When it comes to working with acoustic drum samples, the advantages of using commercial software like EZdrummer, Addictive Drums, or BFD2 are more than obvious. But not everyone can afford these, as they all come with quite a big price tag. These virtual instruments are available in multiple formats, they feature loads of velocity layers, but they also come with a price tag. You could always get yourself a cheaper alternative like the Premier Outfits Kit by Drumdrops for example, but sometimes even a small amount of money is too much.
Luckily, though, there are now numerous free alternatives available online. I selected only the best free drum sample sample packs for this list, picking the ones which come with mappings in fully supported formats like SFZ, SF2 and NKI (for Native Instruments Kontakt).
If you don’t own a commercial sampler like Battery or Halion, I recommend using the free Shortcircuit 1 sampler, as it supports the SFZ format and also offers multiple outputs (or check out BPB’s round-up of the best free sampler VSTi plugins for more alternatives). If you use Kontakt, make sure you take advantage of the multi-out functionality. This way you’ll be able to treat individual drum elements like kicks and snares with 3rd party effects.
Free Drum Sample Packs
Although the list featured below is organized so that my personal favorites appear at the top, my advice is to download all listed sample packs and see how they perform inside your DAW. After that, keep the ones you like and you’ll have an amazing collection of drum samples which you’ve downloaded for free!
Yamaha Hybrid Kit by Drumdrops – Hands down the best currently available free acoustic drum collection. Available in five different flavors, with 2592 individual audio samples and 1.7 GB of audio material in total. Create a free account at the Drumdrops website and use the coupon code “yamahafree” at checkout to get your Yamaha Hybrid Kit version of choice for free!
You can only get one version of the kit for free, but you’re free to pick any version you prefer. The sample collection is based on a meticulously sampled custom Yamaha drum kit which will work great in a variety of genres from rock to commercial pop and indie. The kit was released on the cover DVD of Computer Music Magazine some time ago, but it is now available as a freebie for everyone who registers for a free user account on the Drumdrops website.
UPDATE: The Yamaha Hybrid Kit is now offered as a free download only in Single Hits Pack format. Simply create a free user account at Drumdrops to download your free copy of the kit.
Big Mono by Analogue Drums – A rich sounding drum kit recorded through a vintage Neve desk, available for free download. How cool is that?! These samples sound really amazing and the only (potential) drawback is that they come with a lot of room reverb which is there to stay.
But check out that fatso kick! If you don’t mind a bit of reverb, this free drum kit is still one of the most solid choices. Big Mono features native support for Kontakt and Battery, along with custom SFZ format mappings by Peter L Jones which can be downloaded here. The kit will work for 15 minutes in the freeware Kontakt Player version.
DrumMic’a by Sennheiser – A breathtaking collection of acoustic drum samples for Native Instruments Kontakt and full support for Kontakt Player. It is a huge 4 GB download (over 9 GB of data when extracted), containing over 13,000 individual samples in 24-bit quality and up to 25 velocity layers per articulation. Easily the best free acoustic drum sample pack out there. You can watch a video review here. The download page is in German and you will need to go through a registration process, so be patient.
G&S Custom Drum Kit by Salvador Peláez – One of my favorite free drum sample packs. I love jamming with these samples! They sound just the way I like it and the available mappings feel very natural. These drums sit really well in the mix too. The original download location is no longer available, but we can still get these, and all the custom mappings, thanks to Autodafe.
Salamander Drumkit by RytmenPinne! – A great sounding sampled acoustic drum kit in SFZ format. No compression or EQ, just a set of high quality natural sounding samples ready to be played and mixed to your preference. It is a rather large kit, so make sure that you have enough RAM memory for loading up big sample collections.
Free Jazz Funk Drum by Orange Tree Samples – Completely different than the previously listed packs, these drum samples come from a rare jazz/funk kit. And I somehow always come up with great beats when playing with these. They were created with special attention dedicated to expressive playing, so get your shuffle on and make some groovy beats! Mappings in SFZ format are available here (made by PL Jones).
Vintage Funk Drum Samples by drumsamples.ca – Perhaps the best free acoustic drum pack for Ableton Live users. Features a set of samples from a vintage Pearl drum kit, formatted into an Ableton Live drum rack. You’ll find two more awesome free kits on the same site. Registration is required, but well worth it! Thanks to BPB reader stldrms for suggesting this kit in the comments section.
12 Piece Pearl Master Custom Drum Kit by 1313 – 1313 is a blog mostly known for offering high quality impulse responses of various expensive pieces of gear. But besides that, there are many other goodies on that website, including these great samples of a custom Pearl acoustic drum kit with Zildjian cymbals. A set of SFZ mappings made by SWTrex can be downloaded here.
Basement Drums by Sounds Outside The Lines – A dirty sounding acoustic drum kit sample set available in EXS24 format for Logic Pro users. Recorded with a pair of legendary Shure SM57 microphones and an Apogee Duet, the kit sounds great and catches all those sweet imperfections for a more realistic sound. Great choice for rock and indie tracks!
Free EXS24 Drumkit and Samples by Sam Greene – A Sonor Force 3001 drum kit sampled with care and available in EXS24 instrument format, released under a Creative Commons licence. Sam is offering another, more lo-fi drum kit (recorded with a single overhead microphone) which can be downloaded here.
Dry Studio Kit SL Sample Set by Smart Loops – Unreleased samples which were created during the same recording sessions as the commercial Dry Studio Kit. It’s a fairly compact library, containing 3MB of samples. They’re not breathtaking, but I use them from time to time. Please note that you’ll need to subscribe to the Smart Loops mailing list in order to get the freebie samples.
The Open Source Drum Kit by Real Music Media – A great sounding 600 MB acoustic drum sample pack containing more than 700 samples. I still haven’t had the time to test the mappings for this kit, but the individual samples sound very good.
NSA Custom Series Drumkit by Dean aka ‘Nekro’ – Whooping 777 samples grouped into separate folders for cymbals, hi-hat, kick, snare, and tom sounds. This 132 MB sample pack doesn’t come with any mappings, but that shouldn’t stop you from testing them in your favorite sampler and building your own mappings.
Big Daddy Drums by Bulldawg Sound Design – Several acoustic drum kit multi-samples available in 16-bit AIFF, ReFill, and EXS24 formats.
DrumTaste Free by AcousticsampleS – A Rick Marotta Signature drum set with Paiste cymbals. It weighs around 80 MB and comes with NKI, EXS and SFZ mappings with 6 velocity layers and 2 round robin variations per sample.
1965 Ludwig Super Classic by Plutonic Lab – An awesome free vintage Ludwig drum set for Kontakt 4, made by Plutonic Lab. Uses some custom Kontakt scripts and will only run in demo mode in the freeware Kontakt Player.
Brush Kit by Soniccouture – A full brushed drum kit, with some great articulations, available for Kontakt, Reason, and Battery. You’ll need to register for a free Soniccouture account in order to download the drum sample pack. The registration process is quick and completely free.
Free Drum Kit by Tchakpoum – A free drum kit available for Shortcircuit, Groove Agent One, Drummagog, Battery 3 and Kontakt 4.
Ruffrider and Easyrider by Michael Kingston – Two very useful packs. While Ruffrider is a very raw sounding kit, the Easyrider samples are less edgy and sound more natural. Both are very good though. I like using these two for creating custom breaks. Available in all major formats, including SFZ.
Drum Pack Volume 1 by SmithULTD – A cool collection of drum samples recorded by Riley Smith. Contains 1.8 GB of well organized acoustic drum samples. An optional donation is welcomed as support for creating Drum Pack Volume 2.
Jazz Kit by Gigfiles – A free jazz drum kit with patches available in all popular formats, including NKI, SFZ, EXS-24, Halion, SF2, etc.
Drum Samples Meta! by Ultimate Metal Forum – A collection of links to lots of free custom-made acoustic drum samples posted by Ultimate Metal Forum members.
Groove Bias Mini by Impact Soundworks – A free 150MB version of the large Groove Bias drum sample library, available in Kontakt format. You’ll need to download the complete Trial Pack by Impact Soundworks in order to get the sounds.
Slingerland Drum Kit by Indie Drums – A set of 23 acoustic drum kit samples in 24-bit WAV format. Features a nice Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum and Sabian cymbals.
Culture Collection by The Lower Rhythm – A collection of 158 free drum samples recorded from 3 different acoustic drum kits.
Free Drums by Pipelineaudio – An old set of free acoustic drum samples by Pipelineaudio, revamped in a KVR Forum thread with permission of the author.
MF Natural Drumset by Markus Fiedler – A natural sounding acoustic drum kit, currently hosted by Terz Magazine. Many thanks to BPB reader George for sending me the link!
Drumkits by DrumGizmo – A free collection of acoustic drum sounds for the DrumGizmo virtual instrument. They can be used in other samplers as well. Thanks to BPB reader dk for providing the link!
Bonus #1 – Acoustic Snare Samples
There are a couple of free acoustic snare sample packs available online. These can work come handy as layering tools.
Snare 04 by RW5 Samples – A lovely free snare instrument with 24 velocity layers. Fits like a glove in various styles of rock and pop music. Super warm and fat with GOG and NKI mappings, along with individual WAV files.
The Real Snare Drum by Real Music Media – Mapped multi-samples of a vintage 1972 Slingerland Sound King snare drum.
Tiny Snare by AcousticsampleS – 150 untreated samples of a 12″ snare in EXS24 and NKI formats. Recorded using a pair of Neumann KM184 microphones.
The Cracken by Signals Audio – A set of raw Sonor Chrome metal snare samples with Kontakt, Drumagog, and Trigger mappings (24-bit WAVs included). Free HQ Snare & Kick Samples by Supersonic Samples – A series of acoustic drum kick and snare samples, recorded from three different kits using various high quality pres and industry standard mics. Free Acoustic Snare Samples by Anemic Studios – A free set of Vinnie Paul (Snakeskin) 14×8 acoustic snare samples in WAV format. Free Acoustic Snare Samples by Sylvain Raulin – A set of free acoustic snare samples processed with some high-end audio gear. Erkan’s Cymbal Pack by Erkan Dogantimur – A set of 615 free cymbal samples recorded by Erkan Dogantimur from Ultimate Metal Forums.
Bonus Feature #2 – Free acoustic drum VSTi plugins
In case all of these samples aren’t enough, here’s a short list of freeware acoustic drum VSTi plugins until I make a bpb Freeware Studio entry about ‘em.
Addictive Drums Demo by XLN Audio – Demo version of Addictive Drums. It includes one kit without toms, but the samples are really good.
DrumCore Free by Sonoma Wireworks – A lite version of DrumCore, comes with two kits.
MDrummer Small by MeldaProduction – Contains several drum sets and rhythms taken from its larger brother MDrummer 3.
My Drumset VSTi by Bluenoise plugins – Bjarte Ludvigsen (aka Bluenoise Plugins) has recently re-released this amazing free acoustic drum module in VSTi plugin format. A must-have freebie!
That’s all we had in store for the second episode of Free Sample Shootout. Enjoy the samples, comment, subscribe, and support BPB by sharing a link to this article on your favorite social network or audio related forums! Also, check out all the other Free Sample Shootout articles by clicking here!