- Handpans are magical yet hard-to-find instruments
- Discover the best VST plugins that mimic the handpan
- Listen to the different sounds of this popular instrument
- Want more VST plugins for your library? Check out the best free synth VSTs
Handpans are magical instruments with their mesmerizing out-of-world sound and peculiar looks. However, handpans are not affordable instruments, nor are they easy to find.
This article covers our top five handpan VSTs that you should consider adding to your war chest of plugins.
When assessing the best handpans, we wanted to ensure that our picks satisfied the following criteria:
- That they imparted a convincing sense of realism to that of a genuine handpan
- That they were easy to use and with enough tone shaping control
- That they offered enough functionality by way of the number of scales and presets available
What Are The Best Handpan VSTs?
As far as paid plugins go, we recommend the Pandrum by Cinematique Instruments.
If you just want to get your feet wet and check out something free, give Ample Percussion Cloudrum by Ample Sound a go.
Both feature a slew of varied steel pan instrument sounds that are certain to get you into realistic handpan territory (without actually owning one).
With that out of the way, our top handpan VST plugin picks include:
- Pandrum by Cinematique Instruments
- Ample Percussion Cloudrum by Ample Sound
- Pan Drums by Soniccouture
- Pianoteq Pro by Modartt
- Alien Drum by 8dio
Let’s dive deeper into the details of these top handpan VST plug-ins and sample libraries to understand better which suits your needs.
1. Pandrum by Cinematique Instruments
Highly realistic virtual handpan instrument for Kontakt.
The Pandrum is a great VST instrument for creating relaxing, atmospheric, and New Age sounds, as well as for inspiring sound design, for pop, electronic and other genres.
- Realistic detailed sound
- Versatile with different scales, handpans, and presets
- Tone shaping options
Pandrum by Cinematique Instruments is a pricey yet highly versatile and great-sounding virtual handpan designed to use with Kontakt.
- 6 handpan and 2 tongue drum sounds in 18 different scales
- 6 presets and many tone-shaping options
- Detailed sampling
Pandrum by Cinematique Instruments is one of the best virtual handpan instruments with its detailed sampling and 5-layer instruments.
The virtual handpan features 6 handpans, 2 tongue drum sounds, and 6 presets. You also get great tone-shaping options like EQ and filters, reverb, delay, and more.
It is one of the best handpan VSTs, but it comes with a high price tag and only works with Kontakt.
- Highly realistic handpan and tongue drum sound
- Versatile with 18 scales, 6 presets, and tone-shaping options
- Great tone-shaping options
- Slightly pricey
- Only for Kontakt
2. Ample Percussion Cloudrum by Ample Sound (Best Free Option)
Unique and relaxing steel tongue drum virtual instrument plugin that’s available for free.
Cloudrum is a unique and relaxing Steel Tongue Drum with a range of 3 octaves. It produces wonderful tones, adds color, and a unique moderation to your music no matter the genre.
- Free VST
- Great steel tongue drum sound with 3 octaves
- Produces wonderful tones
Cloudrum by Ample Sound is a great-sounding free virtual steel tongue drum with a 3-octave range and some sound shaping features for extra versatility.
- Unique steel pan drum sound
- 3 octaves range
- Some tone-shaping options like mic positions and 4 articulations
If you are looking for a free VST steel pan instrument, Ample Percussion Cloudrum by Ample Sound is the best choice.
It offers a unique and articulated virtual steel pan drum with a 3-octave range, wonderful tones, and some tone-shaping options.
The VST has 4 articulations of open, mute, opened release, and muted release sounds, as well as two mic positions with mono and stereo modes.
You can also get great percussion instrument sounds with the plugin.
The drawback is that it only offers tongue drum sounds but not a real handpan sound. Also, tone shaping options are not plenty, making the plugin less versatile.
It is one of the best free-hang drum VSTs around.
- Great free virtual instrument
- Unique sound with wonderful tones
- 4 articulations and 2 mic positions
- Only a single tongue drum virtual instrument
- Not enough tone-shaping options
3. Pan Drums by Soniccouture
The first and the best-selling handpan samples from 2007 by Soniccouture.
After releasing the best-selling 'Pan Drum' sampled instrument, featuring two different models of Hang drum, Soniccoutoure return with an updated library that explores new drums and a cutting-edge Kontakt player interface.
- Handpan and tongue drum samples
- High versatility
- 50 different sound design presets
Soniccouture always releases the best-selling handpan VSTs. ‘Pan Drums’ is the top-quality and versatile handpan sample set with 6 different instrument sounds and great tone-shaping options.
- 6 original Kontakt Player instruments and many tongue drum sounds
- Up to 21 velocity layers and 5 alternate round-robin layers
- 6 articulations for Hangs, 4 articulations for Halos, and 50 sound design presets
- KSP Jammer generative arpeggiator
Soniccouture was the first company that sampled handpans back in 2007. Since then, they have been releasing the best-selling sampled instrument handpan plug-ins.
Their latest release ‘Pan Drums’ is one of the best and the most versatile handpan VSTs.
‘Pan Drums’ features six original Kontakt Player instruments with F, D, C, and B root notes.
There are Hangs by Panart and Halo samples in the plug-in, some of the oldest and top-quality handpans. It also has various tongue drum samples.
Besides different samples, there are many tone-shaping options such as up to 21 velocity layers, up to 5 alternate round-robin layers, 5 articulations for Hangs, including center, edge, slap, corner, and knuckles, along with four articulations for Halos, including fingers, thumbs, slap, and mallets.
For tongue drums, there are just the mallet sound samples.
Plus, there are 50 sound design presets for tone shaping. The only drawback of the plugin is the high price tag.
- Great sound with rich details and unique tones
- Many different handpan models, scales, and tones
- Good tone-shaping options
- Fantastic sampled instrument sounds
- High price
4. Pianoteq Pro by Modartt (Most Versatile)
A great VST instrument plug-in mainly for piano sounds but with some extra instruments.
Pianoteq is an award-winning virtual instrument that can be used both in standalone mode and as an instrument plug-in in VST, AAX, and AudioUnits hosts.
- Amazing handpan sound
- Physically modeled instruments
- High-quality sound
Designed as a VST piano plug-in, Pianoteq Pro by Modartt offers amazing piano sounds along with 4 extra instrument sounds of your choice.
There is also the handpan plug-in option, which sounds fantastic with top-quality tones and great tone-shaping options.
- Up to 192 kHz audio
- 5 different instrument sounds, including pianos and handpans
- Note-per-note edit and tone-shaping options
Pianoteq Pro by Modartt is a premium VST instrument plug-in designed mainly for pianos.
However, the package has different instrument choices, including handpan sounds.
Stage, Standard, and Pro options offer you tiered levels of extra features and instruments, depending on your needs.
We recommend the Pro package, as it features 192 kHz audio quality, note-to-note edit and tone shaping options, and up to 4 extra instrument options.
However, the Pro option is a relatively high-end VST plugin as it costs more than double the price of other VSTs on the list.
- Fantastic sound quality
- Note-to-note edit and tone-shaping options
- 192 kHz audio quality
- Instrument morphing and layering
- Very pricey product
- Not many different handpan sounds
5. Alien Drum by 8dio
Excellent quality deep-sampled Handpan VST plug-in for Kontakt with a great value-for-price ratio.
- Amazing value
- More than 4,300 samples
- Different articulations and real-time effects
The new Alien Drum by 8dio is an affordable yet highly versatile, high-quality VST handpan instrument.
It has 2 İnstrument patches and 4337 samples with 44.1Khz/24Bit Stereo audio quality. It also has real-time effects, tone-shaping options, and up to 15 velocity layers and 10 repetitions per layer.
- Great-sounding and versatile 2 instrument patches and 4337 samples
- Up to 15 velocity layers and 10 repetitions per layer, and 4 articulations
- 44.1Khz/24Bit Stereo audio quality
- Works with Kontakt
The new Alien Drum by 8dio is the ideal choice if you want an affordable VST handpan instrument plugin.
It shines with its great value-for-price ratio as it comes with amazing-sounding 2 instrument patches and 4337 samples.
The plug-in has up to 15 velocity layers and 10 repetitions per layer, and 4 articulations, including fingered, hand-palm, brushed, and muted sounds.
Plus, it has great tone-shaping options like real-time effects like delays, fuzz, rotator, etc., presets, and different controls.
There is also a Propanium VST plugin for musicians who want tongue drum sounds. The drawback is that the plugin only works with Kontakt.
- Great-sounding virtual handpan with more than 4300 samples
- High versatility with real-time effects and tone-shaping options
- Great value for the price
- Kontakt 5.8.1 or later required
Before you head off, check out our guide to the best synthwave VSTs!