This week on MusicRadar, we've been showing you how to make better beats, diving into tips, tricks and ideas for how to approach drum programming, mixing and sound design.
So far, we've covered regular drum plugins and free drum plugins, but today we're taking things a little left-of-centre to explore some weird and wonderful drum software that's ideal for crafting unexpected sounds and experimental beats.
1. Audiomodern Playbeat 3
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU/AAX | Price: £38/$47 | Buy
The latest version of Audiomodern’s beat provider is full to the brim with algorithms – SMART ones, in fact – that put it firmly in AI territory. It monitors how you make beats (don’t worry, not with a camera) and then suggests new ones in a similar style or completely different ideas. Whether this is good for humankind, we’re still not sure, but there’s no denying how well Playbeat does its thing and how inspirational it is.
2. Sonic Charge Microtonic
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU | Price: €99/$99 | Buy
An oldie, but a goodie, this is a drum synth that uses no samples to come up with a magical set of tweakable sounds. Put it on a track and it plays preset or new beats in time. You can then twist and turn them as you go, creating snake-like filter action and loops that still sound ‘out there’ after all this time.
3. 8Dio Extreme Ensembles 10 Drum Machines
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: Kontakt | Price: $25 | Buy
8Dio’s big idea is to put a large number of instruments in a large hall and record them. This one is 10 drum machines and the results are better than that sounds. It’s more sample collection than instrument – hence the low price – but for fans of drum machine madness, it doesn’t get, well, madder.
4. Output Movement
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU/AAX | Price: £65/$80 | Buy
We’ve always loved Output’s instruments as they show you a little of life on the edge, and Movement is no different. It creates rhythmic effects using different engines and plenty of modulation. You can put whatever you like in it and it will ‘rhythm it up’. Put beats in, then, and you’ll get your rhythmic beats back. Movement is fairly old but deserves a bit of a comeback.
5. Mixwave Gojira: Mario Duplantier
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: Kontakt | Price: £114/$139 | Buy
French metal icons Gojira have been around for so long that their drummer Duplantier gets his own plugin! The emulation of his kit can, of course, be used for any kind of music, but that would be missing the point. This is for those killer, driving beats with way too many snares. Well the kit includes three, so why not use them?
6. IK Multimedia MODO Drum
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU/AAX | Price: €199 | Buy
MODO goes for a modelling approach to create its beats which means that it can be more flexible. So while it clearly starts off with acoustic kits for rock, pop and country (and they’re all great) you can take it off-road and go where you please soundwise. One to experiment with, and you really should.