The best drum machines

The best drum machines

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Although it is not possible to do without a good drummer, a drum machine offers practicality, versatility and reliability. The drum machine It was introduced in 1959 and is often found in many keyboards, effects pedals, amplifiers and music production apps, due to this the demand for stand alone drum machines has decreased, but fortunately there are still many models available on the market. The drum machines we have reviewed work without the need for a computer, this sets them apart from the newer “groove production” units that require laptops to create beats and music.

Things to consider when buying a drum machine

  • Price

    The price of one  drum machine  go on  € 149 to € 2000. Good drum machines tend to cost less than 600 euros, obviously if you spend over 1000 euros you can count on extra features and top-of-the-range quality.

  • Voices, models and flexibility

    The fact that a drum machine has a lot of extra features could take away the creative energy that would have to be spent on making music. The drum machines we reviewed have most of the essential tones and patterns that cover most styles of music. There are still drum machines suitable for specific genres such as hip-hop and electronic dance music. Self want to further customize the percussion sounds and create complex patterns, you can rely on the ability of speech synthesis and sequencing capabilities.

  • Controls and responsiveness

    Some users prefer easy-to-use machines, others prefer in-depth control possibilities. Avoid buying  more expensive drum machines if you will only use presets and basic patterns,  so keep in mind only the  your control preferences.  Don’t underestimate the importance of  responsive controls, we recommend those with velocity sensitive pads  because they offer greater realism and dynamics.

  • Reliability and portability

    Reliability is important but often a well-built drum machine is even heavier than a plastic-built drum machine. Unfortunately for lovers of analog drum machines it is more and more difficult to deal with analog machines due to competition from VST software, MIDI keyboards and digital audio workstations.

How to choose a drum machine?

Budget – As always, the price is important, there are some not very expensive models, which do not disappoint.

Digital Compatibility – There are analog drum machine models that allow you to be connected to a pc or other digital devices, the vintage models that you can find used on ebay often don’t even have midi ports.

Portability – Although most are portable, it is always better to go for lightweight models.

Built-in sounds –  Some models have few sounds, others have gb of sound packages, still others need the midi connection to use their own sounds.

General machine sound –  Sound matters, so hopefully it is  “hot” and “thick” like drum machines  SP1200, 808 and  TR-8 which are much imitated by the current models that you will find below.

The best  drum machine

Akai MPC Studio – See price or buy

This is one of the best drum machines that carried on both the vintage era with modern features.  If you take this model you don’t need to look elsewhere. Its design is slim and quite portable with a large LCD screen that aids in navigating the USB-powered 128-track sequencer. The most important part of this machine is the sounds  plus 4 sensitive touch sensitivities, the swing function and more. Some software is included in the package. Akai MPC Studio combines the new and old features  at an affordable price.

Alesis SR18 – See price or buy

This Alesis drum machine is among the best sellers and incorporates many vintage features. Some other highlights include drum sounds, electronic drums and single hits, a reverb, an EQ, and a compressor plus the ability to add plug-ins or MIDI controllers. The drum machine can be powered by the AC adapter or by batteries. The Alesis SR18 is cheaper than its rival  Studio MPC, so if you want a nice drum machine at a lower price and with a more old-school feel, check out this model.

Arturia SparkLE – See price or buy

Creative’s Arturia Drum Machine SparkLE is a hybrid production center that combines intuitive hardware with the strength of software. Quite simply SPARK is combining synthesis with TAE (True Analog Emulation), and reproduces samples with overlay and post-processing modes, boasting physical modeling technology with an intuitive workflow. SparkLE hardware comes with a neoprene case. With it you can access all the functions you need to create templates, automate writing and perform live work. The SparkLE drum machine serves up a ‘TR-style’ workflow through its bright backlit buttons, while a musical platter of beats can literally be banged out with its eight pressure-sensitive backlit velocity pads. Three assignable encoders make it easy to write automation and control sound in real time. Even more musical, the TUNE mode allows chromatic reproduction of sounds through 16 step sequencer buttons or eight pads. The Creative Sparkle Drum Machine Software includes an impressive library of over 1,500 instruments and 100 kits covering a variety of musical genres and styles.

Korg Volca Beats – See price or buy

With this drum machine from Korg you get a simple sequencer with analog sounds (warm and fat), MIDI input, a compact design and a sturdy construction. We recommend the  Korg Volca Beats se  you are looking for a cheap drum machine with nice analog sounds.

Akai MPC Touch – See price or buy

Here is one of the best value for money drum machines that has analog and digital features.  On board he has a computer with a joke that allows you to configure the sequences,  track names and more. It allows you to browse or load sounds and can be connected to an MPC pad, a Q-Link and other buttons for  improve usability.

Roland Aira TR-8 – See price or buy

Roland TR-8 is a much loved drum machine because it is the modern version of the famous TR-808 and TR-909 models with a 16-step sequencer, pattern variants A and B, 16 kits of 11 instrument types, a display LEDs, reverb and delay effects, playback modes and more. Since the 1980s, these spectacular sounds have influenced hip hop music. With the Roland Aira TR-8 you can also count on USB and MIDI compatibility.

Dave Smith Instruments Tempest

Today one of the best analog drum machines in  battery.  Tempest is a similar drum machine created by Roger Linn and Dave Smith –  the two famous  makers of electronic tools. We find an analog synthesis from Smith and the structure of a modern battery machine  from the father of such instruments – Roger Linn. Furthermore, we must point out that  this is not a prototype version and therefore fully developed. Price? About 1600 euros. The instrument is a 6-voice and each voice is produced by two oscillators, analog and two digital. To these is added  a  low-pass filter, a new high-pass filter, coupled analog VCAs, two LFOs and a whole host of connections within the  signals. With a 256 × 64 LED Display. To control the sounds of 16 pads, it is velocity and speed sensitive  power. For one of the pads can be assigned to the transition function. The entire signal path is analog, the compressor, distortion effects, synchronized to the time of the delay effects. It is possible to check the swing value. The tool will be available mid-year.

Korg Electribe 2 – See price or buy

A great drum machine  for those who love synths. The Electribe is very popular and offers 16 nice quality drums, a knob to adjust the oscillation, filter, modulation, AMP / EG,  effects and a built-in sequencer. It supports  also polyphonic reproduction. The synthesizer engine is advanced and has 409 oscillator waveforms with analog and PCM modeling. The waveforms range from simple combinations to more complex ones (double, unison, sync, ring and cross modulation).