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Virtual Drum Software

Spotlight 0724 Virtual Drum Software

No room for a drum kit? No problem! Try one of these Virtual Drum apps.

Recording acoustic drums can be one of the most challenging tasks for many home and project studio owners. Even with a healthy selection of microphones and plenty of inputs to hand, there’s no getting around the fact that drums generally need a good amount of space around them — as well as decent acoustics — to really sound at their best. Thankfully, those of us without spacious, luxurious live rooms are spoilt for choice when it comes to virtual drums, with many manufactures offering the sound of some of the world’s best studios and players right inside of our DAWs.



The ever-popular BFD is now in its third iteration, and has been designed to cater to those after instant mix-ready drums as well as users who prefer to dig a bit deeper into crafting their sounds. There are seven kits in the factory library, which includes dedicated rock, metal, jazz and brush variants, with two different recording locations offering some contrasting room sounds, while a comprehensive mixer comes loaded with presets along with modelled processors and multi-output routing. Although the instrument is primarily sample-based, there’s also some modelling in play, with parameters such as bleed and tom resonance adding some additional flexibility that goes beyond what sampling alone can achieve. A collection of grooves are included, and a wealth of additional patterns, kits and extra individual drums can be added thanks to a collection of expansion packs. If you’re only after the basics, it’d be well worth a look at the company’s BFD Player, which combines a 5GB library with 340 drum patterns and a simplified mixer — best of all, it’s free!


£329.99 including VAT.

DW Soundworks

DW SoundworksDW Soundworks

Drum Workshop (DW) are well known for their acoustic kits, but earlier in 2024 they took their first leap into software with DW Soundworks. Although it was announced alongside a new line of convertible acoustic/electric drum kits, it can be used separately in the same way as any conventional drum library. As you might expect, there’s a healthy dose of DW kits present (from the Collector’s Series) but you also get a Gretsch USA Custom along with DW founder Don Lombardi’s personal 1958 Slingerland kit, and the company say that more will be added through future updates. In terms of processing, EQ, compression and reverb can be applied to individual tracks or across the whole kit, and there’s a built-in library loaded with grooves that cover a variety of musical styles.



EastWest Pro Drummer

EastWest ProDrummerEastWest ProDrummer

Spread across two instalments, Volume 1 and Volume 2, EastWest’s ProDrummer contains over 100GB of high-quality drums played in five different studios by Steven Sidelnyk and Matt Chamberlain, with mixing and production duties taken care of by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, Joe Chiccarelli and EastWest’s own Doug Rogers. Plenty of control and processing is on offer thanks to a 16-channel mixer, which comes loaded with authentic emulations of SSL’s famous EQ, transient designer and compressor modules and a built-in reverb — there’s even an amp simulator for carrying out more heavy-handed processing. For those who want to keep things simple, the collection comes packed with user-adjustable presets that offer a range of track-ready songs right out of the box. A staggering 14,000 MIDI grooves are included, and a Songbuilder window allows users to arrange their entire song in ProDrummer, as well as allowing parts to be dragged and dropped directly onto a DAW track.

Each volume $199, Bundle $299.

Each volume £129, Bundle £215. Prices include VAT.

GoranGrooves Handy Drums

GoranGrooves Handy DrumsGoranGrooves Handy Drums

Handy Drums is designed to offer users a simple and intuitive way to add great-sounding drums to their tracks, with a stripped-back GUI providing quick access to the essential controls. Despite the apparent simplicity, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes, with carefully recorded and processed samples promising to deliver the most realistic sound possible — GoranGrooves say their variable hi-hat feature offers the best sound you’ll find in any virtual drum instrument! As of the latest version, tuning is now available on a per-instrument basis, and a dedicated mode has been added to improve the software’s response when being triggered from an electronic kit. A browser offers access not only to the company’s own MIDI packs, but also any third-party MIDI files on the user’s computer, and a mapping system makes quick work of creating and saving custom MIDI mappings. A wide variety of kits is available and can be purchased either individually or as part of a larger bundle.

From $20 each, Producer Collection $249.

From $20 each, Producer Collection $249.

Hertz Drums

Hertz DrumsHertz Drums

The latest version of Hertz Drums comes loaded with a 10-piece kit that boasts up to eight independent articulations for every drum, with separate recordings of left- and right-handed hits. A MIDI groove player makes light work of developing ideas, and over 1560 patterns and fills played by real drummers are included as standard, all categorised by song section. As well as offering a wealth of additional kits via expansion packs, the software includes a fully functional sampler and extra drum pads for incorporating custom samples, and there’s also support for a number of pre-configured maps based on other popular virtual drum products, so that Hertz Drums can be integrated seamlessly into existing sessions.

$49, expansions from $89.

£49, expansions from £77.50. Prices include VAT.

Native Instruments Studio Drummer

Native Instruments Studio DrummerNative Instruments Studio Drummer

Recorded at Teldex Studios in Berlin, Studio Drummer comes loaded with Pearl, Yamaha and Sonor kits, along with cymbals from the likes of Zildjian, Sabian and Paiste; additional Mapex, Ludwig and Masshoff snares are then joined by a handy selection of percussion including tambourines, sticks and cowbells. The library’s mixer offers a variety of close and distant mic signals, and boasts built-in tape saturation and convolution reverb, as well as NI’s renowned Solid Bus Comp, G-EQ and Transient Master processors. Over 3300 grooves played by top pro drummers are included, with variable Tightness and Swing controls allowing users to adjust the overall ‘feel’ of their drum parts. As well as providing mapping compatibility with a range of other popular drum libraries, Studio Drummer is also loaded with templates for Roland’s V-Drums range of electronic kits.


£129 including VAT.

Native Instruments Abbey Road

Native Instruments Abbey Road 60s DrummerNative Instruments Abbey Road 60s Drummer

Available either individually or as a full bundle, NI’s Abbey Road range spans six eras of drum sounds, all captured at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios. As you might expect, the collection shares much of its functionality with Studio Drummer, but with each instalment recorded using period-authentic equipment and techniques. Vintage Drummer offers the sound of the 1930s and 1940s, while 50s Drummer covers the early days of rock & roll along with jazz, country and rhythm & blues. 60s and 70s Drummer continue to follow the evolution of recording gear and practices before 80s Drummer tackles the era of power ballads and gated reverb. Finally, Modern Drummer brings things back to the present day, employing a mix of the legendary studio’s modern and vintage gear. To further assist users in crafting authentic-sounding parts, each library also includes a collection of MIDI grooves played in the style of its era.

Individual $99, Bundle $199.

Individual £89, Bundle £179. Prices include VAT.

Spitfire Audio The Grange

Spitfire Audio The GrangeSpitfire Audio The Grange

Spitfire may be best known for their large orchestral libraries and experimental offerings, but their product range also covers the likes of pianos, guitars and — you guessed it — drums. The Grange brings together three high-profile rock drummers (Roger Taylor, Chad Smith and Andy Gangadeen) and captures a huge collection of hits and loops at Headley Grange, a studio that has played host to acts including Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and many more. Close mics for kick, snare, hi-hats and toms are joined by four stereo signals captured at increasing distances, covering everything from tight, dry-sounding kits to more spacious, room-heavy sounds, and those who want instant results can choose from a selection of three pre-mixed Tight, Mid and Epic signals (or a fourth Super Tight option, in the case of Andy’s kit). A built-in loop browser makes quick work of finding the right rhythm for the task at hand, and the library also features a Kickstart engine designed to quickly map patches to any MIDI controller.


£249 including VAT.

Steven Slate Drums 5.5

Steven Slate Drums 5.5Steven Slate Drums 5.5

Steven Slate Drums promises to deliver the most versatile range of drum sounds available in a virtual instrument, with an array of kits and artist presets covering jazz, funk, reggae, rock, metal and much more. Along with its wealth of sounds the library includes over 2400 MIDI grooves housed in a dedicated browser, and if that’s not enough, there’s the option of importing third-party files. Integration with MIDI controllers and electric kits is also made simple thanks to some intuitive MIDI Learn and Map features. The software’s mixer section provides in-depth control over the levels, dynamics, panning and ADSR setting for each individual kit element, with close mics joined by a selection of room and ambient signals. If you’re happy to stick with the basics, the company also offer a free version that includes a single kit and a collection of pre-mixed presets.



Toontrack EZdrummer 3

Toontrack EZdrummer 3Toontrack EZdrummer 3

Designed specifically for songwriters, EZdrummer 3 combines a collection of high-quality drum samples with a wealth of built-in writing, editing and mixing tools. There are seven kits that can be customised with additional kick, snare and cymbal options — you get a healthy dose of percussion thrown in too — and three different recording rooms offer varying levels of ambience. A grid editor and timeline make it possible to create, edit and arrange parts without heading back to your DAW tracks, and there’s the option of balancing and processing either internally or externally thanks to a mixer with 16 stereo outputs. You get a MIDI library packed with over 2500 grooves and fills played by real drummers, all of which are categorised by musical style and song section, and a Tap2Find feature makes it possible to ‘play in’ ideas and have EZdrummer 3 suggest a list of matching parts. A Bandmate function then takes things a step further, analysing MIDI or audio files of existing instrument recordings and generating a customisable, matching drum part. For those who want more, an ever-expanding collection of EZX add-on packs offer a huge range of additional kits and MIDI parts that span a vast range of musical genres.

$179. Expansions $89.

€179, expansions €89.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack’s flagship drum instrument steps things up a gear from EZdrummer, with a 230GB factory library captured by legendary engineer George Massenburg. To offer some tonal variation, a selection of the seven kits have been played with brushes, rods and felt mallets as well as sticks, and there’s also a collection of electronic drum sounds to complement the acoustic kit samples. The software boasts a comprehensive built-in mixer kitted out with 35 insert effects and a huge range of presets created by Toontrack’s in-house team and world-class mix engineers; precise control of the overall sound is available courtesy of a wealth of individual mic signals and bleed controls, and output formats from stereo up to 11.1 surround are supported. Along with its editing and arranging facilities, Superior Drummer 3 also includes the Tracker, an innovative feature aimed at augmenting or replacing existing drums that can create new parts based on existing MIDI files or audio recordings. Superior Drummer can be expanded further thanks to a mind-boggling array of SDX packs, which offer kits, rooms and MIDI content covering just about everything from 1920s-style vintage kits to hard-hitting modern metal setups.

$399, expansions $179.

$399, expansions $179.

UJAM Virtual Drummer

UJAM Virtual Drummer DEEPUJAM Virtual Drummer DEEP

UJAM’s series of Virtual Drummer instruments offers a wide variety of drum sounds and musical styles that can be purchased individually, or as part of a larger bundle. The company pride themselves on creating ‘frustration-free’ software that promises to yield fast, high-quality results for beginners and pros alike, and the range covers everything from vintage ’60s and ’70s sounds to hard-hitting modern rock and metal, as well as just about everything in between. Each instalment includes five extensively sampled kits, a set of mix-ready presets and a variety of drum patterns that can be fine-tuned with a range of performance controls. As well as offering a great sound right out of the box, Virtual Drummer also provides plenty of in-depth control over each kit’s balance and tuning options, and supports multiple outputs for applying further processing in a DAW.

Individual $99, Drummer’s Bundle $299.

Individual €99, Drummer’s Bundle €299.

XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2

XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2

XLN’s Addictive Drums 2 allows users to build up a custom drum library though their range of Collections, which bundle together ADpaks (drum kits), MIDIpaks (grooves) and Kitpiece Paks (additional single drums). There are pre-configured bundles available that focus on particular sounds and musical styles as well as offering versatile all-in-one selections, and users are free to mix and match elements from any of the available ADpaks to create their own custom Collection. Once loaded into the software player, the sound of the core samples can be processed using an assortment of EQ, transient shaping, compression, delay and reverb, and those who wish to dig deeper into sound design can take advantage of a more advanced toolset. It’s possible to layer kit pieces to create custom sounds, as well as using timing and velocity tools to add a more ‘human’ feel to programmed grooves, and up to 18 individual outputs can be routed to a DAW for more in-depth mixing and processing.

From $159.

From €159.