11 Best VST Plugins For Drill 2024

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Trap, but darker and grimier. Drill music is often ominous, aggressive, intense, and lyrically violent.

The musical style, not surprisingly, is characterized by abrasive, unsettling, and impactful sounds.

If you’re an expert sound designer, you may know how to dial in your drill tones. Otherwise, you’re going to need the right tools to get the job done.

In this guide, we look at the best VST plugins for drill.

Beat Machine 3 by DopeSONIX – Best Overall

Beat Machine 3 by DopeSONIX – Best Overall

Setting the foundation for your drill tracks is key. And if you’re looking to build out some intense drumbeats, DopeSONIX Beat Machine 3 features sounds suited to an array of heavy-hitting musical situations – drill, trap, boom bap, lo-fi, EDM, and more.

Beat Machine has its roots in hip-hop, which is reassuring for drill producers. It’s only with version 3 that they decided to expand their horizons to accommodate other genres.

Honestly, this only works to your advantage in a genre like drill, where you’re more likely to take a sound design approach to building tracks.

Besides the styles already covered, Beat Machine 3 also includes live drums, breaks, various vintage drum machines, and even a category for “weird” experimental and sound-designed patterns.

Altogether, Beat Machine 3 comes with 300 drum kits, 300 MIDI drum patterns, pitch, pan, and gain controls, analog style reverb, hi-pass filter, low-pass filter, stereo output level meter, and routing options (stereo, multi-out).

Beat Machine 3 puts a ton of power at your fingertips, and yet its price is more than reasonable. If you’ve already got your drum needs covered, you may not require this plugin, but otherwise, it’s worth investigating further. This is our best overall selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Neutron 4 by iZotope – Best Premium Option

Neutron 4 by iZotope – Best Premium Option

Do you find mixing complicated? Difficult? Tedious? Well, the good news is some tools can take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. And iZotope’s Neutron 4 is one such tool that many producers have found solace in.

This complete mixing suite includes eight plugins as well as seven component modules. Between these, you can perform an array of essential jobs – EQ, gating, transient shaping, sculpting, compressing, exciting, and much more.

The latest version of Neutron 4 adds powerful features like the Assistant View, unmask module, distortion (Neutron 4 comes with their infamous Trash), and Punch mode (compression).

Neutron 4 also comes with machine-learning features that can help you dial in your ideal tones faster. Perfect if you don’t like messing around!

If you don’t know how to mix, or would rather get the job done faster, iZotope’s Neutron 4 is worthy of your consideration.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

HalfTime by Cableguys – Best Budget Option

HalfTime by Cableguys – Best Budget Option

The Cableguys’ HalfTime is just as it sounds, a simple plugin for creating various half-speed effects for hip-hop, trap, EDM, techno, house, and other genres. While very simple, many a producer has praised it for adding interest to their beats.

HalfTime is easy to use, and it requires very little to no setup. Try it on synths, pianos, percussion, loops, virtual instruments, live audio, or anything you can throw at it.

It comes with handy features like a Power button, three-speed Modes, and band split technology for all types of intriguing combinations.

HalfTime also features band solo, dry / wet mix, loop length, and smooth controls for added fine-tuning.

It’s simple, but it’s certainly interesting. HalfTime is our best budget option.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Xpand!2 by AIR Music Technology

Xpand!2 by AIR Music Technology

Xpand! quickly rose to become a Pro Tools favorite. As Pro Tools kept evolving, AIR Music Technology decided to upgrade the plugin, eventually arriving at Xpand!2, which they decided to make available not just to Pro Tools users but producers everywhere.

The Xpand!2 workstation features four sound slots per patch, each with its own MIDI channel, note range, arpeggiation, modulation, effects, and mix settings. Each slot can be set to polyphonic (up to 64 voices) or monophonic. Combining the four slots is where this tool reveals its expansive abilities.

Xpand!2 comes with thousands of ready-made patches, and it even gives you the ability to make your own. The sounds can be tweaked using the six smart knobs. Xpand!2 also comes with modulation, arpeggiation, and effects.

Altogether, Xpand!2 features four channels, up to 64 voices per part with mono or poly voice modes, smart knobs, easy edit controls, two digital effects processors with 50 tweakable effect types, arpeggiation control for each part, subtractive and FM synthesis, tonewheels, and sample playback.

Its huge range of presets includes acoustic piano, organs, strings, vocals, guitars, basses, drums & percussion, and much more.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Xpand!2 is an excellent tool for sound design and even for creating rich, layered sounds that fill a mix, without all the trouble of overdubbing and writing new parts. Handy!

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Effectrix by Sugar Bytes

Effectrix by Sugar Bytes

Sugar Bytes’ Effectrix is another powerful creative multi-effect and sound design tool that’s sure to become a go-to for turning boring sounds into more compelling ones.

This multi-effects sequencer lets you loop, scratch, reverse, stretch, and more, all from one interface, all in real-time. The 14 effect types should be obvious from the interface, which gives you a relatively clear idea of how the plugin works too.

Effectrix also comes with parameters for each effect, for added control over the behavior.

If you don’t like starting from scratch, don’t worry. Effectrix comes with presets and randomizers to get the creative process kick-started.

In total, Effectrix comes with a 16-step sequencer, tempo divider, 14 effects, 12 patterns, swing, copy / paste, chaos button, loop length, parameters for each effect, two modulation tracks, and hundreds of presets (global and per effect). This tool also has live performance capabilities.

From methodical effect triggering to randomized chaos, Effectrix lets you create all manner of ambiances, textures, glitches, and noises without ever breaking a sweat.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Serum by Xfer Records

Serum by Xfer Records

You probably know already that your productions will call for synthesizer sounds from time to time. If you’d like to cover off most of your needs in one go, Xfer Records’ Serum is the industry standard hyper-powered next-level wavetable synthesizer that will complete your tonal palette.

Serum is well known for being versatile and easy to use, and these traits hold up even today. If you had to live on a desert island and could only take one synth with you, many would probably tell you that Serum is the right choice.

Hopefully, that time never comes, though, because nobody in their right mind only uses one synth.

Is Serum the living image of perfection? Probably not. The GUI doesn’t exactly look state of the art, and for all the power it boasts, its sound quality is probably an eight or nine out of a possible 10.

But in almost every regard, Serum is worth the asking price, and it’s a legitimately great virtual synthesizer.

Learn more: Splice

Bass Engine 2 by DopeSONIX

Bass Engine 2 by DopeSONIX

Bass is another critical component of the drill genre, and for that matter, any modern electronic genre. Meaty sub bass is difficult to achieve without the right tools, but DopeSONIX’ Bass Engine 2 could prove a worthy answer.

As with their Beat Machine, Bass Engine was created with hip-hop in mind. After releasing the original Bass Engine, DopeSONIX received a lot of requests asking them to add more vintage analog bass instruments and 808s.

The developer responded by adding Moog subs, deep pads, upright and electric basses, and of course fat 808s. Better yet, the sounds are close to mix-ready as they have already been equalized.

Bass Engine 2 features an array of 808 bass sounds for trap and hip-hop, Sci-Fi bass sounds, live bass sounds, and of course, sub-bass sounds.

In total, Bass Engine 2 comes with 300 instruments, parameters (pitch, pan, glide, volume), ADSR controls, multiple modes (mono, poly, and legato), and velocity controls (soft, normal, hard).

We can’t tell you whether Bass Engine 2 will give you all the bass sounds you need. What we can tell you is that it will offer access to all the “broad strokes” bass sounds for augmenting, supplementing, and enhancing your existing collection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

The Sub by Iceberg Audio

The Sub by Iceberg Audio

“I don’t care about the bass,” said no drill producer ever. No, quite the opposite. “We need a bass that kicks people in the face” is more like it.

Iceberg Audio’s The Sub is just the tool you need for enhancing any bass sound lacking the depth, richness, and fatness you require.

The Sub features a Drive function, which helps your bass frequencies be heard, regardless of the sound system. The Extra Attack control will add more punch to your sounds. The Lock Controls parameter is great for auditioning different sounds.

As you can see from the interface, The Sub is very easy to use. It comes with about 150 presets, and the Drive control makes it easy to push your bass as far as it can go.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Hattricks by Diginoiz

Hattricks by Diginoiz

Diginoiz’ Hattricks was tailor-made for trap music. Once you’ve got the foundation of bass and snare covered, the next step is to add in those piercing hi-hat rolls. The only way to make this process easy is to utilize samples, but their pre-rendered sound may not be to your liking.

If you don’t want to use samples, don’t want to play your rolls on your MIDI controller, and don’t want to endure the tedium of drawing in your hats one by one, Hattricks might just become your best friend.

This combination sampler / sequencer lets you play pre-programmed loops at the touch of a single key. This makes it possible to play those impossible hi-hat rolls in real time or program them with just a few clicks.

Hattricks comes with plenty of samples, so you aren’t stuck with the sound you’re given. Sound shaping parameters are also onboard in case extra tweaking is desired.

Amazingly, Hattricks isn’t just a hi-hat machine. You can use it with kicks, snares, synthesizers, and more, for creating exciting rhythmic sequences. All this means you can try Hattricks on EDM, R&B, pop, trap, heavy metal, and more.

Overall, Hattricks comes with 12 rhythm divisions, five articulations, two octaves for retuning samples, 898 samples, a dice button, tuning and fine-tuning sliders, low-pass and hi-pass filters, start / end sample markers, AHD envelope, zoom, mono / poly modes, patterns display, and pitch and modwheel.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

BERSERK by ujam

BERSERK by ujam

ujam’s BERSERK is for creating huge drum sounds. Technically, yes, it’s for dubstep, but it can be used for any heavy-hitting music.

BERSERK comes with 20 styles, 50 presets, 10 drum kits, 460 patterns, MIDI drag and drop, a resizable user interface, and a Devastate / Squish control.

From a bird’s eye view, you get to choose your sounds, patterns, and effects, and you’re off to the races. Three steps and you’ve got yourself a beat.

This one should be of interest to you if you’ve been looking for more impactful drum sounds.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

Even if you’re working with mix-ready samples, expertly crafted synth presets, and sub-bass boosters, it’s unlikely that you won’t need to do any EQ work in your mixes, even if it’s just to give the rap vocals some high-end clarity.

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 can make mincemeat of most if not all EQ jobs. The highly visual interface makes it easy for you to see your track’s waveform and know what frequencies you’re attenuating or boosting.

The array of available tools includes dynamic EQ mode, LP and HP filters, mid / side or left / right processing, spectrum grab, EQ Match, phase invert, and a great deal more.

When it comes to EQ, you will find few options as versatile and easy to use as the industry standard Pro-Q 3. It’s well worth a look if you’re considering an upgrade to your stock or low-cost EQ.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Drill VST Plugin?

At the outset, it’s worth mentioning that the right drill VST plugin(s) will depend a lot on your current situation. What tools do you already have at your disposal? What’s missing from your VST arsenal? What aspect of production have you mastered? Where could you use a little help?

These questions can help guide your buying decision.

In addition, here are some criteria worth considering:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s look at these factors in greater detail.

Sound Quality

Whether virtual instruments or virtual effects, it’s worth getting acquainted with the tools you’re considering. How do they sound? What can they do? Are they versatile? Can you complete the desired jobs using them?

Sound quality sometimes goes hand in hand with functionality, especially in the case of mixing tools, so thorough exploration is encouraged.

You’ve got video demos, video reviews, and even audio clips to check out, which should be enough to give a good idea of whether the VST plugins you’re looking at can do everything you need them to do.

Features

You’ll need to explore features on a case-by-case basis (there isn’t much overlap in this guide), but it is worth looking at, especially if there are a lot of requirements you’re trying to meet.

More features will usually cost you more, but that should not put you off if you’re purchasing to solve an identified need or problem.

Investigate every plugin you’re thinking about buying. What can it do? What does it come with? Are the features redundant or complementary to your existing toolkit?

Some features can be a little harder to understand, and this is where a bit of research can go a long way. If you’re unsure about anything, try googling it.

Budget

From $12 to $400, there’s a considerable price gap in the VST plugins featured here. Some are inexpensive. Some come with what could be considered a premium price tag.

Having identified all your other needs, we still suggest consulting your budget before all purchases. This will give you a better sense of what you can afford right now, as well as whether to save up for a better piece of kit.

Spend responsibly and don’t go into debt. Let’s have fun making music not crying over the credit card bill you can’t pay.

Top VST Plugins For Drill 2023, Final Thoughts

And now you should have everything you need to make some drill that pierces through to the core of the planet. If you ever get stuck, remember. It’s not all about the tools. It’s also about the person learning the tools. Deepening your knowledge and understanding of music production will help you achieve the results you’re looking for. Have fun!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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