SM Drums Free Sample Library + Interview With Suleiman Ali


SM Drums is a new website launched by Scott McLean, Tod Stillwell and Suleiman Ali, featuring a selection of high quality free acoustic drum kit sample libraries with support for popular sampler instruments such as NI Kontakt, CWITEC TX16Wx and Plogue sforzando, as well as Cockos Reaper.

This is arguably the largest free acoustic drum kit sample collection currently available. SM Drums is provided in several different versions, the most impressive of which features 127 velocity layers and four round robin variations per sample in total – yes, that’s four different samples for every single MIDI note velocity!

See also: Free Acoustic Drum Samples!

But the most amazing part of this project is the incredible attention to detail and amount of work put into it by its creators. They’ve made this free sample library compatible with multiple sampler instruments, offering “full” and “lite” versions so that the samples can be played even on less powerful machines. We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing one of the SM Drums creators Suleiman Ali, who tells us all there is to know about this amazing free drum sample library. Enjoy reading our interview with Suleiman and have fun playing the brilliant SM Drums kit!

The Interview

BPB: Hi Suleiman, thanks for joining us for this interview and introducing us to the newly launched SM Drums website. It seems like a great place to download free acoustic drum sounds and we’re looking forward to learning more about it!

Suleiman: Thank you for featuring our humble efforts on your groundbreaking website. It really is a labor of love for all involved, especially the owner of the excellent vintage collector’s kit who spent so much time and effort to sample it in such exhaustive detail, Scott McLean, and the man who really is maestro with drum sampling editing and mixing, Tod Stillwell. The purpose is to provide open WAV files for the insanely deep sampling of this classic kit as well as various sampler formats (also completely open) so anyone, anywhere can have access to top-notch realistic drum sounds in variety of instantly playable formats.

BPB: A pack called SM MegaReaper Drumkit was somewhat recently covered on BPB. Are the sounds featured on SM Drums similar to those in the SM MegaReaper Drumkit? Can you tell us a bit more about the included sample content? Also, which formats are supported by the SM Drums pack?

Suleiman: Let me explain here a bit. There are currently a total of 6 different kits available for download. These are :

– The Kontakt multi-mic kit done by Tod Stillwell. This has quite a large number of velocity layers and round robins as well as multiple mic controls. The Kontakt GUI itself is fantastic and intuitive. Tod really outdid himself on this one.

– The Reaper RS5K stereo samples kit by Tod Stillwell. This uses stereo versions of the samples with a lot of round robins and various options depending on the user’s RAM specifications.

The link for the above two is :

– The TX16WX stereo samples kit by Suleiman. This uses the same stereo samples that Tod edited / created from the raw files and which are used in his Kontakt and Reaper kits. It has the same number of velocity layers and enough round robins to ensure there is never any machine gunning at all.

Link is :

– The TX16WX non-velocity / many round robins stereo samples kit by Suleiman. This uses no velocity layers but a huge number of round robins, thus giving a very realistic sound with a very small size.

The link is :

– The RS5K Mega Version with 127 velocity layers, round robins and multiple mics. This uses samples edited by myself from the raw files. It is the kit you were referring to. This differs from all the kits here in the fact that unlike Tod’s industry standard approach, I did not normalize any of the samples (to preserve natural dynamism , which is an on-going debate), and also the fact that it has 127 velocity layers (one for each velocity level). The multiple mic implementation here is through the use of Reaper’s excellent abilities to handle and route multi-channel WAV files (4 channels, 6 channels etc.).

This was a real challenge for me, and something I am proud of. There are two versions (full and lite) based on RAM specifications.

BPB: Can you tell us a bit more about the background of the SM Drums project? Who are the people involved in this project and do you guys have any plans for future drum pack releases? It seems to me like SM Drums could easily become THE place to go for free acoustic drums!

Suleiman: It was started by Scott McLean as I said earlier. SM Drums actually stands for “Scott McLean Drums”. He is a professional drummer with a huge resume and a mouth-watering collection of classic drums. It came out of his discussions with Tod Stillwell, an industry professional with immense experience and an un-natural ability to really nail acoustic drum sounds via samples (also my mentor for sample editing). Both of them are very open and brilliant individuals who have given good friends of mine. All of us met through the Reaper forums, one of the best and most friendly music community on the internet.

In Tod’s words : “I’m a little vague about the very beginning when Scott and I got to talking about this. But one thing led to another and we decided to do this. To do this we did quite a bit of experimenting with both Scott’s drums and the room he recorded them in. At some point we just went for it and the rest is history.”

And just to add for those who know, so they can get an idea about the quality of the sampling, here is Scott’s information regarding his microphones used in his sampling :

  • Kick: AKG D112.
  • Snare: (top and bottom) Shure SM 57s.
  • Toms: Sennheiser MD 421 II.
  • Overheads: AKG C451b (stereo matched pair).

Note: I think that I used an AKG C214 and also a AKG C3000b as extra microphones for the snares that had “additional” mics (more than 4 mics) for the previous drum recordings.

BPB: Thanks again for the interview and we’re looking forward to more stuff from you guys in the future!

Suleiman: We hope to keep adding to our repository. Currently in the works is an SFZ version for the complete kit (courtesy of DSmolken from the KVR Forum, who is himself a very generous soul with regards to quality free samples and patches), which will use a lot less RAM as sforzando SFZ player has disk streaming capability. Also, there is an upcoming tweaking of my RS5K Mega Kit by Hamish (from the Reaper forums) which will be an ultra lite version for systems with lower RAM’s.

The best is yet to come, but as you may know, recording, editing thousands of samples takes a lot of time, so the next big thing will take a little while. It will be guaranteed to rock the drum samples world though.

Thank you very much for this interview. In closing I would just like to add that your site is brilliant and real ground breaker. There are many music production sites out there, but BPB is by far the most consistent and concise resource of useful information and content around.


SM Drums (24-bit WAV format, compatible with Cockos Reaper, CWITEC TX16Wx, Native Instruments Kontakt & Plogue sforzando)

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About Author

Tomislav is a music producer and sound designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief at Bedroom Producers Blog.


  1. I have no idea why I only found out about it today!
    It’s absolutely fantastic (the kit and me upgrading to 32GB of RAM being a good move after all ;)).
    Insane amount of work.
    This should be as known as EZDrummer.

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