Cart 0’s Top 5 Drum Replacement Plug-Ins for your DAW

Posted by Matt Mauro on

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Drum Replacement is not a dirty word. Let’s face it, it is as common place in modern recording as pitch correction, but is that really a bad thing? It is no longer the elephant in the room it once was, and the fact that it is common place is not a license to forgo proper tuning, or willfully capturing bad sounding drums. However, it is an essential tool for adding punch and clarity to an otherwise great performance, and a great corrective tool when mixing a session you did not record. It is also a much cheaper solution than booking another day of recording to re-mic and re-track a kit... just to fix a flubby kick. Here are’s top tools (in no particular order) for drum replacement and reinforcement.



Sound Replacer

Considered out dated by many, this is certainly known as the grandfather to all transient replacement applications available today. Still a favorite of many engineers who cut their teeth on it when it was first introduced, and though it has a limited feature set, it is still a powerful tool. It’s important to mention if you’ve never used it before, Sound Replacer is an Audiosuite plugin. Meaning it does not work in real time, you must apply it to the source material. You can trigger up to 3 samples per transient using their color-coded thresholds, blend your mix of source and sample, and alter the dynamics to flatten the performance. Sound Replacer stand-alone runs $299, but is included with other plugins as part of Avid’s monthly subscription service which in our opinion is the best deal. There is no sample library included but you can use your own source recordings, or anything in a .WAV format.



Trigger 2 Platinum

Trigger 2 has some great features that set it apart from similar applications. For starters, you can trigger up to 8 samples per instance of the plugin which allows you to include a dry single shot, overheads, and room samples to mix together for a realistic sounding environment. It comes with a good library however you can’t use your own samples without intermediary support via the Slate Digital Instrument Editor, which if I’m being honest, is a bit of a buzzkill if you’re looking to add your own recorded single shots from the session. Unlike Sound Replacer Trigger 2 works in real time. So, it can be used in post-production or live performance settings. Final cost for Steven Slate Drums is around $149.



WaveMachine Labs Drumagog

    Drumagog was the first drum replacement plug in I tried outside of Sound Replacer back in 2008. It took less work to trigger accurately and the included samples sounded great. The newest release has a brand-new triggering engine for better accuracy and includes Dynamic and Random multi-samples. The application is now integrated with virtual instruments so you can use your favorite software instrument without having to leave the plug-in. Like Slate’s Trigger 2, you can use the plug-in on live drums and it will replace in real-time. You can import most of your samples from commercially available libraries without issue. Drumagog has a sticker price of $199 and includes a 4GB sample library.



    Toontrack Superior Drummer

      Superior Drummer is much more than just a drum replacement and augmentation tool for prerecorded drums. Firstly, it comes with a massive 230GB sound library which can be cumbersome if storage is an issue. The comprehensive Grooves list lets you create a drum sequence for your songs with tons of tweak-ability ranging from the velocity of each hit as well as moving or inserting hits from the original sequence. Tracker allows you to import your session drum tracks for replacement but you are not able trigger with your own samples without manual workarounds. Superior Drummer also comes with a superior price tag ($399) if you’re just looking for drum replacement. However, the large sound library, sequencer, effects, and replacement (all included) are completely justifiable. If you’re just looking for replacement, Trigger, Drumagog or DrumXChanger (next) are built around similar technologies for a fraction of the price.



      SPL DrumXChanger

      The SPL DrumXChanger is another well rounded tool for maximizing the sound of your drum recordings. It’s Dual Threshold Technology does exactly what it sounds like, allowing you to Identify both the thresholds for Level and Transient which lends to very accurate replacement. It has Sample dynamics and tuning controls, a Dry/Wet control to dial in a mix of the source and sample recordings, and includes a 1GB sample library including 4 kits and the ability to load samples from commercially available libraries. SPL DrumXChanger comes in at $199 for the full version which puts it right in the running with most of the others. You can also download a fully functional 2-week demo from the developer’s website.

      VigLink badge

      Leave a comment

      Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.