Whether you’re an electronic music producer making use of drum samples to build your rhythm sections, or your an engineer in search of quality drum samples for drum replacement, I’ve got you unequivocally covered in this article! With the wonders of modern production techniques, availability, and that beautiful thing we call the internet, you are completely spoilt for choice regardless of genre or purpose. Today I want to show you some of the best places that you can pick up drum samples. Some of these will be free, some paid and some on subscription. Regardless of price, they are all fantastic quality and perfect for use in your productions. Let’s get stuck in and see if we can’t fill your hard drives up by the end of this article.
Free Drum Samples
So, when it comes to free drum samples, you may not have had much luck in the past. There’s plenty of free kits out there but they’re usually just samplers with hand-picked drum samples inside. These are normally hand-picked because it means they can give you 2 or 3 quality samples and 20-30 ones you’d probably never use to entice you to buy the entire sample pack. It’s the oldest trick in the book. However, community engagement and that wonderful platform known as Reddit has birthed a brilliant place for you people to head when looking for free drum samples. Make your way over to the drumkits subreddit where you’ll find a seemingly endless list of drum sample packs to choose from.
There is a couple of things for me to forewarn you about though. Firstly, this subreddit is largely populated by hip-hop and trap style drum kits. This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t drum samples suited to other genres as there definitely is. It’s just that you might have to do some serious sifting and make expert use of the search bar to find more specific samples. The other thing I should mention here is that the subreddit has become a popular place to re-post sample packs that you’d normally have to pay for. If you’re not one for pirating then there’s going to be some stuff you won’t want to download. However, there are lots of users make sample packs that get uploaded regularly including some really interesting and unique samples. I remember once downloading a sample pack of sounds that a user had recorded when working in a FedEx depot. Lots of clicking and packing peanuts but it made for some really great percussive layers. Have a hunt and see what comes up!
Another great community lead place to grab drum samples (and other samples for that matter) is Looperman. Working more like a typical search archive, Looperman allows you search by keyword and specify things like genre, tempo, key, and instrument. Users create content and upload it to the site for you to use in your productions. Annoyingly you do need an account to download samples but it’s worth it. It’s a very comprehensive library and unlike the drumkits subreddit, you’re likely to find a much more balanced and diverse collection of samples to pick from. In the past, I have found that some of the stuff that gets uploaded to Looperman can lack in quality somewhat but more often than not, it isn’t an issue. A good dig will almost always turn up something you can use.
Purchasing Drum Samples
For every free drum sample kit, there are at least five paid ones. In fact, there may even be more. However, quality and content is always a big concern for me when it comes to purchasing sample packs. You never get to have a really good rummage through the sounds before you purchase and this has stung me in the past. Sure, they provide demos and you get a generally sound understanding of what to expect but sometimes, this is only showing 5% of the kit and the other 95% is utter trash. I’m always wary of packs that offer 20,000 samples as well. The old adage of quality over quantity has never been more prevalent than when it comes to drum samples. Below, I have three suggestions of some drum sample producers that you can trust in terms of both quality and quantity.
Drumdrops is a site for those of you doing more acoustic work or the engineers reading in search of solid samples for drum replacement or enhancement. Meticulously recorded and modelled vintage drum kits that come in the form of a Kontakt sampler or just single file archives, Drumdrops doesn’t disappoint. They have rock kits, jazz kits, soul kits, afrobeat kits, the list goes on! Now for the good bit. Not only are their drum samples of super high quality, their Kontakt samplers are intuitive, beautifully modelled and hands down just damn handy. With a mixer style interface allowing you to balance each kit element interactively and route them back to separate channels in your DAW, you’ve got just as much control here as you would with a real drum kit. Not only this but each channel has an EQ and transient shaper, whilst the master channel has a built-in bus compressor and tape saturator. These things even come with convolution reverb! For the cost, these kits are insane and should fulfil your every need.
Leaping back into the world of hip-hop and trap drum samples, The Producers Choice is a veritable feast. I signed up with this producer years back when most of the stuff being put out was free or incredibly cheap. Since then, I have seen the quality and diversity of the product grow exponentially, making it one of the best drum sample sites online right now. Producer tailored kits, as well as instrument tailored kits, mean that you can seek out specific sounds that you’re searching for. Looking to master that OVO sound? They got you covered. Maybe your 808s just don’t hit hard enough? They got you there as well. Serious quality and fantastic choice mean you can pick a pack and trust that 95% of what’s inside will be worth the money.
The last site that I want to provide you with is pATCHES. Relatively new, pATCHES is marketing to an area of quirkiness within the music industry. Their sample library is fairly small at the moment but what they have put forth is fantastic. Hi-Hat loops, egg shakers loops, analogue drums and 1001 other hip-hop samples. This is one of those times where quantity and quality have been taken with equal levels of concern. pATCHES gives you bang for your buck and provides stuff you might struggle to find elsewhere. This is definitely one to watch.
In recent years, subscription services have become the norm for any new company. From the gym to Spotify, many peoples lives are a mixed web of microtransactions to subscription services. This model lives strong in the music industry and especially in the drum sample world.
I’ve mentioned Splice a few times now in various articles. If you haven’t already signed up then your seriously missing out. A quick look at their site shows me that in the drums category there are currently 759885 drum samples! Any genre, any style. Splice lives and breathes drum samples and gives you, in my opinion, the best user experience of any audio site. Simple searching and filtering always allow me to find what I’m searching for inside a minute. Being able to quickly divide between loops and one-shots is one of it’s best tricks and saves even more time. Splices pricing bands are perfect for what they offer and the ability to easily subscribe and unsubscribe when you want is very helpful.
Splice allows you to keep every sample you download regardless of whether you renew your subscription as well. This means that if you just want to grab a few bits and it’s not something you do often, you’ll only need to pay a few bucks to get what you need. The only con I have with Splice is that when you cancel, you lose your remaining credits instead of being able to use them up at your own pace. If you’re looking to trail it, make sure you use them all up before unsubscribing or you’re wasting money.
Much like our previous subscription service, Sounds provides a credit system with access to download samples. From Native Instruments, Sounds isn’t quite as vast as Splice just yet but it’s still in beta at the moment. From press releases, I truly believe they have the potential to take over the entire subscription sample market. Undercutting Splice, Sounds provides you with unlimited credits for just $9.99/month. The service is conservatively capped at 3000 samples per month but can be surpassed if needed.
The premise for Sounds is very similar to Splice. However, it’s the plans that they have that really separate it from all of its current competition. The plan is to integrate and sync Sounds with all other NI products such as Maschine and Traktor. This’ll allow you to pull samples directly into your hardware and software applications. Not only this, but they intend to develop an API that’ll allow other manufacturers to integrate Sounds into their products. This means that in the future, your Sounds account could be directly loaded into your DAW via a plugin. Very handy for simple drag and drop usage of your samples. Also, it means that companies that create other pieces of audio equipment like samplers and sequencers will be able to have Sounds sync directly into their products, vastly improving their usability and experience. Keep an eye out for developments with this one.
There are literally millions of drum samples out there. Libraries of quality free samples exist in places like Reddit and Loopman. If you’re looking to buy samples for more specific sounds, there’s plenty to choose from there as well. I recommend checking out Drumdrops if you’re after acoustic drum sounds that pack a punch. For electronic samples for hip-hop and trap, check out The Producers Choice. If you’re after some quirky drum samples that are a little different, try out pATCHES.
If you’re a regular user of drum samples looking to keep up to date, a subscription service is for you. Splice is loaded with nearly a million drum samples for you to pick from. Sounds by NI is in beta now and looks to be taking over the market in the coming year. If you’re looking for unlimited samples at a low price that can integrate with your existing gear, it might be your best shot. If you’re super old school and you don’t like the internet, I recommend getting out to the record store. Start digging for breaks and hits on old records. It’s still my favourite way to find drum samples!
About the Author
Over 10 years experience working in the audio business. Everything from coiling up XLRs to mastering albums. I'm a self-made man and I keep my assets in Bitcoin. What more is there to know!?
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