There are probably millions if not billions of drum samples that you can download and drop into your DAW’s drum machine. The depth and availability of these sounds is amazing, but it makes sorting through the billions of samples to find the best ones a bit tough. Here are, in our opinion, five of the best drum sample packs for producing house, drum ‘n’ bass, electrohouse, hip-hop, and trance.
KJ Sawka – Live Drum and Bass Drums
Drummer Kevin Sawka (of Pendulum) recorded all of these samples live using classic acoustic drums kit models like White Pearl, Slingerland, and Ludwig Sparkle. The single-hit samples are decent enough, but it’s the loops and breaks that really stand out. Sawka’s drumming gives a loose, shuffling feel to the rhythms; these loops are perfect for bringing in a little more life if your production’s sounding too robotic and overly quantized. The loops’ tempos are mostly around the 170-180 bpm range, but there are enough slower beats (120 to 140 bpm) in there to make this pack useful for dubstep and breaks as well.
Thomas Penton – Essential Series
For anyone producing a 4-to-the-floor genre like house, trance, or techno, the depth and breadth of Penton’s sample packs is amazing. There are hundreds of kicks, snares, and hats, with timbres ranging from big and booming to short and clicky — perfect for layering together to make full-sounding beats. The pack has nearly every percussion sound you’ll ever want, from triangles to tambourines to tablas, and there’s a full set of massive-sounding crash and ride cymbals. There are three volumes in the Thomas Penton series of sample packs: volume one contains mostly single drum hits, volume two focuses on loops, and volume three has a mix of single hits, loops, basslines, and synth parts. They’re all great, but if you’re only going to download one, get the first volume.
Drumdrops – Drops in the Bronx
Drummer Jan Kincaid of the band Brand New Heavies recorded these samples; it’d be hard to find a better-sounding set of acoustic drums for your production. The single drum hits are all rich, smooth, and full; a little compression is all that’s usually needed to fit them into the mix. The pack includes kick, snare, hi-hat, cymbal, and percussion samples; the inclusion of different articulations like flams, rimshots, and rolls is a nice touch. In addition to the single hits, the pack includes hundreds of beats, fills, and drum breaks that add a nice live feel to your production, as well as a full set of hi-hat, brush, cymbal, and percussion loops for filling out the empty spots in your beats. Kincaid’s beats range in tempo from 70 bpm up to 137 bpm, making this an incredibly versatile sample pack.
Goldbaby – Tape Drum Machines
Goldbaby have a reputation for painstaking digital reconstructions of vintage drum machines; the “Tape Drum Machines” series is among their best. Each pack in the series contains individual samples of at least 10 classic drum boxes, including Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Linndrum, and E-MU models, each recorded to warm analog tape. Of the series, the first volume, which includes samples from the Linn LM-1, the E-MU Drumulator, and the TR-808, is probably the best to start with; the second volume, which has the LinnDrum and the epic-sounding Yamaha XD-5, is worth a look too.
Simplosive – Deep & Hard Kicks
No hats, no snares: just awesome-sounding kicks, kicks, kicks. It’s not the most versatile sample pack, but this is one of the best collections of kick drum samples we’ve come across. The “Deep Kicks” are mainly smooth, sine-wave-based drums, and work well layered as a sub-kick. The “Hard” samples are more distorted and attackier; they’ll add an instant punch to any beat. If you’re looking for that big club sound, drop one of these samples into your drum machine.