If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to go through all the reviews and buying advice compiled by our researchers but you do want to find the best drum machine money can buy, this short paragraph should tell you everything you need to know. We have gathered plenty of information about the many different drum machines for sale on today’s market by checking out expert review sites and actual owner feedback. Out of all the models and brands we have looked into, the Alesis SR18 makes a good drum machine for professional use thanks to its high variety of drum sounds that enable the music producer to change tonal content according to what is needed. With over 50 bass sounds plus more than 500 drum and percussion sounds to use, this drum machine enables the music professional to create heart-thumping music that will take the concert hall by storm even during live performances. This drum machine opens up a whole world of exciting possibilities with its built-in effects including compression on each pad, reverb and EQ, whether preset or editable at the user’s option. If the Alesis SR18 is unavailable, we do not hesitate to recommend the second best option that is just as good, the Akai Professional XR20.
Adding substance and versatility to any live drummer or studio arsenal, drum machines are compact, easy and lightweight musical instruments that let the musician produce drum sounds, patterns and beats. Great for beginners and professionals alike, a drum machine allows you to produce loops that can later be used for recording or song production. These are the aspects to look at when buying a drum machine.
Performance-designed Pads and Jacks
Providing a great tool for guitar practice as well as keyboard practice, drum machines can range from the most basic units to the most advanced mixing machines. They are used by recreational music enthusiasts as well as record producers, sound engineers and professional recording artists. Delivering a large variety of realistic musical sounds, drum machines also boast built-in rhythm variations, professional editing features and precise programming capabilities.
Because of the variety of applications they are used for, drum machines should be made with performance-focused components. These include pressure sensitive pads. Because each of the pads in your drum machine carries a specific or designated sound, which can include kick, bass, tom, crash cymbal, snare and plenty of others, the pads should be designed to be pressure sensitive, ensuring that you can do finger drumming. You can augment the sounds that have already been recorded into the machine by customizing tracks.
You will also want the drum machine to be equipped with multiple input and output jacks. This enables you to plug in a variety of devices to maximize the capability of the device. You can plug in footswitch jacks, headphones and different stereo jacks that allow you to play, record and mix music without being distracted by ambient noise and without others getting disturbed as well. Multiple input and output jacks also eliminate the risk of having unwanted background sound and noise recorded in your creations. You can also plug into the drum machine if you want to record your own guitar tracks or prefer to work with an amplifier.
Programming and Editing Flexibility
Plenty of drum machines are outfitted with multiple editing features. In fact, high-end models that professional sound engineers use are equipped with a great number of editing features that a recreational music enthusiast would just consider overwhelming. Premium quality drum machines let you record your own sounds and combine them at your option with the preset or built-in sounds of the drum machine. With the preset styles numbering well into the thousands, that gives you a whole lot of fantastic choices on how you want your drum sounds.
Bass guitar tracks, exotic instruments, patterns and tones are just some of the built-in sound effects in a drum machine that allow you to combine realistic preset sounds with your own sounds. A fantastic feature to have at your disposal, built-in sound effects are superb especially when you can’t have a live guitar player with you to provide the guitar tracks. Some exotic instrument sounds on drum machines include tablas, djembes and sitars, with horns, keys and strings being the most popular musical sounds.
Ease of Use
Some models run on electricity while others operate on batteries. However, if you travel a lot or if you often do stage performances, you would want a model with a dual power supply to allow you flexibility in use. A great thing about majority of drum machines is their full portability. Most drum machines are relatively lightweight too, so you can effortlessly carry them with you when needed to a sound studio or a venue for live performance. Most models provide hands-on control over the parameters of the built-in effects, which is great as they let you do finger sweeps and allow you to trigger instrument sounds for playing arpeggiations and scales. It would be nice to enjoy creative and intuitive control over the touchpad during live performances. Some premium models even feature an internal modulation sequencer so you can record your hands-on manipulations to have greater creative potential on your musical pattern.
Top Drum Machines in 2020
The market is not short on drum machines, which can either be a good thing or a really bad thing for the consumer. With many products to choose from, your shopping journey is nowhere near easy since you will have to compare products or take them seriously side by side to ensure you are getting the best for your needs. The buying guide above is designed to simplify your buying chore, so take note of the tips provided there. We have highlighted the best products below to give you more assistance.
The KorgVolcabeats Analog Rhythm machine has established a reputation in the best drum machine reviews because of its exceptional quality. It is an electribe style drum machine that features 16-step sequencer. Beginners will not have any trouble using this device because it is very easy to operate. It may not be as sophisticated as the high end drum machine products but it is more flexible than expected from a model at its price point. It produces sound with great quality.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($149.99)
Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm
The best drum machine – is expected to have quite an expensive price tag – and it does. The Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum machine is quite an impressive electronic musical device that contains 440 percussion and drum sounds and additional 40 bass sounds in its program. It has enough storage space to program other sounds for rock, rap, R&B, jazz, and many more. The Boss DR-880 produces great sound and it can be operated easily.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($288)
Novation Circuit Groove Box
Engineered to inspire, the Novation Circuit Groove Box ships with an entire suite of tools that expand its functionality many times. Use this machine to create your personal sound palette, empowering you to shape, sequence, sculpt and perform. This drum machine allows you to drag and drop WAV or MP3 samples onto it utilizing the manufacturer’s effortless Web MIDI interface. Do what you want with every parameter of the drum machine’s pair of polyphonic synth engines, then save patches of what you create to the unit. You can save all your sessions on the drum machine to the cloud using the Librarian app, giving you peace of mind. This will also enable you to share your sound creations with buddies or to recall sessions from any location.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($329.99)
Akai Professional Tom Cat
The Akai Professional Tom Cat is a combination of a step sequencer, bass synthesizer and drum machine in one terrific device. Delivering a 100 percent analog signal path, the unit lets you start from scratch so you can really own your instrument and make totally unique sounds while enjoying a significantly different feel during every performance, depending on the environment’s physical conditions. This single device provides a fully analog drum machine that comes with snare, kick and clap sounds along with chromatically tunable Disco Toms. The built-in 32-step sequencer lets you finger drum on the MPC-style rubber pads. The sequencer also lets you do step-style programming, so your sound can be as loose or funky as you want.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($499.99)
Another middle range item considered as the best drum machine – is the Alesis SR18. This programmable drum machine has over 500 percussion and drum sounds, plus 50 bass sounds that can be arranged in different patterns to produce unique tones. The Alesis SR18 features a signature Alesis technology called Dynamic articulation which is engineered to manipulate tones easier. The machine has velocity sensitive pads and a backlit LCD that displays a user-friendly interface.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($256.77)
Akai Professional XR20
While most drum machines on the market have 500 programmed sounds, the Akai Professional XR20 Beat production Station Drum machine has 700. All of these sounds cover percussion, jazz, effects and have been preset into 99 patterned recordings while 99 slots are reserved for the user to create their own patterns. The hardware is very unique and it looks sophisticated. The black cover and blue backlight is both functional and attractive.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($259.98)
The Zoom RT223 Rhythm Trak Drum machine is a very affordable musical tool that is used to create unique tones by combining any of the 440 preset patterns which covers about every musical genre and style. Aside from allowing the user to create his/her own tones, it also has a Groove play mode that offers a DJ-like experience. The touch sensitive pads make it really easy to operate the machine. It has a compact size and a lightweight construction which allows it to be carried around easily.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($119.89)