Drum Sample Heaven: 4 Drum Collections Compared
Most DAW’s and Maschine ship with a collection of drum samples but there are lots of drum collections out there for producers to expand on the stock sounds.
Beat junkies forever crave more fodder for their rhythms, is there one drum collection that could leave the thump-thirsty quenched? Today Markkus runs through the sounds of four popular drum content bundles—priced from smaller budget to baller budget—to find out.
As a premise for this round-up, we sought out excellent collections of single drum hits, rather than loops. While loops can sound fantastic, and today’s tools let you be more creative with them than ever, they often serve as filler for soundware products. And if you’re going to pay good money for drum sounds, quality single hits will ensure that your own creativity is the sole arbiter of just how dope your beats can be.
We chose already popular products at differing price points, and their reputations proved to be deserved. But each collection has its own merits to present, and at the higher end, the bundles—Air Music Tech AMPS and Native Instruments Komplete 10 Ultimate—are also full-fledged production suites with all varieties of instruments and signal processors included.
Loopmasters Deadmau5 Xfer
Collection: Loopmasters Deadmau5 Xfer
Price: £59.95 (approx. $90)
Total Samples: 3,369 (including 336 loops)
Total File Size: 572 MB
Formats: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV (the loops are available as WAV and REX files).
Going from mouthed sounds, real hand claps and found-sound percussion to acoustic drums, analog drum machines and synths from Moog and Arp, Deadmau5 Xfer ties together with a distinct and familiar Deadmau5 vibe, perhaps due to some extent from collaborator Steve Duda’s custom-coded DSP. This shines through the most on the hundreds of crisp percussion and clap sounds, as well as the many creative cymbal FX sounds that are panned and pulsed to Deadmau5’s signature 128 bpm. You also get a few hundred kicks and snares, as well as synth basses, tones and chords. While we’re not focusing on loops in this review, the loops here can really inspire you on how to put together all the bits ‘n’ pieces.
The Bottom Line
While the per-megabyte price is above average, it’s not often that you get a well-rounded collection of drum samples from one of the defining dance music producers of a generation. There’s really no fluff here either. Every sample should be usable either on it’s own or as a layer. Listen to last year’s 5 Years of mau5 compilation, and you can tell that some of the building blocks for those hits are right here, which is probably why this has been a big-selling collection for Loopmasters.
Wave Alchemy Complete Drums Bundle
Collection: Wave Alchemy Complete Drums Bundle
Price: £149.95 (approx. $226)
Total Samples: 19,571
Total File Size: 3.25 GB
Formats: All samples are 24-bit resolution. The bulk of the collection is WAV, but there are also more than 200 drum kits formatted for popular software samplers, such as Native Instruments Battery, Kontakt and Maschine, Steinberg Halion, Propellerhead Reason’s NNXT, Ableton Live Packs with Drum Racks and the public, open SFZ sampler format (for instruments like the free Camel Audio Alchemy Player and others).
The Complete Drums Bundle comprises seven Wave Alchemy drum sample collections that would cost about £260 (approx. $392) if purchased separately. Each of those collections specialize in their own sounds:
Deep Tech & Progressive: Sharply processed cymbals, percussion and special FX to go along with many subby kicks and snappy snares.
Drum Machine Collection: Highly coveted drum machines recorded in a lavish studio using additional outboard processing, editing and layering. The drum machines used include: Roland TR-606, TR-707, TR-808 and TR-909; Jomox AirBase99, MBase 11 and XBase999; Vermona DRM MkII, Korg KPR-77, Linndrum, Drumfire DF-2000, Sequential Drumtraks, Oberheim DX and E-mu Drumulator.
Drum Tools 01 Deluxe: Contrasting the beatbox-dump style from above, Wave Alchemy built this collection from scratch, creating thousands of drum sounds by layering and processing drum machines, live drums and percussion, modular synths and other uncommon synths and even field recordings.
Paperskins Snare Toolkit: 633 unique snare drums sounds, divided into three categories: Fluffers, powerful and dirty snares; Slappers, tight and punchy snares; and Suckers, reversed snare sounds that are great for layering or for lead-ins to other sounds.
Syncussion Drums: Many varieties of kicks and other analog drum sounds all sampled from a rare 1979 Pearl Syncussion SY-1 analog drum synth. Some were recorded dry; some were dirtied up through an E-mu SP-12; and more than 800 were captured to ¼” tape on a Studer A80 MkI tape machine.
Synth Drums: All manner of drum and effect sounds sourced from classic analog synthesizers; the sounds included are unprocessed, processed through Wave Alchemy’s extensive high-end signal chains, and some samples were additionally transferred to vinyl or ¼” reel-to-reel tape for extra saturation. The synths used include the Roland Juno 106, Jupiter 8, SH-09 and System 100; Sequential Circuits Pro-One and Prophet 5; Korg MS-20; Arp Odyssey; Moog Minimoog; and Oberheim OB8.
Tech House & Minimal: Many glitchy and wacky FX and percussion sounds, as well as some truncated kicks and claps.
The Bottom Line
For people who want to skip the loops and get down to making their own beats with just raw drum hits—as well as plenty of FX sounds and some chord and note stabs—Wave Alchemy’s Complete Drums Bundle presents a dizzying variety with very little filler. Overall, the collection leans away from genre-specific sounds in favor of classic, time-tested materials, as well as creatively produced and processed drums that could slot into nearly any electronic music style.
Not all of the samples are available as formatted drum kits for sampler instruments, but the inclusion of those kits, as well as some Live Packs, makes it all the more convenient for you to get started creating with these sounds quickly. The Live Pack Drum Racks for Synth Drums are also fully mapped and compatible with Ableton Push.
Further Reading: Interested in creating your own sample packs? Learn how to build the perfect sample pack from UMEK.
Air Music Tech Advance Music Production Suite
Collection: Air Music Tech Advance Music Production Suite (AMPS)
Price: $599 MSRP
Total Samples: 65,000 (approximate and not including loops or non-drum samples)
Total File Size: 50 GB (drum samples only); 182 GB (entire collection)
Formats: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV, 16-bit/48kHz WAV, 24-bit/48kHz WAV, and some proprietary formats like the .big files for the Air Structure software sampler.
The bulk of the AMPS bundle drum sounds come from two of its Sonivox virtual instrument plug-ins: Big Bang Universal Drums focuses on sampled acoustic drum kits labeled as Classic, Grunge, Metal, Punk, Trash and Vintage. You get many kit variations sampled at different velocity levels. Big Bang Cinematic 2.0 stands out as a supercool drum instrument that’s organized for scoring to picture, but certainly will work well for other music as well. More than 200 drum and percussion preset ensembles of 24 samples each are tailor-made to create drama in your music.
About 4GB of drums for the Air Structure software sample cover many bases, including acoustic and electronic kits and many ethnic percussion kits.
There are three Sonivox Playa plug-ins that include a ton of material: about about 24,000 total samples across about 15 GB that concentrate on hip-hop and reggaeton styles. Like many of the 70+ products included in the AMPS bundle, the Playa instrument are now a few years old. Unfortunately, and unlike most of the AMPS products, the Playa instruments are starting to sound very dated, so you’ll have to wade through a lot of chaff to get to the more usable sounds.
The most consistently useful drum samples for today’s electronic music are in the several Prime Loops collections, which focus on sampled vintage drum machines, dubstep, trap, minimal tech house, “mainroom” house and general EDM. Many of those samples are loops, but there are about 5,500 single-hit drum samples, most of which are high quality and worth considering for your tracks.
The Bottom Line
The AMPS bundle is a great collection of synth plug-ins, sampler instruments, cool effects and high-end signal processors, as well as many gigabytes of soundware. While it offers plenty of opportunities for creating great dance beats, including with the loop & phrase-based Transfuser plug-in, its sample content is aimed more toward a comprehensive palette of organic sounds, including both percussion and instruments for theatrical scores, rock and ethnic music. It’s definitely a value at about $500 street price, but for that dough you should be eager to exploit all of its treasures, not just the drum samples.
Further Reading: Learn How to Make a Great Kick Drum Sound
Native Instruments Komplete 10 Ultimate
Collection: Native Instruments Komplete 10 Ultimate
Price: $999 street ($499 for Komplete 10)
Total Sounds: 17,000 (Not all are drum sounds; we can’t calculate the exact amount of drums because NI packs multiple samples into single library files.)
Total File Size: 88 GB (approx., drum samples only); 440 GB (entire collection)
Formats: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV, 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV
Komplete 10 was released late last year alongside a new Komplete Keyboard from NI. Komplete packages all its drum sounds within the libraries of its instruments, such as the classic Battery 4, which comes with more than 12,000 electronic drum, percussion and SFX samples. They cover the necessary vintage drum machines, as well as drums for modern hip-hop, R&B, funk, house, techno, garage, glitch-hop, reggeaton and bass music.
The bulk of Komplete’s drums stem from its seven “Drummer” instruments: Studio Drummer and six Abbey Road Drummers: Vintage, Modern, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. All of those feature a gang of impeccably sampled acoustic drum kits, and their many velocity layers and excellent response make them a pleasure to play on either keys or pads. If you play most of these kits with panache into one of your songs, there’s no way 98% of the punters will ever know you didn’t record them yourself in a studio.
Komplete 10 Ultimate also has an extraordinary selection of drums for cinematic music in the Action Strikes, Damage and Evolve instruments, which you could definitely incorporate into your tunes without scoring a movie. Those three plug-ins gather more than 20 GB of drums and let you play them back as velocity-layered single hits or, in Action Strikes, as pre-programmed interactive phrases that you can piece together to your liking.
The afro-Caribbean instruments—West Africa and Cuba—also make it fun to play the huge variety of hand and mallet instruments expertly by mixing up the preset patterns, phrases and our own single hits. Again, you can create realistic-sounding multi-person percussion jams by yourself and without callousing your hands.
The Bottom Line
In this get-what-you-pay-for world, Komplete 10 Ultimate may be your drum machine heaven because of how enjoyable its instruments’ interfaces are, and because its Komplete Kontrol software host lets you search all of the bundles’ instruments and libraries for the content you want. Of course, you also get many other industry-standard synths, samplers, processors and sound content along with it.
Komplete 10 Ultimate is worth the huge investment if you can afford to make it. If not, for $499 the Komplete 10 bundle gives you most of NI’s marquee synths and processors. You would have to do without a lot of the Drummer instruments and the cinematic and ethnic percussion, but you would still have Battery 4, Studio Drummer, Abbey Road 60s Drummer, and the hybrid acoustic-sample-meets-synthesis drum creator, Drumlab.