Commercial music has had something of an “ear lift” over the past five years. A familiar – once unavoidable – sound and texture has returned to contemporary radio and is showing no sign of leaving anytime soon. The 80’s Drum Machine.
Whether it’s the softer type of CR-78 or Dr Rhythm sounds heard in “Tainted Love”, the sleaze of a Linn Drum heard in “Don’t You Want Me Baby” or the genre spawning TR-808, these retro sounds have taken over.
As well as the drum machine resurgence, the production aesthetic has also returned. The compressed and gated non-linear reverb heard on what felt like EVERY snare and tom hit in the 80’s can be heard in some of the biggest hits of the past half-decade.
The 80’s is so back, Taylor Swift’s 2014 Grammy win for album of the year was named 1989.
In this article we look at some of the best 80’s sounding drum samples available on the market today, to help you sound NOW with sounds from THEN.
Below is a short list of the 80’s drum samples we talk about in this article. Scroll down for more details or click for audio demos.
- Vintage Drum Machines
- Vinyl and Tape Drum Machines
- Synth Explorer CR-78
- Electronic Drums Bundle
- Designer Linn Drums
- TR-707 Vintage Drum Hits
- 80’s Retro Drummer
- The 80’s Drum Collection
G.A.S is the impulse to buy every sample pack, plug-in, and hardware device because you need it. There is a man in LA with serious G.A.S, so much so that it is rumored he owns over 180 drum machines. 180 drum machines that he has collected and curated throughout the years.
This mystery man’s GAS has spawned one of the most envied hardware collection in the world. ConnectD Audio brings you Vintage Drum Machines.
Thousands of recordings whittled down to 500 sounds from 20 analog drum machines. Have access to one of the world’s most lusted after drum machine collections from the convenience of your hard drive, all in one pack.
This collection contains 100 kicks, 104 claps & snares, 107 hi-hats, 154 percussion sounds, 24 crashes and 11 FX. Each sample has been processed using tape, an MPC and lo-fi treatment to cover a wide range of production bases. These processes take the drum samples back to the 1980’s and will help add the decade’s flavor to your beats.
ConnectD has also provided 66 drum loops and 10 drum kits compatible with Maschine, Battery, Kontakt, EXS24, and NN-XT.
Drum machines used to capture this collection are staples of House, Hip-Hop, Future, and Garage. If you’re producing within these genres, these classic drum machine samples will add unmistakable authenticity to your beats.
SampleMagic has dusted off their extensive collection of analog and digital drum machines to bring you Vinyl and Tape Drum Machines. Be grateful. From the iconic to the rare, to the overlooked, SampleMagic has sampled over 20 drum machines to create the ultimate hardware derived one-shot sample library. Like they would end it there.
To give you even more value under one pack, SampleMagic has included live drum kits and percussion samples to provide a one-stop drum dream. Whether you’re looking to layer a 909 clap to your rock snare to help it pop out of the speakers, or your techno requires the classic Kawai XD-5 percussion sounds, Vinyl and Tape Drum Machines has you covered.
To maximize the old school characteristics of these drum machines, SampleMagic went through the process of tracking the sounds through tape and vinyl for even more authentic analog warmth. The samples are organized into Vinyl, A80 Tape, A80 Tape + Tascam Cassette, Desk and Smashed.
For Vinyl, the sounds have been processed through a host of analog hardware and cut to vinyl, resulting in a warm texture full of body.
A80 Tape consists of the samples recorded to Studer A80 tape, overdriven to bring that classic sound of tape to your Digital Audio Workstation.
A80 Tape + Tascam Cassette combines the richness of analog tape with the grit, punch, degradation, and attitude of cassette deck electronics. Introduce the darkness and distortion of cassette tape, with the modulation found with cassette decks to add a lo-fi flavor to your drums.
Desk provides the cleanest samples of the entire collection. Recorded through an analog pre-amp and EQ, providing subtle warmth.
The final set of processed samples is Smashed. To achieve Smashed, the samples maxed out the pre-amp inputs of the Desk. This provides a hardcore, crunchy, distorted vibe, perfect for industrial and lo-fi genres.
Scrolling through the list of drum machines used to create this pack will have you researching what records they were used on. The sheer size of this sample pack makes it ideal for anybody looking to add more options to their current drum sample collection.
Focusing on the Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 Drum Machine, The Sample Boutique brings you Synth Explore CR-78. A staggering collection of 1991 drum loops captured in 24-bit, CR-78 brings rich analog warmth you can only find with vintage gear.
If you’re looking for the classic eighties electronic drum sound of Blondie, Jean Michelle Jarre, The Who, Gary Numan, OMD, Elton John, or Mike Oldfield, you’ve found the right collection though Radiohead is partial to the CR-78 too.
All the main preset patterns from the original drum machine have been captured. Synth Explore have also included variations, percussion and drum fills from the original machine. This sample pack is ideal for anybody creating electronic music or wanting to add a vintage charm to their beats.
1174 drum fill loops, 305 drum fill with percussion loops, 12 percussion loops, 392 full drum loops, 108 full drums with percussion loops and 35 drum hits provide an enormous range of retro sequenced drum patterns straight to your DAW.
Find inspiration in a full drum loop groove. Supplement a more modern sequenced drum part with one of the retro percussion loops. Why not layer one of the 35 drum hits with your existing drums for more punch?
Also included in this package are 1991 Rex Files, allowing you to add your spin on existing groove. Each of the loops can be edited with ease and convenience inside your Digital Audio Workstation.
Imagine having access to 3499 royalty free drum hits available in your Digital Audio Workstation. Now wake up. Electronic Drums Bundle from Loopmasters is ELEVEN top-selling drum packs under one, fresh collection.
A storming collection of kick drums, snares, toms, cymbals, cowbells, congas and tambourines. This pack will bring some of the most recognizable sounds from the 80’s into your music.
This bundle includes Designer Linn Drums, Vintage Beat Machines, Synth Explorer – TR505, Thomas Penton Main Room Kicks, Thomas Penton Main Room Claps & Snares, Designer D&B and Dubstep Snares, Designer Claps, Snares & Stax, Designer Dance Kicks, Designer Dance Kicks Vol. 2, Designer Dance Cymbals and House and Tech Drums.
Designer Linn Drums will have you adding familiar drum sounds from smashes such as “Take On Me” and “You Spin Me Round” into your production.
Vintage Beat Machines is an ideal collection of 80’s drum machines ranging from the Oberheim DMX for that “Blue Monday” sound, to the classic Roland TR-909 for those wanting a gut-punching kick.
Synth Explorer TR-505 is a collection of inspiring one-shots based on Roland’s often overlooked TR-505 machine. Sourced from an original 505, this collection of samples torments the stock 505 with circuit bending and external processing to give a classic sound a ruder flavor.
Though the rest of these samples in the bundle have their place on your hard drive, they don’t particularly fit the 80’s aesthetic and as such won’t be exploring them in more detail.
Designer Linn Drums brings you one of the most iconic drum sounds of the 20th century, for the convenience of a 21st-century producer. Inject the drum sounds favored by Prince, Jean-Michel Jarre, Peter Gabriel, New Order and the Human League into your beats with a simple drag and drop.
650 individual, production-ready hits. Expect the classic kicks, snares, and hats but also a collection of extras provided by RV Samplepacks for your convenience.
Bring the Linn up to present day with the included tuned subs to help your kicks sit in your beat. Enjoy processed snare samples, with gated reverbs and fat compression. Adding that 80’s influenced pop aesthetic found in Lorde’s “The Louvre”, Blood Orange’s “You’re Not Good Enough” and Haim’s “Right Now” to your beats in a click.
As well as one-shots, RV Samplepacks have provided 15 WAV beats to help kick-start your inspiration, 10 MIDI Drum Loops for further inspiration (and transformative depending upon the VI you use to trigger the MIDI!) and 15 Drum Kit Sampler Patches. These Drum Kit Sampler Patches allow you to program the samples via MIDI using NNXT, Halion, Kontakt, SFZ, and EXS24. Fantastic versatility for adding the crème de la crème of 80’s drum aesthetic to your productions.
The TR-707 Rhythm Composer from Roland is like its cousin, the TR-909. It was cheaper than the 707, becoming a staple in underground music and used by the likes of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Marshall Jefferson.
The 707’s hi-hat, clap, and cymbals sound identical to that of the 909 and were used by one of THE defining artists of the 80’s – Phil Collins.
TR-707 Vintage Drum Hits by Influx Studios is one of the finest 707 drum sample packs available. Recorded through an all analog signal path, including the much sough-after Neve 1073 pre-amp and UREI 1176 Compressor. The vibe of the original machine with authentic recording equipment adds stacks of vibe missing from other packages.
The 707 has recently seen a rebirth in Indie Dance, Chillwave, Techno & House, making this kit an essential library for anybody working in these genres.
Not only does these 80’s samples include authentic sounding TR-707 samples, but also glitch samples from a modified 707, drum loops, analog tube hits, circuit bent glitches, and reverb hits too.
300+ one-shots, loops, and a bonus Ableton drum rack patch make TR-707 Vintage Drum Hits a perfect addition to adding an often overlooked 80’s legend into your workflow.
Are you craving that 80’s drum sound, but don’t have the foggiest idea where to start? 80’s Retro Drummer by Zenhiser takes all the hard work out of it for you. It took Zenhiser weeks of applying concepts and studio tricks utilized in the 1980’s to bring you this high-quality collection of sounds. Not only does this sound like it’s stepped out of the DeLorean, fresh from 1987, but with the rebirth of massive drums and gated verbs on pop, 80’s Retro Drummer can hold its weight against any modern drum sample pack.
The most authentic sounding 80’s drum collection without having to spend hours on end tweaking reverb algorithms, sidechain inputs, and noise gate release times. These 80’s drums can have you creating vintage inspired beats in seconds.
Whether you need to take an enormous snare for impact, or your new electronic track craves 80’s percussion. Whatever it is you’re looking for, 80’s Retro Drummer can get you there fast, without compromising your sound.
With over 390 authentic sounding 1980’s drum sounds, this sample pack is an all in one collection for anybody trying to add some Duran Duran flavor into their beats.
If 80’s Retro Drummer sounded like the sample pack of your dreams, but you’re not too hot with one-shots, don’t worry. Zenhiser pick up where they left off, with 885 WAV sounds and loops under on 80’s Drum Collection package.
80’s Electro Beats 01, 02 and 03 are essential for authentic 80’s electro and house. Pure 80’s Kick Drums 01, Pure 80’s Hi-Hats and Pure 80’s Snares/Claps takes a range of familiar 80’s drum machine sounds and provides them under one roof.
The versatility ranges from softer Linn sounds up to the more ferocious 909, allowing the beat maker to tailor the intensity to the track. Ultra 80’s Drum Beats 01, 02 and 03 are very similar in format to 80’s Electro Beats 01, 02 and 03, though more tailored toward that 80’s mainstream pop sound than the underground club. Ultra 80’s Drum Kit 01 is the sound of the 1980s. Think 80’s Retro Drummer in loop form.
For those who prefer loops to one-shots, The 80’s Drum Collection is an incredible sample pack. Authentic drum sounds from the decade, with minimal effort on the beat makers part (unless they want to tweak, of course!). With BPM ranging from 90 – 240, there’s plenty of style under one roof with this collection.
Stand and Deliver
Relax. You came in search of 80’s drum samples and had left with an overwhelming list. As a keen follower of new music, the 80’s aesthetic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So get those gated snares into your beats!
The range of 80’s drum sounds available in this article goes to show how three-dimensional the decade was. There are bare one-shots recorded directly from drum machines, classic drum machine sounds processed with all the trickery and wizardry to put 1987 on your hard drive, and modern takes on 80’s legends to give you something new with the vibe of something very familiar.
Whether you’re looking to add an Oberheim kick sample to your New Order influenced indie track, or wanting the Detroit 909 sound to retromania your new house track, there are samples above to help you achieve that. As always, visit the links in the article listen to their samples and think about how they can help transform your beats.