Newbie to BFD3 - any recommendations?

Hi folks,

I’m looking to take advantage of a 50% sale to finally get BFD3. I’ve already got AD2 and SSD5.5 so it’s probably (ok, 100% definitely) a case of gear acquisition syndrome, but I’ve an old demo of BFD3.1 and there’s something about it that keeps me returning to reconsider taking the plunge.

I can see that lots of people are having a dreadful and frustrating time migrating licenses (and can also see BFD’s making efforts to fix them). So, acknowledging that, I’d really love to hear people’s opinions and recommendations about

  • is there a minimum set of expansions you’d recommend?
  • what kits, for you personally, keep you returning again and again?
  • what kits do you use when you just want a bit of fun?
  • The minimum is the BFD3 core library. It’s very versatile and detailed. With the mixing and tuning capabilities in the engine, especially the new Envelope section, you can get a tremendous lot out of it without ever adding another expansion. Which, btw, won’t happen, because you won’t be able to stop yourself.

  • I keep returning to the Platinum Samples expansions. The Andy Johns kits were the first expansions I got, and they’re still stellar. AFJ Kit1 is just an iconic kit. Anything Henry Hirsch did was brilliant, as is Jim Scott’s work. Close behind that is the BFD Maple Custom Absolute and Jazz Maple kits.

  • I guess I don’t have any that are specifically just for fun. I love the sound of drums. It’s all fun. All of the snare-only packs are really neat to play with. You can never have too many snares. Oblivion is neat for something really aggressive. I guess if I indulged my heavy prog-rock-fusion inclinations more, I’d probably spend some time with that.

Great stuff, thanks Kafka!

you can get a tremendous lot out of it without ever adding another expansion. Which, btw, won’t happen, because you won’t be able to stop yourself.

This is very true. It’s one of the reasons I was hesitant to get started down this path <glances warily at bank balance>, but hey, it’s a sale, so really I’m saving money?!!

I had been thinking of a strategy of using the London Sessions to stall for time (as well as being on sale, it has lots of kits, so plenty to explore before I start hungering for more).

But instead I’ll check out your suggestions as a more targeted alternative: I’ve started with taking a look at Andy John’s set on Platinum Samples and am thoroughly enjoying the YouTube video at the bottom of the page - full of character and tricks of the trade.

I’ll just say that with all of the previous problems, BFD3 has been working fine for me on macOS for the past couple of months. No LM de-authorizing issues, no crashes and has been very stable. Hopefully that trend continues.

I had no issues with my old BFD1 & 2 licenses. Drew got me my replacement licenses in 20 mins, but that was on KVR, where he was pretty active.

As kafka said, the Core library has enough content to keep you going for a while. Very versatile as you’d expect it to be, covering all genres.

As far as expansions, I just have Modern Retro and Horsepower. Both are fantastic and versatile. And they both come with cymbals. For a first expansion, I’d suggest getting something that does include cymbals, so you can expand on what you have with BFD3 Core. I’m sure they’ll be some decent Black Friday sales coming up. Although a bit dated, London Sessions really is a staple. This is what helped make BFD2 the king of drum vsti’s at the time. Always fun to load up those kits and bring me back to the days of BFD2 and all the songs I used it on.

Since I upgraded to BFD3, I’ve pretty much just been using Horsepower as my kit to learn the ins and outs of BFD3 itself. I’m using it on a track I’ve been working on for the past few months. So it’s been a process of learning the kit itself, how to process it and to see how far you can tweak it with all of BFD3’s controls. My plan is to do the same with Modern Retro for the next track I work on. So I’ve yet to really use the Core library.

It can be overwhelming when you have so many choices. Sometimes less is more. Just find a kit that you really dig and then learn it inside and out. It will become a staple that you know you can go-to for certain projects. Then when you require something else, rinse and repeat. Soon you’ll have a short list of kits that cover a lot of ground.

I didn’t exactly answer your questions, but hope this helps anyways.

Given that you seem to be going for it (not something I would recommend in the current state, but at least you’re aware), then I’d have to go with Horsepower. However I am currently in an American/Country/Folk/Alt Country kind of vide at the moment so this fits perfectly. Still good if you’re not into those genres but something to consider.

Percussion is a handy one to have for all the other hitty stuff that isn’t drums.

I also like 8 Bit Kit for its grungy Tom Waits’ style drums. It all depends on what you’re doing I guess. Most of the expansion have some value somewhere.

I would maybe avoid the more specialist ones (orchestral, marching drums, decatom, taiko and noh etc.) if you want a broader pallete for now, so maybe go for full kits (like Modern Retro, Vintage Recording Techniques, The Black Album) rather than specialist drums to keep value to a max.

I’m no jazz fan, but the freebie I chose was Jazz Noir (as I already had the others on offer) and I was surprised at how good it was.

For a bit of fun? 8 Bit Kit and Hugh Padgham Big Fill Kit, the latter slammed through an SSL Talkback compressor for that Phil Collins’ sound. Never actually dared use it in any music though!


Many thanks Fender_Bender,

Although a bit dated, London Sessions really is a staple. This is what helped make BFD2 the king of drum vsti’s at the time.

Ok, that put London Sessions back on the short-list :partying_face:, it’ll have to slug it out against Andy Johns- but it looks like it’s a win either way from what I can see. I’ve not looked at Modern Retro and Horsepower yet but will give them an audition next

Yes I think this is wise. I’m still at the newbie stage of hopping from kit to kit, once I settle into it I know I’ll get more by really getting to know it.

I think you did! The fact that you have stuck with it since BFD1, through BFD2, and on through BFD3, and stuck with it during the lean BFD3 years (where development seems to have stalled), and are still finding things to explore and try out, speaks volumes.

Thanks again for sharing your experience, it’s really helpful

+1 on London Sessions. That’s a great expansion pack. You can toss a coin between that and Andy Johns.

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Thanks Mr_Arkadin,

Yes, I’m counting on the fact that I’d never bought an FXPansion license so should hopefully be starting with a clean slate. :pray:

Another vote for Horsepower, which is great. I hadn’t considered Percussion, and would have overlooked the 8 Bit Kit except for your description, which makes me think I’d enjoy it lots

Love it!

Thanks again for all of this - my shortlist has grown, but I always think that’s a good thing. It’s clear there’s still a lot of love for BFD so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

I actually didn’t upgrade to BFD3 until earlier this year when they put out the $49 upgrade from previous versions. Back when it was originally released, I didn’t really care for the “flat GUI” look and I was probably tight for cash. But, I couldn’t really use BFD2 at that point because there was no support for AAX format which Pro Tools had moved to. I eventually got it to work with a vst wrapper, but it wasn’t ideal and I wound up getting Steven Slate Drums for a good price and was using that for a few years. Slate definitely has it’s uses, however it’s cymbals were it’s weak spot imo.

So I came back to BFD3 and I think it was a wise move. The difference in sound quality was immediately noticeable. I realized what I had been missing. I still use Slate with BFD to augment the kick and snare with more processed samples and to trigger snare reverb. It’s a great one-two combo.

So, I’ve taken the plunge:

BFD3.4 core

  • London Sessions
  • Horsepower (freebie choice with BFD purchase)
  • Swan Percussion (used Deluxe Bucks so got this for about $15)

Which is plenty to be starting with.

  • Out-of-the-box, so far, I’m finding the cymbals more convincing (with my particular kit) than Addictive Drums 2.
  • Had great fun with my two kids jamming to some of the Swan Percussion grooves (they were walloping a cajon and djembe)
  • I can see that I’ve a lot to learn on getting the best of the software.

Of the suggestions above in this thread, I’ll be keeping a particularly beady eye out for sales for

  • 8bit kit
  • Percussion
  • Andy Johns (but I’m going to explore my existing kits before making a jump)
    as I really like the look of these. Unfortunately 8bit and Percussion don’t seem to be offered by any resellers (the likes of Kvr, Audio Deluxe, Plugin Boutique)

Once again, thanks for all the advice!


I got a few expanders when I was still using Eco. I’ve not gone in to all of them in great depth. But a few stand out.

I see you got:

  • Horsepower (freebie choice with BFD purchase)
  • Swan Percussion (used Deluxe Bucks so got this for about $15)

I already bought Swan Percussion. Great price for a very useful little kit of samples. Great bang for buck. But that means nothing if the samples and articulations themselves are not top-notch. They are!

So good choice on that one!

I also just chose the Horsepower freebie as well. I think we were limited to just a few choices, but after listening to the demo, that stood out in a big way for me. The Jazz Noir kit didn’t do it for me. And I have a couple of jazz kits, I think - the Maple. All excellent. It might suit someone else’s ears perfectly. Mr_Arkadin, for example, who is a most discerning user!

I was surprised at the quality of the Horsepower expansion. It’s something like 20 odd gigs packed up but about 50 gigs when expanded. Well worth the space. I’m getting another hard drive soon.

Really impressed with the demo. Really impressed with the range of sounds it offers. Really surprised they were giving it away for free. I guess that whole country/rock/whatever kind of thing put some people off and it didn’t sell? I don’t know. It’s a great sounding kit. For free, it is the jewel in the crown! At least for me.

I’ve been waiting a while to hear a kit as good as that, and truth be told I would have bought it after hearing the excellent demos. I’m a songwriter first and foremost. I know this kit(s) is going to get a lot of use.

I say this also as a hip-hop and drum and bass producer (hi Subz!). I’m also pretty discerning in my sound choices. Got a lot of expanders from FXpansion that cover this field. Plan on buying a few more in fact.

And now let me give you the secret sauce! If you love hip-hop or drum and bass, or any of that kind of music, there’s one expander you absolutely must get. It will blow your socks off and it will also blow your speaker cones if you aren’t careful: Oak Drum Samples - Oak Custom Expansion Pack for BFD3| BFD

The low end on this puppy is insane. It’s like a pure sinewave that kick drum when isolated. They must have really gone to town recording it, because not even a pure sine wave sounds so raw.

It’s a basic kit, granted, but it’s not expensive. I used this one a lot, used it for Sub-Bass and all other kinds of stuff. If you make hip-hop or drum and bass to a professional level, you will not be disappointed in this kit! That Kick! Those Toms!

It’s impossible to create a whole kit for all seasons. And this kit shines in this department as much as the Horsepower kit does for songwriting stuff. It’s not just Americana. Being British, and loving the Brit sound - big fan of The Kinks, John Cale etc. etc. - that Horsepower expansion is a major keeper. I’m really looking forward to finally finishing certain tracks with that for my songwriting stuff. And then going haywire with the other expansions such as the humble Oak Custom Kit for Drum and Bass and Hip-hop stuff.

The demos are a good place to start with evaluating this stuff, and while they do leave some things lacking, most are better than average, to give you an idea of what you are getting. Tastes vary. It helps to have an idea of what you like!

Having said that, a good producer/engineer can change the context of the kits somewhat, and if you know what you want and know what you are doing, a lot of these kits, even the supposedly limited Oak Custom, can give surprisingly versatile results.

Anyway, listen to some more demos when you get the chance, but I think the Horsepower and Swan Percussion expanders are an excellent add-on to the Core kits.

These kits will never be recorded again, well, not in the same rooms, with the same mics, with the same engineers. With the same tunings. But there is nothing stopping inMusic and the BFD team from taking the raw material and making it even more versatile in their program later. I’m sure they will be adding a few more kits along the way as they go along.

BFD is the only software of this kind I own. I tried all the major alternatives, but they were either too processed or too inflexible. BFD has a bit of a learning curve. It might not even be to your liking. But if it’s in your ‘sound domain’, there isn’t much it can’t do. It will certainly do more than you are probably willing to take the time, to make it do! If that makes sense.

Anyway, you got enough to be going on with. Just experiment. Make up different kits. Mix and match. BFD is a truly wonderful ecosystem of drum simulation software.

I am genuinely excited to see where they will take this next.

I also own an Akai MPC One (also an inMusic brand). That took a while to get off the ground, now it is pretty much the de facto no.1 bang for buck music production center in the world. Akai lacked and lagged a lot the first year or two, but then they came back with a massive, absolutely massive game-changing upgrade that leveled the whole playing field. Say what you want about them. But this is the same company that bought up this ‘intellectual property’ or whatever. And I have great hopes for what they can do.

But first things first.

Horsepower and Swan Percussion - you couldn’t have picked two better expansions to complement the Core library.


Hello John001, I am also looking for the 50% sale to get myself the BFD3. I thought that yesterday I saw BFD3 for $149. Now, today, I can’t find this offer anymore. Just the regular price $299. Now I even doubting if I really saw the 50% sale or that those where old posts on internet.

Maybe you can help me with this since you also mentione the 50 % sale. Today it is 16 October 2021.

Best regards,


Hi Eric,

alas it was on sale in both kvraudio and Audio Deluxe, but both were only offering BFD itself on sale until the 12th October (they both currently have a number of expansion packs on discount until the 20th).

Might be worth a try to contact them directly (in case they’d be willing to offer some sort of once-off discount), otherwise I’m afraid you might have to wait until the next sale :frowning:

Other vendors like ~Sweetwater~ & Plugin Boutique (as well as bfddrums itself) weren’t offering any discounts but I’d also have them on my watchlist. (Update -correction, Sweetwater don’t actually seen to support BFD at all)

I hope you have some luck!

Hi John, thanks a lot. At least now I know that I don’t see $ghosts!

Contact them directly? You mean kvraudio and audio Deluxe? Kvraudio got only an emailadres for administration issues.

Yes, that’d be my suggestion - for what it’s worth! I’ve not contacted those vendors myself, but I have in the past got discounts from other sites through contacting them directly. (It definitely doesn’t always work, but there’s no harm in asking)

Ok, thanks. I will. But I cannot find any contact information

Kvr’s (somewhat forbidding) contact details are on this page: About KVR

Audio Deluxe’s page is more encouraging - they actually mention you can contact them if you’re

Looking for a quote on a custom bundle?


Thanks BigFinDrums, it’s very helpful getting tips like this. I’ve now had a chance to take a proper listen, so this also goes onto the shortlist.

Yes indeed! I’m frankly very impressed at how good it is, given it seems to have remained unchanged for so long, (the developers and engineers got a lot right a long time ago). One of the reasons I’d held off on BFD3 is it seemed to be a cashcow that wasn’t being actively supported: it’s hard as a newbie to invest in a product that might be one OS update away from no longer working.

So yes, I’m delighted to see activity resumed, and very curious about where do you take a product like this?, one that people have remained passionate about for so long.

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Thanks John,

I will give it a try

where do you take a product like this?

Pretty sure the no.1 priority right now is getting up to date with compatibility and stability. They aren’t messing around with win32 or even Windows 7 any more, so that narrows it down. Then again it depends because I’m not sure how many of the original code programmers are still working on the project. There may be one or two or none at all. I haven’t looked. It’s quite an important point.

Maintaining old code from someone else isn’t something any super-hot programmer likes to do, unless he/she is being paid enough. And this will need one or two super-hot programmers to bring it up to speed. All IMHO, of course. That is just for maintenance. It depends how well the old code base was commented, and/or if they can still communicate with the original developers should any bottle necks occur. Hopefully there is at least one of the old team on the new team. I really don’t know.

Super-hot programmers prefer to work on their own projects, and you really have to tempt them to take on the drudgery that is maintaining someone else’s code. I may be wrong. Maybe a super-hot programmer isn’t needed, but a merely competent one. It depends on what methodologies were used and how much focus was put in to maintainability. I’m sure it was well written enough that any decent programmer can keep it up to date, but like I said, it might need someone super-hot if communications have been cut, if it was poorly commented and if there is just one person who is trying to sort out the whole ‘mess’. All this is speculation on my part, so don’t give it too much credence.

We’ll find out soon enough when these teething problems are fixed; and to be fair, things have probably gone better than a lot of people could have expected with the transfer. At least there are people at the helm who want this to work, and want it to work with a passion. That counts for a lot. So I think people should be a little forgiving still for a little while yet.

After that, who knows. I don’t think it would take that much effort or cost to bring things up to speed. But it would still be a massive amount of effort and cost, if that makes sense. I mean it’s doable in a given time frame given adequate resources and application. I don’t have any insider information and I’m not a software engineer, so again, all this is just conjecture, and just for fun!

But I’m also sure the team, should they meat this goal within a reasonable time frame, say, the next year or two, then they would be sufficiently ahead and on top of things to really go that bit further. That would take looking at where the competition is, where they are heading, making sure they are not left behind, still playing catch up really. And then from there it would be offering new functions, better graphics in a UX (user experience) sense, and maybe in a GUI (graphical user interface) sense. Or probably just refining what they already have, because it’s already pretty good. Once they get it stable and working well, do they really want to mess too much with how things work, to just have to start over again?

Most people don’t mind a few extra steps or bits of klunkiness in the user experience. And most people can live without flashy graphics as well. You have to remember that this type of software is on the very cutting and bleeding edge of technology with regards to all of this. A massive amount of work will have already been done, and it’s probably not so easy to undo it and reinvent the wheel without seriously prohibitive costs. Back to those super-hot programmers again…

It’s fun to speculate and to muse on the subject, but reality comes back in to the picture soon enough. It will take some serious work to get all this working flawlessly again, perhaps even working better than it did before. I’m sure the BFD team would like that better than anyone. That is the first hurdle and milestone to achieve. And from there, like I said before, they are sitting on that massive pile of IP (intellectual property) that must have already had a very serious investment in it, in both form of time and manpower and money spent to make that come about.

If they can achieve that hurdle then things will get easier from there for them, I think. Those expansions will start flying out the doors a whole lot faster as people come to know this is software that ‘just works’ and can be trusted to work for some time yet. They can recoup a lot of those costs that have already been outlaid and make even more of a profit, which is the idea when you run a going concern and company like this. I really don’t know. Just mindless speculation on my part.

I think that a product like BFD could benefit from a bit of diversification and maybe even try to cover new ground. There’s a few more expansions I need to get to see how it all works, and to be honest I’m not massively familiar with the program anyway. I think I’ll probably get the 8-Bit Kit: Junk Percussion Sounds - 8 Bit Kit Expansion Pack for BFD3| BFD

That has some drum machines and beatboxes included from what I can tell. I think that might be a very interesting avenue to pursue and I might even have a go at making up my own kits for it (BFD). But I can’t compare with world class studios, world class drummers, world class recording engineers. As always this would be a labor of love for my own use, and I’d probably give it away for free if the concept worked.

I realise that BFD is a program people turn to when they want real drums. And I’ll let the experts handle that. But there are so many unexplored avenues and concepts within the BFD paradigm that I’m sure it could be a very interesting left turn or alternative to the more standard fare it provides. There are so many subtle nuances and articulations that this program allows for, it seems a bit of a shame to at least not try to apply that to drum samples. Drums are drums at the end of the day.

The LinnDrum is considered a beat box by most measures these days. But back in the day, it was seen as a Drum Computer, one that could real drummers out of work. And it did! Listen to Lindsey Buckingham’s programming on it - Tango in the Night - plus Tusk. It’s basic stuff, but it was ‘good enough’ to put Mick Fleetwood out of a job, though I’m sure he played a lot on top. I don’t know.

Fast forward to today and we are orders of magnitude ahead with real Drum Computers, running software like BFD. Imagine what Lindsey could have done with one of them! Lindsey used the Fairlight CMI as well to program his drums. 8 Bits! And it was good enough! Most people couldn’t tell the difference. The sounds, the articulations, even back then, were ‘good enough’.

We had the main man from Fairlight bring in one of his machines to Matrix in London back in the day and he programmed drums for us on ‘Page R’. He’d also worked with Prince. It was a mystery to us. He also brought in his brand new Roland D-50, and I can tell you that Fairlight got sent to the back of the room for everything but drums!

But Prince took the LinnDrum as well and made it funky. And he didn’t do it by pretending to be a real drummer. Those were very obviously samples in the way they were conveyed and processed.

Drums are drums at the end of the day.

And I don’t know how anyone else works, but I always layer my drums. I’ll mix in beatboxes with real programs like BFD. Or I’ll use samples and breakbeats. Filtered and EQ’d the hell out of to sit in a mix. The beat is the beat, and sometimes even when it’s straight, it’s funky. Prince knew that. Cameo knew that. Pretty Girls. And sometimes it’s just that millisecond delay to the snare that gives it that funk. Producers wasted thousands of dollars of studio time for days on end trying to get the perfect millisecond delay to their ‘real’ drum sample. While everyone else looked on in horror, because, yeah, it’s kinda important, but it’s not that important.

Anyway, if you are still looking for standout expansions, have a look at the 8-Bit Kit I linked to above. I’ve listened to the demos a fair bit and it definitely stands out as not yet another drum pack. Which may or may not be your thing of course. Personally I’d love to see more of this type of stuff.

There really are a lot of places this software could still go.