There are lots of great free drum samplers and romplers out there. Naturally, most of them only include old school, 808 drum machine style sounds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (especially if you’re producing pop, EDM, or hip-hop)…
But sometimes you need acoustic drum sounds too, especially for funk, jazz, blues, rock, metal, and other genres. And natural, organic, realistic sounds can be a little harder to come by.
That’s why you need acoustic drum sample packs. And fortunately, there are a lot of good ones out there. You can get thousands of drum samples on a sample subscription service like RouteNote Create, as well as the places mentioned below.
So, if you’re ready to build out your sample library, here’s where you need to go.
Big Mono by Analogue Drums
If you love vintage Ludwig kits featuring a Rogers Dynasonic snare, classic Zildjian symbols, and a Sabian ride, then you, my friend, may have found the perfect sample pack. This exact combination of sounds was tracked using a vintage Neve console onto a roll of tape.
(I’m somewhat facetious in saying that – I don’t know anyone that’s looking for this exact combination of sounds.)
All this amounts to roomy, retro, vintage, rock, and indie sounds from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. If you don’t care about the gear, that’s all you really need to know.
Having listened to these samples, I’ve got to say… they weren’t lying about the size of the sounds. They do sound BIG! Not to mention, they have a nice, organic, realistic sound to them. I could see myself taking advantage of these.
As much as they’ve pushed the “vintage” angle, I could see this sample pack working well for modern productions as well.
If there’s any downside, it’s that Big Mono apparently needs the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt to work (retails for $399). If you already have Kontakt, though, you’re going to have a lot of fun with these drum sounds.
But otherwise, not to worry – there are plenty more options in this guide.
Download: Free Sample Packs
x42 AVL Drumkits
It’s one thing to expand your sound library. But sometimes you want something that’s more self-contained. If that’s how you’re feeling, then you’ll probably love x42 AVL Drumkits.
This plugin offers a convenient, centralized way of sequencing and mixing your MIDI drums.
Two kits are included – Black Pearl and Red Zeppelin. The 28 kit pieces each have five velocity layers. You also get built-in MIDNAM, semantic grouping of ports, and compatible stereo/multi-out variant.
The drums sound quite good in a mix. I wouldn’t say they offer the most realistic sounds I’ve ever heard, but for a free plugin, what this baby can do is quite stellar!
There aren’t many downsides to this plugin, but some users have expressed the desire for more tom sounds.
If you want to do all your drum sequencing in one place, though, x42 AVL Drumkits rocks.
G&S Custom Work Drum Kits by Autodafe.net
Originally designed with Kontakt 2.0 in mind, Autodafe.net’s G&S Custom Work Drum Kits is yet another valuable acoustic drum sample library with its own user interface. And, by the way, the interface might be basic, but it isn’t too shabby!
It includes five vertical slots for kicks, snare/rim, hats (closed, open, pedal), cymbals (crash, ride, splash), and toms (hi, mid, low).
Each slot features level, pan, and tune controls for easy customization. The attack and sustain controls work as onboard transient shapers, and you also get solo/mute buttons in case you want to fine tune individual sounds.
To me, the included sounds are quite solid and remind me of the drums we recorded in our own home studio back in the day. Which is to say – you might want to tweak a little for a bigger sound, add EQ, compression, reverb, and so on. But what I can tell you is that you’re starting with a nice, raw, organic sound that should respond well to effects.
Evidently, newer versions of G&S Custom Work Drum Kits include additional functionality, but it isn’t free, so if you’re looking to stick to your budget, you’ll want to use this version of the software.
Salamander Drumkit by RytmenPinne!
Salamander Drumkit is a free acoustic drum SFZ sample pack. The included samples are all stereo, normalized, and are completely dry (no effects). That means you will probably want to layer in your own treatment for optimal results.
Reportedly, this pack has only been tested with LinuxSampler, but works with other samplers as well.
We don’t know much else about the Salamander Drumkit, but apparently it sounds great!
Free Jazz Funk Drum Sample Library by Orange Tree Samples
When Orange Tree Samples started developing the Free Jazz Funk Drum Sample Library, they couldn’t find any quality jazz drum samples out there. So, they decided to make their own.
Jazz players often play small kits at gigs and low-key recording sessions. Inspired by this setup, they kept the kit small – kick, snare, two toms, and two cymbals. As result, they were able to focus on fewer but higher quality kit pieces, as well as expressiveness.
The library, of course, is quite suitable to jazz and funk, and comes with unique and rare drums too.
Orange Tree Sample was obviously thinking ahead when developing this drum sample pack, as it’s available in Kontakt, SFZ, and WAV formats, so it should work with most samplers. All the files are clearly labeled too!
We are quite impressed with the sounds, which are intricate and expressive, just as advertised.
For all your laid-back, jazz and funk needs, this one is worth adding to your toolkit.
Download: Orange Tree Samples
THE OPEN SOURCE DRUM KIT by Real Music Media
Here’s one way to build out your sample library in a hurry. THE OPEN SOURCE DRUM KIT features over 700 samples totaling 600 MB. The included sounds are great!
NSA Custom Series Drumkit by Dean aka ‘Nekro’
Here’s another huge sample library for those looking to boost their toolkit. NSA Custom Drum Series Drumkit features 777 samples (it’s your lucky day) in WAV format, totaling 132 MB.
Included in this sample pack are cymbals, hi-hat, kick, snare, and tom sounds. Although the sounds don’t come with mappings, you can still give them a go in your favorite sampler and adapt them to your own mapping preferences.
Overall, there are some nice, raw sounds included in this library. With a bit of tweaking, you should have no problem getting your drums sounding perfect.
AS Free Collection by Acousticsamples
AS Free Collection is a little more than just drums, as it also includes:
- TinySnare: a 12” wooden snare drum.
- UDU Free: Nigerian side hole pot drum.
- Viby: three-octave Yamaha vibraphone.
- Kontr: A small upright bass library.
Who doesn’t like free bundles?
Most importantly, though, the collection comes with DrumTAsteFree, a Rick Marotta Signature Hipgig drum set with Paiste cymbals.
Having listened to the samples, we can honestly say there’s a lot of great stuff here, whether you’re going for a raw, organic sound, or a bigger, powerful sound.
This collection is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Drum Samples by Judd Madden
Judd Madden put together a collection of 118 free drum samples, recorded on his old Dolfin drum kit, simply called Drum Samples.
The library features 32-bit WAV files, natural stereo mix and room reverb, a range of velocities and inflections, and even an Ableton Live drum rack created by Alan Lee Sound.
There are sounds here for kick, snare (on and off), hi-hats, three toms, three crashes, ride, splash, and China.
Overall, the samples have a big, vintage sound.
Download: Judd Madden
Rhino Star Free Acoustic Drum Kit by Rhino Star Music
Ideal for pop, rock, and hip-hop, the Rhino Star Free Acoustic Drum Kit includes authentic and natural sounding drum samples.
The library comes with six folders of 72 24-bit drum samples, including 12 kicks, 12 snares, 12 claps, 12 open hats, 12 closed hats, and 12 percussion sounds, totaling 51 MB.
Download: Free Sample Packs
CrocellKit by DrumGizmo
Rounding out this list are six DrumGizmo kits. All of these can be used with their open-source, multi-channeled, multilayered, cross-platform drum plugin and application.
The first kit is this, the CrocellKit, so called because it’s the kit used by Danish metal band Crocell, sampled while the band was recording their 2018 album Relics.
The kit consists of one kick, two hanging toms, two floor toms, one snare, one hi-hat, three crash cymbals, one ride cymbal, two China cymbals, and two splash cymbals. That makes for a killer rock or metal kit!
Overall, I find the kit to have a nice, cutting sound – not too aggressive, but certainly designed to offer the power needed in modern rock and metal music.
If you’d like to learn more about the mic and channel setup, DrumGizmo has generously provided info on their website. Just click on the link provided below.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
DRSKit by DrumGizmo
DRSKit was borne out of a collaboration between DrumGizmo and Jes Elier of DRSDrums. Elier is known for his custom handcrafted kits, so when DrumGizmo asked if he could provide a kit they could record, sure enough, he lent them a kit for free.
This kit came with a kick drum, a hanging tom, two floor toms, one snare, one hi-hat (Paiste Formula 602 Medium), two crash cymbals (Paiste Giant Beat and Paiste Formula 602), and a Paiste Formula 602 thin crash ride cymbal.
The DRSKit is ideally suited to jazz, rock, and everything in between.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
MuldjordKit by DrumGizmo
The MuldjordKit was created using the Tama Superstar kit. It comes with two kicks, three hanging toms, a floor tom, a snare, a hi-hat, two crash cymbals, two ride cymbals, and one China cymbal.
This is yet another kit ideally suited to rock and metal.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
The Aasimonster by DrumGizmo
This is the exact death metal kit that was used to track Danish death metal band DIE’s “Rise of the Rotten.”
It comes with two kicks, three hanging drums, one floor tom, two 16” crash cymbals, 18” China cymbal, two small China cymbals (Stagg 8” and 10”), one Zil Bel, and one ride cymbal.
If you’re looking for an especially heavy kit, you’ll probably get a “kick” out of this one.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
ShittyKit by DrumGizmo
Well, if you couldn’t tell that DrumGizmo has a sense of humor already, the name of this kit should tip you off.
The sounds came from a brand-new Stagg Gia series drumkit (kick, snare, tom, floor tom), along with a genuine Pont-à-Mousson/Saint-Gobain cymbal kit, and they are raw and unprocessed.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
Sommerhack 2016-Kit by DrumGizmo
This isn’t a drum kit so much as a percussion pack consisting of hand clap, slapped chair, large wooden log, small glass hit with a spoon, camera shutter, metal coffee mug, and finger snap.
But this can be a nice sample library for a bit of inspiration. Random percussive sounds can be quite effective in a variety of situations, and I’ve personally had some success with mixing a water splash sound along with snares. So, this sample pack could come in handy for those types of purposes too.
Download: DrumGizmo Wiki
Some Of These Libraries And Applications Seem A Little Old – Are They Still Usable?
A lot of the sample libraries and applications featured here are a little on the old side, and in some cases, they are no longer supported by the developer (who couldn’t be reached for comment).
This doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time. It just means that setup and configuration may not always be as straightforward as you’d like. Software is constantly being updated, and that goes for operating systems as well. As result, compatibility can sometimes be an issue.
You shouldn’t have any issues with WAV files though.
Additionally, there are always new options popping up. So, keep an eye out for more samples and kits if you’re on the hunt for other resources.
We see some drummers creating their own and making them available for download on their website, and this can be a rich area to explore as well.
How Can I Enhance The Sound Of Sampled Drums?
Most if not all the above samples sound awesome. Of course, the rest tends to come down to your mixing skills. If you don’t know how to place the sounds in your mix, no matter the quality of the sample, you might not be happy with the results.
So, here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your sample library. There’s more here than you might think!
Note that what follows is just a starting point. There are so many other ways to get the sounds you’re looking for using samples. My suggestion? Spend plenty of time reading on the topic!
Avoid Frequency Clustering
For instance, if you’re trying to enhance your kick, pay attention to any hits that are occurring simultaneously (crash, splash, snare, hi-hat, etc.). This is where some clustering tends to happen, with one sound deadening the other.
If you want your kick to stand out, you could EQ the other hits happening at the same time. You could also use automation or take advantage of a sidechain compressor to give specific drum sounds more room to breathe.
I’ve hinted at this already, but sometimes getting the perfect snare sound is all about layering the snare with other snares (or other sounds in the same general frequency range if you prefer).
This certainly takes the pressure off having to find the perfect snare or choosing just one.
As a starting point, find a snare that fills out the bottom end, and another that offers more high end. Technically, you’d be creating a snare sound that doesn’t exist, but in the studio, these types of tricks are often used and are totally fair game.
Obviously, adding some reverb to your snare sound can give it more ambience and resonance.
Another trick that can work is adding another track with a snare that has a roomier sound and placing it slightly after the main snare. You can get the same effect without delaying the snare, though, by using a short fade.
Experiment With Pitch
One of the advantages of samples is that you can often alter the pitch of the sample. This allows for more fine-tuning when you aren’t quite happy with how a piece is sounding.
You don’t necessarily need to tune your drums to the key signature of the song, but it does make such possibilities an option.
Double Your Hi-Hats
Hi-hats can be a little thin and unrealistic sounding. Using two samples can fill out the sound and make it sound more organic.
You can also vary the volume of each hit to make the hats sound more natural (like they are being played by a human being) and give them more variation.
Tighten Your Sounds
Take advantage of amplitude envelopes or fades to control the tail and tighten up your drum sounds.
Beef Up The Boom
When it comes to boosting the kick drum, the temptation is always to boost the low frequencies. This, unfortunately, can make for a muddier mix.
Using a wide EQ band around the mid and high frequencies can help boost the attack and punch of the kick.
Another great way to draw out the kick is to turn down the drums that are playing simultaneously, like the hats. You could either use automation or take advantage of sidechain compression to achieve this effect.
HI-hat and ride samples may contain low-end rumble that clutters up your mix. Try cutting lower frequencies, or experiment with high pass filters.
Can I Enhance The Sound Of Real Drums Using Samples?
Yes. I’ve heard of all kinds of tricks.
One producer told me that to get the attack and ring they wanted from a snare, they used a cowbell sample and matched up the snare hits with the cowbell sound.
While I was recording my 2019 EP No Escape, we had issues with the kick drum, which somehow came out sounding more like a cardboard box than a bass drum (even though we’d recorded the drums in a project studio). My producer painstakingly inserted a sampled kick where the original kick hits occurred, enhancing the overall tone of the drums. Tedious, yes, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t work! It made a big difference.
The truth is that professional music producers are used to getting the sounds they want by any means necessary.
After all, in a live situation, you basically only get one chance to get it right. But in the studio, you can work endlessly, doing as many takes as you want, and editing to your heart’s content, to develop your perfect mix.
This doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to create a “perfect” mix, as that is a) unrealistic, and b) hard to quantify.
The point is, enhancing the sound of your tracks is only “cheating” if you’re a complete purist (and if that’s you, don’t worry – those exist too).
Whether you have tracked drums that you want to enhance, or a bunch of samples layered with some tracked drums, there are plenty of options when it comes to getting punchy, powerful drums that knock your listener’s socks off.
What Sampler Should I Use?
If you aren’t already using a sampler, or aren’t sure which one to e, we suggest checking out our guide on the best free samplers.
In that guide, we cover a variety of samplers you can get entirely for free, and they’re all highly usable.
Top Free Acoustic Drum Samples, Final Thoughts
Unless you only make pop, hip-hop, and EDM music, you’ll probably want to build out your acoustic drum sample library. You never know when rock, metal, or jazz artists might want to work with you (and don’t have access to a pro drummer, pro drumkit, or the ideal combination thereof).
Fortunately, there are plenty of free samples available. All you’ve got to do is download them, add them to your library, and keep them organized for easy access. Happy sequencing!