The Ultimate Collection of Free Drum Samples: 5000+ Sounds
“Now everybody's sampling..”
— Missy Elliot
Many years ago, I learned the hard way that the drum samples you use in your tracks must be absolutely amazing. The lead could be mixed too quiet or the FX could be generic and predictable, but the drum samples had to be on point...
So how did I learn this essential drum sample lesson? Well, I'll tell you.
I had been producing for a few years, enough to be past the beginner stage, and an incredible opportunity presented itself to the producer community – my favorite dance music producer opened up his demo box for collaborators on his upcoming album. I spent weeks crafting the catchiest and most compelling melody I could, and my drum sample selection was a second thought.
And I realized how much of a mistake this was when they announced the winner; a young producer who submitted only a single drum loop (which I later learned he had sequenced and programmed using entirely free drum samples). It was a hard lesson learned, but it forced me to take my drum samples VERY SERIOUSLY.
While sample packs can be very expensive and having a large sample library of paid packs is amazing, there’s no reason you can’t get your collection going with free sample packs in 2021, and we’re here to show you some of our favorites.
Why Use Drum Samples?
There is a small corner of the production community that thinks using samples is cheating...
They think that, unless you're creating your own synths from scratch and building your own drums from the ground up, you're not a real "electronic musician."
Samples are the backbone of music production and have been a vital part of almost every producer's workflow for the better part of four decades. If you are not using samples, you are hamstringing your career as a musician: full stop.
Hearing amateur producers claim that you need to be doing everything from the ground up always makes me remember a popular internet analogy that often circulates throughout the producer community online:
"I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. Then thought that programming was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real...
...I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. then I thought using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. Then I thought that that was cheating too, so l began raising my own goats. I also thought that was cheating, but I'm not sure where to go from here. I haven't made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all." – An Anonymous Legend
But there is an infinite number of samples out there, and it takes time to developed an ear to recognize good samples from bad ones. It all starts with building up a drum library, but even that can get expensive. But when done right, it can open up a ton of creative doors and get you finishing music faster!
So let's dive into the top 15 drum and FX libraries that the internet has to offer!
The List: The 14 Best Free Drum Sample Libraries
What They're Good For: Cymatics was all the rage just a few years ago and for good reason. Their percussion one-shots hit hard, making them a staple of genres such as G-House and Riddim for years. They are quick to use and require little processing.
What They're Not So Good For: Their quality is a blessing and a curse, seeing as how 90% of all bass-music producers were using these samples heavily. And their distinctive punch and weight make them even more easily recognizable.
And because of their popularity five years back, many of their most popular and recognizable packs have adopted an almost dated quality.
Pro Tip: These free drum samples shine when you can find ways to make them not as recognizable. By layering more textured samples over the top (foley hits or gritty hip-hop percussions), you can add uniqueness to them while still maintain their power, weight, and quality.
The Rundown: If you’ve been producing for more than a month or two, you’d be hard-pressed to not have heard of Cymatics (or their aggressive marketing methods). While their larger proprietary packs can run a bit pricey, cymatics has many GIGABYTES of free packs available on their website, many of which are either genre-specific or in the style of a certain artist. While I find most of their samples to be very heavily processed I still find uses for their samples fairly often.
What They're Good For: This pack offers a wide range of different drum samples, all of varying tempos and genres, which is a great way to introduce wildly different sounds to your sonic pallet. They have interesting textures, unexpected loops, and many options to choose from.
What They're Not So Good For: What makes these samples great also make them a bit finicky to work with, especially for making more popular genres of dance music. It can take some processing, manipulation, and experimentation to really get these drums fitting correctly and hitting properly.
Pro Tip: The hip-hop-oriented loops offered in this pack have some incredible swing to them. Dropping loops that range from 70-90BPM into your dance-friendly tracks that are 120BPM+ can often introduce a quicker swing and drive to a more rigid drum loop. Take this a step further by extracting the groove template for ThatSound's loops to carry this swing to other elements of your drums.
The Rundown: For some reason, it seems a lot of EDM producers don’t know about sample company ThatSound and boy, is that a shame. Easily one of my favorite sample companies with super high-quality sounds that are also very malleable, ThatSound has a free demo pack of 500 of their samples. I know this is an article about free sample packs, but I highly recommend checking out their paid packs as they are very affordable and insanely high value.
What They're Good For: Sure, I'm biased here but the proof is in the results. These sample packs contain some of the exact same samples I've used in some of my best productions and I give them away to producers entirely for free. Better yet, there are two different volumes each containing entirely different material!
What They're Not So Good For: These packs do great to whet the appetite, but are so DOPE that you'll want even more. Unfortunately, only students enrolled in the Hyperbits Masterclass get access to the entire Creative Suite of samples.
Pro Tip: The kick drums hidden in these packs are second to none. I'm not lying, they are incredible and help take the guesswork out of dance music's most important element.
The Rundown: We’re gonna hit you with that shameless self-plug, we have two fairly large free sample packs that we offer directly from our website. Filled with all sorts of goodies to get you going with your productions, we’ve curated some of our favorite samples for you to grab so that you can follow along with our content without having to pay a dime.
What They're Good For: This pack is massive and filled with some incredibly high-quality samples. They have very weighty percussion sounds that dominate the mix, and can instantly grab a listener's attention with little processing.
What They're Not So Good For: These percussions, I've found, tend to work their way to the forefront of the mix. This can be good for drum-forward tracks but might need a fair amount of EQing and compression if you're wanting to push these sounds further back in the mix.
Pro Tip: Use these percussions for fills and transitional FX all their own. They work great for grabbing the listener's attention momentarily, which keeps the transitions between sections sounding fresh and interesting.
The Rundown: Honestly, this pack is so good it feels like stealing that it’s free. With 1.5GB of free samples, this pack spans many EDM genres and styles of samples, and it is insanely high quality. I use this pack all the time in my productions, and it is honestly shocking how much value is in there, even if it were an expensive paid pack. Just go download it now. You’re welcome.
What They're Good For: Splice is an incredibly powerful tool and the free offerings it brings to the table can be second to none. Their rotating stash of free samples is a great way to introduce new sounds that you might not have tried before.
What They're Not So Good For: Overall, one should be watchful of how they are utilizing the power of Splice. When you're in the groove of producing and think you need one specific loop or sound, it can be tempting to pop into Splice and start searching for that tone. But nothing kills creativity and flow faster than mindlessly clicking through a haystack of samples looking for that single, proverbial needle of a sample that will do the trick.
Pro Tip: Use Splice as a tool to add secondary and supplementary elements to your tracks. Wait until the entire song is arranged and most of the elements are in place. Then bust open Splice and find interesting, sporadic drum loops to help fill in the gaps or small guitar rifts to elevate the song's ear candy one more notch. This keeps you in the zone while composing while still keeping an ace up your sleeve when it comes to adding one more layer of nuance to your song.
The Rundown: While not technically free, if you have a membership to Splice.com you can get many free samples from them by looking out for their zero credit packs. While most of the samples in their inventory require using paid credits to download them, some packs and samples… don’t. Just be careful as it’s really a toss-up of whether or not they will be quality.
What They're Good For: This pack has a ton of great drum samples, but I was most surprised by their quality bank of 808 and 909 sounds. Dance music producers can never have a big enough bank of these iconic drum machine hits, and this free pack of drums is a great starter kit for new producers and an even better addition to seasoned producers' libraries.
What They're Not So Good For: I know that beggars can't be choosers, but I wish this sample pack was a bit bigger. The process to obtain them can be slightly obnoxious, and you opt-in for signing up for another lengthy email sequence once you give Slate your email. That being said, the 808 songs make it worth it!
Pro Tip: 808 kicks are so iconic in the dance music world that you can use them in almost any track of almost any genre and people won't think twice. It's strange how people can point out kicks when they seem "off," but never with 808s.
The Rundown: While primarily a plugin company, Slate Digital started releasing free sample packs available to email subscribers for a short time, before they become exclusive to All-Access Pass members. However, through Production Expert, it seems that you can still get all 6 of their sample packs for free, just for providing an email! With packs ranging from EDM to vocal chops to vintage drum machines, there’s a lot of fun stuff to work with here, and the price is right.
What They're Good For: More so than any other era in pop music, the pop music being made today often pushes the boundary in terms of textures and sound design being used on the drums. As such, these drums are unique and quality for the more modern forms of pop music.
What They're Not So Good For: It might just be due to my background in dance music, but many of these more interesting samples lack a weighty punch that would get a dance floor moving. Sure, it leaves space for vocals and softer elements, but as a DJ and dance producer, I NEED that power.
Pro Tip: These drums work great for secondary percussive layers. The lighter snares and hits included in this pack work great for ghost notes and other hits work great for adding background syncopation to a classic 4x4 drum pattern.
The Rundown: If you haven’t heard of Make Pop Music, you’re missing out. Originally a popular Facebook group started by its fearless leader Austin Hull, MPM (as it’s known by its diehards) has become both an incredible educational resource and an amazing sample and preset company. Go grab their free packs and check out Austin’s YouTube while you’re at it.
What They're Good For: I like this pack because it's light, easy, and diverse. Not only does it come with a few killer 808 samples (remember, you can never have enough 808 samples), but also includes a few free presets for popular synths like Massive and Serum.
What They're Not So Good For: Echo Sound Works hosts a MASSIVE library of paid samples. It can be easy to get lost in all of the possibilities. But hey – maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Pro Tip: The presets in this pack are what truly make it shine. Try reverse-engineering the patches they provide and gain a deeper understanding of what makes these popular synths work.
The Rundown: I used to watch tutorials from YouTuber Shane Robbins with a ferocity only matched by my plugin purchasing habits. I use his Serum presets on pretty much every production of mine, and his samples are just as banging.
I actually recently discovered that Seeb used his kick for their hit remix of Mike Posner’s "I Took a Pill in Ibiza"! Check out his free downloads page for tons of amazing sounds to use in your productions.
What They're Good For: There are some genuinely great hits in here, especially when it comes to the more acoustic-sounding and real-life hits. If you take the time to comb through the whole free pack, you'll be duly rewarded.
What They're Not So Good For: Students of the Hyperbits Masterclass learn ASAP that organization is vital to a producer's workflow, and the delivery of this pack simply makes me anxious. One folder with a laundry list of samples will take extra time to organize into appropriate folders in your sample library.
Pro Tip: You are likely to find 10-20 samples you like enough to actually use in your tracks. So take the time to scroll through this list of samples and delete any ones you know that you will not use. Sort the remaining ones into your "Favorite Drums" folder, and save yourself a TON of time down the road.
The Rundown: Besides having quality samples, 99 Sounds also has sample plugins that are fantastic. I use their Clap Machine plugin quite frequently for getting natural-sounding claps in songs. The plugin format lets me swap sounds and layer up clap samples quite easily. And one of the best parts, ALL of the products on their page are free. Go grab ‘em.
What They're Good For: This small sampler of their flagship acoustic plugin offers great texture and authentic-sounding drum samples. When programmed correctly, you can get some genuinely realistic-sounding drum patterns.
What They're Not So Good For: These drums fill a niche, and if you aren't looking for realistic sounding drums, you might shy towards more punchy, digital-sounding samples.
Pro Tip: These work amazing for layering! Blend in these samples behind more punchy and crispy digital percussion samples and get the best of both worlds. It brings texture and tone to your percussions while maintaining the punch and power!
The Rundown: Get a fully-featured demo of Slate Audio’s famous acoustic drum plugin SSD5.5. The free edition includes all the abilities of the full version and comes complete with three of the full version’s drumkits. It sounds great, and if you’re looking for free acoustic drum samples these are pretty much the best you can get.
What They're Good For: If you're just starting out in music production, these are the packs for you. The wide range of genres and styles allows you to get your feet wet with all of them.
What They're Not So Good For: It can be tempting to grab as many of these free offerings as possible. But this can leave you with a ton of unorganized, and rather small sample packs that clutter up your library and can get chaotic fairly quickly.
Pro Tip: Download packs that are not associated with the genre you usually produce and use those off-genre sounds in your productions. Blending sounds and styles can be an amazing way to arrive at a sound that is all your own!
The Rundown: It’s honestly shocking how many free packs these guys have. If you’re looking for free samples that fit a specific EDM genre/sound, there’s probably a free pack to help you out on this page. While the free packs are usually fairly small, there are so many of them that you can end up with a ridiculously large amount of samples if you want.
What They're Good For: There is not larger sample database offered for free than on this website here. Whether you're looking for vocalists, ethnic instruments, FX, or whatever – this site has them. It can be a great way to bolster up a library or find sounds that you'd never think to use otherwise.
What They're Not So Good For: To be honest, a lot of these samples are hit or miss and completely unusable. Strange editing of the samples leaves abrupt edges in the sound and other samples are completely unimaginative and unusable. With the number of samples offered here, it'll take some digging to find samples you want to use (but the digging can certainly be worth it).
Pro Tip: It's not so much the drums offered in these sample packs that are great; it's the instruments. Sure, they might sound tacky and out of context, but dropping them into a sampler can create entirely new and malleable instruments. Take this to the next level by dropping these audio clips into a granular synth-like what Omnisphere 2 offers and it can leave you with truly wild results.
The Rundown: You may have heard of the website MusicRadar, which provides all sorts of information and articles to musicians, producers, and audio engineers. They compiled all the samples that came with copies of the magazines Future Music and Computer Music and made an easy download location for them for free. Organized alphabetically, these packs have a super wide variety of sources and styles and can provide an amazing inspiration boost.
What They're Good For: Loopmaster's has a fairly decent newsletter that can be incredibly informative. So when you get this free sample pack, you'll also get access to their regular mailing list. It's a two-for-one win!
What They're Not So Good For: I used to use Loopmasters samples quite heavily in my early days of production. They worked for me for a long while, but the sounds and styles of modern music production began to change and I always felt like Loopmasters did not keep up with the times. Maybe it's because I've used their samples for well over a decade, but they often can sound dated to me (especially when compared to "modern" sounds like Cymatics).
Pro Tip: This is another pack that works great for off-genre sounds. With such a large free offering, look for sounds and tones that you wouldn't usually use!
The Rundown: All you have to do is sign up for the Loopmasters newsletter and you get a free 1GB sample pack. Yep, you read that right – 1GB. Seems like a no-brainer to me. There are also lots of affiliates deals with other companies like Serato that you should look out for when you buy software because it may get you even more free stuff.
What They're Good For: This company specializes in more bass-heavy genres, which means their sounds often fit into a certain niche stylistically. The crispy, clean, and digital punch that many of these sounds possess removes much of the guesswork out of what you're getting in this pack.
What They're Not So Good For: Because they are so focused on bass-heavy genres, it can take a bit of work to get them to fit in anything outside of the mold. The crispy high end of many of their snares and hats make them stick out when set against any softer or more subdued percussions.
Pro Tip: With a bit of layering and finess, these are the exact samples you want when layering. The digital punch commonly seen in the 200-350hz range can add lots of energy, and layering these sounds with....oh.... maybe the Slate acoustic drum sampler mentioned above and yield nuanced and effective results.
The Rundown: Specializing in dubstep and trap, GhostHack offers 3000+ free samples downloadable from their website. Not just limited to drums, this is a great source of vocal samples and foley as well, so you’ll have lots of interesting sounds you can chop and resample to make your songs even more unique.
What They're Good For: Samplephonics is an industry staple, and offers an incredibly wide variety of different genres, styles, and tones. I've always found that their drums particularly have great textures and character to them. This is why I always reach for these sample banks when producing softer genres of melodic house and techno.
What They're Not So Good For: These samples are great, but can often take a bit of work and processing to have them fit right in your track. This is especially true if you're sourcing samples from off-genre packs like the ones offered in their free banks.
Pro Tip: I may sound like a broken record here, but the textures of these samples work incredibly for layering. What can I say, layering is the secret sauce of music production!
The Rundown: Complete with loops, samples, and textures, SamplePhonics offers genre-specific packs and packs that are more category-based. These can be instrument loops, specific effect style samples, etc. SamplePhonics also has amazing filtering options at the top of their age so you can find exactly the packs that you need.
Final Thoughts on Free Drum and FX Samples
So much of the vibe and texture of your music comes from the samples you use, and with this list, you’ll have a pretty massive collection of high-quality samples to choose from to make sure your productions sound the way they deserve to. Whether you already have a huge bank of sounds or you’re just starting out, I’m sure you’ll find use from many if not all of the resources listed here.
Making professional music is damn hard and having an amazing bank of drum and FX samples is only the beginning. Heck, just being able to identify good vs. bad drum samples is just one of the many skills a professional procure must master. If you are wanting to start producing music that is as good, if not better, than the artists you look up to, the Hyperbits Masterclass is the perfect solution. Enroll instantly, and start leveling up your music today.