With today’s drum VST technology, creating a versatile digital studio environment for drums of all times is easier than ever. You can create drum mockups for jazz, rock, orchestral, EDM, and much more. As a producer who mainly uses Logic Pro, this article is focused on the best choices to complement the drums and samples already included in Logic Pro X.
The backbone of almost every genre is drums, whether you make organic or electronic music. You can use a wide range of drums to add unique grooves and percussion elements to your music.
Of course, this means that you have to have high-quality drum samples and drum plugins to get the best sounds.
Come dive in as we explore some of the best drum plugins on the market today (hint: my favorite plugin for Logic Pro X is at the end of this article, and it's free)!
Note: some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I receive a commission if you purchase through them
Logic Drum Machine Designer
Drum Machine Designer was recently updated by the team over at Logic for better integration and a more intuitive layout. You can use this quality drum machine to build electronic drum kits without effort. You’ll find a wide range of effects for sound design and experimentation, which you can apply to different pads. So, in other words, Logic Pro X is loaded with great free drum VSTs!
While each of the pads on this drum VST typically plays a single note, you can use the track stack function to select a subtract and play multiple signals or pitches of the same signal. This feature is great for creating bass lines or other melodic parts. Think of it a bit like a trigger.
Logic even integrated the Drum Synth and Quick Sampler tools into the plugin to help you quickly edit sounds. The Quick Sampler makes it really easy to work with single samples using its drag-and-drop editor and Flex Time functionality, while the Drum Synth gives you a collection of diverse synthesized drum sounds that you can manipulate with eight intuitive controls.
Overall, the Logic Drum Machine Designer gives you a surprising amount of flexibility, considering it’s a free drum synthesizer that comes with Logic Pro X. If you're not happy with the samples available with drum machine designer, you can always drop in some third-party drum samples into the Quick Sampler to develop your own original sound. Here are some of my favorite drum samples.
Arturia Spark 2 is a high-quality 16-track drum machine that uses a multi-synthesis engine, real-time performance tools, and an advanced built-in sequencer. The sound library is absolutely enormous, giving you access to more than 2,800 instruments, including drums, one-shots, and FX.
The plugin utilizes a combination of TAE virtual analog, physical modeling, pattern-based sequencing, and sampling to give users a well-rounded sound. The real-time performance loopers are great for coming up with ideas on the fly as well.
The updated Spark 2 comes with extended REX support, clean, crispy graphics, custom instrument macro control modules, a modular drum synth editor, a song mode, and much more. In Arturia fashion, you get an interface that is exciting to work with and fidelity that makes the plugin sound like the real thing.
If you love using drum machines, then you’ll enjoy how much there is to get excited about using Spark 2. So many musical styles use drum machine sounds today, whether pop, hip-hop, or EDM. Overall, it’s a wonderful tool for when you want to add a little bit of spice to your project and a great piece of software for those who like hammering things out with a beat pad.
It’s hard to create a list of high-quality drum machines without making mention of the Roland 808 emulation — D16 Group’s Nepheton. The Roland 808 might be one of the most popular vintage drum machines in history and has certainly gone down as a must-have tool in any collection of audio production tools.
If you’re into old-school hip-hop, having a solid Roland 808 emulation is especially crucial. You'll instantly recognize the 808 bass drum once you fire up the Nepheton.
Luckily, D16 Group provides the next best thing after the original piece of hardware. Even the knobs on the interface have been carefully scaled to replicate those of the original unit.
The D16 Group Nepheton drum machine has a very pleasing and distinct sound. Plus, the sequencer modes provide a fair amount of flexibility and variety. We love that you can save sounds and drum patterns separately. It has certainly become one of my go-to plugins for electro and hip-hop production.
We definitely believe that every producer should have an 808 machine in their arsenal, and if we were to pick any of them, it would be the one from D16 Group. With a reasonable price and an overwhelmingly meticulous design, it’s pretty much as close to the real thing as you can expect to get.
Drumazon is another vintage drum machine emulation from the D16 Group. However, this one is a bit different, as it gives you all of the sounds of the original Roland 909. All of the instruments found in this plugin were captured perfectly to sound just like the original unit, including that legendary snare drum that has powered legions of EDM classics. Of course, as a digital plugin, you get additional controls to open up the unit to an entirely new world of possibilities.
The output configuration found on Drumazon is very flexible, and you can route any of the plugin’s 11 outputs to different tracks for further processing with your favorite mixing plugins. The MIDI control is also very extensive, especially with the internal sequencer, which can be played using Drumazon’s internal clock that syncs perfectly to the given host sequencer.
The internal sequencer comes with various operational modes to give you a wide range of patterns, each pattern of which consists of up to 16 steps. However, I often find myself using the Randomizer function when I want to make simple changes to a particular pattern without having to go in and manually create a whole new one.
The original 909 is the king of house music, and Drumazon nails it perfectly.
Heartbeat by Softube was designed with 80s drum machines in mind, giving you all of the sounds of the era in flexible plugin form. It recreates sounds from all of your most iconic drum machines, including those from Roland and Korg. Plus, you get additional controls for volume, pan, and FX on each of the channels.
You can consider Heartbeat to be somewhat of a hybrid drum plugin, as it uses authentic samples paired with synthesized samples for a distinct sound and greater flexibility. As with the other drum machine plugins above, you can route each of the channels out individually for further processing, allowing for greater flexibility.
The Auto Layer Machine is another great addition to the plugin, allowing you to layer multiple drum sounds, generate fills, and add “chaos” or randomization to your drum patterns.
One of the key features of heartbeat is that the plugin comes loaded with some of our favorite Softube processors, including the Valley People Dyna-mite compressor, the Filter Echo, and the TSAR-1 Reverb.
If you’re looking for a plugin that can deliver an incredible sound with flexibility, Softube’s Heartbeat is one of the most highly viable options on the market. We really enjoy the filters and saturation modules on the output, which deliver automated movement too.
Sublab is one of my must-have plugins, especially if you make hip-hop or modern pop music. It’s my go-to plugin for creating deep bass and 808 kick drums. It uses the Future Audio Workshop X-Sub Technology to deliver sub integrity on just about any sound system and uses three different sound engines on a single interface for flexibility.
You can start by choosing between different waveforms, including sine, triangle, saw, square, and “super,” before setting the pitch or detuning the sound for a bit of additional grit. This allows you to get deep, clean sub-bass or fuzzy, buzzing supersaws in a pinch. Even if you’re not into building your own samples, the plugin comes with a wide range of presets to get you started.
We absolutely love the sample engine, as you can use it to load up your own samples. I’ll often load up organic sounds and use the engine to pitch it down and give it the sound of an 808. You can also use the sidechain feature to create a transient portion of your sound and a sustained part of your sound.
It’s a truly appealing plugin for deep bass sounds that feel like high-quality 808s, giving you an insane amount of control. The sound quality of Sublab is delicious, and it will quickly have you creating everything from modern to classic sounds.
808 Studio 2
One of our other favorite 808 plugins is 808 Studio 2. This high-end 808 plugin comes with three oscillators and a sub-oscillator for added flexibility. You’ll also find two filters on this plugin, one of which you can use for each of the oscillators and the other which you can use for the master output or effects section.
The sidechain option on the plugin is a true standout feature, allowing you to layer kick and bass sounds together so that they work when playing together. Having an accessible sidechain feature in modern music production can expedite your process.
Beyond all of that, you can also combine your mod envelopes and LFO with various controls to create a modular pathway for your 808 design, helping you make more interesting sounds overall. You can even load up your own samples to create completely custom “808” sounds or bass patterns.
The sequencer is very intuitive, allowing you to get a pattern going in a matter of seconds. In fact, it is the built-in sequencer and sampling capabilities that truly set this 808 plugin apart from many other plugins on the current market.
With so many high-quality controls for your oscillator, there is a lot to write home about. You will find over 80 presets to get you started and options to create your own presets from scratch and save them to your preset library. Getting the right sound only takes a few seconds with 808 Studio 2.
If you are looking for a completely new way to compose rhythms in your digital domain, then we highly recommend looking at Beat Scholar for all of your unique compositional needs. This plugin was developed to make crafting unique grooves extremely accessible.
The unique programming graphical user interface comes with a sampler and is stocked with more than 250 classic drum machine tones and samples that are a bit more on the esoteric side. Of course, if you want to get custom with your drum samples, you can also load your own using the unique drag-and-drop editor. Tweaking your sounds with a wide range of effects and controls is easier than ever.
Though the name of the plugin might make it sound like it's a more intelligent piece of software oh, it is actually a lot of fun to use. We highly recommend downloading the 14-day free trial version if you want to try out Beat Scholar for yourself.
Sequel 2 is a vintage drum sampling machine that comes with a wide range of iconic 80s samples, many of which were found on classic drum machines. You'll no doubt recognize many of these samples from your favorite 80s records. As more and more pop producers start using 80s sounds in their music production, the need for high-quality 80s samples is greater than ever.
Sequel 2 is much more than your average drum sampler. You will also find an 8-step sequencer, which you can use to sequence drum heads, as well as note length, levels, and pitch.
Sequel 2 also comes with more than 600 drum samples, 100 custom drum kits made by professional producers, and more than 150 patterns to get you started. Having access to standard drum patterns is a great way to get the groove going, especially if you're hitting a creative wall.
To use Sequel 2, simply drag your patterns as MIDI files directly into your Daw. Whether you want to use Custom Sounds to create and sculpt a unique drum pattern or use the integrated patterns in Sequel 2 is completely up to you.
Vinylistik is a unique drum plugin that aims to reinvigorate the sound of old-school, classic crate-digging from 90's hip hop. Within this crunchy drum plugin, you'll find hard-hitting drums representing the boom-bap era. These drum slices and samples are excellent for all 90s genres, including hip-hop, rap, R&B, and even the coveted Boogie Style.
You'll find plenty of samples and kits in the included sound folders, many of which were influenced by some of the greats, including Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Dr. Dre, J Dilla Timbaland, RZA, and more.
All of the samples found in this plugin for carefully processed using vintage hardware samplers and high-quality EQs, and analog preamps. Overall you will find more than 40 beat patterns and 47 drum kits. Of course, you can replace the samples with the drag-and-drop browser to build your own if you choose.
I really enjoy using the built-in step sequencer to make patterns on the fly. You'll also find built-in Reverb, compressor, and Equalization controls to give you that crispy, crunchy old-school sound.
Beat Machine 3
When the team over at DopeSonix released Beat Machine 1 and Beat Machine 2, it was pretty clear that they were aimed at the hip-hop production market. The beauty of Beat Machine 3 is that it not only covers hip-hop but pretty much every genre you can imagine.
Whether you want to make rock rhythms or drum and bass breaks, Beat Machine 3 can certainly be your new drum machine stand.
Open the plugin up, and you'll find more than 300 MIDI drum patterns inside, as well as 300 included drum kits. If by some miracle, you're unable to find a drum kit that you really enjoy using, you can load up your own.
There are so many great sounds packed into Beat Machine 3 that we would need an entire article to talk about everything it offers. However, as an overview, you’ll find drum samples for breaks, boom-bap, drill, EDM, lo-fi, and acoustic.
The fun doesn't stop there. You also get flexible built-in pitch and panning controls, an analog-style reverb, high and low pass filters, and multiple routing options for your outputs. As the cherry on top, Beat Machine 3 does not use up very much CPU, allowing you to use multiple instances in your productions.
Punch 2 is an excellent drum synthesizer with a built-in pattern sequencer for those who want to get more modern-focused drum sounds.
While Punch 2 certainly includes classic references from iconic drum machines, including those from Roland and Korg, it is a plugin with far more potential for sound design and percussion recreation.
You will find 24 modular pads to get you started. Each of the pads on the interface is triggered by the presence of an incoming admitting note, allowing you to use any suitable controller to make beats on the fly.
The one thing that truly separates Punch 2 from other drum machine emulations on the market is the power to tweak your presets and sounds in the most in-depth ways possible. Behind each one of the pads lies a myriad of controls, allowing you to tune, change the velocity, add flams, pan, and utilize offsets.
You won't find a bunch of convincing or authentic acoustic samples, though if you choose to load your own up, you can certainly play them back. From a commercial perspective, Punch 2 delivers plenty of what you would need in modern music production.
Boom is a free virtual drum machine from Avid that comes with Pro Tools. While it may seem somewhat Limited in its scope and capabilities, especially when you compare it to some of the other drum machines mentioned above, it's a nice and simple piece of software to have for laying down Beats to get you started.
I have definitely used this here and there on certain sessions, as it provides ten easy-to-use drum kits and a 16-beat series for loading up multiple rhythmic elements.
The one unfortunate thing about this plugin is that you cannot import your own sounds, as you can with other plugins above.
I would say that the main benefit of Boom is laying down simple ideas when you're just getting started with a track. The functionality is not nearly as in-depth as many drum plugins on the market, though there are plenty of high-quality sounds to get the blood flowing. Plus, the interface is nicely laid out and easy to use.
Note that this plugin comes free with Pro Tools, though you can also use it in your Logic Pro system.
Drumslot may not be the most revolutionary drum plugin on the market, though it has plenty of unique sounds baked in that you can certainly have fun with. You will find two modes within this plugin, including the multi-mode, which helps you create unique combinations of drums, such as kicks, claps, and snares, as well as the cut mode, which uses a special algorithm to meld the various portions of samples including the transient, middle, and tail, to create sounds unlike you've ever heard.
Like many of the other plugins listed above, you can even add your own samples if you choose. There are millions of combinations and possibilities with Drumslot. To top it all off, the plugin features a wide range of controls, including filters, pitch, gain, and ADSR functionality, to shape your sound in any way you please.
One of the really cool tools found in Drumslot is the Spin function. When you hit the Spin button, every sample is randomly changed to give you unique, new sounds. You can easily lock onto the ones that you want to maintain or hit spin to change the others.
Overall, Drumslot is a lot of fun to use, which is what music production should be. The ability to move through a wide range of drum sound combinations makes this plugin such a powerful tool.
Trax came out back in 2019 and quickly took over the music production game, especially in the Realms of hip-hop, R&B, trap, and EDM. The first thing that you'll notice when you dive into the Trax drum plugin is the collection of over 400 hard-hitting drum sounds, perfect for crafting modern music.
You can expect to find 50 drum kits baked into this plugin, including Punchy kicks, snares, high hats, claps, and more.
One of the things we really enjoyed about this plugin is the intuitive interface. The plugin developers say that they were inspired by the Eleven Rack Hardware unit from Avid, which is pretty clear if you're familiar with old-school gear.
The plugin gives you access to an eight-channel mixer, as well as a range of effects and a great-sounding built-in reverb.
Overall Trax certainly has an analog sound that is great for those who want to add a bit of warmth and crunch to their otherwise digital-sounding productions.
Steven Slate Drums
Steven Slate recently released the fifth iteration of the popular Steven Slate drums series plugin. In this digital drum plugin, you'll find a massive sample library with ultra-realistic acoustic drum sounds. The sample player is clear and defined, and you'll also find a variety of MIDI grooves to get your productions going.
All of the samples were recorded with up to 24 velocity layers in a 24-bit format. The adjustability of this plugin is what makes it truly magical. For example, every one of the instruments in this plugin comes with multiple microphones. If you want to adjust the sound of your snare, you can simply adjust the level of the microphones on the top or bottom.
Each one of the velocity layers accommodates 12 unique drum hits. This unique feature helps to keep successive drum hits from sounding identical. Being able to regulate every instrument's dynamic range can help your drum patterns sound more realistic overall.
Each one of the kits present in this plugin sounds stunningly tight and punchy. It is clear that the developers of Steven Slate drums put a lot of effort into making this plugin very detailed. Even if you're not into rock music production, you'll definitely enjoy the vintage drum kits that dish out that nice, soft, and tight 70s slop.
Best Drum Plugin for Logic: Built-in Logic Drummer & free expansion packs
Thankfully, as a Logic Pro X user, you've already got free access to some of the best drum VST plugins available. Top music producers rely on these built-in virtual drummers to find the perfect sound for their productions - and you can too! Logic Pro X comes with several high-quality instruments, including the built-in Logic Drummer. When you open up Logic Drummer, you’re prompted to select a kit. However, you can also choose from a wide range of kit pieces to build your own custom kit, including kicks, snares, toms, hi-hats, cymbals, and more.
You can then alter the sound of each drum by dampening the drum, adjusting the tuning, and changing the gain. You can even adjust the overhead mics to make them mono or stereo, depending on the sound you’re going for.
Every kit comes with a unique mix that was made by an industry professional. I absolutely love the Producer Kit, which you can load up with a Patch that utilizes a full multi-channel mix. All of the processing that a professional producer would use to affect their drums, you can use on your drums.
There is a wonderful combination of options, allowing you to choose an: acoustic drum kit, and electronic drum kit, or even combine multiple instances of the drummer plugin to create a hybrid sound!
The Neo Soul Kit is also great for a more organic or natural sound. You'll love the how natural these real drums sound!
While you have the ability to use the sounds that the pros dialed in, you can always tweak until your heart is content.
In additional to dozens of different kits (each of which can be customized with different snare drums, kick drums, etc - and you can also adjust the tuning and dampening of each drum), there are also a handful of kits loaded with various percussion instruments.
Overall, the sounds that come packed in the built-in Logic Drummer plugin are surprisingly high-quality, especially when you consider that it's a free drum plugin included with your purchase of Logic Pro X. But even if you had to pay for this, it is one of the best plugins for drums available.
But the best part of Logic Drummer is that it actually creates incredibly believable drum beats that feel just like a real drummer! It's definitely the easy way to create drum tracks that feel unique to your song, as you can quickly adjust the complexity and intensity of your beats bar by bar. You can then vary the patterns and even include how many fills you want. They drum fills adjust on the fly and feel really organic.
Just be sure to select the additional download of the free version of the producers kits to get even more flexibility and control! Even better, each of these come with preset plugins loaded on to the channel strips of each instrument, so you can quickly dial in a great sound.
From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!
My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.
While I still have a full-time day job, I have created systems that have allowed me to produce dozens of songs a year in my spare time.
My songs have been on Netflix, TV shows like the 90 Day Fiance, an award-winning indie film, and NPR’s “All Thing Considered.” They've also been streamed millions of times.
In addition to being a music producer, I am passionate about teaching people how they can make professional-sounding music and earn money licensing it, all in their spare time.
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