This article will discuss the best plugins (virtual instruments, samplers, and effects) for creating Afrobeats and other Afro genres.
Afrobeats is a contemporary music genre that originated in West Africa, primarily Nigeria and Ghana, in the early 2000s. It is a distinct genre characterized by its fusion of various musical styles, including traditional African rhythms, highlife, hip-hop, dancehall, and funk, among others.
Afrobeats is known for its infectious and danceable rhythms, often driven by a blend of traditional African percussion instruments and modern electronic beats, and typically features catchy melodies and hooks that resonate with a wide audience. Afrobeats has gained international recognition and popularity, with artists collaborating with musicians from around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean.
Afrobeats has gained international recognition and popularity, with artists collaborating with musicians worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean. The genre has inspired many mainstream hits in the recent past, from People by Libianca to Calm Down by Rema and Selena Gomez. Prominent Afrobeats artists include Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, and Mr. Eazi. These artists have played a significant role in popularizing Afrobeats on the global stage, and their music continues to be influential both within and beyond Africa.
For this trending genre, we have created a list of plugins that will help you create beats and compositions in the Afrobeats genre, which incorporates elements from various musical traditions, making it versatile and dynamic. The list includes everything from guitar plugins to synths to drum samplers and more. Now, let’s dive right into the list.
14 Best VST Plugins for Afrobeats 2023
1. Nexus by reFX
Nexus by reFX is a versatile virtual instrument and synthesizer that can be used effectively in producing Afrobeats.
Afrobeats is known for its fusion of traditional African rhythms with modern electronic and urban music elements. Synths can help you create the electronic and atmospheric sounds that are characteristic of the genre.
Nexus is renowned in the music production industry for its vast library of high-quality presets and sound expansions. Nexus specializes in delivering ready-to-use, expressive sounds suitable for various electronic music genres. Its user-friendly interface and intuitive preset browser make it accessible for both novice and experienced producers. Nexus allows you to combine and tweak presets, add effects, and create complex sounds easily.
- Preset Selection
Nexus offers a wide range of presets covering various instrument sounds, including percussion, plucked strings, brass, synths, and more. You can select and modify these presets to create the signature rhythmic and melodic elements in Afrobeats.
- Drum and Percussion Sounds
Afrobeats heavily relies on infectious rhythms and percussion. Nexus provides a selection of drum and percussion presets that can be used as a starting point for crafting Afrobeats rhythms. Layering and customizing these sounds can help create the energetic and danceable grooves typical of the genre.
- Sound Diversity
Nexus 3 offers an extensive range of sound options to enhance your music’s melody. The plugin provides a vast array of presets, from digital-sounding arpeggiators to more organic guitar and woodwind instrument tones. These presets include diverse bass tones, lead tones, brass, trance gates, chords, bells, and everything you need to craft exceptional EDM tracks.
- Comprehensive Effects Control
Once you’ve selected your desired sound, Nexus 3 offers a user-friendly effects page that visually represents each effect, helping you understand how they impact your sample. The effects available cover reverb, ring modulation, delay, EQ, impulse response, and a limiter. Each effect boasts a minimum of four adjustable sliders, making it a versatile tool for shaping your melodies from beginning to end.
- Expanded Arpeggiator
While most plugins typically feature 8 to 16-step arpeggiators, Nexus 3 takes it to the next level with an impressive 256-step option, allowing for significant variations in your compositions. The redesigned arpeggiator interface resembles a piano roll, enabling you to easily create custom arpeggios by drawing them in.
- Dynamic Trancegate
One of Nexus 3’s most exciting features is the Trancegate, which adds suspense to your drops. You can select different gate speeds (e.g., 1/4, 1/32) and manually draw your custom gate patterns or choose from a selection of included presets by reFX. Additionally, you can incorporate various effects, such as delay or fade-ins, to achieve a captivating “wave” effect.
Nexus by reFX is compatible with both Windows and macOS operating systems and can function as a plugin within digital audio workstations (DAWs) that support VST, AU, and AAX plugin formats.
Nexus has a supportive user community and is compatible with various third-party expansions and presets created by independent sound designers. For example, a range of Nexus presets and expansion packs are available to enhance your creative process. The “Reggaeton Chillout / Ambient Expansion” by reFX Nexus offers versatile sounds suitable for Afrobeats, capturing the genre’s energy and groove.
In addition, reFX regularly releases updates and new expansions for Nexus, ensuring that you have access to fresh content and improvements to the synthesizer’s functionality. These regular updates and easily available resources (presets, tutorials, etc.) make it a versatile and diverse virtual instrument, and you can find a variety of sounds in it for your specific song.
2. MODO Bass
Modo Bass is a virtual instrument plugin that specializes in emulating the sound and behavior of bass guitars.
It’s perfect for creating groovy and natural bass guitar lines often used in Arobeats. Modo Bass offers a wide range of customization options, allowing you to shape the bass sound to fit your Afrobeats production needs. It provides various bass guitar models to choose from. Select a bass model that suits the tonal characteristics you want for your Afrobeats track. You can experiment with different models to find the one that best fits the vibe of your song.
- Physical Modeling Technology
Modo Bass employs physical modeling technology to recreate the behavior of real bass guitars. This produces highly authentic and dynamic bass sounds, allowing for a nuanced and expressive playing experience.
- Extensive Bass Model Collection
The plugin offers a diverse collection of bass guitar models, ranging from classic vintage basses to modern electric basses. This variety allows you to choose the perfect bass sound for your music, whether you need the warmth of a vintage instrument or the punch of a modern bass.
- Customizable Parameters
Modo Bass provides in-depth customization options, allowing you to fine-tune every aspect of the bass sound. You can adjust parameters like pickup position, string gauge, playing style, and more to shape the tone and articulation to your liking.
- Realistic Playing Techniques
The plugin simulates various playing techniques, including fingerstyle, slap, pick, and more. This versatility enables you to create authentic bass performances that mimic the playing styles of professional bassists.
- Effects and Processors
Modo Bass often includes a range of built-in effects and processors such as EQ, compression, and modulation effects. These tools help you refine and enhance the bass sound without the need for additional plugins.
- MIDI Control
You can control Modo Bass via MIDI, making it easy to play and record basslines using a MIDI controller or your DAW’s piano roll. This feature adds flexibility and precision to your bassline creation process.
- Realistic Sound Characteristics
Modo Bass accurately reproduces the subtleties of bass guitar sound, such as string harmonics, fret buzz, and note decay, adding depth and authenticity to your basslines.
Modo Bass is compatible with Windows (versions 7 to 10) and macOS (from 10.9 onwards) and can seamlessly integrate into various digital audio workstations (DAWs) via VST, AU, and AAX plugin formats.
While Modo Bass isn’t exactly tailored specifically for Afrobeats, it’s a versatile bass guitar emulation plugin that can be used effectively to create compelling and authentic basslines for Afrobeats music. The plugin features an intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it accessible to beginner and experienced music producers and bassists. Its customization options and MIDI compatibility make it a valuable tool for music producers working in this genre.
3. NI Session Guitarist – Electric Sunburst/Acoustic (Kontakt)
NI Session Guitarist Electric and Acoustic can be effectively utilized in Afrobeats music production to create authentic guitar parts.
These virtual instruments offer realistic guitar performances and come with features suitable for the genre. Note that Acoustic and Electric libraries for Session Guitarists are different, but the functionalities are similar. You get two versions of the plugin: Melody and Strum. Melody can help you create guitar lines, while “Strum” gives you various strumming patterns, many of which are those used in traditional African music.
- Pattern and Performance Library
These Kontakt instruments typically include a wide range of pre-recorded guitar patterns and performances that can be easily integrated into your Afrobeats tracks. These patterns cover various playing styles, allowing you to add rhythmic and melodic guitar elements to your compositions.
You can often customize the guitar performance by adjusting parameters like strumming style, chord voicings, and articulations. You get various guitar sounds like Ibiza, Classic, RnB, etc., in various styles like Muted, Open, Arpeggiated, etc. This flexibility allows you to tailor the guitar parts to fit the specific vibe and groove of your Afrobeats songs.
NI Session Guitarist libraries provide a rich array of strumming patterns. These virtual instruments offer a diverse selection of meticulously recorded strumming patterns, encompassing various styles, rhythms, and techniques, making them highly adaptable for Afrobeats and other genres. You can easily explore and audition patterns through an intuitive pattern browser within the Kontakt interface.
- MIDI Integration
Session Guitarist libraries are MIDI-compatible, enabling you to use MIDI controllers or draw MIDI notes in your DAW to trigger the guitar performances. This feature gives you precise control over the timing and expression of the guitar parts.
- Effects and Amp Simulation
These Kontakt instruments often come with built-in effects and amp simulations with parameters for Neck pickup, Bridge pickup, Mic, Noise, Swing, Humanize, etc., allowing you to shape and enhance the guitar sound. This can be especially useful for achieving the desired tonal characteristics in your Afrobeats production.
- Pattern Browser
A user-friendly pattern browser within the Kontakt interface simplifies the process of auditioning and selecting patterns, streamlining your workflow and making it easy to find the right guitar part for your music.
NI Session Guitarist Electric and Acoustic libraries for Kontakt are compatible with both Windows (7, 8, 10) and macOS (10.12 and later) operating systems, ensuring accessibility across platforms. These instruments can be used as VST and AU plugins, enabling seamless integration into DAWs that support these formats and providing AAX compatibility for Avid Pro Tools users.
With its diverse range of guitar tones and playing styles, Electric Sunburst offers warm, rhythmic strumming patterns ideal for Reggae’s signature skank guitar rhythm. Additionally, it can produce the vibrant and melodic guitar phrases needed to infuse Afrobeats with catchy guitar hooks and melodies.
NI Session Guitarist offers realistic guitar performances, customization options, and MIDI integration to help you create authentic and expressive guitar parts that enhance the overall sound of your Afrobeats compositions. Overall, it is designed to be user-friendly, making it accessible to both beginner and experienced music producers. Its intuitive interfaces simplify adding realistic guitar parts to your tracks.
4. UJAM Beatmaker Rico
UJAM Beatmaker Rico is specifically designed to create Reggaeton, Dancehall, and other dance-pop, Latin Pop, and Afropop genres.
Rico includes 10 drum kits, each containing 16 drum instruments. These kits are essential for creating the rhythmic foundation of your tracks and include 20 different genres, and 50 presets, giving you a good starting point for Afro and Latin pop drums. With a total of 460 ready-made pattern combinations, Rico can function as your personal real-time drum-track creator.
- MIDI Drag and Drop
Rico simplifies the integration of MIDI data into your music production workflow. You can easily drag and drop MIDI patterns and sequences into your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), allowing for seamless integration of Rico’s rhythms into your projects.
- Special Control: Me Gusta
Me Gusta is a unique control feature in Rico that allows you to add special effects and variations to your rhythms. It adds an extra layer of creativity to your music, enabling you to create dynamic and engaging beats that stand out.
- Various controls
For all sounds, you get volume, decay, pitch, and filter controls. In addition, you get master controls and effects like Sweep, Saturate, Maximize, and Ambience to add more depth and excitement to your drum sounds.
- Premade patterns
You get two octaves (24) of premade patterns consisting of Intros, Fills, Endings, and Breakdowns, which you can use to get new ideas and even final ideas.
Rico supports plugin formats like VST 2, VST 3, AU 2, and AAX, with the AU 2 version exclusively compatible with Logic Pro X and newer versions. It’s essential to note that all plugin formats provided are 64-bit only, ensuring optimal performance on modern systems.
In addition, it is compatible with Windows 10 to Windows 11 and macOS Catalina (10.15) to macOS Ventura (13), supporting both Intel Macs and Apple silicon Macs through Rosetta and native modes. While it might function on earlier OS versions, UJAM doesn’t officially endorse or guarantee their full compatibility.
To run Rico smoothly, your system should meet minimum requirements, which include 4 GB of RAM, 188 MB of free disk space, a display with a resolution of 1280×768 pixels, and an active internet connection.
Rico has one huge drawback that you cannot route different drum sounds to different mixer channels. For that, you must create different instances of Rico and route different drum sounds manually to different insert/mixer channels. Besides that, the sounds are excellent for the Afrobeats genre, especially for creating quick demos and ideas.
5. Spectrasonics Omnisphere
Spectrasonics Omnisphere is a versatile virtual synthesizer and sound design software that can be effectively used in Afrobeats music production.
While Omnisphere is not genre-specific, its extensive sound library, synthesis capabilities, and flexibility make it a valuable tool for creating unique and authentic sounds for Afrobeats and a wide range of other genres. It consists of multiple synth/sound engines: Wavetable, Analog Modeling, Virtual Analog, Spectral, Granular, FM/RM, Sample-based, Waveshaping, and Resynthesis, giving you a diverse range of sounds. It’s great for synths, pads, virtual guitar sounds, bass sounds, percussions, and more.
- Vast Sound Library
Omnisphere boasts one of the most extensive sound libraries in the industry, with thousands of presets, samples, and sounds spanning various genres and styles, making it a go-to resource for both music production and sound design. You can also find a lot of genre-based preset packs online, like NWANITITI as it is quite a popular synth.
- Dynamic Rhythmic Patterns
The powerful arpeggiator and step sequencer enable the creation of complex and dynamic rhythmic patterns and sequences, enhancing the groove and movement of your music.
- Effects Processing
The plugin includes a wide range of high-quality effects, such as reverbs, delays, modulation, and distortion, for shaping and enhancing your sounds directly within Omnisphere. It also has amp simulations of great quality and depth that you can use.
- User-Friendly Interface
Omnisphere’s intuitive and user-friendly interface simplifies sound design and browsing, ensuring a smooth workflow for both beginners and experienced producers. You can browse sounds/presets in terms of categories, type, mood, and genre.
- Layering and Stacking
You can layer multiple sounds within Omnisphere to create rich, layered textures and harmonies that contribute to the lush and full soundscapes often found in Afrobeats compositions.
- Granular Synthesis
The granular synthesis engine allows for intricate manipulation of audio samples at the granular level, resulting in evolving textures and soundscapes.
- Wavetable Synthesis
Omnisphere’s wavetable synthesis engine enables morphing between waveforms, offering evolving timbral possibilities and modern sonic textures.
- FM and RM Synthesis
Frequency Modulation (FM) and Ring Modulation (RM) synthesis engines provide access to complex and harmonically rich sounds, ideal for experimental and unique timbres.
- Sample-Based Sound Design
Omnisphere excels in sample-based sound design, allowing you to manipulate and customize sampled sounds in-depth, making it a versatile tool for creating realistic instruments and unique textures.
- Hardware Integration
Integration with select hardware synthesizers and controllers allows for tactile control and seamless integration into your studio setup.
Spectrasonics Omnisphere is compatible with both Windows and macOS operating systems, supporting Windows 7, 8, and 10, as well as macOS 10.12 and later. Omnisphere functions seamlessly as a plugin within popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) that support VST, AU, and AAX formats and can also work as a standalone synth.
Afrobeats consists of soothing pads, synths, synth bass, vocal chops, and various melodic elements based on interesting sound designs. Spectrasonics Omnisphere can help you achieve that easily. With its comprehensive and versatile software instrument with a vast sound library, diverse synthesis engines, powerful effects, and user-friendly features, making it a go-to tool for music production, sound design, and live performance across various genres and styles, including Afro. Lastly. Spectrasonics consistently updates Omnisphere, providing you with new content, features, and improvements to enhance your creative capabilities.
6. NI Session Horns (Kontakt)
Native Instruments Session Horns is a virtual instrument designed for creating realistic horn and brass section sounds in various music genres, including Afrobeats.
In Afrobeats music, horns, particularly brass instruments, play a significant and distinctive role. Horn sections, including trumpets, trombones, and saxophones, frequently contribute melodic lines to Afrobeats songs. These melodies are catchy and uplifting and add a sense of jubilation to the music. They also often provide counterpoint melodies that complement the vocals and other instrumental parts. This layering of melodies creates depth and complexity in the music, enhancing its overall sound.
Afrobeats musicians often blend their music with various other genres, including jazz and funk, where horns are prominent. The plugin incorporates trumpet, saxophone, trombone, and other Horn sounds. Session Horns allows you to select various articulations such as staccato, sustained, legato, and more. It has 170 phrases, and you can experiment with its different articulations to create the desired expression in your Afrobeats track.
- Realistic Horn and Brass Section Sounds
Session Horns consists of four instrument sections: two trumpets, a trombone, and a saxophone. Each section can be individually controlled and customized to create harmonious horn arrangements. The plugin also provides a range of articulations and phrasing options that allow you to produce expressive and dynamic horn performances.
- Smart Chord Feature
This feature allows you to play chords on your MIDI keyboard and have Session Horns automatically generate horn harmonies that fit the chord progression. It simplifies the process of creating horn arrangements that complement your music.
- Dynamic Control
You can adjust the dynamics and expression of the horns in real time using MIDI controllers like modulation wheels or expression pedals. This enables you to add realism and emotion to your horn parts.
- Customizable Parameters
Session Horns often offer various customizable parameters, including pitch, tone, and dynamics, allowing you to fine-tune the sound to your liking.
- Integrated Effects
Many virtual instruments have built-in effects like reverb, EQ, and delay. These effects can be used to shape and enhance the sound of the horns within the plugin itself.
- Intuitive User Interface
The user interface is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, making it easy for both beginners and experienced musicians to navigate and control the instrument. Session Horns also allow you to map MIDI controllers to various parameters, giving you precise control over the performance and expression of the horns.
- Smart Voice Split
Session Horns includes a Smart Voice Split function, allowing you to create authentic horn arrangements with ease. This feature intelligently splits the notes between the different instruments in the horn section to create realistic performances.
The Animator function in Session Horns Pro offers pre-programmed yet flexible brass phrases. It allows users to generate riffs and create dynamic horn arrangements effortlessly.
Session Horns requires a Kontakt player, works with its free version, and can be used as a VST, AU, or AAX plugin.
Overall, Session Horns is a versatile virtual instrument that produces realistic and expressive horn and brass section sounds. It features four instrument sections (trumpets, trombone, saxophone) with customizable articulations and phrasing options, making it easy to create authentic horn arrangements. The Smart Chord feature simplifies harmonizing horn parts with your chords.
Dynamic control and customizable parameters allow for nuanced performance adjustments, while integrated effects enhance the sound. The user-friendly interface and MIDI mapping capabilities make it accessible to musicians of all levels. Session Horns is compatible with major DAWs and provides a valuable tool for adding professional horn sections to your music.
7. Spectrasonics Keyscape
Spectrasonics Keyscape is a virtual instrument software known for its extensive collection of high-quality keyboard instruments and sounds.
It was developed by Spectrasonics, a company known for producing professional software instruments and sound libraries for musicians and producers. Keyscape focuses on emulating a wide range of keyboard instruments, including acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, clavinets, key bass, and more. For whatever piano/keys sounds you need for your Afrobeats, Keysapce is the highest quality and most realistic solution. The software uses advanced sampling and modeling techniques to recreate the authentic sound and feel of these instruments.
- Extensive Library
Spectrasonics Keyscape boasts an expansive library of meticulously sampled and modeled keyboard instruments, encompassing various vintage instrument simulations from acoustic to electric. Each instrument within the collection is crafted to capture the original instruments’ unique sonic nuances and characteristics.
- Expressive Playability
One of Keyscape’s standout features is its focus on delivering expressive playability. Musicians can precisely convey their musical intentions as the software responds to nuances in playing, including velocity sensitivity, key release noises, and pedal interactions.
- Effects and Processing
Keyscape has a diverse array of built-in effects and processing options. Musicians and producers can shape and enhance the sound of the virtual instruments to suit their creative vision. These effects range from EQ and reverb to chorus and delay, providing ample flexibility for sound manipulation.
- Performance Features
Going beyond basic sample playback, Keyscape incorporates performance-related features that heighten the realism of the virtual instruments. These features might include velocity switching, which enables different sounds based on playing dynamics, and emulating pedal noises for instruments like pianos. These details contribute to a lifelike performance experience.
Spectrasonics Keyscape is compatible with Windows 7 or later (64-bit) and macOS 10.10 or later. It functions as a plugin in popular DAWs supporting VST, AU, and AAX formats, making it accessible for music production across various platforms.
The vast keyboard instruments available in Keyscape make it an incredibly versatile tool suitable for diverse musical genres and applications, including Afro. You can find anything from calming Rhodes and electric pianos to groovy Beltone-style keyboards, key bass instruments, and more. With the right chord progressions (as shown in the video below) and right sounds/presets in Keyscape, you can create a great foundational base for your Afrobeats.
Also, Spectrasonics is known for providing updates and expansions for its products, including Keyscape. This ongoing support ensures that the library continues to evolve, offering you new instruments and features to explore, keeping it fresh and up-to-date for musicians and producers.
8. Ethno World 6 by Best Service
Ethno World 6 is a comprehensive sample library and virtual instrument software package developed by Best Service.
It is designed for music producers, composers, and musicians seeking a vast collection of ethnic and world instruments and sounds to enrich their music compositions and productions. It is known for its extensive library of high-quality, authentic ethnic instrument samples and loops from various regions and cultures worldwide. The library comprises a staggering 22 terabytes of data, encompassing a total of 28,479 individual samples and drawing from 310 distinct sound origins.
- Streamlined Editing Tab
The Editing Tab offers a convenient way to access and modify presets in the library. These presets are named creatively, such as GoTo Piano, Arcade Piano, Hazy Piano, Dream Keys, Glass Keys, Icy Piano, and Twilight Keys, among others. In total, there are 151 presets available, encompassing 106 unique sounds and preset categories.
- Precision Microtuning
Microtuning empowers you to finely adjust each note, enabling the creation, loading, and saving of personalized microtonal profiles. This feature is a game-changer, especially for world instruments, as it provides the nuanced adjustments needed to lend authenticity to music requiring it.
- Revamped User Interface
The new version boasts a completely reimagined graphical interface designed for lightning-fast responsiveness. It offers a wealth of customization options and cutting-edge features. ETHNO WORLD 6 Complete is compatible with Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol keyboards and NI Maschine, thanks to its support for the Native Kontrol Standard (NKS), allowing for seamless interaction and tagging.
- Diverse Instrument Selection
The library includes a wide array of stringed, plucked, and bowed instruments, as well as an extensive collection of woodwinds, including numerous flutes, and a rich assortment of drums and percussion instruments. Notably, the latest addition to the instrument lineup is the mandolin, featuring a plethora of playing techniques. Additionally, you’ll discover instruments like the Fujara, Autoharp, Concertina, South American Charango, Japanese koto, and many others.
- Comprehensive Information Database
A standout feature of ETHNO WORLD 6 Complete is its access to the comprehensive IDB-INFO. You can conveniently access this database from any instrument or voice within the library. The IDB-INFO section of the site’s navigation menu provides images of the instruments and extensive information about their historical backgrounds, cultural origins, and unique playing styles. It also offers guidance on using key switches to achieve authentic results with the corresponding instrument.
- Versatile Loops and Phrases
The instruments in the library encompass both multi-sampled instruments and instrument effects, featuring a diverse range of performances, including loops and phrases synchronized to various tempos. These instruments exhibit a vibrant and lively presence during playback. By offering both multi-sample instruments and phrases/loops, users can infuse their music with rich and ethnically flavored sounds, bringing their world-inspired compositions to life.
Ethno World 6 by Best Service is compatible with popular plugin formats, including VST, AU (macOS), and AAX (Pro Tools). This broad compatibility ensures seamless integration into a variety of digital audio workstations (DAWs) on both Windows and macOS platforms.
Afrobeats is known for its fusion of global and local musical elements, making Ethno World 6’s library a valuable resource for crafting authentic and culturally rich Afrobeats compositions. Whether you’re looking for traditional African instruments or voices to complement your Afrobeats creations, Ethno World 6 offers a comprehensive collection to inspire your music.
Ethno World 6 boasts an impressive assortment of ethnic instruments, offering a rich selection complete with comprehensive parameters and controls. The library’s functionality is exceptionally user-friendly, with the primary challenge being the delightful task of choosing the instrument that suits your needs best. It’s evident that the samples were meticulously recorded, delivering exceptional quality, particularly when fully explored using the included effects and overall settings.
9. Addictive Drums 2 by XLN Audio
Addictive Drums 2, developed by XLN Audio, is a renowned virtual drum instrument and sample library tailored for music production and drum programming.
It offers an extensive collection of meticulously recorded drum kits, percussion instruments, and various drum-related sounds. Addictive Drums 2 is known for its realistic drumming experience, user-friendly interface, and versatile sound-shaping capabilities, making it a great choice for programming afro beats. Whether you’re aiming to produce traditional Afrobeats rhythms or experiment with modern variations, Addictive Drums 2 equips you with the tools to bring your musical ideas to life with precision and authenticity.
- Extensive Drum Library
Addictive Drums 2 boasts a comprehensive and diverse drum library that covers a wide spectrum of musical styles. It includes meticulously recorded acoustic drum kits, electronic drum sounds, and percussion instruments. These kits are sampled with great attention to detail, capturing the nuances of each drum and cymbal for a highly authentic sound.
- Realistic Drum Sampling
XLN Audio is known for its dedication to realism in sampling. Addictive Drums 2 continues this tradition by offering drum samples that are recorded from actual drum kits in high-quality professional studios. This commitment to capturing the true essence of each instrument results in highly realistic and expressive drum sounds.
- User-Friendly Interface
Addictive Drums 2 features an intuitive and user-friendly interface designed to streamline the drum programming and sound-shaping process. Its drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to build drum kits and arrange patterns, even for users with limited experience in drum programming.
- Drum Kit Customization
You have the flexibility to customize your drum kits to suit your preferences. This includes selecting individual drums from various kits, adjusting the tuning and damping of each drum, and even mixing and matching elements to create unique hybrid kits.
- Beat Creation and Sequencing
The software includes a robust beat creation and sequencing engine that allows you to program drum patterns and grooves with precision. Whether you’re creating simple beats or complex drum arrangements, Addictive Drums 2 provides the tools and workflow to get the job done efficiently.
- Real-Time Performance
Addictive Drums 2 is optimized for real-time drum performance. It supports MIDI controllers, electronic drum kits, and pad controllers, enabling drummers and producers to trigger and record drum parts with an authentic feel, making it suitable for live performances and studio recordings alike.
- Effects and Processing
The software comes with a range of built-in effects and processing options, including EQ, compression, reverb, and more. These effects can be applied to individual drum channels or the entire drum mix, allowing for sound shaping and enhancement.
- Expansion Packs
XLN Audio regularly releases expansion packs for Addictive Drums 2, offering additional drum kits, presets, and MIDI patterns tailored to different music genres. These expansions provide you with fresh and diverse sound options to expand your creative possibilities.
- Professional Sound Quality
Addictive Drums 2’s commitment to capturing the highest quality drum sounds, combined with its powerful sound-shaping tools, makes it a go-to choice for professional music production across various genres, including rock, pop, electronic, hip-hop, and more.
Addictive Drums 2 integrates into popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) as a plugin, including VST, AU, and AAX formats. That ensures that users can easily incorporate it into their existing production workflows.
Addictive Drums 2 by XLN Audio is a virtual drum instrument known for its extensive, realistic drum library. It offers a user-friendly interface for easy drum kit customization, beat creation, and real-time performance. With its extensive collection of professionally recorded acoustic drum kits and percussion instruments, it provides the authentic and diverse sounds necessary for crafting the rhythmic intricacies that define Afrobeats.
10. Serum by Xfer Records
Serum by Xfer Records is a versatile wavetable synthesizer widely used in electronic music production, including genres like Afrobeats.
Its wavetable synthesis allows you to craft unique and expressive synth leads and melodies, which are key components of Afrobeats music. Serum’s versatile oscillator options and modulation possibilities make it well-suited for designing deep and groovy basslines, a crucial element in Afrobeats rhythm sections. Serum’s extensive modulation options and flexible routing provide the tools needed to create authentic and culturally rich soundscapes and effects, enhancing the overall production.
- Boundless Modulation Possibilities
Serum provides an extensive modulation toolkit featuring three envelopes and four LFOs that open up a world of creative options, particularly for crafting dynamic synths and basslines, ideal for the House music genre. You can effortlessly map each envelope and LFO to virtually any parameter by intuitively dragging and dropping them onto your desired target or via the versatile matrix panel.
- Easy GUI and MACROs
The user-friendly graphical interface simplifies the process of parameter mapping. Additionally, Serum offers four macro knobs that allow you to assign multiple parameters simultaneously, enhancing your performance capabilities. These macro knobs can be mapped to your MIDI keyboard, enabling you to control various parameters with a single knob. This flexible mapping empowers you to infuse your bass sounds with life and evolution, transcending the ordinary synth experience.
- Real-time Wavetable Manipulation
Serum’s warp knob, initially labeled as “OFF” upon initialization, possesses the ability to perform AM (Amplitude Modulation), FM (Frequency Modulation), RM (Ring Modulation), Oscillator Sync, and other real-time wavetable modulation techniques. The visual feedback provided by the wavetable panel makes this process both enjoyable and easily comprehensible.
- Extensive Array of Filters
Serum offers a diverse selection of filter types, ranging from classic options like lowpass and highpass to more unique choices such as Comb, Ring Mod, Flangers, Phasers, and French LPF. These filters provide virtually limitless sound-shaping possibilities, allowing you to sculpt your sounds with precision.
- High-Quality Effects
Serum comes equipped with a 10-effect effect rack that operates in a serial fashion, enabling you to arrange the effects in your preferred order. Effects positioned lower in the rack affect those above them. Moreover, you have the flexibility to modulate each effect’s parameters using the envelopes or LFOs, enhancing the joy of sound design with Serum.
- High-Quality Sound Engine
Serum boasts a high-quality sound engine that ensures precision and clarity in audio output. The synth’s engine is designed to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the sounds you create, making it an excellent choice for professional music production where sound quality is paramount.
- Real-Time Wavetable Manipulation
One of Serum’s standout features is its ability to manipulate wavetables in real-time. This means you can adjust parameters like wavetable position and spectral morphing while your music plays, creating dynamic and evolving soundscapes. This real-time manipulation adds depth and character to your sound design and performances.
Serum is compatible with both Windows (7 or later, 64-bit) and macOS (10.10 or later) operating systems, making it accessible to a wide range of users. It functions seamlessly as a plugin within digital audio workstations (DAWs) supporting VST, AU, and AAX plugin formats, including popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Cubase, and FL Studio.
Serum is a versatile wavetable synthesizer compatible with Windows and macOS. It offers a powerful sound engine for realistic, evolving sounds, an intuitive interface, and extensive modulation options. Websites like ADSR Sounds and Bitz Sound offer a wide range of Serum presets covering various genres, making it possible to explore sounds suitable for Afrobeats. Serum is known for its vast preset library, real-time wavetable manipulation, and seamless integration into leading digital audio workstations, making it a go-to choice for electronic music producers and sound designers.
11. OUTPUT Substance (Kontakt) (for synth bass)
OUTPUT Substance is a versatile and innovative bass engine software.
It offers many high-quality bass sounds and textures suitable for various music genres, including Afrobeats. Substance is known for its user-friendly interface, extensive sound-shaping capabilities, and the ability to create rich and deep basslines, kicks, and other low-frequency elements in electronic and cinematic music production. It is highly regarded for its creative potential in adding depth and character to music compositions and soundtracks.
- Intuitive User Interface
Substance features a user-friendly interface that simplifies the sound design process. The clear layout and visual representation of parameters make it accessible to both beginners and experienced producers.
- Advanced Sound Shaping
The software offers a wide range of sound-shaping tools, including envelopes, filters, effects, and modulation options. These tools empower users to sculpt and manipulate bass sounds with precision.
- Layering and Stacking
Producers can layer and stack multiple bass sources within Substance, allowing for the creation of complex and evolving bass textures. This feature is especially useful for crafting rich and dynamic basslines.
- Dynamic Rhythm Section
Substance includes an integrated rhythm section with drum kits and percussion samples. This allows you to create complete tracks and rhythmically complement your basslines within the same software.
- Drag-and-Drop Functionality
The drag-and-drop functionality simplifies the workflow by enabling you to effortlessly layer and arrange bass sources and rhythms, enhancing creativity and productivity.
- Presets and Expansion Packs
Substance comes with a variety of presets covering various music styles. Additionally, OUTPUT regularly releases expansion packs, offering new bass sounds and textures to keep users inspired.
- Effects and Processing
The software includes a range of built-in effects like distortion, compression, EQ, and reverb, enabling you to refine and enhance your bass sounds without the need for external plugins.
- Three Engines in One
- Realism Engine: This engine focuses on capturing the authentic and organic characteristics of bass instruments, making it suitable for natural and acoustic bass tones.
- Synthetic Engine: The Synthetic Engine is tailored for creating cutting-edge and experimental bass sounds, offering advanced synthesis and modulation options.
- Fusion Engine: Combining the best of both worlds, the Fusion Engine allows users to blend realism and synthesis, offering a unique and hybrid approach to bass design.
Substance functions seamlessly as a plugin within popular digital audio workstations (DAWs), including VST, AU, and AAX formats, allowing for smooth integration into existing production workflows.
Substance Output combines heavily processed electric and acoustic basses, full live brass sections, powerful polysynths, and gritty bass textures, making it an excellent tool for creating deep and rhythmic basslines for your Afrobeats and productions.
Substance is favored by music producers and sound designers for its professional-grade sound quality, making it suitable for a wide range of music genres, including electronic, cinematic, and beyond. OUTPUT consistently releases updates to improve functionality, fix bugs, and provide new features, ensuring that Substance remains a cutting-edge bass engine. Its huge variety of bass sounds will give your afro beats a new dimension and innovation.
SubLab is a virtual synthesizer and bass-focused plugin developed by Future Audio Workshop (FAW).
It’s designed to cater specifically to the creation of deep and powerful bass sounds, making it a popular choice among music producers and beatmakers, especially in electronic and hip-hop genres. However, for Afrobeats that require 808s, fat analog bass, or powerful sub-bass sounds, Sublab is a great choice.
- Synth Engine
The SubLab’s versatility shines through its division into three distinct engines, with the synth engine being the core of bass sound design. Here, you have the freedom to select from a range of waveform shapes, including sinewave, triangle, square, saw, and the innovative super oscillator. After choosing your desired sound shape, you can fine-tune the pitch and apply detuning as needed. This flexibility allows you to effortlessly craft both subtle, deep bass tones and vibrant, buzzy sounds. The super oscillator is a valuable addition, particularly for crafting buzzy textures with a deep, powerful low end.
- Sample Engine
The sample engine serves as the platform for loading various samples to shape the transient aspect of your sound. Whether it’s a punchy kick drum or any other impactful sound, you can load it into the sample engine to define the transient of your 808 bass. Furthermore, you have the option to link the synth engine with the sample engine via sidechain, ensuring that the transient element comes through prominently and distinctly.
A standout feature of SubLab is X-Sub, the psychoacoustic synth engine that guarantees the consistency and integrity of your sub bass across all playback systems. It essentially adds a constant sub-layer beneath your bass sound. While you can adjust the amount to your preference, it maintains a well-balanced presence, making your bass stand out and hit hard on a wide range of devices, from earbuds and laptops to club-grade sound systems.
- Effects and Modulation
SubLab offers an array of tools for sound design. It provides a versatile LFO that can simultaneously modulate two parameters, syncable to your host’s BPM or running in Hz. This LFO offers a variety of waveform shapes, including sine, square, saw, triangle, and noise. Additionally, you have access to a filter for sculpting high-end frequencies and enhancing the low-end with controlled resonance.
SubLab introduces new effects like the waveshaper, offering options such as sine fold and linear fold to create compelling harmonics and ensure your bass cuts through the mix. Other effects include tape distortion with hiss and wobble controls and a bit crusher with decimation and bit mode adjustments.
SubLab XL introduces a compelling new feature called macros. You have two macros at your disposal, which can be assigned to various parameters. Once configured, a single knob allows you to modulate multiple parameters simultaneously. This innovative approach enables you to transform a basic 808 into a unique and original sound tailored to your music. SubLab offers an engaging macro window with visually intuitive graphics that represent how the macro influences the bass sound’s behavior.
SubLab functions as a plugin within popular digital audio workstations (DAWs), supporting formats like VST, AU, and AAX. This seamless integration streamlines the workflow for music producers.
SubLab may not be used directly in Afro-pop music as much as other plugins in the list, but this is the best bass plugin for derivative genres like Afrohop, Afro-drill, Afro-trap, and more. With SubLab, you can craft the foundational basslines essential to Afrobeats, enhancing the rhythm and groove of your tracks. It has high-quality sounds with detailed customizations and sonic sculpting options that will add great oomph to your beats.
13. Serato Sample
Serato Sample is a software sampler and sampling plugin developed by Serato, which will fulfill your sample chopping, slicing, and manipulating requirements.
This sampler is a versatile tool for DJs and producers, allowing them to trigger and manipulate samples for your afro-hop, afro-soul, afro-pop beats, and more. Key features of the Serato Sampler include sample loading and triggering, performance-oriented features like cue points and loops, integration with Serato DJ software, and compatibility with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs). It’s a valuable tool for DJs and producers looking to add creative sampling and triggering capabilities to their workflow.
- Cue Points and Looping
The software offers cue point and looping functionality, enabling you to set specific points within a sample and loop them seamlessly. This feature is essential for creating repetitive and rhythmic patterns.
- Sync and Quantization
Serato Sampler can sync samples to the master tempo of a DJ set or a music production project. That ensures that triggered samples stay in time with the rest of the music.
- Performance Pad Mode
It provides a performance pad mode, allowing users to trigger samples using MIDI controllers or dedicated hardware. This feature enhances the live performance experience, enabling DJs to trigger samples on the fly.
- Sample Editing
You can edit and adjust samples within the software, including trimming, slicing, and adjusting pitch and tempo. This flexibility is valuable for customizing samples to fit a specific track or performance.
- Key Detection
Serato Sampler offers key detection functionality, allowing you to analyze the musical key of samples. This feature is beneficial for harmonic mixing and ensuring that triggered samples match the key of the main track.
- BPM-Sync and Time Stretching
Serato Sampler includes BPM-sync capabilities, ensuring that triggered samples stay synchronized with the tempo of the music. Time stretching features are also available for adjusting sample playback speed without affecting pitch.
Serato sample is only available in VST and VST 3 format, limiting its compatibility with Apple devices/software and Pro Tools.
Serato is one of the most versatile and flexible samplers. This intuitive software enables users to quickly find, chop, key-shift, and time-stretch samples, making it ideal for crafting the rhythmic and melodic elements essential to Afrobeats. Melodically, mostly Afrobeats are guitar-based, but if you don’t have good guitar recordings or loops, you can always sample them. In addition, you can also perform real-time stem separation, separating vocals, drums, and other elements from a song to create customized samples and remixes.
14. Output Exhale (Kontakt)
The “Output Exhale” plugin is a modern vocal engine designed for music producers, composers, artists, and sound designers.
Exhale offers 500 unique presets for instant playability, featuring real singers recorded by top producers. It’s known for its character-rich vocal sounds that can be used in various music productions, including afro music. Modern Afro songs are quite RnB-inspired and have a sensual tone, which is accentuated by the ambient sound design and vocal effects. The plugin includes three modes: Notes, Loops, and Slices, which allow you to manipulate vocal elements in different ways to fit your creative needs.
- 500 Presets
Exhale offers a vast library of 500 presets for instant playability, including categories like Warm, Pad, Dirty, Airy, One Shot, Electro, Creative, Pure, Tape Loop, Complex, and User.
- Versatile Modes
Exhale provides three distinct modes: Notes, Loops, and Slices. These modes enable you to manipulate vocal elements in various ways. “Notes” mode allows for traditional vocal performances, while “Loops” and “Slices” modes offer creative options for chopping and rearranging vocal samples.
- High-Quality Sounds
The plugin is renowned for its high-quality vocal sounds. The real singers’ recordings and meticulous production result in expressive and authentic vocal tones, enhancing the overall quality of music compositions.
- Manipulation and Macros
Exhale includes macro controls that simplify the process of manipulating vocal sounds. You can easily shape and modulate the vocal elements with four MACRO controls like Tone, Wet, Pulse, and Talk. In addition, you can also do deeper sound manipulation with various filters, effects, ADSR, Formant Shifting, and more.
Exhale requires Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher versions and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.12 or higher and Windows 7 or later operating systems.
In summary, Output Exhale is a popular vocal engine plugin known for its high-quality vocal sounds and versatility in music production. You can widely use it to add expressive vocal elements to your Afrobeats. Overall, it’s great for pads, interesting vocal-based synths, and airy vocal chops.
1. Ample Bass P/P-Lite
“Ample Bass P Lite” is a free virtual bass guitar instrument plugin developed by Ample Sound.
It’s designed to provide a realistic and expressive bass guitar sound for your afrobeats. It is known for its authentic and natural bass guitar tones. It aims to replicate the sound of a precision bass guitar, offering a rich, warm tone suitable for various musical genres. The plugin uses high-quality samples of a precision bass guitar to achieve its realistic sound. These samples are carefully recorded from actual instruments played by skilled musicians.
- Expressive Playability
Ample Bass is designed to be expressive and playable. It supports techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and more, allowing you to create dynamic and lifelike bass guitar performances.
- Easy to Use
The plugin comes with a user-friendly interface that makes it accessible to both beginners and experienced musicians. It includes features like articulation key switches and a set of essential controls for shaping the sound.
- Ample Bass P – data
Ample Bass P boasts a substantial sample size of 3.6 GB, comprising 2851 samples recorded at a high-quality 24-bit 44.1 kHz depth and rate. It offers an expansive range from B0 to F4 and an extensive list of articulations. With a maximum sampling cycle of 4, ABP is a comprehensive solution for bass guitar enthusiasts.
- Ample Bass P Lite – data
Ample Bass P Lite is a more compact option with a significantly reduced size of 450 MB and 443 samples. While it maintains a respectable 16-bit 44.1 kHz sample depth/rate, it has a maximum sampling cycle of 2 and a range spanning from D1 to F4. This Lite version is an ideal choice for those with limited storage space or processing capabilities, offering a streamlined but effective virtual bass guitar experience.
Ample Bass P Lite is available in various plugin formats, including VST 2, VST 3, AU, and AAX, making it compatible with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and more.
Overall, Ample Bass is a virtual bass guitar instrument renowned for its versatility and realism. This plugin offers a rich, lifelike bass sound, ideal for adding an authentic and dynamic low-end groove to Afrobeats and Afro-inspired tracks. With a substantial 3.6 GB sample size, it captures the nuances of a precision bass guitar, offering a wide range of articulations, including slides, harmonics, and more.
The instrument supports expressive techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs, providing a lifelike playing experience and helping you add natural basslines to your afro songs. Its 24-bit 44.1 kHz sampling depth and rate ensure high-quality sound. Ample Bass is a comprehensive solution for music producers and bass enthusiasts, offering an authentic and dynamic bass guitar sound suitable for a variety of genres, making it an invaluable tool in music production.
2. Abstract Vox
The Abstract Vox VST is known for its collection of 61 playable and unique vocal shots.
This plugin offers a variety of vocal presets with effects and is available for free download. It can be integrated into your afro beats sessions to add vocal elements. It comes with attack, release, reverb, and volume knobs by which you can sculpt its sound and sonic characteristics.
- Variety of Vocal Presets with Effects
The plugin provides a diverse selection of vocal presets, each accompanied by built-in effects. This feature enables music producers to easily access and apply various vocal styles and textures to their tracks, enhancing the creative possibilities of their music.
- Sound Sculpting Controls
Abstract Vox VST includes essential sound sculpting controls such as “Attack,” “Release,” “Reverb,” and “Volume” knobs. These controls empower you to shape the sound and sonic characteristics of the vocal elements, allowing for customization and creative expression within their music projects.
Abstract Vox is available in VST and AU plugin formats and is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
In summary, the Abstract Vox VST plugin stands out for its extensive collection of unique vocal shots, diverse vocal presets with effects, affordability as a free download, and suitability for Afro beats.
Afrokeyz is a Synth VST (Virtual Studio Technology) designed for producing African-inspired beats.
It is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems and can be used with any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Additionally, there is a version called Afrokeyz Lite, a keyboard/synthesizer rompler designed specifically for making African beats, including genres like Dancehall, R&B, Reggaeton, Lo-fi, and Afrobeats. Afrokeyz Lite is available as a free download and includes features such as reverb, ADSR, LFO, glide, pitch, filter, and pan.
- Instrument Presets
The plugin comes with a selection of instrument presets that allow you to access a variety of sounds and textures suitable for African-style music production.
- Sound Shaping Controls
Afrokeyz provides controls such as ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release), LFO (Low-Frequency Oscillation) Rate and Depth, Glide, Pitch, Filter (High-Low), and Pan. These controls enable you to shape and customize the sound and sonic characteristics of the instrument to suit their creative needs.
- Free and Lite Versions
There are both free and lite versions of Afrokeyz available, making it accessible to a wide range of music producers, including those on a budget. These versions offer essential features for music production.
Afrokeyz is available in VST and AU plugin formats. The software offers six instrument presets and is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit systems. However, it is not compatible with macOS Big Sur or Catalina. Afrokeyz requires at least 1 GB of hard drive space.
Overall, Afrokeyz serves as a valuable tool for music producers looking to infuse African musical elements and rhythms into their compositions. Its versatility and user-friendly interface make it suitable for a variety of music styles within the African music spectrum.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.