The best free acoustic drum sample library is now better than ever before. SM Drums has received multiple updates since the official release back in March last year, making it the most polished and most detailed free acoustic drum pack around.
The library now comes in two additional versions, one for Plogue Sforzando and one for Native Instruments Kontakt 5, both sporting customized user interfaces with direct access to various control parameters. Of course, if you prefer, you can still download the old Reaper and TX16WX versions, as well as the raw WAV version, from the SM Drums website. All versions of SM Drums are based on the same epic sample collection that is fully described in our previous coverage of the library (you get up to 32 velocity layers per drum hit!). Anyways, let’s take a closer look at the new format options.
The Sforzando version of SM Drums has been ‘Authorized’ by Plogue, meaning that it features a fully customized user interface with loads of available controls (even though Sforzando is a free instrument and SFZ is an open format, adding these advanced features to a Sforzando script requires an authorization from Plogue). The script was created by D Smolken of Karoryfer Samples, one of the contributing authors here at BPB and the man behind numerous free SFZ and Sforzando sample packs which you can find in the free soundware news section on our website.
Once you load up the Sforzando version of the library, you’ll be greeted by a familiar looking interface with a powerful mixer section providing volume, pan, envelope and tune controls for each drum articulation. The interesting thing here is that D Smolken has made it possible to dial in some pretty extreme envelope and pitch settings, which work fantastic for certain styles of music (think high pitched snare rolls and automated hi-hat patterns). Of course, the best part is that everyone can use this version of SM Drums completely free of charge, because Sforzando is available as a freeware VST/AU plugin for PC and Mac. If you’re looking for a 100% free acoustic drum instrument for your music making endeavors, this is easily the best choice at the moment.
NI Kontakt 5
The Kontakt 5 version of the library was created by Tod Stillwell and it is somewhat different feature-wise in comparison to the Sforzando version. It offers the ability to mix multiple microphones, however it lacks the extreme tuning and envelope controls that are available in SM Drums for Sforzando. The interface is well designed and comes in several different versions – one for stereo snare samples, one with multi-mic controls, etc. The Kontakt 5 version also makes it easy to edit key mappings.
Unfortunately, as with most other Kontakt libraries, you will need the full version of Kontakt 5 in order to run it without a time limit. The library will only work for fifteen minutes at a time in the free Kontakt Player (this is a standard demo limitation).
The library is available for free download via SM Drums (multiple versions available).