Best Free Drum VST in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

  • James Parker
  • January 19, 2022

It’s no secret that a good set of drums is a hefty investment. And it’s a purchase that a lot of us have been putting off. Fortunately, there are a ton of free VST drum plugins that can bring a lot of the same sounds to your studio.

Drummers are a demanding breed. They want tight bass, a thumping kick, tight hi-hats, and a snare that snaps. They want all of this to be available in a size that’s small enough to carry around, and all for free.

Enter our roundup of the best free drum VST. In this article, we’ll review some of the best free drum VSTs on the market and let you know their features and our likes and dislikes.

Why trust us? We review products daily for our devoted readers to help them with their buying decisions. They value our honest and unbiased opinions and we really appreciate them putting their trust in us.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
ms1 1. AudioSpillage MiniSpillage
  • Very nice interface
  • Easy to use
  • Drum pads are fully editable
CHECK PRICE
spitfire-audio-labs-drums 2. Spitfire LABS Drums
  • Comes with full FX presets
  • Lots of options with two different kits, loops, samples, and more
  • Includes a visual display of all the notes and settings on the drum
CHECK PRICE
GUI 3. Synsonic BD-909 / BD-808 Free
  • Lot’s of drum samples available
  • Very good AU effects
CHECK PRICE
SSD-5.5-Mix-Window 4. Steven Slate Drums 5.5 Free
  • Very cool tool for medium to professional level users
  • Huge amount of features
CHECK PRICE

What is a Drum VST Plugin?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. You may recognize the term VST from digital audio workstations like Logic or Pro Tools. VST plugins can be purchased from your favorite software, like the Apple iTunes Music Store, and work in conjunction with your system, repurposing your existing tools into music-making technologies.

The difference is you are paying for the software. Unlike your Mac or Windows computer, your phone, or even your portable music player, this software isn’t running on any hardware.

A good example is UVI Drums 2. It allows you to record your MIDI drum tracks into a sequencer. It then uses that MIDI sequence to generate sounds.

1. AudioSpillage MiniSpillage

ms1

Specification

Free / Free Trial – Days?Free
FormatAU
CustomizabilityWood Drums
Base Drums
CompatibilityWindows
LibraryNA
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.4 or higher

Mac Computer 1 GHz CPU Minimum

If there’s one thing you can count on AudioSpillage for, it’s giving their users amazing sounds. A drum set-up made by them is always one of our go-tos for percussion on our songs.

MiniSpillage Drum VST is a drum kit VST created by the team at AudioSpillage.

Let’s dive in and see what’s special about this one. MiniSpillage features eleven well-designed presets that sound like they’re straight out of a professional recording studio. These 11 sound profiles include everything from snare drum, to cymbals, to cymbal crashes.

One of our favorite aspects of this plugin is the equalization. Using a semi-modular system, you can alter the sound of the VST in different ways.

WHAT WE LIKE

There’s no getting around it. The MiniSpillage is the real deal.

So what is MiniSpillage? Let’s say this: The MiniSpillage VST can perform five different drum VST loops. The sounds are digital and recorded in a live, quasi-realistic manner.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the samples can be loaded as 32 different permutations of instruments. In the right situation, you’re going to be able to play with the arrangement of the drum samples in various ways.

The content is minimal in terms of editable parameters. That’s part of the point.

It’s far easier to quickly go into the MiniSpillage and manually adjust a snare roll than to manipulate a MIDI patch. There’s something to be said for that approach.

We’re especially fond of the MiniSpillage’s EQ features.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

While the DrumVST is compatible with VSTs, there are some features that are missing. In particular, DrumVST is a VST plugin, and therefore cannot be installed by the user directly, but rather it needs to be installed from a module.

Additionally, the DrumVST is only compatible with Windows. Users using Mac and Linux, on the other hand, are able to use the DrumVST using a VST plug-in extension, instead.

PROS

  • Very nice interface
  • Easy to use
  • Drum pads are fully editable

CONS

  • Windows only; Mac and Linux need a plugin
  • Needs better VST support

2. Spitfire LABS Drums

spitfire-audio-labs-drums

Specification

Free / Free Trial – Days?Free
FormatVST2, VST3, AAX and AU
CustomizabilityFull Drum Kit
CompatibilityMac and Windows
LibraryFree LABS libraries
System RequirementsMac OSX 10.10 – Mac OS 11 Intel and M1 Macs supported. 64 DAW required (32 bit DAWs not supported)

Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (latest Service Pack, 64- bit. 32 bit DAWs not supported

If you want to start off the VST journey right, you want to start here!

Spitfire Labs is a name that everyone in the drum community should know.

They produce loads of great VST plugins, but Spitfire Labs Drums was the drum plugin that got the whole lot of us to sit up and pay attention.

Spitfire Labs Drums (which is now being developed under the brand Lingvo Media) is an amazing combination of free tools. It offers many free drum samples, a pro drum plugin (drums sounds in the bass and snares), and a freeware drum sample editor.

It also offers a drum loops editor (a powerful synthesizer), an additional bass synth, and an additional hi-hat synth.

The Spirea Synth provides clean, dry bass notes for more drum parts.

And the Harpakas Bass provides more percussive work.

WHAT WE LIKE

There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this selection.

  • Two very unique sounds that are easily mixed together
  • Two different melodic drum kits with 7 drum kits to choose from
  • Full FX selection including reverb, delay, band, and more
  • Replay and motion play

PROS

  • Comes with full FX presets
  • Lots of options with two different kits, loops, samples, and more
  • Includes a visual display of all the notes and settings on the drum

CONS

  • Hard to make modifications within the app itself
  • The sampler is a “love it or hate it” deal

3. Synsonic BD-909 / BD-808 Free

GUI

Specification

Free / Free Trial – Days?Free and Paid (Pro) Versions
FormatVST2 or AU
Customizability808-Style Bass Drum Sounds, 909: TR-909 Bass Drum
CompatibilityMac and Windows
LibraryCubase, Logic and Ableton Live on Windows and macOSX
System RequirementsMac and Windows (No other information listed)

Synsonic gives you over 100 drum sounds. These are synths that can be sampled with any of the preset samples. You can manipulate the sampling rates and sample lengths to get a sound that is suitable for your specific needs.

Synsonics creator got into the drums because he had been buying drum hardware that lacked features that he felt necessary in a drum vst. While there are a ton of Drum VSTs for free, he felt that some of them were missing. His creation would solve those shortcomings.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • 3 band sounds for snare, bass, and mid
  • 10 preset drum sounds
  • 24 drum sampled sounds per channel
  • 24 drum samples per channel in 10 preset groups
  • 24 loopable drum sounds
  • 3 AU / CV based effects included – distortion, reverb, and delay

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

As awesome as our favorite VST’s may be, a few strings isn’t a good enough reason to let your ears take a chance on something you’re not sure about.

  • For starters, the GUI is a little bit too busy. But the real issue is the lack of a VST presets feature. 
  • We prefer to have at least some semblance of control over what sounds our drums are producing, so we can test different elements of the kit before adding it to our mix.

It’s a bit of a shame that a set of samples to work with didn’t come along with the kit. But then again, it gives us the freedom to experiment with different elements of the kit on our own time.

Overall, we would recommend trying this kit.

PROS

  • Lot’s of drum samples available
  • Very good AU effects

CONS

  • GUI is good but busy

4. Steven Slate Drums 5.5 Free

SSD-5.5-Mix-Window

Specification

Free / Free Trial – Days?Free and Paid, $9.99 per month or $119.99
FormatAAX, VST, AU
CustomizabilitySlate Drums
CompatibilityMac and Windows 64-bit
LibrarySlate Libraries
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.9 or later, 1 GHz CPU Minimum

Windows 7 or later, 1 GHz CPU Minimum Intel or AMD

Drummers will love Steven Slate’s Drums 5.5. This is a rather unique and eclectic collection of drummers, who all have their own unique sound to offer. Make no mistake: This is one of the most beautiful drum kits ever designed. 

Some play drums in time signatures such as 12/8, others in simple, straight 4/4 time. Some play with a snare drum, others with hand percussion, while still others make use of a single mallet or small drum kit.

There’s also a little bit of everything in between the traditional drums.

WHAT WE LIKE

Steven Slate’s amazing free drum VST, Steven Slate Drums, is a testament to the fact that free versions of commercial products aren’t limited to poor quality.

In fact, the free version of Steven Slate Drums is a complete drum VST that comes with 50 instruments to work with and 300 premium sounds.

Steven Slate Drums isn’t a simple drum VST. It’s a full-blown synthesizer with MIDI in/out, recording capabilities, parameter sequencing, even a good old-fashioned controller with fully customizable presets.

All of the instruments in the free version are licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means you are free to use Steven Slate Drums as you see fit, but you are not allowed to sell them.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

Steven Slate Drum VST is available to use for both Windows and Mac OS X, and it’s compatible with all major formats. It features four different preset rhythms, three algorithms and dozens of loops to experiment with, to build the perfect drum track. But we have some serious issues with the Drum VST.

  • First, it is available in three versions: free/trial, $9.99 per month for a subscription and $119.99.

However, as many of you pointed out, $119.99 for a VST is quite a hefty price. It’s considerably more than what other, more well-known, free drum VSTs are offering.

  • The second issue we have with Drum VST is that it could definitely use proper cymbal swells. Yes, it has cymbal capabilities, but they simply are not up to par. 
  • The MIDI mapping system needs work. It currently is difficult to use, as any sample dragged into the app overrides instead of adds to the sample.  

Although Steven Slate Drum VST is good, we’d suggest looking into other alternatives.

PROS

  • Very cool tool for medium to professional level users
  • Huge amount of features

CONS

  • MIDI part if the program needs work
  • Needs better cymbal tools

Conclusion

Thanks so much for sticking with us to the end of this article about the best free drum VST. As you now know, ‘free’ can sometimes be worth it. So check out the tools above and let us know what you think. Happy Drumming!