Front and center of any good dancefloor track is its drums, and producers are always looking out for the best drum VSTs to use in their tunes. Researching what is the best drum VST is essential for any producer looking to create standout tunes that wreck any club. In this article, we’re going to run down what we think are the best drum plugins of 2023.
In this article
- What are VST plugins and why use them?
- So what can you do with them?
- Our list of the best drum VST plugins. Their features and benefits
What are VST plugins and why use them?
BLet’s start by getting the obvious question out of the way, a VST plug in is a piece of software that runs within another piece of software i.e. your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). So for example our Kick 2 drum machine can be installed on your computer, then when you open your DAW, say Ableton Live for example, you can open KICK software on any MIDI channel. Producers are always on the lookout for the best new VSTs to use in their tracks, as each one will give the producer access to new sounds or effects. Many good drum plugins will do things that your on board DAW plugins can’t do. Put simply, the best drum VST can transform your rhythm tracks, and finding the best drum VST can be a game-changer in any producer’s toolkit.
So what can you do with them?
The better question would be, what can’t you do with them, as there’s basically a VST plug in for every type of sound or effect. From amazing synth plugins like our own ANA and the ubiquitous Serum, through to top drum plugins like Kick and Nerve and twisted effects from Soundtoys and Fab Filter. If you’re looking for the perfect drums a VST could be just the ticket. There are many different drum VSTs on the market so let us help guide you through the best virtual drum software options, and point you in the direction of a few we love here at Sonic Academy.
Our list of the best drum VST plugins. Their features and benefits
So without further ado, let’s run down our best drum VSTs for 2023.
Well it had to be top of the list didn’t it? KICK 2 is our own incredible kick drum VST, and in our opinion the best kick drum VST right now. Using KICK 2 you can easily sculpt, shape, create, manipulate, mangle your way to the perfect kick drum.
No longer do you need to rely on sampled and resampled low quality kick drums in sample packs. With KICK 2 you can easily create a perfectly synthesized kick attuned to your needs. We believe that KICK 2 is the top kick drum VST on the market right now. You only need to check out some of the feedback we’ve received from world class producers to see that for those making electronic music, KICK 2 is often their go-to best drum VST.
This thing has been used by deadmau5, Alesso, ZEDD, Armin Van Burrn, Diplo, BT, Madeon, David Guetta, Chris Lake, Sean Tyas, AVICCI (RIP), Nicky Romero, Axwell Ingrosso, Knife Party.. the list goes on and on, so do we really need to say anymore about what it’s capable of - grab a free 14 day trial
Superior Drummer 3
There are plenty of good drum plugins that work for lots of genres, but Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 3 is one of the best drum plugins to bridge the gap between acoustic and electronic sounds. This is one of the best all round drum VSTs and its acoustic drum library also makes it one of the best realistic drum VSTs on the market and an easy contender for best drum VST.
XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
Although giving Toontrack a run for their money is Addictive Drums 2. Addictive Drums 2 includes many libraries of acoustic drum sounds and percussion performances. It also features an impressive selection of built in FX, to tweak your sounds perfectly. There are a ton of drums available, all of which have been recorded in world class studios, by some of the best recording engineers working today. This really is one of the best new drum plugins out there and in the race for the best drum VST, Addictive Drums 2 is one of the strongest on the field
Get Good Drums have been at the forefront of developing drum libraries that cover a massive range of different drum sounds for different genres of music. Their drum libraries are compatible with Native’s Kontakt sampler plug in, and have drums to suit any kind of track, from rock to industrial to funk and punk and many more. So if you are producing music that would usually feature live drummers, and want drum sounds that recreate those live, in the room, sounds, then Get Good Drums could be the first place to check out. A top contender for best drum VST.
Steven Slate Drums 5
An alternative to Get Good Drums is the fantastic Steven Slate Drums 5. The most recent update features 148 professionally recorded drum libraries, with some of the most famous drum sounds in music history. The easy to use plug gives you access to versatile kits for rock, metal, jazz, funk, indie, reggae, and many more. The updated GUI in version 5.5 makes customizing your drums easier than ever. You have total control over the dynamics, panning options, and ADSR settings of each instrument. This plug in also allows you to effortlessly mix ambient room mics and close mics with custom routing options, making it one of the best drum plugins for creating your own drum room sound. Steven Slate Drums 5 really brings something unique to the best drum VST market.
Nerve Xfer Records
Now let’s get back to a few of the best drum VST for electronic drums. Xfer’s Serum plug in is one of the most ubiquitous virtual synths at the moment, so it’s no surprise that their drum VST is also an absolute banger! Nerve was designed and coded by veteran dance music producers, with a diverse sample library included from many of today’s top sound designers. Create your own beats entirely from scratch using sounds you already have or utilize the factory-included Drum Kits, Presets, Patterns, and Sounds. Nerve contains a large, comprehensive 2-Gigabyte library containing full presets, drumkits, patterns, one-shots, and loops made by a variety of world-class sound designers, including SampleMagic, PowerFX, Richard Devine, Dom Kane, SampleSquad, Bitword, Noise Inc.,, and many others, catering to a wide variety of musical genres. You can totally see how Nerve is seen as one of the best electronic drum VSTs on the market today.
Spitfire Labs Vintage Drums
Relative newbies on the VST block, Spitfire Audio have quickly gained a reputation for some of the most beautifully recorded sample libraries, from recordings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Abbey Road Recording Studio, to name but two. It’s no surprise that their own drum plug in Vintage Drums, really stacks up against some of the more established players on the VST scene. The Vintage Drums samples play in their own free LABS plug in, and features the 1970 Ludwig with 26” bass drum (as made famous by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin). Spitfire are really challenging the big boys when it comes to the best real drum replacement plugin and brings a distinctive approach to the best drum VST conest.
Roland Cloud Drum Machine Collection
So how could any list of the best drum synth plugins not feature something by Roland? Roland’s Cloud Drum Machine Collection provides spot on emulations of the most influential drum machines of all time, turning them into some of the best drum synthesizer VSTs. The pack includes the 808, 909, 606, 707 and the lesser known 727. Roland say that “These authentic recreations sound and behave just like the vintage hardware, coupled with advanced programming features and extended sound-shaping options for today’s production styles” and who are we to disagree? Better than the real thing? We’ll leave that up to you to decide, but we feel that Roland’s vintage emulation has set new standards in the best drum VST field, which is no surprise to be honest.
Algonaut Atlas 2
The Atlas 2 is a drum machine and sample manager that uses AI technology to organize your samples, removing the headache we’ve all felt when trying to hoke through thousands of samples to find the right match. The technology will scan your samples for sounds that complement each other, hugely speeding up the creative process. You can then build unlimited `sample maps’ that will create clusters of samples that will work well together. With a user-friendly UI, Atlas taps into the most contemporary technology to aid your production process, not replace it, and has ended up creating one of the best electronic drum VSTs around today, bringing a fresh twist to the crowded best drum VST market.
Native Instruments Battery 4
Arguably one of the best drum synth plugins ever made, Battery has been around for over 20 years, and has provided the rhythmic backbone for many classic tunes over the years, and still packs a punch to this day. Native seem to have abandoned it without an update since 2013, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. It’s the definition of workhorse, when it comes to choosing the best drum VST. A literal oldie, but goodie, and still one of the best drum programming plugins available.
In electronic music production, the best drum synthesizer VSTs have played an essential role in many producers’ arsenals, merging classic beats with up to date innovative technologies. These VSTs offer extensive sound libraries and user-friendly interfaces, enabling producers to explore and craft complex rhythms easily. There’s literally a perfect drum VST out there for every genre you can think of, and their easy integration into any DAW makes drum VSTs the first thing many producers reach for, whether it’s techno, trance, hip hop or trap.
But which is the best drum VST of all time? We’ll let you decide that, go grab some free trials of some of the VSTs from our list, and try them out for yourself.
Don’t forget we have hours of tutorials on our website that separate the good drum plugins from the bad, and cover a wide range of the best drum synthesizer VSTs, and how to use them to create beats for any genre.
Our award winning Kick 2 VST is also available to try out and purchase through our website here!