The drum machine changed music. There's no getting around it.
Every DAW software these days comes with some sort of sampler or drum machine built right in. They've become a pillar of modern music production.
But picking a sound can be tough when you have infinite possibilities at your fingertips.
That's why these drum VST plugins are so great. They impose some limitations to help you corral the creative juices a bit.
So here's the 15 best free drum VST plugins for making your drums pop.
Here’s a great free drum VST from Steven Slate.
This plugin is excellent for re-creating the sound of a real acoustic kit in your DAW.
With the free version you get access to a few different kits and each kit comes with a lot of options to customize, tweak and hone your ideal drum sound.
From tuning, to mic placement, tom size and cymbal type—you get a remarkable amount of options for a free VST.
It also works well when played using MIDI via an electronic drumkit with its ability to choose sensitivity and velocity curves.
Spitfire’s free VST platform LABS now comes with an awesome drum sample library that sounds great.
The overall sound of the kit can be best described as hip hop inspired with some lofi qualities.
The kit has a chunky snare sound, fat acoustic bass and roomy toms that make it a great kit to use when writing hip hop, soul and funk music.
If you haven’t downloaded the LABS plugin platform, you really should—this sample library and the dozens of other ones that come with it are incredible and totally worth having around.
Here’s a very different way of creating your own drum sounds—literally using design within a synthesizer!
MiniSpillage from AudioSpillage is a drum synthesizer VST that is designed to help you create the exact drum sound in your head.
The free version of the plugin comes with bass drum, wood drum and hi-hat synthesis algorithms, so if you want to synthesize a snare you might have to pay for the whole plugin.
That being said this plugin is capable of a lot and includes a handful of presets and all the parameters you need to hone in your sound.
4. Junn JM-1
I’ve always been a huge fan of the LinnDrum, in fact I think it’s maybe one of the most underrated drum machines out there.
So if you want to try a LinnDrum style sound on your tracks, this free plugin emulates the sound and interface the legendary drum machine is known for.
The Junn JM-1 uses a very similar look to the original drum machine and includes all of its classic sounds.
Of course, if you want a real LinnDrum on your track you can always download an expertly recorded LinnDrum sample pack.
These days most DAWs come with a built in drum rack, so really all you need to do is get your hands on some great free drum samples and build your custom drum.
LANDR Samples has tons of free drum samples that you can use royalty free.
You’ll find huge 808s, cool hip hop kits, dialed back lofi sounds, thumping house drums and much more.
6. T.REX 606
The name says it all. The T.REX 606 is a compact rompler modelled after the iconic Roland TR-606 drum machine.
The simple interface keeps things basic. Which is nice these days when so many VSTs are needlessly complicated.
It's just volume, reverb and 7 classic sounds. Easy peasy.
The Linn LM-1 is a classic drum machine. It's been used by everyone from Peter Gabriel, to Prince, to Michael Jackson.
But let's face it, these days they've gotten a bit pricey for what they are.
No problem, The Djinndrum has you set for all that classic sound that the LM-1 packs in.
8. Drum PRO
Drum Pro has 20 built in drum kits, 12 pads and global effects, what more do you need from a drum machine plugin?
The Drum Pro has you covered no matter what you're making. Big EDM? Check. Techno? Check. Everything else you need for sweet drums? Check that too.
This plugin may not look as technical as others. But don't let the looks of Line of Legends fool you.
This plugin boasts 47 high quality samples, 8 individual output channels, and punch, release & attack knobs for some serious tweakage.
Heads up: you may have to set up the output channels in your DAW if it's only showing one channel. So check your DAW manual to figure out how.
10. Sean Pandy Drums
Sean Pandy Drums is based on a sample pack made by heavy metal drummer Sean Pandy. So if you're looking for a heavier drum sound on your mix, this VST will definitely give you it.
The ‘Sub Blower' is especially good and certainly lives up to its name…
2 of the most important elements in any track that thumps is the kick and bass. So they deserve some serious attention.
That's what makes KickMaker so great. It's a plugin built for crafting the perfect kick. So what're you waiting for? Get kickin'.
Beat Factory Drums is easy to use, sounds great, and packs a serious punch.
It has fully tweakable ADSR parameters so you can customize each and every kit to your sound. Not bad for a FREE plugin.
All you have to do is enter your email and that's it.
MT Power Drum Kit 2 isn't just a plugin for drums. In addition to top notch drum sounds that cut through any mix, it also has a fully pre-programmed groove library.
It's wicked for composing your own patterns, or stringing together grooves for the drum accompaniment you need.
The DrumTROOP drum machine is big both in its sound and what it offers. It's a powerful tool for everything from EDM to house and back again.
Their website calls it a “weapon of mass production.” I can't really disagree with that. It's definitely massive is every respect.
Vintage Drum Elements has a nice, warm analogue sound that so many vintage drum machines have.
The 12 pad interface is easy to use and tweak, and the preloaded samples are all top notch.
Name your price or enter your email to grab it on the Single Cycle Bandcamp.
Drumming up the perfect sound
Nothing beats a banging drum track. They're the backbone of tons of top notch songs.
And the drum machine is a superb way to hone in on a specific sound for your tracks.
So grab these sweet plugs and program away!
Already set for drums? Grab some of our other favourite free VSTs.