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Drum machines and samplers

How to make beats. Drum machines and drum samplers - beat making with Maschine
| @ 16 Sounds music production blog

Drum machines and samplers and how to make beats

An article on How to make beats and working with drum machine and sampler programming, creating beats and patterns for drum layering. How to make beats with 4 drum plugins.

Making beats with drum machines and drum samplers - creative drum patterns
Making beats with drum machine and sampler - beat making and drum patterns with samplers

4 drum sampler plugins for making beats and patterns

  • Steinberg Groove Agent 5
  • Native Instruments Battery 4
  • Kontakt drum presets
  • Spectrasonics Stylus RMX


Groove Agent

Groove Agent 5 is a Steinberg application of its own with some great outstanding features. It might take some time to fully understand the Steinberg way of doing drum samplers but it is worth it.

Recording you own samples

Groove Agent 5 has a recording window with some nice support features like threshold detection for start and stop. threshold detection and Key Mapping can be used together for fast sampling and mapping of the samples. Some of the advanced features are inherited from Wavelab and Halion 6 recording windows.

Recording samples with automatic threshold detection
Groove Agents recording window with threshold start and stop. Record split samples fast.

Sample window

The sample window has lots of settings.

Groove Agent sample editor tools
Kick with the sample toolbar in the top


Decompose is a unique Groove Agent 5 feature that can split a sample in its tonal and not tonal part for remixing them individually. This is a great tool for making percussion out of your samples and instruments.

Groove Agent decompose feature for controlling tonal content in samples
Decompose window for controlling the tonal part of samples

The sample is split into the Tonal and Noise part with a sophisticated algorithm. Decompose is useful for lowering ringing in snares and toms and for creative sound design with other instruments like guitars for attack samples.

Groove Agent inserts effects

Groove Agent 5 has an extensive effect section like a DAW. 4 inserts and 4 sends for each of the 16 mixer outputs. Steinberg has years of experience in developing quality tools.

Groove Agent drum plugin - insert effects
The 4 insert slots on each output bus. The popup shows the full insert effect list.

Groove Agent drum programming

Groove Agent has 2 midi ports. One for standard midi triggering and one for pattern triggering. This gives a full keyboard for key triggering and a full keyboard for pattern triggering.

Groove Agent Pattern window
Groove Agent 5 pattern window with a pattern beat

The pattern editor is great for programming, building beats and grooves with the right feel. Paired With a hardware controller with 4 x 4 pads it is a powerful drum solution for jamming and music-making. One can make very detailed beats with a perfect swing for triggering fra a 4 x 4 pads controller live or in the studio.

This drum sampler is worth the price of a license for sure.

Native instruments battery 4

Battery 4 is a cell-based drum sampler. An industry-standard drum sampler. Battery does not have the advanced recording window and Pattern editor like Groove Agent but still a good drum sample triggering plugin. Like all other NI plugins it only has VST2 support and not VST3.

Battery 4 drum sample trigger cells
NI Battery 4 cell Window with visual trigger pads

Battery 4 Main tab

Battery 4 Main tab overview of the ADSR and velocity
Battery 4 main tab where the over all Volume, pitch and engine is controlled

Battery Effects

Native Instruments Battery has some nice tone-shaping tools like saturation, lo-fi, filter, and compressor.

Battery 4 Effects tab
Battery 4 effects tab where the no tail tone-shaping are controlled

The Saturation and Lo-Fi are great for a dusty older sound. The Lo-Fi effect is a bit crusher with color and noise.


Native Instruments Kontakt Drums

Kontakt is an advanced script-based instrument creation suit. Kontakt works well for drums and sound design. Its interface customization makes it good for creative developers without programming the application from the ground up.

Lots of developers make drums instruments for Kontakt.

The developer Native Instruments are known for Studio Drummer and Abbey Road 60's Drummer.

Other 3. party Kontakt drums developers:

  • Drum Drops
  • Get Good Drums
  • The Loop Loft


Stylus RMX

Stylus RMX is a unique beat making player for playing transformed REX files. It time stretches without actually time stretching the wave files. Only the time between the samples are synced to tempo.


Stylus RMX Effects

Like Trillian and Omnisphere Stylus has lots of build-in effects.

Stylus RMX drum machine effects
Stylus RMX effects dropdown showing the effects contained in Stylus RMX


Maschine MK2 as drum plugin controller

Native Instruments Maschine hardware is great for playing with Groove Agents patterns where the drum pads velocity sensitivity is ignored.
The Maschine pads have the same layout as Groove Agent pads and makes it a good controller for Groove Agent.

NI Maschine MK2 drum controllerNative Instruments Maschine MK2 with its 4 x4 velocity sensitive drum pads 

to be continued...