Drum Machines

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About Drum Machines

Drum machines range from boxes that play basic rhythms for playing along to, all the way up to sophisticated electro modules. The basic principle is the same, allowing you to program your own beats, often by tapping the pads on the main panel or by a process called step sequencing, which allows you to place drum hits manually to each beat. A particular drum machine may feature a wide range of acoustic and electronic sounds, or focus more towards emulating classic beat boxes where there are fewer sounds but instead more in-depth control of those sounds and characteristics is available.

Machines including the Alesis SR16 and SR18 offer a simple way to produce rhythms for playing along to and creating demos, featuring a range of acoustic, electronic and percussive sounds. Since these machines keep things simple, they are ideal for making all kinds of music regardless of your technical experience.

Drum Synthesizers such as the Elektron Analog Rythm MKII, Roland TR-8S and Arturia DrumBrute are geared more towards electronic music and offer in-depth control over the individual sounds and grooves as well as the ability to sync to other electronic music hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions about Drum Machines

Question: Can I use a drum machine live?
Absolutely, depending on the style of music you're looking to play. If you're looking for a machine to sit in place of a drummer, the Alesis SR-18 is ideal, giving you the ability to programme whole songs. It even has a footswitch port meaning you can hit the footswitch and the SR-18 will play all the way to the end of the song, leaving you free to perform. Alternatively, if you're looking to create live electronic music, the Roland TR8S or the Arturia DrumBrute will allow you to program and tweak the sounds and performance on the fly.
Question: I'm looking to record some rock demos, what is the best drum machine?
The Alesis SR-18 is basically made for this. It is packed with samples of acoustic drum sounds and has lots of preset patterns. It also gives you the ability to create your own rhythm patterns and features pattern chaining to create songs. It even has a programmable synth bass.
Question: I want to start making techno, what is the best drum machine?
We'd recommend either the Roland TR-8S, which is based around the iconic Roland TR-808, offers sampling and is packed full of features, or the Korg Electribe EMX2 which offers intuitive programming and hosts more than just drum sounds. Both are professional level instruments and will integrate easily into any electronic music setup.