In this post we’ll take a look at 10 great free drum software programs to download and use in your productions.
Can you make great music with free drum software? With these free drum software programs, you probably can. Especially if you’re looking to produce genres like vaporware, synthwave, chillwave, and so on. There are even some choices that we’ve select that can be used to make profession level beats.
And while there’s no real risk to download a free plugin from an trusted developer, there’s nothing to lose.
So let’s check them out 🙂
Find other studio gear here:
Intro: Drum Software Plugins
You probably already know that there are a plethora of VSTs and drum softwares on the market.
Some of them are really good, some of them are actually trash.
And still further, there are those that have ceased development.
Practically speaking, the best drum software plugins are going to be the ones that you have to buy. But there are a few good gems out there free of cost, so we’ve decided to take some time getting to know a few of them, and see if we could come up with a list of 10.
Surprisingly, we were!
One of the things you’ll have to know is that there is not just one type of drum software. There are at least three types:
- Drum sampler – This simply emulates the sound of a classic drum machine, or stores samples of an acoustic drum set that can be easily trigger via MIDI controller
- Drum machine – This is essentially a beat making workstation, you use drum machines to create loops and rhythms.
- Virtual Drummer – A virtual drummer software is created to replace an actually studio drummer
This list of free drum software programs covers these three criteria. So let’s take a look at each of them …
The 10 Best Free Drum Software Instruments
1 – Beat Assist – Nasty Looper
Nasty Looper is a free drum machine plugin that you can use either in your studio or for a live performance for creative loop and beatmaking. Primarily it is good for making hip hop, house, and other EDM based genres. It was created by the people over at Beat Assist as one of their free plugins, and I have to say, it’s very impressive. The plugin offers a lot of creative potential. It’s fun to use, and has a lot of potential for creating high quality beats and loops.
Spec-wise, the plugin features 16 pad cells that can load 16 or 24-bit .wav samples. You can assign MIDI to each pad, and you can map each pad to the piano roll in your DAW. There is a mini-synth and break sequencer as well, which you can use to create your own sounds and inject slices of silence into your beats. Naturally, you can configure your choke groups to make sure that your samples are not overlapping with each other.
With Nasty Looper, you can construct up to 64 beat steps over a duration of 16 bars. It also has its own brickwall limiter to crunch your beats and make them loud, without actually clipping in your mixer. In terms of effects, you can adjust the low pass and high pass filters, as well as add cool delays to your beats.
Another cool thing is the ability to load MIDI loops into the VST itself, if you have some loops that you created or downloaded, you can try them out in this. It’s nice the fact that, with Nasty Looper, everything can be done within the VST itself, it can be a complete beat station. So for a free drum plugin, it really does offer a lot.
The interface is easy to use and logical (even though a little bit dated), and there are tons of videos online to show you how to find your way around things. You can download it and try it out with the demo content that it comes with. It’s compatible with Windows 10 as well. It only works in 32-bit mode, though. But you can bridge it to get it to work on Windows 10 64-bit.
2 – DistroCore – DC Bazz::Murda
DC Bazz::Murda is an AU and VST bass/kick synthesizer. It’s very impressive, once you see what it can do, and it continues to be in development. With Murda, you can create really great sound kick-bass sounds for various electronic music genres. From Future Bass, to Trap, to Hip-hop and House. The sounds of serious quality, making this plugin very tempting to use inside of a professional level beat production, even though it is just free.
Spec-wise, Murda is like your typical softsynth. It consists of 3 oscillators that you can completely control via cutoff filter and resonance shaping. You can even invert the envelopes with the toggle of the button. You can edit and automate each oscillator’s amp, saturation, and volume, and you can even change the pitch and add fine detunes to your sounds. There is a pitch envelope as well which you can use to create those cool high pitched kick zaps. You can add as much distortion as you like, creating custom distortion curves that are visualized inside of the plugin for really crunchy and aggressive synth kicks.
As said, this is a kick-bass synth. You can use the unit to sculpt and shape bass/kick sound designs for your track. The sounds are so thick and rich that you could get by probably with just this plugin, and a snare, hat, and maybe a pad, you have a great track, because of the level sound quality it creates.
The interface is probably more friendly toward users who have decent familiarity when it comes to synthesis. But after playing around with it for a while, you should be able to get some great kick and bass sounds for your next track in no time.
The people over at DistroCore put in a lot of hours to create this free drum software, for the purpose of giving you the power to create your own sounds without having to steal or pirate others. So I think this is a great alternative to buying premium sounds, if you can’t get them now. That said, you can donate to them to help keep this thing in development, it’s really useful. Murda is available for Windows 10 32 and 64-bit, as well as Mac OS X. Check it out!
3 – SampleScience – Vintage Drum Elements
If you’re a fan of the vintage Yamaha RX5 drum machine, but can’t afford the real thing, you should take a look at Vintage Drum Elements. It was created by the people over at Sample Science as the “seminal drum machine of the eighties.” It’s perfect for the eighties nostalgic vibe of synthwave, vaporware, synthpop, and chillwave. The original RX5 drum machine was used by artists like Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Louie Vega, and The Pet Shop Boys, and you can now get that sound for free… which is pretty awesome.
Even though it is an RX5 emulator, it is actually just a ROMpler. So you can’t load your own samples onto it, or create your own custom kit. That shouldn’t be a problem for you though, if all you want is a software version of the RX5. And since it comes with a selection of its own kits, that sound great, you get a lot of options to play with.
The interface is very nice. It’s definitely reminiscent of the Yahama RX5. You know exactly what you’re looking at. There are 12 pads, plus volume and pan controls for each pad. Plus 9 other controls to adjust FX, Vinyl effect, Tremolo, Sub bass, and “Punch.” At the top, you have a green display that should you your preset, and 5 additional master controls adjust high, low, pitch, range, and volume.
Spec-wise, Vintage Drum Elements comes with 5 drum kits, 1 FX set, and 4 instruments. It runs on both Windows 10 (32/64-bit), as well as Mac OS X, in VST and AU. The samples samples used in the plugin are 16 bit 44.1 kHz .wav files, and is certain to be compatible with all the major DAWs in the DAW market.
4 – Monade Sounds – Pure909
If you’re looking for another great vintage drum machine for all your synthwave, vaporwave, synthpop, and chillwave music, you should definitely add Pure909 to your collection. What is it? Pure909 is the sample-based emulator of the legendary Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer. The original dates all the way back to 1984, and was use by Radiohead, Underworld, Gorillaz, Daft Punk, Boby, and even Kanye West. I’m certain that this has been replicated in other paid plugins, but you can get it for free in this Roland TR-909 dedicated plugin.
Pure909 is ROMpler, so you can’t load our own samples onto it, just like the Vintage Drum Elements I also mention in this post. However, it features the original TR-909 drum kit, plus 19 other 909 drum kits that were processed using vintage gear. Each samples was recorded at 24 bit, 44.1 kHz quality, which is DVD level. The people that made it, Monade Sounds, resampled the sound of the 909 through actual vintage samplers to get the sounds for the Pure 909. This includes the Akai MPC60, an old PC computer, a NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and Sega Master System sound chips, and tube amplifiers. That’s very impressive for a free plugin.
The interface is very beautiful, one of the best on this list. It’s both classic, but modern at the same time. There are 36 knobs on the screen, arranged into five rows. The top row adjusts the compression, pan, and volume. The second to fifth rows are divided into 9 percussion controls: Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Hi Hat, Cymbal, Low Tom, Mid Tom, Hi Tom, Rim Shot, and Hand Clap. At the very top is a vintage style red display that shows you the present selections.
In terms of basic requirements to run the plugin, the Pure909 is able to run on Windows 10, or Mac OS X 10 and up. You’d need at least 1GB of RAM, and it can run within VST or AU mode within all of the major DAWs on the commercial market.
5 – MeldaProduction – MDrummer Small
Note: As a recent commenter mentioned, this plugin is no longer available for free from the MeldaProduction website. However, if you’d still like to take a stab at it, check it out at Reverb. Just keep in mind that, like many fre plugins, it’s no longer supported.
If you’re looking for a free virtual drummer, and not just a drum machine, take a look at MDrummer Small by MeldaProduction. The “Small” is actually the free version of the standard version, so it is more limited, but still offers a lot of creative potential that you could probably find very helpful. This free virtual drummer is designed to emulate the human-like rhythmic performances of an actual drummer, thanks to the algorithmic composition code that went into the artificial intelligence behind the plugin.
So, what do you get for the free copy? More than 500 MB of drum samples, multisamples, and subsamples. It comes equipped with over 30 drumsets, with 400 + drumset components. You have over 60 rhythms, 200 + base-rhythms, and 2500 + loops to choose from, in various styles, from acoustic to electronic music. You can use MDrummer to create realistic pop, rock, dance, DnB drums on the fly for your productions. And it even has its own arranger sequencer, so you don’t even need to leave the plugin window when you’re constructing your drums.
The interface is very profession and well thought out. On the Quick Setup tab, the screen is split into two sections. On the left is where you select your drum style library, design them, and add and adjust effects. On the right, you can select your various rhythms, and create arrangements of verse, chorus, etc. On the Mixer tab, you can control the volume, pan, pitch of each drum or percussion. On the Song tab, you can create your arrangements to select, bar by bar, which pattern you created from the Quick Setup tab. There are other tabs as well, including Effects, Drumset Editor, Rhythm Editor, and Rhythm Generator
You can run MDrummer in either standalone mode or hosted within your DAW as VST, VST3, or AU. Unfortunately, it works only on Windows in standalone mode, but it works with Mac OS X in your DAW. There’s also training material that you can download from the website to get you going. Overall, MDrummer Small is a very impressive free virtual drummer plugin. Give it a try!
6 – Manda Audio – MT Power Drum Kit
MT Power Drum Kit is a multi layer drum sampler VST/AU virtual instrument plugin. You can use MT Power Drum Kit to create realistic sounding drum tracks for pop, rock, metal or other styles. You can either compose your own drum tracks, or you can select and create drum tracks based on styles offered within the Groove Library.
Maybe the coolest thing about this free plugin, is how easy they make it for producers of rock and pop genres. Sometimes when adding drums to a mix, they don’t “fit well,” simply because they have been recorded so perfectly, that you’d need to do some processing of your own. The typical thing to do is to put on your engineer’s cap and get to work compressing and EQing the drums, which is normally a large task in and of itself. One of the great things about this little plugin is that the samples already come pre-processed. Maybe a few purists may not like that, but it really helps to slice down time in your workflow, knowing that whatever samples you load up are made ready to sit well in your mix, without too much processing on your end to tighten things up. So I think, in terms of value, that is where the MT Power Drum Kit shines the most.
MT Power Drum Kit features a screen that displays your drum kit, with each individual drum lighting up when triggered by a MIDI controller, or from the piano roll notes within your DAW. In the menu, you can select your styles, grooves and fills, and drag each MIDI loop right into your DAW’s track on the arranger window. The plugin itself comes with its own presets of MIDI grooves and loops, but it is compatible with presets from Superior Drummer, EZdrummer, Addictive Drums, Studio Drummer, and so on. The plugin also supports multiple output channels, so you can always add effects to each drum if you want. Only thing with this, is that you can’t change the different kits and sounds that it comes with.
The original plugin actually cost $39, but now it’s available for free! It came out without much fanfare originally, but it’d be a shame not to take advantage of this plugin if you can’t afford the more expensive names I mentioned. And in comparison to them, MT Power Drum Kit really holds its own. The plugin is compatible with Windows 10 and Mac OS as a VST host plugin. Visit the website and try it out for yourself!
7 – Beatskillz – Beatfactory Drums
Beatfactory Drums is a great free drum machine plugin that specializes in hip-hop, trap, EDM, dubstep, house, and other electronic music based genres. The sounds were re-sampled from an MPC 2500, offering up to ten drum kits that can be selected very easily from the drop down menu.
Included in the kits are 808 sounds, 80s kit, two dubstep kits, two hip hop kits, a trap kit, two samples kits, and an Indian kit. The samples from each kit are triggered using the 12 clickable pads on the interface, which can naturally be routed to your MIDI controller. You can further shape your kits using the ADSR envelope, and it has its own built in reverb. You can’t change or expand the samples that exist, or create your own kits without purchasing the expansion pack. However, the sounds are flexible enough, as well as high quality, to give you enough creative material to last you for a while. Particularly if you’re just starting it, this is a great free drum machine to get going.
The user interface is quite beautiful. Each of the 12 drum pads can be seen on the screen, arranged into 3 rows and four columns. At the top are faders for each pad, and a pan knob below each fader. Then, right above the pads, are your ADSR knobs, your main, reverb, and master volume knob. The design is generally very logically and easy to get around, making it simple to use for beginners.
The plugin is compatible with both Mac and Windows. But it’s recommended to have at least 2 GB of RAM, and an i3 Intel Core process minimum for it to run properly. That would be because the sample content is embedded in the DLL file, so loading up your kits would take some times and use up some amount of the resources of your CPU and available RAM. That said, for a free drum machine, this is one of the best you can find. If you’re into electronic music, particularly hip hop and trap, this would be a great free alternative for you to try!
8 – Rob Chokehold – Sean Pandy Drums
Sean Pandy Drums is a free drum ROMpler plugin for rock and metal genres. It includes kicks, snares, four toms, and sub blower. Each drum has has been multisampled to give you up to 6 velocity layers and 10 random-robin samples. This means you can re-trigger your samples in rapid succession (very popular in metal genres) without getting an unnatural sounding “machine gun” effect.
There is a story behind how Sean Pandy Drums was made. In fact, it was developed by Rob Chokehold, after snagging the free metal drums samples that was released by Sean Pandy, a respected metal producer, for free use. Sean Pandy took down the original download link, but the samples have been re-uploaded via other users in forums all over the internet. Given the fairly ambiguous nature of the license, plus the fact that Sean Pandy seems to be OK with the continuous re-uploads, Rob Chokehold decided to create a drum software using each of the samples. This is great for you, as you don’t have to do it yourself within a sample player like Kontakt 5.
The interface itself is very nice looking, which is surprising knowing how this thing was made. The controls are all laid out in a logical order, with seven faders for each drum, plus a master fader, and a reverb fader. The author of the plugin does present you with a caveat to be very careful with the reverb, as it does sound rather metallic. There is actually two version of this plugin: a stereo version, and multi-out version so you can rout each drum track to your mixing channel.
The plugin sounds great itself, with most users having great things to say about it. The drum samples themselves are top quality, this is certain from listening to them being used on a track. And the fact that they have been sampled at various velocities means you get different variations in sound. The only downside is the fact that, unlike a couple other choices in this list, it doesn’t come with its own loops, nor does it comes with humanizing capabilities. So this plugin is essentially a great attempt at combining some top quality samples into a easy to use and beautiful platform for you to add to your productions.
That said, Sean Pandy Drums is compatible with both Mac and Windows, in 32-bit or 64-bit mode, as VST or AU. Check it out!
9 – RealDrumSamples – Line of Legends
If you’re a hip hop producer, or you aspire to be one, you will love this. The Line of Legends is a specialty hip hop drum kit software. It features high quality drum samples for hip hop found on RealDrumSamples.com, all arranged within one easy to use plugin window. As a hip hop producer, you know how important it is to get the right sounds for you beat, a problem you’ll come across time and time again when you realize that typical drum and snare sounds actually don’t cut it for real hip hop beats.
The beauty about Line of Legends is the fact that the drum samples already comes processed for the purpose of hip-hop music. You’d probably be spending the majority of your time engineering your sounds instead of creating beats if you just got raw samples, but thanks to this you can easily just load up your samples in the plugin, and get to beat making on your MIDI pad controller, or even keyboard.
In terms of sounds, there’s a lot. You have 808 drum sounds divided into Hi hats, Kicks, Snares, and Toms. Then there is your standard drum sounds of claps, crashes, rides, closed hi hats, open hi hats, kicks, snaps, snares and toms. That totals about 350 worth of high quality sounds to choose from to use in all your beats.
The interface, though different from what you’d expect from a plug, is very well designed. It’s very simple, which at first gives the impression off being something like a side project of music enthusiast software developer. But it has a comic book charm about it that sets it apart from a typical plugin. The layout is neatly divided into 8 sections of kick, snare, clap, snap, toms, hi hat, ride, and crash, and each section has controls to adjust the sounds you select, with their own individual output for your mixer.
Line of Legends is definitely an impressive plugin. If you’re interested in making standard hiphop beats, but are just starting out or can’t afford one of the more expensive ones, you should definitely try this out. Either way, it would make a great addition to your library. Even though it is a free plugin, it was once a plugin you had to buy, but now, you can get great quality for practically nothing. Hard to argue with that. Try it out! It’s compatible with all the major DAWs, and can run on either Mac or Windows.
10 – StudioLinked – Drum Pro
Drum Pro is probably one of the best free drum machine software on the market right now. The drum machine features a collection of 20 drum kits and 9 vintage drum machines, which can be loaded onto the software’s 16 drum pads. While it is free, you have the option of purchasing the expansion pack to expand your musical styles. But the free version will be enough for you for a while, especially if you’re just trying it out and getting to know the software.
The drum machine is not limited to simply EDM, trap or hip hop. You can use it to produce R&B, pop and other styles as well. The plugin itself was created with the purpose of giving you the ability to create beats for your customers. So as a free plugin, it actually is intended for use by beatmakers for commercial projects, and not just a hobby plugin.
Drum Pro features sounds by the vintage machines Roland TR-808, Roland TR-909, and Boss DR-55, among others. When you select your kits, you can load your samples onto the pads, and control them via your MIDI controller. In fact, each element of the plugin is controllable via MIDI.
The only limitation to the software really is the fact that it is not a proper sampler, but a ROMpler. This means you can’t load your own samples. If you want to expand your samples, you’d need to purchase the expansion pack from the website. Also, you can’t use a sample from one kit on the preset kit you’ve loaded. I think this is a bit of an oversight, but perhaps not a big deal to the purist among us.
In all, Drum Pro is a fantastic plugin. It comes with some limitations, but it makes up for it by commercial quality and easy of use. No other free drum machine plugin gives you a choice of so many drum machines, sampled at high quality, in just one interface. And it is also designed very beautifully as well. The layout is easy to understand, so if you’re just getting into music production, you’d enjoy getting to know Drum Pro. It’s compatible with all the major DAWs, as well as both Windows and Mac.
Those were the 10 best free drum software programs that we could find to download right now. Hope you enjoyed this list, and found a few to check out and try on your own. If you enjoyed any of them, or even tried them in the past, feel free to chime in on your experience with them.
Otherwise, share this post with your friends or anyone else you think will find this information useful.
Make sure to check out the studio gear guide to find other great gear for your music.