The Best Percussion VST Plugins & Libraries

The Best Percussion VST Plugins & Libraries

It is not a secret that modern orchestral media compositions should make an impact. A certain level of epicness is expected of those kinds of compositions, and there are numerous ways to achieve it. And of those many ways, one would be to add several layers of high-energy orchestral percussion. Then, spice it up with a few subtle coats of gentle and organic percussion or vintage drum machines. To help your compositions to make said impact, we prepared a list of the best percussion VST.

Top 10 Best Percussion VST Plugins

  1. Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions
  2. Heavyocity Damage
  3. Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection
  4. HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion
  5. Wavesfactory Samba Drums
  6. AudioThing Latin Percussion
  7. Toontrack Orchestral Percussions SDX
  8. XLN Audio Session Percussion
  9. Laboratory Audio Strikeforce
  10. Audio Imperia Cerberus

Percussion VST Buying Guide

One thing you don’t have to worry about when choosing virtual percussion is the quality. Most of the time, media composers use orchestral libraries and virtual instruments to create some sort of mock-up. When the director approves the composition, the whole thing is recorded in the studio with the real orchestra. So it is rare that you can hear real strings or woodwinds on the final score, which could not be said about virtual percussion.

Apart from the convenience of not having to book a fairly large studio and a big and expensive ensemble of percussionists, modern orchestral percussion libraries are really unmatched in quality. So it’s not that easy to come by virtual percussion that doesn’t sound great. Even for the media composers that have the most demand, it makes more sense to use a virtual library than trying to recreate the desirable sound with a real orchestra and studio gear. That being said, there’re a few features that we should be looking for in virtual percussion libraries apart from the quality of sound.

Important features

A certain level of non-linear behavior is required of your virtual percussion library. In other words, your percussion libraries should be able to recreate human behavior when it comes to performance.

The other thing we should keep in mind is the actual playability of the instrument. So a responsive and adjustable velocity curve should be present. The versatility of the instrument is also very crucial, because for budget reasons you want your percussion to be usable in as many types of projects as possible. Keeping things listed above in mind, we put together a list of the best percussion VSTs to help you choose the right one.

Best Percussion VST Reviews

Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions

Native Instruments Symphony Series - Percussions

Pros
  • 55 instruments
  • 7 kits
  • Available in two versions
  • Works in a free KONTAKT player
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Native Instruments
Best features and specs

Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions is almost unrivaled when it comes to traditional orchestral percussion. Since NI made this instrument in collaboration with Sonuscore, it’s needless to say that sound quality and playability are superior. And that amazing quality spreads over all of the 55 included orchestral percussion instruments.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions for a large amount of high-quality content such as sounds and effects. Users also like intuitive and user-friendly GUI. This virtual instrument is perfect for traditional orchestral arrangements, but it might struggle in more modern compositions.

What we think

Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions is a perfect choice for someone who wants to stretch his muscles in traditional orchestral scoring in Danny Elfman or John Williams’s style. But we believe that it would be kind of tricky to make it sound convincing in more modern hybrid orchestral scores.

Bottomline

Native Instruments Symphony Series – Percussions has such an amazing sound quality that you are going to have to match it with a very good strings library. So if you already own some top-shelf orchestral libraries, this one will complement them beyond expectations.

Heavyocity Damage

Heavyocity Damage

Pros
  • Over 26,500 samples
  • 58 Percussive Kits
  • 16 Percussive Loop menus
  • Over 900 Single Loop Presets
Cons
  • Does not work in a free KONTAKT player
See prices @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

To add a little bit of contrast, this entry is quite the opposite of the previous one. Heavyocity Damage is very far from the world of academic classical music. This is a library of very modern and industrial action percussion that comes in four flavors. Epic Organic gives you access to contemporary orchestral percussion, Epic Tech and Industrial Electronic give you electronic percussion. Mangled Pop is almost the same as the previous one but with a different flavor.

User impressions

Users like Heavyocity Damage for a large collection of hard-hitting, driving, contemporary-sounding, beat‑sliced, and tempo-synced loops, as well as a collection of extremely powerful and atmospheric percussive hits, kits, noises, and textures. Heavyocity Damage is a versatile and highly programmable virtual instrument that will perfectly accompany scores for the next Hollywood blockbuster.

What we think

Despite that Heavyocity Damage mostly consists of loops, it is unbelievably easy to create your custom compositions. We also enjoyed the built-in saturator, which helps to add even more punch and impact to this percussion library.

Bottomline

Heavyocity Damage is a perfect choice for media composers who work with epic hybrid orchestral compositions. That being said, this library also would fit nicely into electronic and pop music.

Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection

Heavyocity Master Sessions Ensemble Drums Collection

Pros
  • Over 1,650 samples
  • Over 30 Kits
  • 27 Loop Menus
  • More than 400 Single Loop Presets
  • Works in a free KONTAKT player
Cons
  • None
See prices @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

When you think about modern epic orchestral percussion, you actually think about the Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection sound. This library offers you an iconic sound of contemporary movie scores with adjustable and customizable loops of Taiko drums, Roto-toms, and Bass drums.

User impressions

Users like Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection for its powerful atmospheric drums and top-shelf sound quality. Using these virtual drums, you will create the next award-winning score starting from epic to futuristic one. The amazing depth of sound and a huge range of effects won’t leave anyone behind. Users agree that if, for some reason, you do not have these drums, you should not waste any more time and have it.

What we think

We like the Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection because it doesn’t sound cheesy and over the top. Yes, it sounds incredibly epic and monumental, but it doesn’t feel like it is screaming into your face with epicness.

Bottomline

Heavyocity Ensemble Drums Collection is a good choice for someone who wants to create modern epic scores. Combine it with the previous entry on this list, and most of the job is done.

HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion

HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion

Pros
  • Over 30,000 samples
  • A large collection of handheld percussion
Cons
  • Does not work in a free KONTAKT player
See price @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion is a very impressive collection of handheld percussive instruments with a shockingly realistic sound. Here you have a mixture of fairly predictable shakers, bongos, and such exotic instruments as Angklung and Uran Casa, amongst many others.

User impressions

Users like HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion for its meticulously recorded samples, a vast collection of articulations, a huge range of playing techniques. A nice bonus is that Handheldsound has separate articulations for the left and right hand. The feature that makes users like this virtual instrument is the captured realism of drums sound, meaning that it replicates the live performer playing the drums, and it can add a flavor to your mix.

What we think

The realism and playability that HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion offers you are rather remarkable. It almost feels like with this collection of handheld percussion you wouldn’t need to search for an additional one.

Bottomline

HandHeldSound FlyingHand Percussion is a great percussion library with realistic sound and phenomenal playability. For such a reasonable price, there is very little chance that you will be in need of any other library of the same type.

Wavesfactory Samba Drums

Wavesfactory Samba Drums

Pros
  • 10 instruments
  • 4 velocity layers
Cons
  • Does not work in a free KONTAKT player
See price @ Plugin Boutique
Best features and specs

Wavesfactory Samba Drums is a library of percussive instruments that are commonly used in Latin music. It sounds rather good, and 6 round robins ensure great playability and realism.

User impressions

Users agree that Wavesfactory Samba Drums are amazingly recorded realistic drums that will take you right to the Brazilian carnival. Seriously speaking, these virtual drums have 10 articulations with 4 velocity layers and 16 tempo-synced loops. This virtual instrument has an intuitive and user-friendly GUI.

What we think

Although the name suggests otherwise, we found that it is actually usable in various other styles. With some EQing and reverb, you can even make it sound very epic.

Bottomline

 Wavesfactory Samba Drums is a versatile library that certainly will find its rightful place in your collection. Since it is very playable, the usability will be limited only by your imagination.

AudioThing Latin Percussion

AudioThing Latin Percussion

Pros
  • 6 classic analog sounds
  • 20 Factory Presets
  • 9 Factory Patterns
  • Randomizer
Cons
  • Not very usable in orchestral music
See price @ Plugin Boutique
Best features and specs

A world would not be complete without drum machines. Guys from AudioThing clearly think so too, so they’ve made Latin Percussion for us. It is a rather minimalistic virtual instrument that offers you a lot in terms of sound and character despite its rather limited features.

User impressions

Users say that AudioThing Latin Percussion is a rather amazing emulation of a rare analog drum machine that has 6 Latin sounds. You can mix, or pitch sounds whichever you like and build your patterns easily. This virtual instrument will be an excellent addition to the futuristic score or if you want to recreate the atmosphere of the 80’s disco.

What we think

AudioThing Latin Percussion may not be your first choice when it comes to percussion, but you should at least consider it since it has a very pleasant and inspiring sound. And gives some rather unexpected flavors to electronic music production.

Bottomline

The thing about drum machines is that you can never have enough. And since AudioThing Latin Percussion is very reasonably priced and has a character of its own, there’s no reason not to have one.

Toontrack Orchestral Percussions SDX

Toontrack Orchestral Percussions SDX

Pros
  • Over 120 individual instruments
Cons
  • Superior Drummer 3 is required
See price @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

If you already own a Superior Drummer 3, you are very well acquainted with the quality and playability that Toontrack can offer you. This library comes with 120 individual instruments and a collection of MIDI files, giving you an uncomprehensive amount of versatility and customization.

User impressions

Users like Toontrack Orchestral Percussions SDX for its unbelievable realism, detail, and depth of the sound. This virtual library has over 120 individual instruments carefully and notoriously sampled from the 11 different positions. Having all that in just one library will make the composing part an interesting experience as you can combine the elements in any way you want. Users say that this library will be a solid addition to create your next orchestral piece or write the next epic score for a film or a computer game.

What we think

It is impressive that Toontrack Orchestral Percussions SDX can sound almost any way you’d like. With this library, you can create anything from gentle underscoring to very big and epic contemporary compositions.

Bottomline

If you already have Superior Drummer 3, this expansion would be a handy addition to your composing tools. And if you don’t own Superior Drummer 3, you should definitely consider it because the core library and the instrument itself are extremely impressive.

XLN Audio Session Percussion

XLN Audio Session Percussion

Pros
  • 15 exotic instruments
  • Reasonable price
  • Standalone application
Cons
  • None
See prices @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

XLN Audio Session Percussion is a very impressive collection of percussive instruments that are arranged in the way that a drum kit would be. This means that you can play this instrument like you would play a standard virtual drum kit. As with all XLN Audio products, it comes as a standalone application and has its own sound presets and various customization controls.

User impressions

Users say that XLN Audio Session Percussion has an intuitive and user-friendly GUI. Despite having only 15 percussion instruments, it is easily mixable with any other VST that you have, and it will still sound great in a wide range from Latin pop genres to modern dance music.

What we think

XLN Audio Session Percussion is a handy tool for creating some background percussive layers and embellishments.

Bottomline

Since XLN Audio Session Percussion is reasonably priced and very intuitive to use, you should definitely give it a go if you are interested in creating additional layers in your composition.

Laboratory Audio Strikeforce

Laboratory Audio Strikeforce

Pros
  • 129 Total KONTAKT Instruments
  • 12 Multi Presets
  • Works in a free KONTAKT player
Cons
  • None
See price @ Laboratory Audio
Best features and specs

Laboratory Audio Strikeforce is a Swiss army knife of orchestral percussion. It has 129 instruments with 6 velocity layers each and up to 32 round robins to ensure playability and impressive realism.

User impressions

Users like Laboratory Audio Strikeforce for its top-shelf sound quality and attention to detail. It has a very intuitive and user-friendly GUI. Although you probably could not use it to create the classical orchestral piece, you can definitely create another epic score for the blockbuster or a computer game.

What we think

In our spare time, we enjoy creating our own sub-booms. Laboratory Audio Strikeforce offers you 14 of those, which makes us very happy, to say the least.

Bottomline

Laboratory Audio Strikeforce is a professional and versatile scoring tool that will help you fulfill your most bold epic composition ideas.

Audio Imperia Cerberus

Audio Imperia Cerberus

Pros
  • Works in a free KONTAKT player
  • 7 mics positions
  • 2 ready-to-go mixes and 3 epic mixes
  • Loops and sound design
Cons
  • None, really
See price @ Audio Imperia
Best features and specs

In media composition, the question of how much epicness is too much is still not answered. Audio Imperia Cerberus certainly hits the right spot, it is extremely epic, but not to the point where it would feel grotesque.

User impressions

Users say that Audio Imperia Cerberus is an innovative drum library with a wide range of options and has impressively punchy, deep, and detailed sound. It will inspire you to create another score for a trailer, film, or computer game. Because of its versatility, you can use it while composing any kind of futuristic music piece as well as use it to add some depth to your folk or rock track.

What we think

If you’re new to the world of media composition and you’ve been wondering how that hard heating and impactful sound is achieved – it was made with Audio Imperia Cerberus. As in any other industry, composers have to meet certain standards and it is very easy to do with this library.

Bottomline

If you want to sound like your favorite media composers then Audio Imperia Cerberus is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

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