Review: ToneBuilder Driven Machine Drums

ToneBuilder Driven Machine Drums

When I first visited the Driven Machine Drums website I thought I had found another one of those silly marketing schemes. You know those sites that promise loads of “fresh” content for cheap, meaning to say they’ll send you a disc with stuff that is old and readily available to download from the internet, free of cost…

Just reading the first few paragraphs on the website immediately triggered my scam alert.

Have you purchased hundreds; even thousands of drum sounds… only finding a handful of gems among the clutter? Are you often irritated when sifting through countless sounds, devastating your creative flow? Do you fight with samples to make them tight, slamming, and club ready… only later to be disappointed in the results? Have you fantasized about the multi-million dollar deal or winning the lottery so you can stack your studio with all the esoteric highend gear? Does your music command you have the latest kit, to gain the advantage and stand apart from the masses?

If you answered “YES!” to any of these questions, then you are in the right place and the right time.

The website even mentions a 30-day no questions asked refund, and then there’s the odd “only 997 copies will ever be available” thing.

The whole thing looked pretty dodgy to me, but my gut feeling was wrong.

The guy behind ToneBuilder and Driven Machine Drums is Nathaniel Shreve, an electronic musician who is passionate about his work. He wanted to make sure to share some interesting things about how the library came to be, and why he feels Driven Machine Drums is different from other drum sample libraries.

Now whether or not you enjoy Nathaniel’s style of writing, the bottom line is: this product is legit and well worth checking out.

What do you get?

Driven Machine Drums includes samples from a variety of synthesis sources:

  • Elektron Machine Drum
  • Symbolic Sound Kyma Capybara
  • Eventide H8000FW
  • Korg ER-1
  • E-mu SP-1200
  • Oberheim DMX
  • Yamaha DX200
  • Roland TR909, TR808, TR707, TR606
  • Jomox MBase 11
  • Vermona DRM-1 MKIII

While in itself that’s a nice list of gear, the special thing about Driven Machine Drums is the way each of the drum sounds was processed with analog coloration hardware. Tubes, tape emulation, transformers and envelope shapers were used to add a distinct “drive” to the samples.

Driven Machine Drums analog processing gearAnalog processing gear used to process the sounds includes the Thermionic Culture Vulture, Anamod ATS-1, Empirical Labs Distressor, Mutronics Mutator, and more.

Nathaniel writes:

See, what makes the MPC3000s and SP1200s so special was the quality of DRIVE added on the input. That drive adds natural compression, limiting, and HARMONIC DISTORTION, making the drums appear louder, warmer, and punchier.

Have you ever heard an acoustic guitar recording vs. a driven guitar recording? Play them at the exact same level and the DRIVEN guitar will appear to be louder.

This is the exact thing that was happening with my drums. They became louder, sharper, and driving without resorting to obscene amounts of limiting.

The Driven Machines Drums samples are categorized in various folders (claps, kicks, snares, etc.) and include a total of 1,684 samples:

  • 362 Kicks
  • 244 Snares
  • 108 Claps
  • 218 Cymbals and Hats
  • 135 Toms
  • 190 Hand Percussion Hits
  • 158 Sticks, Rims, Metals, and Bells
  • 272 Electronic Noises including Bass Boosters

Each folder has a number of subfolders with a descriptive title (e.g. DMD Ana Soft BNS, DMD Hats Fltrd 909) to help you find the type of sound you need.

The samples are available in 24bit WAV and AIFF formats. MPC users will be happy to hear the library also includes 16bit dithered WAV and there are 26 kits for FXpansion GURU.

A Deluxe version also includes Kontakt and EXS24 patches.

Check some of the sounds from the Driven Machine Drums library below.

So what do I think?

Product: Driven Machine Drums by ToneBuilder
Format: 24bit WAV/AIFF, GURU/Kontakt/EXS24
Price: $77 USD ($87 USD for the Deluxe version)

ToneBuilder is taking drum machine sampling to the next level. The sounds of Driven Machine Drums were designed and edited individually using a combination of analog processing gear. This way Nathaniel managed to get an amazing warm and punchy sound, full of that analog character many of us are looking for.

I didn’t find the Kontakt patches very useful as they simply map a (sub)folder of sounds across the keyboard. Handy for auditioning sounds but I think mapping the samples to drum kits would have been more valuable.

Driven Machine Drums is probably just another collection of electronic drum hits to those who think every 808 snare sounds like that one sample they already downloaded from the internet a few years ago. However, if you are serious about your drum hits Driven Machine Drums is certainly worth checking out, especially since there will only be a limited amount of copies sold.

In short, Driven Machine Drums is a great collection of electronic drum hits. High quality sounds with plenty of character to separate it from the competition.

ToneBuilder has a generous 100+ sample pack available to download on the Driven Machine Drums website, and you can get an additional pack of 34 free sounds here.

More information: Driven Machine Drums

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Loopy C
Loopy C

Well, first of all I liked his page :) and the sense of humor in service of his intent. The important part was what he actually says in format and how it bore out in the free samples he provided (he has given ‘the wink’ when asked about his choice of format) The samples sound very good and you get what you pay for (and then some), fans of Goldbaby should find this to be a nice companion to his also fine work. I bought it the day it came out after listening to the freebies and finding him to… Read more »

Loopy C
Loopy C

btw, I should mention

“The whole thing looked pretty dodgy to me, but my gut feeling was wrong.”

was pretty much my initial reaction also, I only really laughed after I figured out he was ok ;-)

Loopy C
Loopy C

“With lines like I wouldn’t lay it all out on the line publicly if I weren’t 100% confident these sounds will contribute to the continuing fulfillment of your dreams it’s a bit hard to tell if he’s joking or what.”

No doubt…I have heard another website is on it’s way (again gearslutz).


Thanks Ronnie for taking the time to review the collection and for the kind words. And thanks Loopy C for supporting the effort. I hope you get much satisfaction from using the collection. I had some humor interwoven in, but the “I wouldn’t lay it all out on the line publicly if I weren’t 100% confident these sounds will contribute to the continuing fulfillment of your dreams” is a serious thought. It refers to the story of being unemployed, taking everything I had, and creating a drum library… that story. It also refers to the 30 day trial period, which… Read more »


How does it compare to Wave Alchemy’s Drum Machines 01?

Loopy C
Loopy C

I am guessing that question is for Ronnie but looking at the spec’s, there is a different approach to the proccessing chain (more variety of processing with DMD) and a different /more varied choice of sources with DMD. Not to say that detracts from Wave Alchemy at all (which I have not tried) but to say it’s more a apples to oranges and personal need deciding factor I think. Looks like to have both would not necessarily have a lot of overlap in the equipment itself, whether that contrast to the two collections shows up in real use (i.e. the… Read more »


@Samplescience – I wouldn’t necessarily compare the two. Drum Machines 01 is all analog sounds (aside from some cymbal samples) leaning mostly to Jomox stuff. Driven Machine Drums has a mix of analog/sampled and a wider palette of sounds. Both are comparable in terms of sound quality and both are excellent, it just depends what types of sounds you’re after.

Loopy C
Loopy C

“And thanks Loopy C for supporting the effort. I hope you get much satisfaction from using the collection.” Hey Nathaniel, somehow I missed your comment earlier. In reply, my pleasure! And despite my referencing ‘humor’ in regards to your web site I would be remiss if I didn’t say I did get the sincereness of your message right away but these days you have to be diligent in making sure, you happen to be the exception to the rule in that the format perfectly fits your true intention ;-) All this talk has me really looking forward to my next… Read more »


ok, I didn’t thought of it as being very different… I’ve demoed both pack & really thought there was a difference between the two in sound quality, but I don’t want to get slammed because of this…
Let’s just say that Wave Alchemy don’t have all the marketing pressure technique on their website that I don’t like & the other have it, for me the choice is quite clear…


well I’m gonna do something after re-reading the review. I’m going to re-download the demo & tried without thinking about the website, let’s see what happens & let’s be fair!

Loopy C
Loopy C

Just to be sure, the DMD’s have been left with a purposeful headroom which means in a ‘1 to 1’ comparison with many/most sample sets they will sound less than they are AS IS (given most interpret loder as better). It is a conscious decision on his part given both the processing and the freedom for the end user to add eq without easily overdriving gain staging. It is my own practice also to keep things around -3 db peak for the same reason, but again, in a direct comparison louder will seem to sound best without this knowledge (of… Read more »

Loopy C
Loopy C

Note to self, re-enable spell checker ;-)


Well, I’ve re-tried the demo pack plus the other bonus samples… They are not bad & I see the “driven” part of it.
And I understand why you wouldn’t compare this sample set with WaveAlchemy’s Drum Machines 01 even if the WaveAlchemy set have distorted version of each of his sounds in their pack.
Funnily, the “magic” happened when I was programming a beat with Club Revolution’s drum kits & Wave Alchemy Drum Machines 01. Not with DMD, sorry!


Thanks again everyone, especially for that helpful insight regarding headroom.

Here’s two new audio examples I just made yesterday. ALL drums are from DMD… only EQ used on individual sounds. Gentle 1.5:1 drum buss comression, only 1-2dB of reduction to slightly glue the rhythm together. Everything is in the box…

The filters are a part of the FX package going out this week to users. The reverb on the synth is as well.

I think these are good examples of the natural compression and warmth the hardware processing provides the drum machines.




BTW, I’ve had conversations with the Wave Alchemy guys… nice folks : )

SampleScience… sorry the “marketing” turned you off… really tried to tighten it up and leave only the information I feel importnat. Best of luck to you.



Hey Guys I am having trouble with importing some of my Samples.

Some will work but Maschine will request that others need to be rescaned.
They are all the same file types though.

Would really appreciate it if someone knows whats up.


DMD Strikes Back, don’t miss it! Only 966 copies this time around.


arrgh, my library is gone and i can’t download anymore from the site.. please help


Did you try emailing at tonebldr at gmail?