Roland Cloud Drum Machine Collection
Put simply, if you want your beats to have the quality of some of the best and most-recognised drum beats ever made in popular recorded music history, then you can stop your search at the Roland Cloud Drum Machine Collection. This goes beyond being one of the best drum machine VSTs, but is a huge collection of the greatest drum samples ever assembled.
You’re either looking at a monthly membership (giving you access to the entire Roland Cloud membership, including Roland Juno), or the entire collection bundled at $499 for a lifetime key, making it significantly more expensive than your other options here. But bear in mind that Roland’s TR machines are arguably the drum machines, for example the truly iconic 808 – the absolute root of hip-hop music. Other drum machine plugins try to emulate these physical Roland drum machines, but nobody does it better than Roland themselves. If you’re looking for premium drums and are willing to pay a premium price for it, then these could be the beats you are looking for.
Drum machine VSTs versus hardware drum machines
This is an argument musicians, producers and the like will have until they are blue in the face. The best answer currently available is down to your preference, and what you bring in your creative approach to the tool, whether it be hardware or software. It’s certainly not a costly thing — the Korg Volca Drum, a brilliant little physical drum machine which is part-analogue – costs around £/$120, which is cheaper than a lot of the software drum machine VSTs above.
Software enthusiasts will tell you with great conviction that, used with a few of the right tricks, VST synths and drums sound no different from their analogue counterparts, but, in truth, it is difficult to truly replace that analogue character and warmth, thanks to its real-life noise, rather than an emulation. That said, you can go on YouTube where direct comparisons are made in videos, and the results often aren’t always clear-cut.
So the real answer is: you! If you don’t feel the physical experience of playing a physical drum machine is vital to you and you aren’t convinced by the whole analogue thing, then go ahead and have a wonderful time making beats with some of the drum machine VSTs above. You can always get ‘the real thing’ later down the line. Most importantly, have the best of times making those beats.