Best Drum Machine Plugins – Compared and Reviewed

Last Updated on January 4, 2024 by IDS Team

The best drum machine plugin VST of 2023 isn’t an easy choice. Therefore, with this list, we’ve gone with options that do something different.

To be honest, there are loads of options we could have included here but we’ve chosen these ones based on unique points. All of these either fill a niche or make your composition more creative and flexible. Read on for a breakdown, to see them compared, and to find out which one is best for your mix.

1. ADSR Drum Machine Plugin VST

What is the ADSR Drum Machine?

Yes, on the surface the ADSR drum machine is just that – a great drum machine from ADSR sounds.

However, once you dig deeper it contains a number of interesting shortcuts that allow you to achieve things that you might otherwise have to manually mix and produce into your track.

What’s Good About It? And, Is the ADSR Drum Machine Worth It?

As we say above, the ADSR drum machine basically creates a bunch of shortcuts. These are the hacks and easy ways of fine-tuning beats that you’d otherwise have to mix yourself. One of these is split pads, but its mixer section is also a huge draw. Here, you can totally specify parameters for every single element of your beat. What makes it really smooth to work with is it achieves much of the heavy legwork straight up. Anything you make is already pretty polished by the time you get around to mixing the full track together.

In addition, it’s got genre-specific factory presets including house, lo-fi, reggae, acoustic, and analog. Ultimately this gives it a bit more variability than other similar kits.

You can buy it on their website by clicking here.

ADSR Drum Machine Features:

  • 30-day free trial
  • cut, EQ, compressor, filter, phaser, and distortion
  • genre-specific beats
  • onboard processing
  • split pads for maximum control
  • mixer
  • envelope
  • per-pad pitching
  • Mac and Windows AU, Standalone, and VST compatibility

Is There Anything Bad About ADSR Drum Machine?

Not much. Like the Algonaut Atlas 2 which we’ve also covered here, it can be on the expensive side. As it’s also a relatively detailed drum plugin, you may need a while to find the parameters you like.

Is This the Best Drum Machine VST for Sculpting Sound?

Overall, the ADSR drum machine is great. It lives up to its name in how it provides a way to adjust all the smaller features of a drum sound smoothly, efficiently, and in one place. There honestly isn’t anything else like it in terms of time-saving drum machine plugins. Its specialty is letting you incorporate sound creation into the production and mixing process at the early stages as opposed to later on. This is what means it’s great for producers who are particular about crafting their sound.

You may also find that doing this means you can approach your music and sound more holistically. This leads to greater ‘mix glue’ in terms of how your mix holds together and feels like a coherent musical whole.

Good to Know:

This one is good if you have a preference for detail orientation and control over your drum sound. If you’re working in genres that favor a rougher, more organic mix, it may not be worth the high price. However, if you want a smooth, clean mix with ultimate control and are looking for a shortcut to start organizing stuff early in the process, you can’t beat it.

2. Best SMART Drum Machine Plugin VST – Algonaut Atlas 2

What is it?

Essentially this is smart drum mapping software that turns samples into beats. Atlas is a template for you to upload your samples to and map them out to a drum kit, creating multiple kits that you can then use to play seq

Is This the Best AI Drum Machine Plugin VST?

Basically, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. There’s a reason that Atlas 2 has been written about already so extensively. That’s because it allows you to construct the beats you want from the root upwards.

You can go to their website by clicking here.

Algonaut Atlas 2 Features:

  • maps sound by type and timbre
  • visualization of different sound ‘clusters’ in space helps you understand the overall makeup of your track
  • intelligent analysis that sorts your samples for you
  • adjustable envelope and other features on pads like with a regular drum machine
  • midi map key functions
  • accessible drum sequencer
  • export to MIDI and audio loops
  • available for OS and Windows (64-bit only as AU, VST, VST3 and as a standalone application)

Is There Anything Bad About It?

Not much is bad about it, but it is on the expensive side. Is it worth it? Depending on how you prefer to make and visualize your music, absolutely. In fact, if you ever struggle with breaking down the options in a mix, this plugin is revolutionary.

However, the ‘mapping’ style may not be for everyone. So if this is the case, it may not be worth the relatively high price.

How Does It Rate Overall?

So, compared to the ADSR drum machine, this is way more sample focused and is all about constructing kits from scratch. The ‘mapping’ feature also means that you have a unique way of visualizing the sounds that go together in a particular kit, and its grouping and layout

Is This One of the Easiest to Program Drum Machine Plugin VSTs?

If you are new to this, the smart AI features of this drum machine plugin VST make it easier to organize your ideas. It’s not necessarily easier to program, but it’s ease of organization takes away part of the workload. Therefore, it is very beginner friendly too.

Algonaut Atlas 2 – What’s Good to Know?

When using it, it’s good to have an idea in your head already of what sample you’re using, how you’re going to adapt them, and where and how you want to organize them before you use the plugin. It’s easy to get carried away with all the features. Therefore, it can help to have an idea of where you’re going first.

However, if you’re unsure and just want to experiment to start a track off, this is actually a great way. It lets you mix and match sounds, and creates a way to organize tones and samples in front of you that helps you open up how you think of your work.

3. AudioSpillage MiniSpillage – best FREE Drum Machine Plugin VST

What is it?

it’s essentially a free drum machine plugin that contains all you need to edit and adjust the parameters of bass, hi-hat, and snare drums from scratch. Mini spillage lets you add filters, distortion, adjust the envelope, and everything in between to create your ideal drum sound. It’s similar but not exactly like the paid-for Drum Spillage plugin.

The Best Drum Machine VST – FREE?

Basically, this is one of the most accurate drum machine VSTs on the market. It’s simple enough and clearly executed that it’s a dream to use. It also contains the perfectly chosen details you might need to get the biggest amount of control over the sound in the fastest possible way.

Why MiniSpillage Is the Best Drum Machine Plugin VST for Electronic Music

It also integrates completely with MIDI. In fact, it let you map pads to midi notes. You can likewise tune kick drums to your MIDI keyboard. With 16 outputs there are also plenty of options for sequencing.

It’s also GREAT for beginners. Its simplicity and accuracy make the frustration at the start of the learning curve almost non-existent. However, it is versatile enough that more advanced producers in the pop, electronic, hip-hop, or lo-fi genres will also enjoy it.

You can get the MiniSpillage for free on their website by clicking here.

AudioSpillage MiniSpillage Features:

  • available for Mac only
  • bass drum, hi-hat, and wood drum
  • envelope and LFO
  • supports MIDI drum pad triggers
  • filters, distortion, and modulation
  • polyphonic switch
  • midi key assignability
  • inbuilt tuning for pads and pad panning
  • exponential mapping

Is There Anything Bad About AudioSpillage MiniSpillage?

Obviously, it doesn’t have the full range of features that some of AudioSpillage’s paid-for plugins have. Yet, that’s only to be expected given that it’s free. When adjusted for this fact, it’s a really great, reliable drum machine. Small details like pad tuning and panning done well, in an easy-to-program manner really add up here.

The only other thing to note is it is Mac-only, and is aimed more at electronic musicians of all stripes. Thus, it doesn’t necessarily focus on warmth and resonance if that’s one thing you’re after.

Yet for the broad range that is electronic music, it’s paradoxical and amazing how many options this gives you.

Is It The Best Drum Machine Plugin VST This Year?

It’s definitely one of the best, clearest, simple, and yet most varied free plugins. Obviously, you’ll get more from some of the ‘smart’ drum VST plugins out there. Yet if you want something free and adaptable to start off with, you can’t really go wrong here.

Good to Know:

Basically, this is a ‘quality over quantity’ drum machine. It’s about giving you the best amount of freedom and control for the three simple options it offers. On top of this, it allows you to manipulate all their various permutations.

What it’s NOT about is giving you a ton of options in terms of different genres, kits, and themes. It’s about authenticity and shaping the raw sound, going in-depth and providing something clear and reliable for dedicated producers. For this, it has become a favorite of many musicians and earns a spot as the only free plugin on this list.

Which One Wins?

There’s no clear winner between these three drum machine plugins. What made them all make the list is that they stood out for doing something different and pulling it off with high quality.

Choosing The Best Drum Machine Plugin VST 2023 – What We’ve Taken Into Account

However, if we had to rank them, we would say that for creativity and spontaneity, Algonaut’s Atlas wins hands down. Whereas, for detail orientation, the ADSR offers a more sophisticated classic drum machine than similar options.

Meanwhile, MiniSpillage does for free what some paid-for plugins do with less finesse. It doesn’t have any smart options of the other two. Yet, it’s pretty much top of the range in terms of free drum plugins for any electronic genre. It’s reliable, serious, and adaptable also to rock and pop too.

Final Thoughts

It always depends on what you’re looking for, but these three drum machine plugins between them have a host of new and interesting options that will shake up your mixing and production. Why opt for a drum machine VST as opposed to just a drum plugin?

Part of the appeal is that a good drum machine offers a layout that allows you to get more in-depth and creative, breaking you out of the ways of thinking associated with traditional drum kits. And, if this is what you’re looking for, these three are the greatest for injecting new life into your mixes.

Like gear reviews? We have a whole section here, as well as a section of software where you can find info about more great plugins.

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