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.
- Synthwave 1980 Retro-logue [Looptine]
- 80’s Retro Drummer [Zenhiser]
- The 80’s Drum Collection [Zenhiser]
- Vintage Drum Machines [CONNECTD Audio]
- Back To The 80s [Loopmasters]
- Synth Explorer – Rhythm Machine 78 [Loopmasters]
- Synth Explorer – Digital Transistor Drums [Loopmasters]
- 80’s Dream Pop [Zenhiser]
- Foundations – Drum Machine Samples [ModeAudio]
- Tuned Tape Drums [Wave Alchemy]
1. Looptine – Synthwave 1980 Retro-logue
There is nothing quite like the warmth that you get from running sounds through analog circuitry. The Synthwave 1980 Retro-logue from Loopmasters comes with a variety of 80s-inspired leads, synths, and arpeggios, though the real hard-hitters are the drums.
You can’t drive a synth-wave track without the right drums to act as the foundation. This comprehensive collection of warm, Spielberg-esque drum samples enhance the sharp, driving force of today’s modern music with a classic twist. The samples in this pack were influenced by some of the biggest soundtracks of the 80s, including Terminator and Escape from New York, as well as modern 80s interpretations, including Stranger Things.
Throw some of these magical influences into your modern productions and you’ll instantly hear the pulse of another era. The Synthwave Retro-logue pack includes 1.41 GB of high-quality loops and samples that range from 100-125 BPM, perfect for heart-pounding 80s pop tracks. They are uniquely arranged into 20 different song idea, making it easy to build tracks from the ground up.
This includes 98 files of driving beats that are presented to you in both fully mixed and stripped-down versions for different approaches.
2. Zenhiser – 80’s Retro Drummer
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 add an enormous snare sample 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.
3. Zenhiser – The 80’s Drum Collection
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.
4. CONNECTD Audio – Vintage Drum Machines
If you are scouring the internet for drum samples, it is not unlikely that you have G.A.S. No, not that gas. Gear Acquisition Syndrome, a serious condition that producers and beatmakers catch.
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.
5. Loopmasters – Back To The 80s
The Loopmasters Back to the 80s pack is filled to the brim with 80s-inspired sounds, including a variety of high-quality era-defining drum samples. Altogether you get 789 MB of hits, loops, and multi-samples, including main drums, top drums, and a variety of other sounds to inject into your modern productions.
You get 280 single hits in all, which is more than enough to add something fresh to your compositions. While there are some sample packs that hone in their focus on certain genres, Back to the 80s captures the entire realm of 80s spirit. This pack is perfect for retrowave, synthwave, disco, house, and electronica producers.
These 80’s samples are sleek and loops are colored with analog warmth to help add a bit of grit to what might be otherwise sterile digital drums. The samples were recorded in 24 Bit and 44.1 kHz for the highest fidelity, though they still deliver the warm, iconic sounds of hazy retrospection, perfect for those venturing into the lo-fi realm as well.
If you’ve been searching for an overarching, 80s-focused sample pack with gorgeous
6. Loopmasters – Synth Explorer Rhythm Machine 78
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.
7. Loopmasters – Synth Explorer: Digital Transistor Drums
Synth Explorer is well-known in the sample pack community for crafting gorgeous synth packs, though we’re glad that they decided to venture into the territory of drum machines for their third installment of 80s-style samples. Digital Transistor Drums is a compilation of beats and drum shots from the iconic 505 drum machine.
While it may not be as well known as the 909, the 505 drum machine has raw, digital sounds that come to life when run through analog circuitry. Synth Explorer was able to effectively transform this unassuming rhythm machine into a hard-hitting, urban beat machine, perfect for 80s-infused modern productions.
The 505 was released way back in 1986 and was perfect for producers on a budget. This particular sample pack features all of the famous sounds, including a kick, snare, toms, rim shot, hi-hats, ride, and crash, as well as a few basic percussion samples.
Here you will find 385 MB of one-shots and twisted drum loops recorded at 24 Bit and 44.1 kHz. This pack is unique compared to many other 80s-inspired drum sample packs on the market with total focus on the 505. If you’re looking for something a little different, we’re sure this will please you!
8. Zenhiser – 80’s Dream Pop
There’s nothing quite like the sounds of 80s dream pop. If you are looking to craft classic beats to act as a foundation for ethereal synth-scapes, then look no further than the Zenhiser 80s Dream Pop sample pack. It was made for producers of modern chillwave synthwave, soundtrack, and shoegaze music.
Here you’ll find a broad collection of classic sounds from the 80s, including Roland’s legendary TR-707, TR-808, and TR-909 drum kits, as well as a variety of other vintage synths and equipment. The drums are warm yet punchy, delivering a powerful feel reminiscent of some of the top groups of the time, including A Flock of Seagulls, Talk Talk, and The Human League. Right out of the gate you can hear the retro wonder bouncing off of each drum hit.
There are a variety of loops and one-shots to choose from, as well as a chunk of MIDI styles for greater production efficiency. Essentially, you get access to a marathon of 80s sounds and samples when you buy this Zenhiser 80s Dream Pop pack. To add a bit of analog warmth to your modern pop productions, this is one of the best 80s-style period kits that we can recommend.
9. ModeAudio – Foundations – Drum Machine Samples
The 80s was a time when drum machines were king. As we get deeper into the 21st century of modern pop music, they’re returning with a vengeance. The Foundations Drum Machine Samples sample pack delivers a variety of thundering, rock-steady rhythms from some of the most iconic drum machines of the 1980s.
Here you’ll find the vibrant acoustic sounds of the Alesis HR16, the legendary, hard-hitting sounds of the MPC2000 and the LinnDrum, as well as some additional retro hits baked in gritty retro love.
There are a few folders in the sample pack to keep things nice and organized, including raw drums, which are crispy and clean samples from their vintage sources, layered drums, which are hybrid mixtures of samples carefully stacked together, and processed drum blasts, which add a bit more modern punch.
The kicks are hard-hitting, the snares crack like the hammer of the mighty Thor, and the hi-hats delivers a high-end that is shimmery and sweet. When it comes to adding serious weight to a mix, these drums can do justice.
Beyond the core sample collection, you get a variety of drum kit presents for Kong, NN-XT, and Combinator, allowing you to dig in immediately after you get the kit in your library.
10. Wave Alchemy – Tuned Tape Drums
Classic drum machines are integral to the sounds of the 80s, but what if we were to add a little twist?
That is exactly what Wave Alchemy is all about and they have taken their creative exploits to create their Tuned Tape Drums. This sample pack contains a whopping 8,000 characterful drum samples from a wide range of the most iconic drum machines from the 1980s. The sounds were recorded using vintage hardware chains for added warmth and the sounds span across two full octaves for versatility using the tape machine Varispeed function.
This sample pack delivers everything from the classic Roland 808 and 909 drum machines to the quirky drum synths such as the Syncussion and SDSV. The collection of samples was sourced from a huge list of drum machines that were specifically restored for this project.
The pack also contains a unique collection of layered sounds for a more modern approach to the sonic layers of the 80s. The layers include sounds from modern drum machines, acoustic drums and percussion, and foley.
If you are in search of uniquely crafted drum sounds with vintage warmth and modern tone, look no further than the Tuned Tape Drums from Wave Alchemy.
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.