When I discover a new free drum kit VST plugin, I am like a kid in a toy store: exalted, excited and somehow unruly. Immediately, the talent hits me, while my MIDI controller is the next victim.
There are around quite a lot drum machines/drum romplers, some better, some worse. Free or commercial.
If we look to the free ones, yet there are few that deserve to be considered. In the following lines, I made a list of 8 best free drum kit VST plugins featuring samples recorded from real drum kits- mainly suitable for rock and pop productions, as well as processed and chopped drum samples & hits, best for use in urban, hip hop, trap and EDM.
So, here we go…
Drum Pro by Studio Linked
Drum Pro is a free virtual drum machine aimed at electronic and urban productions.
You have at your disposal a set of 20 drum kits and 9 vintage drum machine sounds (if you wonder, yes, variants of TR-808 and TR-909 are included). Drum Pro’s interface sports 12 virtual pads, each of which being controllable externally with your MIDI controller.
Each pad features its own volume and pan controls, also there are available global attack, decay, sustain, release, volume and reverb knobs. I don’t like that the sounds are mapped completely wrongheaded, it took a while to discover them across my keyboard.
Drum Pro is 100% free and is expandable with paid libraries that cover many music styles.
With 29 drum kits and plenty of samples, Drum Pro is fun and addictive.
Download (Windows/Mac): Drum Pro by Studio Linked
Drummix Beta Edition by Bluenoise Plugins
It is labeled as beta and this could mislead. Drummix Beta Edition is a fully functional drum kit instrument and even has a small dose of charm that may come from sound imperfections and the fact that the drums of the kit used in recording session weren’t tuned, one of the cymbals had a crack in it, the heads were old etc etc.
But don’t worry, it sounds damn good and it is a perfect drum kit for drum and bass and breakbeat. It comes preloaded with three presets (Rock, Rock Olympic and 70′s – they’re switchable via FL Wrapper Plugin options arrow) and has mute, solo, phase and panning controls for each of the 12 drum tracks.
With some small exceptions, the sounds follow the GM map.
Drummix Beta Edition is maybe one of the collest freebie here, has a lot of character and is unique.
Download (Windows): Drummix Beta Edition by Bluenoise Plugins
Vintage Drum Elements by Single Cycle Audio
Vintage Drum Elements is a virtual drum machine and rompler featuring the sounds of Yamaha RX5. It consists of 4 drum kits, 1 FX set and 4 instruments, of course all sampled from the hardware. The ZIP file also contains 10 MIDI drum loops for immediate use.
Vintage Drum Elements is perfect for music genres such as synthwave, vaporwave, synthpop, chillwave, pop etc.
The sounds layout doesn’t follow the GM standard drum map.
If you’re in search for vintage 80’s drum samples packed in an easy-to-use GUI, then Vintage Drum Elements certainly is for you.
Download (Windows/Mac): Vintage Drum Elements by Single Cycle Audio
Addictive Drums 2 and Fairfax Vol. 1 DEMO by XLN Audio
Addictive Drums 2 sounds and behaves lovely. But what can you expect from a commercial product made by professionals who really know what and how to do it. Addictive Drums 2 comes standard with three extraordinary drum kits: two Fairfax kits and a Black Velvet.
The reason I write here about it, is that there is a demo version with just one kit- the acclaimed Fairfax Vol. 1 ADpak stripped down to kick, snare, hihat & crash. To get a copy, download and install on your machine XLN Online Installer, then from there install Addictive Drums 2 and Fairfax Vol. 1 DEMO from “Product List”.
By default, it is installed on C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins (the 64-bit version), so before opening it in FL Studio, go again to XLN Online Installer and open it (is here: C:\Program Files\XLN Audio\XLN Online Installer), select “Advanced” and choose a new path for 64-bit plugins, which is usually C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins.
It worth the effort, you’ll thank me later.
Download (Windows/Mac): Addictive Drums 2 and Fairfax Vol. 1 DEMO by XLN Audio
Beatfactory Drums by Beatskillz
Beatfactory Drums sounds fat, maybe too fat for my taste, but I bet for many others it can be an advantage. The free drum kit instrument comes with 10 kits which are good, except two hip hop kits with a doubtful sound and bad cut samples.
The GUI is clean and with good taste having all the (few available) controls visible and well positioned. There is a total of 12 pads, each with its own volume fader, this being the only change you can make on single tracks. In return, you have global ADSR, volume, pan and a reverb module.
With its sounds, Beatfactory Drums covers popular genres like dubstep, hip hop, trap and includes drums, 808s, instrument chops and Indian ethnic samples. The distribution of sounds follows the GM map.
Beatfactory Drums by Beatskillz, with its simple interface and fat sound, screams “beat me” from every pore.
Download (Windows/Mac): Beatfactory Drums by Beatskillz
DrumMic’a! by Sennheiser
DrumMic’a! was first intended as a showcase tool featuring different Sennheiser microphone positions on a complete drum kit, but ended as an internet hit among all freebies hunters and not only.
DrumMic’a! is not a VST plugin of its own, benefits of the power of Kontakt Player on whose platform is built. The free Kontakt Player is included in the 4GB package.
This instrument provides a natural feeling, having up to 25 velocity layers. MIDI mappings for devices like Roland TD-20 and GM MIDI, and supports sound cards with multiple outputs.
In the freeware category, I don’t think you’ll find a better plugin of this type, that’s why I don’t think it will be an inconvenient that everything from download page is in German, especially now that are are plenty of online translators available. Keep in mind that in order to get an activation code, the plugin must be registered at Sennheiser.
Big plus for different mic positions, also for the integrated state-of-the-art mixer- DrumMic’a! is a must!
Download (Windows/Mac): DrumMic’a! by Sennheiser
DrumTroop by DubTurbo
DrumTroop Urban Sample Workstation is the engine that wants to revive DubTurbo, until the new DAW version in launched. It is free, and same as Drum Pro, is a kind of hook for those who want more- read that is expandable (only) with commercial libraries.
In its free and pure state, DrumTroop will not disappoint. In terms of volumes, this is the most well-balanced free urban/hip hop drum kit VST here, is not ridiculous as some others. DrumTroop comes loaded with 20 kits, not only drums, but also a musicbox and some synths. Genres covered: hip hop, EDM, dubstep, RnB, urban and house.
DrumTroop sports 16 drum pads, each with a suite of controls for volume, pan, attack and release, as well as global pitch, expression, pan, glide etc knobs.
Gradually discovered, it will surely make you smile, and above all, to make you practice the finger drumming with speaker volume to maximum.
Download (Windows): DrumTroop by DubTurbo
MT-PowerDrumKit 2 by Manda Audio
MT-PowerDrumKit 2 is drum sampler offering the powerful, high-quality sounds of an acoustic, realistic drum kit, and is aimed at pop, rock and metal productions. Is one of my favourites.
The drum sounds were pre-processed with compressors and EQs to make them a perfect fit for any mix. MT-PowerDrumKit 2 comes with a well conceived mixer with 13 inserts and a master channel. Each channel has its own pan and volume as well as individual compression to beef up more the samples. From the master track, you can choose your desired MIDI channel and tweak the global volume.
You can choose from thousands of assorted rhythms in the comprehensive Groove Library and compose your own drum accompaniment. And you have access to MIDI mapping, as well you can download some pre-made MIDI mapping presets for popular drum samplers and GM standard.
MT-PowerDrumKit 2 is totally free and requires activation (more info you’ll find on its download page).
Download (Windows/Mac): MT-PowerDrumKit 2 by Manda Audio