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, beat machines, and drum synthesis.
Addictive Drums 2 from XLN Audio remains to be my favorite drum library, due to how great it sounds upon loading it up.
Today’s big-name drummer/producers, like Steven Wolf, rely on sample libraries to create hits for artists. The purist mentality has vanished, and sample libraries are the way of the future.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are looking for more realistic options, be sure to check out my roundup of the best acoustic drum samples.
Let’s take a look at some of the top drum VSTs.
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.
Tony Coleman Drums is available at Plugin Boutique.
Addictive Drums 2 is by far my favorite drum library on the list. The samples sound incredible, and XLN continues to add expansion packs.
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.
Addictive Drums 2 Custom XL is available at Plugin Boutique.
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.
Heavyocity DM-307 is available from Plugin Boutique.
BFD 3 is the third generation of virtual drum software from FXpansion. BFD features ground-breaking realism, especially in cymbal swells and tom resonance.
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.
BFD 3 is available at Plugin Boutique.
Soul-Tastik Drums is a virtual drum kit ideal for trap soul music. The samples included are genuinely unique and different.
I don’t produce this style of music generally, but I do like the included sounds. The GUI is incredibly simple, with just a few knobs.
STD includes 50 different drum kits with 12 samples each. Pan & release settings are available for each sample.
Soul-Tastik Drums is available at Plugin Boutique.
Similar to Addictive Drums 2, Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 3 is an all-in-one solution for programmed drums.
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 is available at Plugin Boutique.
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.
A total of 25,537 samples are included in the Vintage Funk and Disco kits combined, with many round robins and velocities maximizing realism.
The Vintage Funk & Disco Dual Kit Bundle is available at Plugin Boutique.
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.
Both processed and dry samples are included with Synthwave Drums.
A total of 63 kits are included with twelve sounds each. 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.
Synthwave Drums is available at Plugin Boutique.
What are your favorite drum VST plugins? Let us known down in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.