Share your drum synth vsti recommendations (was: Why are drum synth vsti so sparse and lackluster?)

Im looking for drum synth vsti recommendations.

Not giant 40GB sample packs with sampler software ontop of them as a vsti, but actual drum synths with adjustable parameters.

So far my choices are.

FXpansions Tremor,
SugarBytes drumcomputer

They all look pretty decent, not bad at all, but that seems to be about it. There isnt much choice as far as I can tell after searching. Im not sure they have the nice fatness and punchiness of hardware drum machines like vermona or even oldschool ones like drumfire or even mattel?!

Are there better ones out there or do the pros use ‘actual synths’ intead to sculpt their drum sounds, such as FM8 or something like that?

Another one, ruismaker FM, which will not run on my computer because its only available as an audio unit sounds pretty excellent to me for drum sound design. Although im not a fan of the ‘euclidean’ sequencer being the only option for sequencing, it seems like a fast way to hear the sounds your tweaking inside a rhythm without actually writing one. Shame there is no vsti ruismaker FM. It sounds pretty good, nice and simple, but good and useful.

Any other drumsynth vsti which are worth checking?

Is tremor actually the best one, with its ‘cloud oscillators’, even if its discontinued?

Stay away from Fxpansion. Roli bought the company, and ran it into the ground. InMusic has purchased BFD, expect everything else from Fxpansion to inevitably become abandonware.

I have the original Synth Squad, D-Cam Dynamics, and BFD 3, and BFD 3 is buggy beyond buggy, and this is because Roli toyed with that code. I would never upgrade Synth Squad to what Roli did to Strobe and Cypher, and abandoned Amber and Fuser.

Also, D-Cam Dynamics is abandonware… which is sad, because a version 2 of that, from Fxpansion would have been nice. But I imagine the guys @ Fxpansion made out pretty well, so good for them.

As far as Sugar-Bytes drum computer - I downloaded the demo, and I checked it out… It is really awesome, and if I did not already have my system, and way of making drums, I probably would have bought it. My problem with SB drum computer is that it is almost, “too much.” I would tweak that thing for hours for the snare I am looking for.

That being said, “if I did not already have my way of doing drums.” Sugar-Bytes drum computer would be my choice. I’m still considering the baseball cap.

Microtonic is ancient. So is Waldorf Attack. They are both ancient. I get Attack bundled with something ages ago… I still use it every now and then.

Furthermore: “Why are vsi drum synths so sparse?” They aren’t really. There’s a ton of them. But it is best to understand what is going on with drums, why sample libraries are so popular, and how you can go on about shaping your own sound.

A electronic kick and/or tom drum, and can be made on just about any synth with a sine wave, and all the other electronic drum parts - electronic snare, hat, cymbal can be put together basically using a sine for the tonality and a white or colored noise.

A lot of drum sample libraries are representing or classic hardware drum machines, filled with the sounds of producers who have created new drums by synthesizing, resynthesizing, splicing, layering etc, or samplings of great sounding accoustic kits.

A lot of people, for example, “me,” demand drums in the mix be a sample. This means, that if I used Sugar Bytes drum computer in Renoise, I would eventually be sampling each part - so I would only be using the oscillator features of that vsti, which is one of the reasons I passed on it.

This is probably open for debate, but I personally believe that drums are steadier in the mix, when they are a sample.

I’ll tell you, I have a very funny basic way of making drums in my tracks, and I’ve been doing the same bloody thing for years, and years, and years…

EKS Pro for my kicks - I sample in Renoise, and I use some eq and compression, I sample again. BFD 3 - I rip out all my snares and cymbals by sampling in Renoise + eq, and compression. Sometimes I layer, sometimes I resynthesize with an additive synth vsti.

Occasionally I will pull a drum sound out of Reaktor, or use the Waldorf Attack.

I really considered that Drum Computer, i think it is awesome, but like I said, I have my way of doing drums already…


VCV Rack is free, and if you’re into modular synthesis- well you can make all sorts of sounds :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for the suggestions.

Its a shame waldorf attack doesnt seem to be available to buy, there is only an update for people who bought it on CD. So that does sound pretty ancient, but I dont mind drum synths that are ancient as long as they have character. Ancient can be better sometimes.

I know its possible to layer synth tones ontop of samples and make great drum sounds, but it can be quite time consuming. Sometimes it could be nice to just fire up a vsti and play drumpads for fun and practise.

Also, I think a lot of the kick drums on hardware drum machines are like a tuned self oscillating filter that has been fed an impulse, like a short burst of white noise or something. That might be quite difficult to achieve with a synth vst (non drum synth vst), although other fat bass drums are doable.

I do like the sound of samples of real drum machines or chopped breakbeats and Im building a big collection of drumkits which are built from samples, later there will be a good choice for songwriting and also some sound design by layering with synths or other samples such as ‘crytsal raindrop’ or ‘crumpling paper’ or whatever sound that can go under a snare to make it more textrural and interesting. I havent tried resynthesis yet.

Also I havent tried the synths like you suggested, a vsti specifically for kick drum only EKS. Might give that a try.

I thought of one more, so adding that to the list of possible vsti drum synth purchases …arturia spark.

So the list of choices is quite limited…Im not sure about the range of sounds each can produce.

Tremor (the features look pretty awesome, cloud oscillator for snare, kick that locks to semitone, maybe the sound of it is too digital for some, lacks analog warmth…sounds good for dubstep.)

Microtonic (also quite nice, has the feature which allows for morphing every drum sound between two kits)

Drumcomputer (looks nice too but I fear it will sound a little like ‘flappy loose toms’, maybe im wrong)

Atruria spark 2 (old school roland machine emulations)

Its not a lot to choose from and all pretty expensive too.

Otherwise I was considering nord drum3 or drumbrute impact, but they are outside my budget and non portable.

As for synths that can also do drum synthesis maybe a physical modelling modular synth which can take samples and add a ‘2D membrane’ physical modelling effect to them

Some of the accoustic drum vst look great, like BFD but I dont really like accoustic sounding drums in electronic music, I would prefer breakbeat samples in that case.

Ive also seen kontact, everyone says its great but to me it looks over priced and like an appstore to waste money, not really knowing what your buying each time.

Honestly, I was quite happy with the sounds Ruismaker FM produces, quite simple but good. Its only available for Ipad and mac as an audio unit though, no vst version.

Maybe just samples of real old school drum machines is the best choice for fatness, character, but it really does take a long time to setup if you want to build a nice library with alot of choices like 2000 drumkits. That could take maybe three years. Renoise is pretty excellent for that though with the per sample effects and modulation + track effects + send track effects + master effects. I think renoise looks better than kontact if you are setting up your own kits rather than buying premade ones. Although, sample aliasing could be a useful thing to add for me in future renoise.

Sorry if this is overkill but just putting some sound demos here for comparison. Personally I think Tremor and Microtonic sound best, judging only from the demos. Im sure they can sound wildly different in different peoples hands. Drumcomputer sounds nice but Im not 100% convinced by the sound, its all a matter of personal preference though. Found another one ‘drumatic 3’, maybe lacking something, sounding like a computer not a drum machine, maybe not I dont know.

Sugarbytes Drumcomputer

Waldorf Attack



Atruria Spark 2

Drumatic 3

Ruismaker FM

Ruismaker Noir

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There is also this, which you haven’t mentioned… Which you should really check out before you decide.

You can even buy this on, “rent to own,” and I think it is just $8 a month, for like a year… I paid for one month, but than I canceled.

I like the synth a lot, but hahaha, I find it easier and faster to rip out of BFD, “as a starting point,” for my snare and cymbal sounds.

I really don’t mind accoustic cymbals at all, and I think a lot of the, “classic drum machines,” where actually sampled cymbals anyway. Some of them, were purely synth, but a lot of them were just, “real cymbals,” lol…

by the time I’m done processing snares, they sound alright to me.

BTW, I have Arturia spark 2. I got it for $20 during one of Arturia’s crazy promotions for people who already had an account.

“its ok.” TBH, I would rather have a Roland, “boutique,” 808 hardware thing, which is like $300 - $400 on the stores… but, meh, a boutique 808 is out of my budget right now

Another couple other kick synths:

Ephemere_Full (1)


Also forgot Psylab:

“Psytrance Kick Bass – Cubic Bezier Synthesizer”

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Thanks. Drum synth 500 looks pretty decent, on a par with tremor and microtonic at about the same price $99…Its so hard to tell which is the ‘best’ just because they have such varied sounds. Demos sometimes make them sound much better than they actually are, sometimes the demos dont really show the full capablilities and make a nice drum synth sound like shit.

Heres a sound demo from 1.40, seems o.k. I wish all these companies would all upload demos of ‘sounds only’ before in depth tutorial stuff.

Ephemere sounds pretty good, more interesting, better price too. I might get that for 49 euro.

Hard to say which is best without trying.

Seems like you can get much more varied sounds out of vsti but good hardware drum machines do sound much better overall…more punchy, more crunchy and some other qualities which are better, like tempest, nord drum 3. So tired of the same old 808 and 909 sounds again and again…quite tired of all the distinctively roland sounding drums.


If I could buy 4 Id probably get tremor, microtonic, drum synth 500 and ephemere.

8 instances of chipsynth MD might make a pretty damn cool FM drum synth too.

Can i trigger 8 instances of a vsti (8 renoise instruments) from 8 pads on my drum controller in renoise?

Let us know when Kick 2 goes on sale. If that ever has a flash sale for something like $19, or $24… I’m in!!

afaik it’s normally 30% off but I think I saw it go for 50% off on Black Friday or something…

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I have a folder on my machine called Bambooli’s Museum of Drum Machine Samples. I must’ve downloaded it somewhere along the way, but searching today I can’t find it. It is a HYUUUGE collection of old and obscure drum machine samples. The sound quality is just OK but sometimes you can hit on some inspiration with these. Happy to share a link if anyone’s interested.

Also, I recall the drum sounds that come with Hyrdrogen as being pretty good.

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Those nice old school drum machine samples sound way better than any of the drumsynth vsti in my opinion. More bounce to the ounce, more punch. Its sometimes quite subtle but the hardware drum sounds are still better than any vsti drum synth out to date i think. I like the old rhythm boxes. Sizzly hihats, old school, like frying bacon or something. Some oldschool valves from the 50s.

Seems like the answer is to have a nice signal chain specifically for spicing up dull drum samples. I routinely tend to run them through eq, maximizers, compressors, limiters, and reverb to get more oomph out of them. One day I’ll get smart and create a doofer of my chain.

Have used this since version 1 and it’s fantastic. Geared towards kicks obviously but can make other percussion sounds too.

For Linux users there is Geonkick. It’s available as an LV2 or a VST3 plugin and also runs standalone for use in a Jack patch directly if that is preferred. It also happens to be open source and free.


I actually find Rob Papen Punch pretty good sounding…