Unison Audio's Drum Monkey is a great tool for producers looking to make fast, professional drum patterns. However, with its ridiculous price, no demo, and absurd claims – you'll want to look for some Drum Monkey alternatives.
Well, rest assured, there are some fantastic Drum Monkey alternatives that give you more functionality for your money and are all 1/4th of the price! In this article, we're going to run you through the 5 best Drum Monkey alternatives.
Don't get us wrong… it's not that Drum Monkey is a bad tool.
It's just you can get the same thing cheaper, with more functionality, while Unison is charging Omnisphere prices for something far less ground-breaking.
What is Drum Monkey?
Drum Monkey is an AI drum sequencer by Unison Audio that works to create unique beats based on the genre you pick. Simply choose your genre and tempo, press the randomise button, and you have a fully-fledged drum beat.
You get 3000+ samples with Drum Monkey included, and have the ability to edit them in the built-in sampler. Drum Monkey also allows for mixing on the fly, and even includes functionality for effects.
You can lock certain drum sounds and patterns in Drum Monkey, and continue to press the randomise button until you're happy with the groove, velocity and sounds in your drumbeat.
You can additionally drag and drop MIDI/audio out of Drum Monkey, straight into your DAW.
Is Drum Monkey Any Good?
Drum Monkey is great at making beat patterns, and is a very useful tool for inspiration. However, for $397, it's really not worth it. There are plenty of AI drum sequencing plugins that do the exact same thing as Drum Monkey, offer more features and have a lower price! Check them out before you consider getting Drum Monkey.
Although it may be good at creating drum patterns, there are cheaper drum VSTs available that offer free trial periods. So, rather than be out of pocket, we recommend checking out some of these demos before investing in Drum Monkey.
If you feel that these don't satisfy your production needs, then feel free to spend the $397 after. But, we wouldn't want you to be out of pocket for a pretty basic plugin that doesn't add anything to the already available options, that happen to be cheaper.
One bonus you get with Drum Monkey is a 3000+ sample library, which is actually very professional, but you can honestly get samples packs of the same calibre for much cheaper.
Drum Monkey Alternatives List
Here is the complete list of Drum Monkey alternatives:
1. XLN Audio XO
Compatibility: Win 7+, Mac 10.10+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $129.97, free trial available
XO by XLN Audio is an extremely innovative sampling tool that can also be used to create drum patterns very quickly. Like Drum Monkey, it uses AI to create drum patterns, also uses AI in a different way – scanning your sample library to categorise the most similar sounds together.
This means that if you have 1000 claps, each of those claps will be categorised, colour coded (as the dots you see in the picture above), and the most similar sounding ones will be grouped together.
Although this may not seem like a lot, XO saves a huge amount of time in the sample selection process and can give you a great-sounding, cohesive drum kit in a matter of moments. It also gives you easier access to all of your samples, meaning you won't get stuck in your favourites folder and use your usual combinations all the time. With XO, you'll find yourself using samples you wouldn't have had time to explore prior.
XO also has a playground mode, which allows you to randomise the pattern, swing, pitch, velocities, panning and more, getting you multiple drumbeats in moments.
This gives you a quick beat to build from. You can then use the AI to help you swap out sounds for similar-sounding samples on the fly, which will help you craft an incredible sounding drum pattern and kit in moments.
XO also has the ability to edit samples, shorten them, alter the ADSR, pitch etc. There's also built-in soft clipping, filters and other effects that will help you mix your drums neatly inside one plugin, giving obvious workflow benefits.
This is also included in Drum Monkey, but there are far fewer features, no AI sample mapping, and the price is literally almost 4x of what XO is. Oh, and you can get a free trial too.
2. Audio Modern Playbeat 3
Compatibility: Win 7+, Mac 10.16+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $79, free trial available
Audio Modern Playbeat 3 is a drum sequencer that uses AI technology to help aid you in drum pattern creation. With Playbeat 3, you can simply press the randomise button, and a new drum pattern will come up every time!
With the click of a button, Playbeat 3 will randomise the sequence, density, pitch, velocity, and even pan the drums for you.
You get a far more in-depth control over the pattern creation with Playbeat 3 too. Completely outshining Drum Monkey in every aspect for a lower price, with the ability to change the randomisation range, offset the kicks, customize the sequences yourself, alter the swing of the groove and more!
It's a great plugin for coming up with beat ideas rapidly. You can randomise the pattern, then lock any pattern you like in place, keep it, and then keep randomising and locking until you get something that you feel fits the vibe of your track.
You also get a bank of samples with Playbeat 3 that are on par with the Drum Monkey's 3000+ samples, and an amazing sample browser that's easy to use and navigate. The UI might be a little more confusing than Drum Monkey's, but with some YouTube tutorials, you'll get it in no time at all.
On top of that, you have the same sample editing controls that are included with Drum Monkey, with abilities to change ADSR, pitch, and everything you'd expect to be able to change in a sampler.
When compared to Drum Monkey's large $397 price tag, you get a lot more functionality with Playbeat 3 for less than 1/5th of the price at $79.
Oh, and you can also download a free trial to see if you actually like it or not.
Of course, the AI isn't going to be entirely accurate every time, because grooves and styles can vary in intricacy making it harder for the AI to match your track completely. But, Playbeat 3 does a pretty incredible job regardless of this.
You will have to change some of the settings yourself for the drum pattern to truly fit the style of your track, but that's the same with any other AI tool (including Drum Monkey). No AI tool can automatically create great-sounding music for you. What makes music, music is the human input. No robot can replicate vibe, emotion or feeling *yet*.
3. Algonaut Audio Atlas 2
Compatibility: Win 7+, Mac 10.10+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $99, free trial available
Atlas 2 is a similar AI tool to XLN Audio's XO. It uses AI to sort your samples into similar-sounding categories, helping you find a drum kit combination rapidly. One advantage it has over XO is the “new kit” function, which automatically populates your drum rack with similar sounds.
With Atlas, you also have a built-in sequencer, but with the current version, this doesn't allow you to randomise drum patterns using AI. You have to build the drum patterns yourself, but it's so incredibly quick and easy to do, we thought it was worthwhile of a mention here.
The workflow of Atlas 2 is simply incredible. You can build a pattern you like in seconds, change the velocity, groove, swing and rhythm. Then, you can lock all the sounds you like in place, and hit “new kit” to automatically swap out sounds for others that are similar.
On top of that, you have tonnes of built-in effects, filtering, ADSR tools and all the functionality of an advanced sampler like Ableton's sampler.
Unfortunately, you don't get any samples with Atlas 2 as you do with Drum Monkey and the beats will require a bit more input. However, the beats that Drum Monkey produces aren't very professional anyway, so you're going to have to end up modifying them a bit.
The workflow and functionality that Atlas 2 has over Drum Monkey, makes it a far superior choice. And, it's 1/4th of the price!
Check out the free trial and see what you think.
4. Captain Plugins Captain Beat
Compatibility: Win 7+, Mac 10+, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $99 (with bundle), free trial available
Captain Beat is a drum VST that allows you to sequence drum patterns in a matter of minutes, using a bank of pre-installed, pro drum sounds. It comes as part of the Captain Plugins Bundle, which includes a number of other plugins such as Captain Chords (similar to Scaler 2), Captain Play, Captain Deep Melody.
Like Drum Monkey, you can export MIDI to audio, export singe MIDI tracks, or the entire MIDI file for use in a drum rack or sampler.
Unfortunately it's not AI powered like Drum Monkey, but there are an incredible selection of 500 preset sequences to choose from, which is fairly similar to just pressing a button and getting an automatic kit. You have built-in FX like reverb, delay, filters etc. and you can also mix in Captain Beat on the fly.
Additionally, you can control the samples individually by editing the ADSR, changing specific velocities, the pitch, swing of the groove and more.
Although Captain Beats is nowhere near as feature-rich as the other plugins on this list, it's vastly cheaper and comes with a load of other useful tools for melody & chord writing, which are just as important as writing beats.
When compared to Drum Monkey, the only difference is the lack of AI patterns. This is not a deal-breaker when you consider the price difference and the fact that you get 4 plugins for the price of Drum Monkey.
We're never usually very harsh about plugins on this website, because we understand that one man's trash can be another man's gold. That why we always like to be objective about everything we review, giving an un-biased opinion. If we don't like it we'll say, but talk about how it may be useful to other producers in different situations.
Drum Monkey is useful, it's just there's other tools that do the exact same thing AND provide more, which bugs us a bit. There is no possible reason we can see why you'd purchase something for $397 that is genuinely worse than some of the cheaper options. You can almost buy Ableton Suite for that price…
Either way, we've included some great Drum Monkey alternatives for you to check out before you buy. If you really don't like them and feel like you need Drum Monkey and have the $397 spare, then go for it.
To recap here's the ultimate list of Drum Monkey alternatives:
- XLN Audio XO
- Playbeat 3
- Captain Beat
- Atlas 2
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.