Percussion is the indisputable backbone of any hard-hitting production. But with a superabundance of rhythmic options out there, choosing the right one to meet your creative needs can be overwhelming and expensive. So in the spirit of saving you time and money, we whipped up a brisk list of entirely free percussion and rhythm libraries to help you take those tempos to the next level. As an added bonus, these fully-fleshed percussion ensembles all feature dynamic modern FX – making them excellent allies for beat making, cinematic scoring, and experimental sound design.
As usual, make sure you’re running the full version of KONTAKT – preferably version 5 or higher.
Our first library comes courtesy of a small studio disaster: A wonky transistor organ named The Luxor Jacky, whose scorched circuitry went up in flames before the Rhythmic Robot Audio team could finish sampling it. Salvaged from the ashes, this KONTAKT instrument features five combinable rhythms with a warm, slightly gritty tonality. With five grooves to choose from and a simple two knob setup (one for distortion and another for compression) it’s vibey, minimalist, and great for copping those vintage rhythm machine sounds from old Shuggie Otis and Sly and The Family Stone records.
The Taiko is a traditional Japanese instrument whose percussive sound is so powerful that it was historically used to intimidate enemies during battles in feudal Japan. With samples taken from Ableton’s Free Taiko Drum Rack and SSC Taiko Drums by S. Christian Collins, Prisma Sounds’ Taiko brings these 6th century sounds into the 21st century with a 3 band EQ, ADSR filter, and an FX tab loaded with distortion, saturation, compression, and delay – all of which make this an exceptional instrument for driving, cinematic soundscapes.
Thunder X3M Taiko Freebie
If one taiko is good, surely lots of taikos is even better? Strezov Sampling is back with another invigorating entry in their appropriately named Thunder series – and this time it’s got a powerful new engine that allows you to manipulate and map samples for maximum flexibility. Get a taste for what it’s capable of with this free teaser, featuring the low Taiko articulations and some bonus rim-shots.
Recorded in painstaking detail with crisp 24-bit fidelity, Heritage Percussion is a free collection of 13 heirloom hand percussion instruments from Impact Soundworks. Create your own custom drum mapping with djembe, rattles, shakers, cowbell, cork drums, and claves – each with adjustable tone and envelope settings, including open, muted, and rim strike articulations for the djembe. Their new and improved sound engine captures the energy of live performance with close and room mic positions and adds texture and nuance to your tracks with a newly-expanded console FX rack featuring premium reverb, compression, and delay.
Based on samples of iconic vintage drum machines, Autodafe’s XoX Drums features five vertical slots, each with different selectable kits of sounds. Boasting a jaw-dropping 28 kicks, 28 snare/rim/claps, 12 hats (with closed, open, and pedal articulations), 8 cymbals, 8 cowbells, and 8 toms (with High, Mid, and Low articulations), this free drum machine boasts an abundance of options for countless colorful combinations. And each slot has its own level, pan, tune, attack, sustain, reverb, and distortion controls for maximum sonic experimentation.