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In times gone by, drum machines offered a completely new and exciting battery of percussive sounds and computerised sequencing that spawned whole new genres and transformed existing ones. Many designers intended for their drum machines to replace acoustic drums, but in reality, they sounded very little like the real thing - and ultimately we loved them all the more for it.
As sampling became cheaper and more powerful, classic drum machines rocketed up in price and began to find themselves being replaced in the studio by sample banks, which, perhaps ironically, were often packed with sounds derived from them. Thankfully, many people hankered after the creativity and real-time modulation that synthesised percussion offers, so plug-in emulations came to the market, bringing these advantages (and more) to the virtual world.
Whereas classic drum machines rarely offered much beyond tuning and release time adjustment of hard-wired sounds, the new generation of percussive synths do considerably more. Novices can quickly get to grips with the customised interfaces of this new generation of plug-in, while seasoned programmers can revel in their enhanced controls and convenience.
In this round-up, we’re looking at some of the best virtual drum synths out there. Let’s get into the groove.