Drum machines are remarkable electronic musical instruments because they can mimic the sounds of percussions. Like very compact drum kits, they produce unique percussion sounds. Moreover, they are highly programmable, allowing you to produce your own rhythms. They may play using prerecorded samples, or they can create sounds via analog synthesis. But why would you need a drum machine when you can have your drummer in a band? The reason for this is quite obvious.
The drum machine has significantly become popular electronic music instrument among musicians of various genres ranging from the psychedelic folk to the danceable genres. It has also become the focal point of those electronically-inclined musical genres because it provides a wider scope for sound experimentation. But even with folk and rock genres, many musicians utilize the drum machine to create polished sounding demos without necessarily having to use a full-drum setup.
If you intend to buy a drum machine, you should know the key features that a drum machine should have. These key features include:
First, a drum machine should have pressure-sensitive pads to make it easy for its users to create the different sounds of an actual drum set especially the kick snare beats.
It should also have built-in effects to let you enhance its sounds and to let you experiment on sounds that a real or actual drum set can’t create. A drum machine that is packed with an awesome number of drum effects would surely do that for you.
Lastly, it should have a wide array of editing and programming features to let you do the recording and mixing of sounds. Some drum machines have preset patterns that range from ten up to more than a thousand preset patterns.
Best Models and Brands of Drum Machines For Beginners
Drum machines had a huge influence and impact on popular music starting in the early 1980s. With the introduction of Roland TR-808, drum machines impact became very apparent. Soon after, many models and brands of drum machines became available giving those—who would like to dip their hands on the use of drum machines—a lot of options to choose from. These myriads of brands and models, however, make it a bit confusing for beginners to choose the right drum machine for their needs. If you are a beginner, therefore, in the use of drum machines, you can check out this list of popular drum machine models for beginners:
1) Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2
This model is basically an inexpensive piece of hardware that is packed with awesome features. First, it offers a pattern-based sequencer that enables musicians to readily create songs. It comes with a high-performing sampler, pattern-based sequencer, exemplary drum synths, and remarkable suite of pro effects and studio instruments. It also comes with a highly acclaimed sound library. You can get up to 64 voice polyphony for every sound. You will surely love its vintage sample modes.
Moreover, it is run by a top-of-the-line audio engine that allows you to save resources while getting excellent audio quality. Its 32-bit float internal summing provides your tracks awesome quality. Furthermore, it is equipped with advanced multi-core technology that runs many processes in parallel, allowing you to divide complicated tasks among the different cores of your computer.
It also allows you to readily slice your samples by simply choosing the technique that is suited for your sound. It has four different modes, namely: detect, grid, manual, and split. It also comes with five monophonic drum plug-ins that are designed exclusively for MASCHINE 2.
Its powerful step sequencer provides you with a fantastic way to sculpt your grooves. It features a clip-based pattern sequencer that allows you to edit patterns, change velocity, nudge notes, and record modulation. It also allows you to create scenes for the intro, main groove, outro, variation of groove, and breakdown. Moreover, it will enable you a polished mixing of your sonic creation with its easy-to-adjust multi-function knob. The Maschine Mikro MK2 is undoubtedly an all-in-one package for beginners and pros as well.
2) Korg Volca Beats
The Korg Volca Beats is definitely a fantastic drum machine that can deliver awesome classic sounds. It comes with six analog and around four PCM-based drum parts. It allows you to edit your sounds via its intuitive, user-friendly interface instantly. With it, you can cut, slice, and mix loops on the fly for a powerful analog rhythm experience.
When It was first released in 2013, it definitely made noise for offering analogue drum sounds at a very affordable price. It may look unassuming, but it is undoubtedly packed with a lot of punch.
The Volca Beats is not strictly categorized as a drum machine. Yet, it can create excellent drum samples via its Volca Sample feature. This feature is somewhat similar to that of a sequencer, yet it lets you load, and at the same time, manipulate your own sounds and samples.
This one is also equipped with external sync features for MIDI connection and control from your DAW. Moreover, with its compact size and battery operation option, you can surely use it anywhere. Lastly, you can also plug it in using a 9V DC power cord.
3) Alesis SR16 Stereo Electronic Drum Machine
The Alesis SR16 Stereo Electronic Drum Machine is a versatile and do-it-all drum machine. This drum machine has been used by many live performers, songwriters, and remix engineers, and many prefer this model over other models and brands. The Alesis is a more advanced drum machine equipped with 12 velocity-sensitive pads that are characterized by dynamic articulation. It comes with 50 presets, and 50 user drum kits with 233 assignable sounds to any pad. You can readily change the tonal quality and content of a drum sound by simply using its Dynamic Articulation feature. It also comes with features like step editing, sound stacking, stereo samples along with reverb and ambiance. It comes with two footswitch jacks, aux outs, Stereo main, MIDI I/O, headphone jack, and power supply.
It comes with tons of built-in rhythmic variations for composing, arranging, and customizing patterns and songs. It also offers natural drum sounds in both dry and sampled forms. Moreover, it comes with 233 professional sounds that have been carefully sampled to make them sound amazingly authentic. It is likewise complete with MIDI implementation for unlimited creativity. The Alesis SR16 is indeed one of your best drum machine options on the market today.
4) Akai Professional MPD218
The Akai Professional MPD218 is a powerful MIDI drum pad controller that is equipped with 48 pad banks. This makes the Akai Professional MPD218 perfect for engaging in finger drumming. Its design, of course, is simple, and it has small dimensions making it very portable. Yet, it is feature-packed with its 16 Thick Fat backlit MPC pads with 48 assignable pads that are accessible via three banks. It also comes with six control knobs with 18 assignable knobs that are accessible via three banks.
You can easily make the AKAI MPD218 the centerpiece of your musical undertaking and creativity as a rhythm machine for your music production project. It is little thinner than five centimeters and weighs just below one kilogram. It is encased in an ultra-portable case that is quite lightweight and slim. It also comes with free software and core sample and DAW control functionality. This model from AKAI is undoubtedly rock-solid and very dependable because it is sturdily designed and engineered.
5) Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic
The Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic is a pocket-sized operator that looks like a hybrid of the old LCD video game machine and a calculator. It features a built-in microphone together with an import/export functionality. It is a powerful percussion synthesizer that is equipped with a wide array of sonic capabilities. It is also equipped with 16 fully customizable sounds and 16 punch-in effects, plus 16 step sequencer parameter locks. Moreover, it comes with a built-in speaker 3.5mm audio I/O.
Furthermore, it comes with a jam sync LCD display with folding stand watch plus alarm clock. It also allows users to directly transfer sounds and pattern data from one unit to another. You can easily generate new patches and pattern data using the PO-32 tonic. Overall, this one is surely a flexible drum machine and a less expensive one. Lastly, it is fun to tinker with.