Anyone seeking hard and “edgy” electronic drum sounds is really spoilt for choice these days thanks to the plethora of affordable drum machines and plugins on the market but if you’re looking to add a little Latin flavor to your tracks then there’s far fewer drum machines to choose from but luckily there are number of a plugins that will help you achieve a Latin vibe.
Best Cheap Latin Percussion Drum Machine:
AudioThing’s Latin Percussion VST plugin is a sample-based plugin emulation of the Sound Master Latin Percussion, a rare analog drum machine from the 80s.
Latin Percussion drum machine boasts 6 classic Latin instrument sounds (Bass, Low Conga, High Conga, Bongo, Claves, and Maracas) and each voice has dedicated controls for pitch and panning and volume.
On the Master output are Overdrive and Reverb effects which you can dial in to taste.
Best of all, Latin Percussion features a built-in sequencer so it’s really easy to create your own patterns and any patterns you like can be dragged and dropped to your DAW/host as MIDI. There’s also a preset system with randomizer and adjustable tempo.
I find Latin Percussion plugin works well when creating backing tracks for house, disco and chill out tracks.
You can download Latin Percussion for Mac/Windows, and try it for out (with some demo limitations) direct from the AudioThing website.
Best Latin Percussion Hardware Drum Machine
If AudioThing’s plugin isn’t quite enough and you could hunt out a legendary TR-727 drum machine in hardware or cheaper plugin form (via a Roland Cloud subscription).
Roland’s TR-727 Rhythm Composer is the Latin percussion version of its more famous TR-707 sibling. The TR-727 has found its way onto countless records over the years since its launch in 1985. It boasts a dedicated Latin percussion soundset of 15 different sounds and has been used in house and disco tracks as well as afrobeat, reggaeton and other dance styles.
The TR-727 Rhythm Composer features a 909 style step sequencer making it super easy to create rhythms.
An original TR-727 can be picked up on the secondhand gear market for around $1000 bucks but Roland have also fully emulated it using their Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology so you can right multiple instances of the TR-727 inside your DAW of choice (Roland Cloud subscription required).
As well as being much cheaper than hardware, the TR-727 software plugin even manages to improve on the original with more sound shaping options and an enhanced sequencer.
See more on the dedicated TR-727 page at rolandcloud.com.
Best EZ Drummer Latin Percussion Expansions:
If you’re an EZ Drummer user then developer Toontrack have several Latin percussion themed expansion packs and MIDI packs which are well worth checking out.
Latin Cuban Drums EZX: Features a handpicked collection of drums and a selection of mounted percussion pieces including a side of the floor tom sampled to mimic the traditional ‘cascara’ playing style, mambo bells, songo bells, woodblock, timbale and more. The kit was played and recorded at the Sear Sound Studios in New York by Grammy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated engineer Dave Kowalski and drummer Robby Amee.
Latin Cuban Percussion EZX: Designed to work as a percussive complement to the Latin Cuban Drums expansion, this pack features the essentials of traditional Latin and Cuban percussion including congas, timbales, bongos, guiros, shakers, woodblocks, cowbells, cajon and much more.
This pack also features ready to use MIDI files created by drummer Richie Flores making it a fantastic resource for quickly adding authentic Latin grooves to your tracks.
Latin Percussion EXZ: This pack features a wide array of instruments and an extensive drag and drop MIDI library. The Latin percussion EZX is a powerful tool for creating percussive tracks for traditional Latin themed music but the huge range of sampled instruments could also find a home in your house, disco, pop, R&B and Lofi productions too.
Best Afro Cuban Kontakt Instrument:
If you’re a Kontakt user then check out Native Instruments CUBA. CUBA consists of 17 carefully compiled ensembles capturing authentic Afro-Cuban sounds in a highly flexible instrument.
There’s a fantastic selection of instruments to play witH here including congas, bongos, trumpet, piano and the rarely-sampled cajon.
In total you get over 2GB of sampled sounds (11,970 samples in total), loops and presets covering traditional ensembles including salsa, rumba and son. There’s classic rhythms and progressions plus a versatile sequencer AND ready to use programmed grooves that adjust to any tempo without loss of quality. Groove, Feel, and Intensity knobs allow you to adjust microtiming, humanization factor to taste and you get a built-in mixer and pro-quality effects too.
If you do not have the full version of Kontakt you can use CUBA with the Free KONTAKT PLAYER. See the CUBA product page for full details.