In this list you’ll find the absolute top 5 of free drum synth plugins for both Windows & Mac. The list includes plugins from more popular developers (AudioSpillage, Sampleson) and less known developers. None of the plugins use samples - only analog modelling oscillators. Let’s get started!
1. MiniSpillage (64-bit, Mac only)
MiniSpillage is a free professional quality drum synthesizer plugin featuring high resolution 64-bit DSP processing. MiniSpillage includes 3 exclusive drum synthesis algorithms (Bass Drum, Wood Drum, Hihat) along with distortion effects and resonant filters. It features the same high definition 64-bit DSP engine as found in its larger brother DrumSpillage.
2. Sampleson SUB (64-bit, Mac/Win)
SUB is a vintage analog drums module recreating many classic drum sounds and a Sub-frequency oscillator for extra fun! The magic of using synthesis (instead of sampling vintage hardware) is that sounds can be tweaked in a way sample-based VST drum machines won't let you. Also it's just 35MB (sampling all of the variations you have on SUB will require 4GB of samples)
3. BD-808/BD-909 (64-bit, Mac/Win)
BD-808 and BD-909 are models of the famous TR-808/TR-909 Bass Drums. Developers at Synsonic Instruments have analyzed the original circuits and created accurate digital models. The modules include sound shaping possibilities like distortion, noise decay, tune depth, hold and pitch. Features authentic sound synthesis, distortion FX and MIDI-Control (possible to use the plugins as bass synthesizers).
4. Elsita (64-bit, Mac/Win)
The Elsita is a soviet analog machine produced from 1989 until 1991. Although being released in a pretty late period, the Elsita was built following old standards from the mid 70’s/early 80’s. This is a modern emulation of the rare drum synthesizer. The sound of the 4 built-in modules is very simple and lo-fi.
5. Drum Synths (Ableton Standard & Suite)
Ableton Live Standard gives you access to a collection of amazing drum synthesizer devices made with Max for Live. Accessible in the Instruments section, the Drum Synths include 9 devices which sound resembles the TR-808 drum machine. This isn’t an exact replica however, and allows for lots of customization - and keeps your CPU levels low. A definite must-have for Ableton users. For maximum efficiency, try designing your own full drum machine by placing the DS devices inside Ableton’s Drum Rack and combine them with native effects.