAW will allow for seamless integration into your music production workflow.

The best drum VST plugins offer support for popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, FL Studio, and Cubase. Some VSTs even come bundled with their standalone software for added convenience.

Most drum VSTs are designed to work with MIDI controllers or virtual instruments within a DAW. This allows you to create and edit drum parts using the same interface as other instruments and effects in your project.

Many VSTs also include preset templates for popular DAWs that automatically map controls to the appropriate functions within your software.

Additionally, some VSTs offer advanced features such as multi-channel output routing and automation support for further customization of your drum tracks within your DAW environment.

Wrapping Up

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.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.


  1. “MT Power Drumkit 2 — acoustic drums, best free drum VST”

    Have to disagree here. MTPD’s biggest strength is that it’s around 50MB. It’s pretty heavily processed and lacking in dynamics, but good for sketching out ideas and might be all you need for power pop or rock stuff, where hammering on a kit makes sense. But if you want to replicate the feel of a good acoustic drummer, especially with dynamic playing, you’re going to need a deeper, less pre-processed sample set.

    Fortunately free alternatives exists, with the caveat that they’re much bigger, ranging from hundreds of megabytes to a dozen gigabytes.

    Spitefire LAB drums — this is around 400MB, but has a much wider range of sampled dynamics than MTPD and is not processed. It’s a great sounding kit, but has some room noise you can’t dial out and has no routing options, just one stereo out.
    SSD5Free — free version of Steve Slate Drums comes with just one kit, but it’s a full blown, industrial strength drum module with gigabytes of samples, multiple mics, full routing options, etc.
    DrumMic’a — made by Sennheiser to demonstrate their mics, it’s another single kit that’s sampled to death with Sennheiser’s arsenal of mics (big library), and you have complete control over mixing them.

  2. How about Realidrums from Realitone?
    This looks really interesting because of the grove generator and complexity slider for real time jamming. Seems well thought out.

  3. I loved your blog and thanks for publishing this!! Here you will come to know about the best drum vst . I am really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing and look for more in future!!

  4. Another freebie worth checking out is SM Drums, initially available via Cockos Reaper forums. It’s insanely detailed with loads of velocity layers for each drum.

    Formats : Kontakt 5 (not player), SoundFont and the Reaper Sampler.

    Or Google to see various discussions on the forums
    All the best 🙂

  5. I can’t seem to find a drum machine where you can just dial in a drumming pattern, and then just jam to. I want to rehearse a band when the drummer doesn’t show, so I want to find a drum/dance pattern, select the complexity and tempo press GO and have it playing in under 20 seconds. I don’t really care what it sounds like, a metronome would be better than noting, and a metronome would be better than a VST where I have to select from a million sampled kits grooves and fills program it, loop it and store to a template, whiule the band gets bored goes home, gives up till a drummer shows up. There seem to be a million Drum VSTs where you can program but not many where there are large numbers of pre-progammed rhythms to choose from.

  6. Excellent and informative article, but it is absolutely incredible and astonishing that Drumcomputer /Sugarbytes) and Punch 2 (Rob Papen) have not been included. Unbelievable.

  7. Mark, it sounds like RealiDrums is what you’re looking for. You pick a pattern, set the tempo, adjust the complexity and which kit pieces you want to use and go.

  8. Enjoyed your article.

    I’ve gotten quite a few of Spitfire’s freebies. Nice for the price! Spitfire offers a wide range of not-so-freebies, too.

    Yeah, as you can see, it’s “SPITFIRE,” not Spitefire! Well, at least your link goes to the right place.

    Just got NI’s Komplete (mostly with Kontakt in mind), so looking into any third party options of interest.


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