In this post, we are going to explore which virtual drummer plugin should you be using, and why. When I started recording music in my home studio, one of the first questions I had was, “How do I get drums into my project?” At that time, drum loops were the answer, but they provided little control over a mix. You needed to apply effects to the entire kit, and I often had mixed results. There had to be a better solution!
Then I stumbled upon Toontrack’s EZDrummer one day, and my whole world changed. I was amazed at how great it sounded and how intuitive it was to use. The entire process of getting great-sounding drums on a track, or tracks, was so simple.
Around 2000, I mostly used Cakewalks Sonar (still available for Free as Cakewalk by Bandladb). At some point, they started bundling Addictive Drums 2 with their X1 or X2 version. I liked the sound and ease of use, and it came with many MIDI files, so I started using it every now and again.
Along the way, Logic introduced its virtual “Drummer.” Good Lord, this thing was incredible for a stock plugin (actually built right into the Logic window). It was clear to me at that point if I was creating in Logic, this was the way to go. Getting drum tracks up and running was so quick and easy that it was stupid.
Of course, using three drummer plugins wasn’t enough for me, as there was a fantastic deal going on for Steven Slate Drums. Not surprisingly, I liked this one too! The included library really stood out as a strength. It had a ton of grooves and genres and didn’t require me to add any expansions to have a lot of content.
So I’ve been around the block with drummer plugins, and I have my favorite, which I will divulge at the end of this post. In the meantime, let’s explore each plugin and point out some of their features.
Logic Pro Drummer
If you are using Logic, this is where you need to start and never look back. Logic Pro X Drummer is one of the most amazing tools that Logic Pro X offers, and it can help you create realistic and professional drum tracks in minutes.
Logic Pro X Drummer is a virtual drummer that plays along with your song, following your instructions and preferences. You can choose from different genres, styles, drum kits, and patterns and customize them to suit your needs. You can also adjust the drummer’s performance, such as the complexity, loudness, feel, and variation. You can even create drum patterns using the step sequencer or the piano roll.
One of the best things about Logic Pro X Drummer is that it automatically adapts to your song structure and tempo changes. You don’t have to worry about manually editing or syncing the drum track.
You can also use regions to define different parts of your song, such as intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc., and assign other drummers or settings to each region. This way, you can create dynamic and diverse drum tracks that match your song perfectly.
Logic Pro X Drummer is easy to use, very powerful, and versatile. You can use it for any genre of music, from rock to hip-hop to jazz to electronic. You can also mix and match different drummers (they each have names:)) and kits to create unique sounds and combinations.
You can even use Logic Pro X Drummer as a source of inspiration and creativity by experimenting with different settings and seeing what you get.
Logic Pro X Drummer is a must-have feature for any music producer who uses Logic Pro X. It can save you time, money, and effort while giving you outstanding results.
It can also help you improve your skills and knowledge of drumming and music production. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll love Logic Pro X Drummer and what it can do for your music.
*There are no expansions available for Logic’s Drummer, so you are confined to what is already there. It’s not a deal breaker, as everything there sounds great, but it’s worth pointing out.
EZ Drummer 3 by Toontrack
EZDrummer 3 is the latest version of the famous virtual drummer that lets you create realistic and professional-sounding drum tracks in minutes. It has a massive library of 15GB of new samples recorded by Michael Ilbert at the legendary Hansa Studio in Berlin. You can choose from seven complete kits, plus percussion and extra snares, kicks, and cymbals, all with different natural ambiances from three of Hansa’s Main, Bright, and Tight rooms.
The sound quality of EZDrummer 3 is simply stunning. The drums are crisp, punchy, and dynamic, blending perfectly with any genre or style of music. You can easily customize your kit by swapping drums, tuning them, adding effects, and mixing them with the built-in mixer.
You can also use the new Tap2Find feature to tap a rhythm on your keyboard or pad controller. EZDrummer 3 will find matching grooves from its extensive MIDI library.
Speaking of grooves, EZDrummer 3 has a lot of them. It comes with over 4000 MIDI files covering various genres and styles. You can drag and drop them into your DAW, edit them, arrange them into songs, and even create variations with the powerful Edit Play Style feature.
You can also use the Song Creator to generate complete drum arrangements based on your grooves or the Song Track to build your song from scratch.
EZDrummer 3 is a great-sounding drum software and an excellent tool for songwriting and inspiration. It’s easy to use, intuitive and fun. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll love EZDrummer 3 and what it can do for your music. It’s definitely one of the best drum software on the market today.
The EZX expansion packs are great, and I have many, of which my favorite is the UK Pop!. It sounds fantastic, and the samples were played by drummer Ash Soan (Adele, James Morrison, Ronan Keating). and produced by Mark Taylor (Rod Stewart, Cher, Daniel Bedingfield).
*As of this writing, there are 60 expansion packs available for EZDrummer, so you will have inspiration. They are on sale at least a couple of times a year, so save up and treat yourself occasionally.
Addictive Drums 2
This powerful and easy-to-use tool lets you create fantastic drum tracks in minutes. Whether a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something to love about Addictive Drums 2.
Addictive Drums 2 has three drum kits, each with a unique sound and character. You can mix and match the drums, cymbals, and percussion to create your custom kit. You can also choose from over 100 presets that cover different genres and styles or tweak them to your liking. You can even load your samples and use them alongside the built-in sounds.
One of the best features of Addictive Drums 2 is the Beat Transformer. This intelligent and intuitive tool lets you transform any MIDI groove into something new and fresh. You can adjust any beat’s complexity, timing, feel, and dynamics with just a few clicks.
You can also use the Beat Transformer to generate new grooves based on your existing ones. This is a great way to spark your creativity and find inspiration.
Another great feature of Addictive Drums 2 is the FX section. This is where you can add polish and punch to your drum tracks. You can use EQ, compression, distortion, reverb, delay, and other effects to shape your sound. You can also use the Transient Shaper to control the attack and sustain each drum hit. You can apply the results to individual drums or to the whole kit.
Addictive Drums 2 is more than just drum software. It’s a complete drum production studio that gives you everything you need to make excellent drum tracks. Whether you want to record, edit, mix, or master your drums, Addictive Drums 2 has you covered. You can export your tracks as WAV or MIDI files or drag and drop them into your DAW.
One of the best features I found in Addictive Drums is that it allows you to use General MIDI Drum Mapping. This lets you easily import GM MIDI loops into your project without fuss. This is difficult with EZ Drummer, who uses a proprietary format. With Addictive Drums, you can switch settings, and everything works as it should.
If you’re looking for great drum software that is easy to use and has tons of features, you should definitely give Addictive Drums 2 a try. It’s one of the best drum software on the market today. Its interface doesn’t look as modern as the others, but don’t let that distract you. You can download a free trial version from their website and see how addictive it is 😉
*I own many expansions for Addictive Drums, and one of my favorites is the Vintage Dry Adpack. It sounds fantastic to my ears and oozes a ’70s vibe. I recommend you check it out.
Steve Slate Drums 5.5
This may be a great choice if you’re looking for realistic and versatile drum software that can handle any genre and style. This is the latest version of the acclaimed drum plugin used by countless professional producers and engineers. There were several improvements in SSD 5.5 that we’ll highlight.
First of all, let me tell you that SSD 5.5 sounds terrific. The samples are recorded at some of the world’s best studios using high-end gear and microphones. The drums are meticulously tuned and processed to deliver punchy, crisp, and dynamic sounds that fit any mix.
You can choose from over 100 drum kits covering genres like rock, metal, pop, funk, jazz, hip-hop, and more. Each kit has its own mixer and effects, so you can tweak every aspect of the sound to your liking.
One of the most incredible features of SSD 5.5 is the new Deluxe 2 library, which adds 50 new drum kits and over 1,000 new grooves to the plugin. The Deluxe 2 library is a massive upgrade from the previous version, offering more variety and quality. You can find everything from vintage acoustic kits to modern electronic kits and hybrid and experimental sounds.
The grooves are diverse and inspiring, ranging from simple beats to complex fills and patterns. You can drag and drop them into your DAW or use the built-in groove player to create custom arrangements.
Another great feature of SSD 5.5 is the new Tone Designer, which lets you easily shape each drum’s tone. You can adjust parameters like attack, sustain, release, pitch, harmonics, and more using intuitive sliders and knobs.
You can also apply different types of saturation, compression, and EQ to add warmth, punch, and character to your drums. The Tone Designer is a powerful tool that can transform any drum sound into something unique and exciting.
SSD 5.5 has other improvements and enhancements, such as a redesigned interface, faster loading times, better compatibility with MIDI controllers and e-drums, and more. It’s a very user-friendly and flexible plugin that can adapt to any workflow and preference.
Whether you want to use it as a standalone instrument (which I believe it was designed for more than anything) or a plugin in your DAW, SSD 5.5 will consistently deliver stunning results.
In conclusion, SSD 5.5 is an excellent choice for creating realistic and professional-sounding drum tracks. It’s a comprehensive and versatile drum software that offers endless possibilities for sound design and groove creation. The samples seem heavy sounding, as I did, but you can dial that back to taste.
It’s also very affordable compared to other drum plugins on the market. I suggest starting here if you want to save a few bucks, as it is the least expensive option on this list (other than Logic’s Drummer, which is included with Logic at no additional cost).
You can download a free trial version from the official website or buy it directly. You will likely like it.
*There aren’t as many expansions available for SSD as EZDrummer or Addictive Drums, but what’s already in the package sounds excellent.
Let it be said I am not a drummer. I don’t get caught up in whether or not the software supports “choke” control or any jargon. I’m a guitar player who needs great-sounding drums. If you are a drummer, I believe Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 3 would be for you. It offers much more control over your kit than EZDrummer. The great thing is, if you have EZDrummer, all of your expansions will work inside of Superior Drummer 3.
Any one of these virtual drummer solutions could be your one and only solution for getting great drums into your DAW (digital audio workstation). They all sound great, and each has their strengths.
As promised, I said I would let you know my favorite. For maximum flexibility and creating complete songs right from within the plugin, EZDrummer 3 is the clear winner. A song creator is a fantastic tool for any producer. If I had to pick just one drummer plugin, this would be it for me.
If you have Logic, the built-in Drummer should be your first choice. Stick with it for as long as you can and experiment. You don’t need to spend the extra money and can still have phenomenal-sounding tracks on your productions. I use it to get up and running quickly. Then I decide whether or not to stick with what I have or go to EZ drummer.
SSD 5.5 and Addictive Drums 2 are great products in their own right. I use AD2 a lot, and I like the expansion packs and extra kits I’ve added along the way.
So there you have it, my experiences with these types have been primarily positive, and the only thing I struggle with is trying to match a hit song note for note or beat for beat. A lot of trial and error goes on, but if you stick with it, you will be sounding like Neil Peart in no time!
Let me know what your favorite drummer plugin is and why! Comment Below!