Best Drum VST Plugins: The Definitive List  [2021]

 by 

Jay Von K   -  


Updated: December 21, 2020

Do you find that the market has overflowed with drum emulating software?

Well, once you read this article, you will no longer think that way!

Because here we will take a look at a carefully made selection of the top drum VST plugins for your needs!

Best Drum VST Plugins

But how did we end up with all these different drum VSTs in the first place?

First of all, it is evident that recording a physical drum set is both costly and time-consuming.

In addition to that, technology has improved so much that making realistic sounds from the convenience of your DAW can never get any easier.

But drum VSTs are also popular for those who don’t want to use realistic drum sounds, but they would like to experiment with synthesizing or sampling their percussion sounds.

Whatever your case is, you will find the plugin you need below!

So if you are scouting for the best drum VST plugins for your productions, we got you covered.

Want to know more?

Let’s get down to business.

The 12 Best Drum VST Plugins of 2021 include:

Best Drum Simulator Plugins

1. Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Superior Drummer 3 from Toontrack
General

As it is, the Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 takes the virtual drum concept a notch higher with a futuristic design.

Superior Drummer 3 - DrumsTab

To begin with, it affirms Toontrack’s taste for innovation with a unique scalable interface optimized to streamline workflow.

Also of interest is the well-endowed library of raw sounds it makes available allowing boundless creativity.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 - Drum Library

And that’s not all.

It presents mix-ready presets for various styles, offline audio to MIDI conversion, multiple sound processing effects among other game-changing elements.

Superior Drummer 3 - MixerTab

The interface allows easy editing of playstyle, quick search functionality, inbuilt macro controls, keyboard shortcuts, and more.

Even though it isn’t a one cut for all, it makes it possible to venture into new sonic landscapes.

Superior Drummer Reviews

Overall, the Superior Drummer 3 extends creative power and control in virtual studio drum sound design, so the limit is your imagination.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3WATCH THE DEMO

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Toontrack Superior Drummer 3:

2. XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2.0

XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
General

Get this.

If there is a drum ROMpler with a Tone Designer worth exploring it would be the Addictive Drums 2.0 by XLN Audio.

Addictive Drums 2 Interface

Though it has less than 2 GB occupying the hard drive, it does the magic of making sounds attractive.

It trades off obsessive levels of tweaking and sophisticated tonal options for a simpler and streamlined workflow to allow attainment peak quality sounds faster.

It features samples from real instruments such as Tama Bell Brass, the DAW Craviotto, and Ludwig Supraphonic 402 so it's just fine without an extensive sample library.

So how does the Tone Designer work?

Well, the interface features different controls that allow shaping decay overtones, patterning the sharpness of bass and low mids not to mention the highs and buzzes of the snare.

Fairfax vol 1

Yes, that’s correct!

You have three tone generating areas where you can choose a preferred drum piece.

Then there is the Kitpiece controls anchoring volume and velocity response control and more.

AD2 Kitpiece Controls

Most of all, you can customize any property of your drum kit pieces and handle the dynamics, saturation, compression, and distortion without much ado.

With XLN-Audio AD 2.0 there is no looking back.

XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2.0WATCH THE DEMO

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XLN Addictive Drums 2 Virtual Drumkit:
XLN AD 2 Custom:
XLN Addictive Drums 2 Custom XL:
XLN AD 2 Creative Collection:
Addictive Drums 2: Beat Producer Edition:

3. Toontrack EZdrummer 2

Toontrack EZ-Drummer 2
General

Like the version before, EZ Drummer 2 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to drum simulators.

As one of the best drum ROMplers, it stands out courtesy of top-grade sound offerings.

Not only does it boast of a powerful audio engine, but it also supports real-time groove customization.

EZ Drummer 2 Drums

What else?

Users can write complete drum tracks on it without requiring any other program.

And with its ready crafted kits in an indisputably intuitive interface, it’s hassle-free to create wide-ranging articulations and hits.

EZ Drummer 2 Mixer

If you need hyper-real quality sounds for different styles such as pop, metal, jazz or rock music and so much more, it’s possible.

In a nutshell, this plugin provides sufficient depth and power to support the flexible creation of realistic drum sound.

Toontrack EZdrummer 2


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Toontrack EZdrummer 2:

4. Fxpansion BFD3

FXpansion BFD3
General

In all honesty, this version 3 of the original acoustic drum studio-imitating virtual instrument is still one of the best of its class.

The Fxpansion BFD3 has an intuitive interface and a redesigned sound engine that bolsters its position as a complete virtual drum kit production studio.

BFD3 Mixing

Apart from its impressive library of high-quality and realistic kits, any producer will appreciate its ability to model algorithms for tom resonance and cymbal swells.

What’s more?

It supports DCAM envelope shaping hence achieving punchy tones is a breeze.

And if you want to incorporate elements like rudiments, drags, technical fills, patterns, and the likes, you have groove presets, editors, and paint tool to make everything a reality.

Sounds impressive, right?

BFD 3 Modeling

How about the complete digital mixing controls of all the Direct and Ambient mic channels?

What of the convenient Mini mixer for quick adjustments in a DAW application?

In a nutshell, the BFD3 provides flexibility and control like you are working with the real thing.

Fxpansion BFD3


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Fxpansion BFD3:
Fxpansion BFD3 Expansion Packs:
More Drum Simulator Options
Slate Digital Steven Slate Drums 5.5:
Steinberg Groove Agent 5:
MeldaProduction Mdrummer:
Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection:

Best Drum Samplers

5. Native Instruments Battery 4

Battery 4 from Native Instruments
General

For starters, the Battery 4 is the most recent drum sampler version from the accomplished German outfit Native Instruments.

Like most of the audio creation and production software by NI, this is another workhorse.

Battery 4 Gallery

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it offers an impressive sample library with over 100 pro-grade kits to get the job done.

That aside, it supports parameters namely L-R switching, tuning, volume, key-range, pan, reverse, phase invert, and so much more.

Other key features worth highlighting include color-coded cell-base matrix and all-inclusive onboard effects with drag and drop routing.

Battery 4 Editor

But make no mistake, despite all the options it’s hassle-free to work with either as a standalone sampler or as part of Native Instruments ultimate package.

If you want to inject movements and modulations into the beats of electronic or urban music, NI battery 4 is the real deal.

Native Instruments Battery 4


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Native Instruments Battery 4:
More Drum Sampler Options
Serato Sample Sampler:
Vengeance Sound Phalanx:
Native Instruments Polyplex:

6. Sonic Academy Kick2

Kick 2 from Sonic Academy
General

While the Sonic Sound Kick 2 may not be the most polished drum synth out there, it opens new fronts with a powerful, multi-layered kick drum design system.

To the casual observer, it looks straightforward.

But in practice, any user will be surprised at the effectiveness with which it allows refining of characterful kick drums and tweaking of results.

Sonic-Academy-Kick-2

Sound delivery is on point even though it relies on samples for click stage and is also characterized by dodgy internal effects.

Do you want to sculpt?

Check. Create, shape, and fine-tune your way to the dream kick drum?

Check, check, and check!

But wait – there’s more.

It also supports seamless WAV export, comes with its over 180 click samples, and a bank of preset curves.

So you can get started if you have no idea where to begin.

Given the features, it’s easy to see why the Kick 2 outshines Sonic Academy’s prior revisions in recent times.

Sonic Academy Kick2


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Sonic Academy Kick2:

7. Plugin Boutique Big Kick

Plugin Boutique Big Kick
General

By and large, the Plugin Boutique Big Kick is one specialist plugin that will leave users impressed right after installation.

It doesn’t offer more than a kick drum, but it does so promptly and without a fuss.

Bigkick

Despite separate programming from the rest of the drums with a modern DAW, everything is easy to fix.

As the basis of its sound, the Big Kick blends a sample and multiple synthesis stages for post-processing of the same.

You will be happy to realize that this plugin features a decent choice list of kick samples, a GREAT selection of presets for the source sample and attack model alike.

It provides energy, feel, and drive of the mix by creating a solid base that anchors other elements of a track, especially for electronic music.

In addition to that, a user can also load samples, and all the while access remains hassle-free thanks to the slick browser system.

What else?

There is the easy audio drag to DAW functionality and detailed sound-shaping sections which puts more control in your hands.

Indeed, few alternatives focus on one type of drum sound and get it this right.

Plugin Boutique Big Kick


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Plugin Boutique Big Kick:

8. D16 Punchbox

D16 Punchbox
General

Are you in search of VST plugin that offers a mix of samples, synth modules, and effects?

If yes, the D16 Punchbox could be the perfect answer.

D16 Punchbox GUI

With this, no need browsing aimlessly through your samples for the ideal kick sample because it caters for all typical kick drum needs.

At its core is the rack-designed-module architecture underpinned by an inspiring vintage appearance.

The plugin combines a synthesized layer with three sample layers. It accordingly processes the outcome with effect modules to deliver wide-ranging audio-rich bass drums.

D16 Punchbox Modules

In reality, you can generate your kick drum with top-notch precision from the deepest low end to high-end sparkle based on the modules approach.

You have more than enough presets organized according to the soundbank on drum machine source, music style, and sound character.

All in all, there is literally no sound you can’t create, shape, and polish to fit your projects because this software makes everything quite flexible.

D16 Punchbox


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More Drum Synth Options
AIR Music Technology Drum Synth 500:
AudioSpillage DrumSpillage 2:
Audiothing Hand Clapper:
Audiothing Hats:

Best Drum Kontakt Libraries:

9. NI Abbey Road Drummer

NI Abbey Road Drummer Collection
General

First of all, that Abbey Road Drummer series is quite unusual is out of the question.

Why is this?

It’s simple, Native Instruments Abbey Road Drummer feature drum kits that are authentic through time.

So is this about dated sound?

Yes, exactly!

The libraries include popular drum recordings from Abbey Road Studios in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and modern drummer.

Abbey Road Drummer Collection

The kits are a preserve of incredible sounds directly emulated from the Studio's powerful acoustics.

Even better is the fact that each sound sets bears requisite realism and the underlying consistency of Abbey Road ambience.

And like everything else, you have controls that take you to a world of various settings and functionality management.

Think hit settings, bleed control, reverb control, and articulation patterns.

Let’s face it, it close to unbelievable that you can have sounds made by different drummers from different decades at the convenience of your DAW today.

The only downside seems to be that versatility depends on the number of kits acquired otherwise a few clicks is all it requires to make things happen.

All said and done, With NI Abbey Road Drummer you can revive fantastic sound, the more reason it pays to have it.

NI Abbey Road Drummer


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NI Abbey Road Drummer Series:
More Drum Kontakt Libraries
Wave Alchemy Revolution:
Handheld Mad RocknFunk:
Strezov Sampling VIBE Instant Drumkit:

Best Drum Machines:

10. Xfer Records Nerve

Xfer Records Nerve
General

The Xfer Records Nerve is a drum-come-true for seasoned and amateur producers alike.

Why?

First, it features a sufficiently stocked sound library providing everything ranging from one-shots to drum kits and drum loops.

And don’t forget all these are created by world-class sound designers such as PowerFX, SampleSquad, Bitword, and more.

XFer Nerve drum plugin

Versatility is perhaps its top-selling point. You can work with it for every music genre.

Given the thousands of presets, patterns, and sounds, you can generate outcomes that align to your needs efficiently.

No matter how picky you are, it takes the charm of the incredible effects section, sequencer, and availability up to eight stereo outputs to be won over.

Xfer Records Nerve


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Xfer Records Nerve:

11. FXpansion Geist 2

FXpansion Geist 2 Beat Production System
General

For what it is, the Geist 2 is an embodiment of Fxpansion’s award-winning beat creation and sound sculpting system.

As a step sequencer and sample-based drum machine plugin, the Fxpansion Geist 2 supports straightforward sample manipulation, organization, and modulation capabilities.

Xfer Geist 2 Browser

It means, with it, you are in for a smooth and quick workflow with no limit to your creativity.

For instance, performing and programming grooves and rhythms is a one-touch affair all thanks to its Retina/4K-compatible display.

The Geist 2 has eight sound engines each capable of holding full drum kits or 64 multi-layered packs of sound emulations.

Geist 2 close up

You can alter these on multiple levels then sequence them to different patterns.

Isn’t this exceedingly awesome in sound production?

The best part, however, is the ability to automate almost every parameter with compatible modulators to add new dimensions to creativity.

FXpansion Geist 2


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FXpansion Geist 2:
More Drum Machine Options
AudioSpillage Elecktroid:
Image-Line Drumaxx:
D16 Nithonat:
D16 Nepheton:
D16 Drumazon:
Sonic Charge MicroTonic:
Arturia Spark 2:
Rob Papen Punch 2:
XILS-lab StiX:
Softube Heartbeat:
iZotope Breaktweaker Expanded:
Heavyocity DM-307:
AudioThing Drum Machine Bundle:
DopeSONIX Beat Machine 2:
UVI Beatbox Anthology 2:

Best Drum Triggers:

12. Addictive Trigger

XLN Audio Addictive Trigger
General

Believe it or not, Addictive Trigger is the world’s premier intelligent drum replacer.

Topping the list of its impressive and powerful features is the Audio Fingerprint™ detection algorithm and SuperStart™ system that makes drum replacement trouble-free.

Addictve Trigger from XLN

Consequently, it can accurately identify drum hits and give precise detections in no time.

As such, users can focus on what matters, that is dialing appropriate drum sound.

AD Trigger

Unlike other replacement plugins that require manual adjustment for accurate hit detection, in this case, it’s automatic.

Besides the above, it is packed with dozens of highly adjustable presets hand specifically chosen from AD library and fully customized for drum replacement.

Addictive TriggerWATCH THE DEMO

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Addictive Trigger:
Addictive Trigger:
More Drum Trigger Options
Steven Slate Trigger 2 Platinum:
WaveMachine Labs Drumagog 5 Platinum:
Massey DRT 2:
TL Labs TL Drum Rehab:
Drums Anywhere:

Which is your favorite drum plugin?

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Final Thoughts

And with that, you have the world-class drum VST plugins for your audio production needs.

Each of these offers impressive functionality within its limits.

Bottom line, you’ll probably do with some experimentation and practice to master everything and get the best out of them.

The choice is yours, but the secret to great percussion might be in getting all of them.

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