On this occasion, we will explore our top 6 picks for kick drum plugins to apply to your projects.
Kick drums are one of the essential elements in lots of productions. They have become a crucial part of beat-driven genres such as techno, hip-hop, and many projects in the pop scene. According to how they hear the kick drum, many listeners and audio enthusiasts often decide if a song is good or bad.
Depending on the song, a kick drum may not be punchy enough because it lacks some “power,” or it could have more presence in the mix than needed, masking other elements and instruments.
In a nutshell, here are the best kick drum plugins for 2022:
- 1. SINEE Chop Suey By Dawesome Music
- 2. Sonic Academy Kick 2
- 3. Xfer Serum
- 4. Boz Digital Labs Sasquatch Kick Machine 2
- 5. Plugins That Knock – Knock (Color Designer)
- 6. Credland Audio Big Kick
Nowadays, music producers have a massive arsenal of sample libraries and tons of kick drums to choose from for any production. With a good search, you can find different styles of kick drums for adding to your songs. However, with more experience, producers tend to be pickier with their sound and start looking for elements that help them modify the kick drum to achieve a unique sound. Kick drum plugins have a wide variety of tools for shaping your kick drums, such as synthesis modules, equalizers, compressors, amplifiers, distortions, and a ton more to get your signature sound.
Now that we know that kick drums are delicate elements in our overall mix and could have a massive impact on our project, we will go ahead and check some of the best kick drum plugins out there; let’s kick in.
1. SINEE Chop Suey By Dawesome Music
This is a great tool to design your kick sound just as you’ve imagined it.
Dividing the screen into three main components (“Transient,” “Body,” and “Tail”), Dawesome Music’s SINEE Chop Suey lets you design the kick sound you have in your head as easily as possible, without sacrificing personality and character. The presets are also varied and can be manipulated in these stages, quickly tailoring the most appropriate sound for your track.
- Linear processing
When dealing with samples, the best possible quality is often required to guarantee it will stand out. This is why transients are a great aspect to customize because they dictate how the sample will sound from the start. The linear processing present on SINEE Chop Suey can make your kick blend in a mix very easily while sounding just as you wanted, with digital precision.
The main aspect of SINEE Chop Suey is how the kick sample’s sound wave can be adjusted within three sections (“Transient,” “Body,” and “Tail”). You can select how each part will blend in the final result by going from left to right. However, the cool thing is that crossfading between such stages is possible and can make your final result sound very natural by smoothly joining the hit, body, and resonance sound aspects of the kick sample into one another.
- Easy automation
Options like “Cutoff,” “Beef,” and “Reso” will adjust your kick sample even further, but the good thing is you can automate their values. Clicking on each option will reveal an automation line with several points ready to be set at your desire, making it far easy to manipulate before exporting a final kick audio file into your track.
- Linear processing
This plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS X 10.15 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 3 and AU plugin formats.
Having such flexibility when setting a good kick sound can bring tons of personality into your track, and with a plugin like Dawesome Music’s SINEE Chop Suey, it’s no hard job to accomplish so. The visual guide helps you distinguish each section of the audio file, with a set of controls in every area determined to really get that sound you want into reality. The number of tweaks available is meant to bring the best sound out of your sample file like a good-quality kick deserves, and with such easiness, it ought to be among your most trusted sound-crafting tools.
2. Sonic Academy Kick 2
Create and shape the perfect kick drum with this multi-award-winning drum synthesizer.
Since its first version release, Kick 2 has had many fantastic additions for designing the perfect kick drum. Featuring over 230 modern factory samples in a wide range of styles and a precise set of controls, Kick 2 comes with infinite possibilities to create a unique sample. Its outstanding performance with dynamic processors such as compressors, limiters, and equalizers, will get your kick drum to the next level.
- Click section
This section has three different areas where you can load other kick drums, modify them and lastly combine them to create a whole new sample. Each click area comes with four unique controls: the “pitch” knob allows you to alter the tuning of the sound. Using both the “Length” and “Start” knobs, you can trim a more specific section of the sample. Lastly, with the filtering knob, you can cut off frequencies that you don’t want in your kick drum.
- Sub control
The sub control area is one of a kind. Here you can add harmonics to your kick drum and make it more unique. You have three simple controls in this section: first, you have a little squared display to adjust the harmonics’ level. Second, you have a “Pitch” knob to modify the tuning of your harmonics, and lastly, you have the “Harmonics” knob that allows you to determine how much harmonic content you want in your sample.
- Waveform display
Sonic Academy added the waveform display with extended analysis parameters to get your kick drum design to another level to give you a precise tool. In this area, you have toggles to display the waveforms of the clicks or the sub that you set on the areas described above. That way, you can see all your sources plus the summed result as overlapped layers so you can monitor your desired kick envelope.
- Effects section
Kick 2 comes with a full effects suite for adding more color and presence to your kick drums. It comes with a 4-band equalizer, a distortion module with three different types of distortion, a compressor optimized for kick drums, and a limiter. With all these settings, you can balance your kick so it won’t fight with other elements in your project.
One of the most exciting features in Kick 2 is the render section. With just one click, you can quickly render the kick drum you design and then drag it into your project as a standalone sample, or export it to use it on an external plugin or device, for example, in a sampler.
This plugin is available for Windows Vista or higher and macOS X 10.7 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
We can confirm that Kick 2 is a complete plugin that adapts to different workflows. With only its factory samples and the ability to combine them as you please, you have a whole world of possibilities to create any kick drum for all genres. That way, Kick 2 proves that it has all the tools needed to add the color and presence your kick drum needs to stand out in the mix without adding external plugins that consume more of your computer resources and might slow down your session.
3. Xfer Serum
Serum is a classic wavetable synth and a popular choice among producers that constantly work with samples.
Xfer is a very respected company, especially when dealing with iconic synthesizers. Serum remains one of their most popular products, constantly crafting new and interesting sounds that stand out in a mix. This plugin’s ultra-clean oscillators are a key element, influencing unmatched resampling precision and quality.
Such technology involving wavetable synthesis can also be useful to tweak a nice kick sound. As you can edit many wavetables at once, you can dedicate one to configure the body and another to its transient, for example. This helps to carefully set each aspect of the sample according to your preferences very easily.
- Wavetables in your control
You can alter the kick’s waveform in independent warp operations, besides going through as many wavetables as you want using the “FM,” “AM,” “RM,” and “Oscillator Sync” options. Also, the “Remap” modes include a graph editor for generating your own customized table manipulations.
- Plenty of effects
Setting up a modulation chain or adding filters to your sample is an easy job with Serum. You can set a specific effect to key-track the sample when played, so it will be activated while alternating between different filter types. This is a nice feature to help set an effect at a certain kick section, such as a modulation at the body but not at the tail.
- Drag and drop
If you want to work with an existing sample, dragging it into Serum will be simple and straightforward. The audio sample will benefit from reassembling crucial routes when dealing with complex effects, envelopes, and LFOs, and basically, any desired effect that might fit into the final kick sound.
- Wavetables in your control
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.11 or higher and Windows 7 SP1 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST2.4, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
It’s awesome to apply different uses for a single software, even more so when dealing with audio design. Xfer’s Serum showcases versatility and processing power, enabling great results to come from simple audio samples. The wavetable synthesis can be useful to craft a kick with attention to each segment that composes its character, not to mention the variety of effects that can also be included.
4. Boz Digital Labs Sasquatch Kick Machine 2
A CPU-friendly kick plugin that can customize your sample in many different possibilities.
Sasquatch 2 is a plugin that can tailor the sound of your kick drum to your sonic demands, no matter what musical genre. It’s very simple to obtain the perfect sound, whether subtle refinement, enormous room-shaking rumble, or electronic musical metamorphosis.
The easy-to-use interface gathers all the necessary tools to achieve the perfect kick thump while getting straight to the point. After all, you don’t need to spend hours and hours adjusting parameters to have a satisfactory result, so Boz Digital Labs tried to develop a tool that could present nice features while retaining great sound quality. And they did it.
- Trigger modes
The second installment of the Sasquatch Kick Machine features two dedicated controls to set the desired low end on the kick (“Oomph”) and the sound’s attack (“Click”), which can be used to craft the perfect kick sound from scratch.
- Piano roll
Right below its graphic interface, you’ll find a 77-key piano roll. This makes Sasquatch Kick Machine 2 a virtual instrument, enabling you to freely generate any soundwave from within the plugin itself. A red line indicates the triggering threshold – any sound played above this line will automatically trigger the plugin.
- Trigger detector
A menu containing three different trigger modes on the right side will determine how the algorithm reacts when a sound is passing through the plugin. This detector can capture transients alone or respond to the overall sample’s volume. A set of filters can also help determine which frequency range might be triggered or not when playing an audio file.
- Tone generator
When active, the tone generator option within the “Oomph” control can determine the range of frequencies being created, allowing for any fine-tuned pitches between 420Hz to 460Hz to be made. Each frequency range spectrum is adjusted by two brackets that set the maximum value for both low and high frequencies, with the additional possibility to deactivate the latter option.
- Trigger modes
This plugin is available for macOS X 10.5 or higher and Windows XP or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, VST 3, RTAS, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
This is an exquisite tool to craft kick sounds. What matters most is having precise controls to work with, and Boz Digital Labs ensured this would happen by designing a simple, powerful user interface. After all, we should be able to create such samples as quickly as possible and with as many options to tweak. Such visual integration is also helpful when dealing with the plugin as a virtual instrument, especially because the piano roll is an important visual tool that instantly creates a sine wave.
5. Plugins That Knock – Knock (Color Designer)
A very easy-to-use kick drum plugin that can get your track to have the perfect punch.
The characteristic sound of the iconic drum kit series DRUMS THAT KNOCK is the inspiration for KNOCK, a plugin developed by award-winning producer DECAP. It has been designed to make it simple for both beginners and professionals to take your kick-crafting to the next level. Whether you’re a newcomer or an established pro, KNOCK will fit right into your workflow by working easily on your CPU, so you can use it on as many tracks as you’d like and not worry so much about freezing your computer.
- Straightforward interface
Featuring five different control knobs, KNOCK presents one of the most simple designs in this list. You’ll go straight to business with “Punch,” “Saturate,” “Sub,” “Air,” and “Clip” configurations, ready to alter the kick’s attack and distortion while also adding sub frequency tones, transparent top end, and a hard or soft clipper instantly to your audio signal.
- Gain match
This small option located at the bottom of the screen allows you to match the plugin’s and the DAW’s gain values so that the final volume won’t be altered or mismatched. The “In” and “Out” knobs are present as well, aside from a “Dry/Wet” slide fader.
- Filters and frequencies
A low pass and high pass filters are also present, allowing for a perfect tweak at the frequency range. It’s a very useful tool considering you don’t have an easy piano roll guide to help you with nailing the perfect sound. A tone knob can also further alter the frequencies involved.
- Straightforward interface
This plugin is available for macOS X 10.12 or higher and Windows 8.1 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
This plugin features the recurring sound present in DRUMS THAT KNOCK, with the crucial touch of DECAP’s skills as a producer. The easiness and simplicity can be charming, but some recurring features in other plugins (such as automation options) can surely be missed when working with it. Overall, it’s a handy software to generate a powerful and robust kick drum sound quickly.
6. Credland Audio Big Kick
Get endless possibilities and high flexibility with Creadland’s signature kick drum synthesizer.
Focused on speed results, Credland Audio designed one of the fastest and easiest ways to create your kick drum. You can either choose to design your kick drum from scratch, start with a sample or blend both the kick drum you design and the sample you pick. It has one of the most easy-to-use interfaces out there since it gives you a short description of the controls once you hover your mouse over them. With Big Kick, you won’t get lost and will focus on what your kick drum needs.
- Kick drum synthesis
Big Kick’s signature feature is its Body section, where you can design your custom kick drum based on your desired amplitude and pitch characteristics. First, inside the amp sub-section, you have three clearly labeled knobs to modify the amplitude envelope for the kick body. Next, in the pitch sub-section, you’ll be able to control the pitch envelope parameters, as well as the tuning of your kick drum. Usually, a kick drum tuned to the pitch of your track can sound better and will avoid dissonance on the low-end frequencies.
- Sample section
Sometimes is good to blend some layers to achieve a whole unique kick drum. In the Sample section, you can choose one of the factory samples provided by Big Kick, or you can load the samples within your library. Once loaded, you can modify its decay, gain and apply a high-pass filter. Doing this will add more character to your kick drum, and most likely, you will have a richer sound.
- Split output mode
The split output mode is one of the most exciting features. When enabled, you can route the Sample and Body sections to different channels in your DAW for further processing with other plugins. This mode expands your possibilities as it allows you to process both of the kick drum components independently.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS X 10.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Overall, Big Kick is a superb choice for those sound synthesis lovers who want to achieve a signature sound. It brings up the best methods for getting a unique kick drum in a very compact interface. Its workflow enhancement potential is tremendous since you can see how every parameter you change affects the kick drum in the real-time display.
2 Best FREE Kick Drum PLugins
1. ChowDSP Chow Kick
Based on creative physical modeling of old drum machine circuits, ChowDSP brings this unique kick drum synthesizer.
Chow Kick offers practical parameters for adjusting the overall body, tone, and fundamental frequencies within two simple sections, that allow you to control and monitor your synthesized kick drum entirely. Besides the factory controls of Chow Kick, you can extend its functionalities as it’s open-source software. So if you know how to code and have some knowledge of DSP, you have a good starting point to create the kick drum plugin of your dreams.
- Pulse shaper
Within the pulse shaper section, you can find a set of parameters to generate a synthetic pulse whenever the kick drum is triggered. Here, you can modify the width and maximum amplitude of the generated pulse. Then, you can modify envelope parameters like decay and sustain. Lastly, you can set the number of polyphonic voices the kick synthesizer uses with the bottom left “Voices” control, which can benefit kicks with long decay.
- Resonant filter
This resonant filter creates the kick drum sound when driven by the pulse generated in the pulse shaper section. Also, you can add character with its unique parameters: the “Damping” knob controls the global feedback or decay time around the filter. Then, the “Tight” knob is a simplified compressor that lowers the filter’s resonance as the amplitude increases. Next to it, there’s the “Bounce” knob that controls the pitch modulation of the kick drum. Lastly, you will find the “Tone” knob that either accentuates or dampens your kick drum’s high frequencies.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS X 10.12 or higher, and Linux, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, LV2, and AU plugin formats.
If you’re looking for a flexible and distinctive way to achieve a good sounding kick drum, Chow Kick is your go-to. Thanks to its circuit modeling, ChowDSP succeeded in emulating an analog drum machine. Plugins with this potential are often pricy or don’t deliver good enough results, but Chow Kick puts itself as one of the best kick drum synthesizers, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Its fully adjustable parameters and wide range of possibilities make it an excellent pick for sound designers.
2. KSHMR Essentials Kick
KSHMR Essentials Kick is a robust rack specially designed for kick drum processing, offered by the producer of hits such as “Like a G6” and “Bass Down Low.”
Your kick drum will sound brighter and punchier using the excellent selection of tools provided by KSHMR Essentials Kick in a pleasant and intuitive interface. The plugin provides a detailed and organized path to address the different characteristics of a kick drum, like low end and mid frequencies. It also comes with some built-in processors that you would generally use when mixing drums. Additionally, every control has an image representing how that particular parameter will affect the kick drum.
Within KSHMR Essentials Kick, a simplified three-knob EQ section addresses the most common problem frequencies when processing a kick drum. First, the “Sub” knob controls the low end of your kick drum. Additionally, it allows you to set the note when you have a prominent bass tone on the kick drum. Second, we can control the mid and high frequencies with the “Mid” and “Air” knobs, respectively, to add more character to the kick drum.
- Mixing tools
Besides an equalizer, most producers use other effects like compression or distortion in the kick drum track to achieve the desired sound. Here, we have the power of a dynamic compressor optimized in just the “Pressure” and “Comp” knobs. Second, the “Tape” knob adds an excellent subtle saturation that gives your kick drum more color by making it more crispy.
- Stereo imaging
A very peculiar feature of this plugin is that it lets you widen the stereo image of the kick drum. With the “Width” knob, you can open the stereo image. Besides adding width, it also adds more depth to the kick drum. You must be careful with this parameter since an extreme value will add unwanted noise and mud to your mix.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS X 10.7 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
KSHMR’s Essentials Kick proves that it has the necessary tools to make a kick drum sound punchier, brighter, tighter, and sit better in the mix. The plugin takes the process and effort that the renowned music producer KSHMR goes through when mixing his tracks and puts it in a set of tools that will help you explore, tweak, and experiment with different kick drum structures for your song. Also, its free status makes it more striking, and the results it can provide make it worth trying out.
When dealing with modern-produced music, some ingredients are responsible for the final result: a nice synthesizer, a solid-thumping bassline, and an impacting drum machine tone. Considering how much this last instrument changed the way we do and produce music, it’s easy to say how important it is to pay careful attention while creating the rhythm instruments in your track.
The kick is arguably the most important element of said rhythm section because it imposes the song’s beat. More than that, a kick drum can be imperative to how the entire song’s spirit will be like – either a calm or upbeat atmosphere, for instance. It will also heavily influence any basslines added, so it’s nice to give it some attention before proceeding to other sound layers.
The best thing is that we live in the 21st century, and now it’s easy than ever to tweak the perfect kick tone. There are hundreds of samples out there that can fit perfectly into your production, but what about crafting your sound? No worries, there are some great plugins ready to serve you. For example, Sonic Academy’s Kick 2 is a complete software that is ready to synthesize any waveform into a good-quality kick, with all the necessary controls to enhance it further. Xfer’s Serum is equally well-known to be useful for this, aside from being an exquisite wavetable synthesizer that tweaks almost any samples you’d want to.
For freeware options, KSHMR’s Essentials Kick gathers some nice elements that can be handy and CPU-friendly at the same time, with a minimalistic yet powerful design interface that can be inspiring to beginner producers. Although not freeware, KNOCK offers a similarly pleasant graphic interface that can stimulate your workflow more than other more polluted plugins.
Such instruments as the kick drum should not be underlooked, as they can be the pivot of your entire beat. It’s worthy of having a trusted sample collection, but sometimes you just have to create a new sound on your own. We live in a time where it’s possible to bring the sounds we hear in our heads to reality, so we hope this list might’ve been useful to that task. Remember to always try as many plugins as needed to achieve it.
Other Plugin Roundups:
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Amps & Preamps:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Processing & Sound Design:
See you next time!
Eduardo Cardoso is a musician and audio producer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He studied both music production and theory in college and has successfully launched his career as a solo artist in 2021. With over 10 years of experience with the music business, he currently acts as a session musician, music producer, audio editor, and content creator.