Xfer Nerve, drum synth plugins

Xfer Nerve


With its sample-based approach, loop slicing options and extensive groove sequencing capabilities, Steve Duda’s Nerve plugin might not seem like an obvious candidate for inclusion here. Yes, it’s right on the borderline between sample playback and synthesis, but it gets the nod thanks to its sheer power in terms of twisting and processing the samples you load into it.

Yes, there are conventional filters to play with. Sure, you’ll find all the usual envelope shaping options. But turn your attention to the ‘precalc’ section and there are immediate hints that this is a lot more than your average sample-based drum machine. How many drum samplers can synthesise subharmonics or resynthesise the sine, square, saw and triangle wave elements of your drum sample independently?

Nerve’s ‘precalc’ options (modestly referred to as effects but realistically much more than that) set it apart from other sample-based plugins, effectively making it operate like a digital synth with drum samples as the raw sound source. Although you might be starting with a sample in each of the plugin’s 16 drum slots, the resynthesis capabilities very quickly twist and stretch them into completely new territory.

What’s most impressive about Nerve is the way it encourages you to jump in and tweak sounds in ways that you might be scared of trying using conventional synthesis techniques or drum samplers. This is an incredibly user-friendly approach to a complex form of sample-based digital synthesis.

Although in theory the precalc settings are meant to be adjusted before attempting to construct a beat, the majority can be tweaked in real time without any significant glitches. Once they’re locked in, the resynthesis is precalculated (hence ‘precalc’) and loaded into RAM. A selection of key parameters can also be automated or controlled via built-in LFOs for further real-time shaping.

While the sound sculpting options are surprisingly user-friendly, the sequencing capabilities are actually much more complex than they might first appear. There are multiple levels of step sequencing to contend with, split into individual pages for parameters including velocity, pitch and filter settings. The possibilities are vast.



22nd May, 2015


  • I think Drumatic 4 deserves to be on that list! http://www.drumatic.info/
    Maybe even Maschine’s drum modules could be on the list.

    Other than that, great list! I learned that Kickr was for windows now as well.

  • vive le Drumazone

  • vive le Drumazon !!!, mais pour faire le râleur, il y a juste une différence de tonalité, mais sinon c’est le top quand on rêve d’acquérir une 909.

  • I agree with Sleepydog, Drumatic 4 is an amazing drum synth, would have like to have seen it on here

  • Can’t believe Audiospillage and their whole line of drum synths didn’t get included, especially with so many redundant entries that did make it in. Have to give them a plug, but I’m just as happy keeping these all to myself…

  • Yeah not sure why Drumspillage 2 and Elecktroid, both by Audiospillage did not make this list

  • Waldorf Attack was a great unsing hero of Drum Machine VSTs imo.

  • It would make sense to put Spark on the list as well.

  • Another vote for Drum Spillage. I’ve demo’d just about all of these, and Drum Spillage is easily at the #1 spot for me. For both sound, and the ability to dial in sounds and timbres.

  • Bazzism by Intelligent Sounds & Music – It’s my go to for kickdrums and its priced right!

  • Yeah, not sure why we’ve got two kick drum plug-ins on this list?
    I second Attack – It’s an oldie, but a goodie, for sure!
    Tattoo is okay, but pretty limited sonically, especially when compared to the Audiospillage stuff, which for some reason didn’t make it on the list.
    One omission I’m pretty surprised about is LinPlug’s RMV, which I think is totally underrated. I use it all the time… And it was one of the first plug-ins to combine drum synthesis and sampling – way before Punch or even Maschine!
    Anyway, my 2 cents.

  • Spark?

  • Report
  • You need to add Drumspillage 2 to that list.


  • ahem…
    Sonic Academy KICK was Future Music Gear Of The Year #1 and its not even in your list?



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