The timpani, or kettle drum, is a great way to add a unique sonic character to any track. Timpanis tend to be incredibly expensive, though, and you probably won’t want to spend thousands of dollars on an instrument to use only for effects. The perfect solution to this is timpani VST (Virtual Studio Technology).

The best Timpani VST samples are captured with the finest timpani in world-class studios and allow you to use the recordings onto your songs. Paid samples tend to sound much better than free samples. Some of the best free samples are from Versilian Studios, Modwheel, Samsara Cycle Audio, and bigcat Instruments.

Let’s take a look at these timpani VST samples. Note that some (but not all) of these samples are only available as part of a larger orchestral or percussive package.

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5 Best Paid Samples for Timpani VSTs

If you’re looking for a high-quality orchestral percussion VST, your best bet is to find a paid one that fits your budget. Professional sound mixers will want a timpani VST that sounds as close as possible to the real thing.

They also might appreciate getting a suite of instrument effects instead of just timpani sounds. Some of these VSTs are part of a larger package but don’t let that rule it out for you entirely. Take a look at some of the other included instruments and see if you have any use for them.

Here are five of the best timpani VSTs to consider:

1. Versilian Studios: Timpani Classic Series

Versilian is a popular name in the sound recording world; this company makes great instrument samples. This VST was one of Versilian’s first offerings, but it’s one of their highest-rated products. They recorded their timpanis with multiple microphones in various places, so you’ll be able to get a wide variety of tones.

Even though this is one of the most affordable timpani VSTs available, you get 190 samples with five velocity layers, a unique effect that can help you control volume and tone.

For a basic but great quality timpani VST, Versilian’s Timpani Classic Series is a great place to start.

2. Vienna Symphonic Library: Synchron Timpani I

Five different sized timpanis were recorded for this awesome package: 32″, 29″, 26″, 23″, and 20″. They were recorded with twelve separate microphones in a studio space nearly 6,000 square feet large, so you can squeeze every drop of tone possible out of these recorded timpani effects.

With more than 100 hours of sample recordings included, you have a wider set of timpani options than most other VST sets will give you.  

You can purchase the Synchron Percussion I package for a more complete set of instrument options, or you can buy the Timpani set stand-alone.

3. Modwheel: Timphonia

This plug-in requires Kontakt installed, but for people who want a great kettle drum sound at an affordable price, this is one of the best ones out there. This also gives you exclusively timpani sounds, so you won’t be cluttering up your computer with extras you don’t need.

You get 11 “regular” patches, which will give you normal sounds like hits, and 18 “irregular” ones for more interesting textures, such as coin spins and rubber ball bounces. For users who like playing with sound effects, this is the VST for you.

4. Spitfire Audio: BBC Symphony Orchestra

If you’re ready for a more sophisticated VST with even more effects then, Spitfire’s BBC Symphony Orchestra suite will give you a great variety. You can choose the tone of your kettle drum and whether or not the timpani is hit or rolled. You can also choose how hard the drummer is hitting it.

Other percussion options you have are bells, crotales, the marimba, and even a glockenspiel.

This VST set is much more expensive than some other sets, so consider whether or not you need all these other instruments in your mixing sessions. Newbies might not find much use for these extra effects. 

On the other hand, professional mixers might jump at the chance to get all of these professional-sounding effects.

5. Toontrack: Orchestral Percussion SDX

There’s no messing around with this great percussion VST. Not only do you get timpani noises, but you also get bass drums, taikos, hand cymbals, and snares. You even get the sound of a gong.

It’s more cost-effective than Spitfire’s BBC Symphony Orchestra plug-in since it only includes percussion instruments. If you’re considering adding a timpani VST to your track, however, you might find that some of these other percussion instruments will serve you just as well or even better.

Keep in mind that Toontrack products require the Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 software installed in order to work. Don’t purchase this plug-in without having that installed!

3 Best Free Samples for Timpani VSTs

Free VSTs won’t get you nearly as many effects as the paid packages. They also may not sound as good as the high-end paid versions, either. That said, free timpani VSTs have their place.

If you’re a novice to mixing and recording, free VSTs might suit you just fine. If you are thinking of purchasing a paid percussion package and want to see how timpanis can transform your tracks, free samples can help you decide if you want to take the plunge.

Here are three of the best free timpani samples for you to consider:

1. Samsara Cycle Audio: Kettle Drum

The Samsara kettle drum effect is one of the top-rated free effects available. You can shape the sound in various ways, and it will fit into a number of different kinds of software.

Some reviews say that this electronic timpani sounds a lot less natural than paid-for VSTs. You’ll find that free timpani samples are generally less realistic than ones that cost money. 

The good thing about free VSTs is that if you find that one of them isn’t getting you what you need, there are several other free ones to try.

2. bigcat Instruments: Sonatina Timpani

This timpani comes from bigcat Instruments’ full Sonatina Orchestra library, another free plug-in with over 50 separate instruments. If you’re looking for a VST with more options, that’s a great place to start.

However, if you’re just looking for a free timpani effect, this gives you yet another effect to check out. It will work with most kinds of software. This effect is slightly more complicated to use than Samsara Cycle’s version, according to users, and sounds similar.

3. Versilian Studios: Chamber Orchestra 2.1.1.: Community Edition

That’s right; Versilian also offers a free VST sample kit of a full chamber orchestra. This completely free set comes with a whopping 3,152 samples and 19 unique instruments, including the timpani.

It’s available in multiple formats, so it should work with a variety of different kinds of software, unlike some of the other VSTs listed here. 

If you’re making the transition from a casual sound mixer to a professional mixer, this is a widely available, widely applicable suite that can take your remixes to the next level.

Final Thoughts

These timpani samples will give you tons of effects for your sound recordings. Whether you opt for a free sample package or a high-quality paid package, the timpani will be able to enhance your sound mixes in ways you don’t expect. Add that kettle drum sound drum that’s full of sonic character to any of your recordings!

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