Alesis SR18 Review – Read Before you Buy

Alesis is a renowned manufacturer of top-notch drum machines. Their SR18 model is no different as it’s an upgrade of the great SR16.

This product comes with high-quality percussion & drum sounds, LCD backlight, and a responsive tempo. It also has an excellent build quality, preset patterns, controls, and an alternative power source, batteries.

If you like to improve your time and feel, the Alesis SR18 drum machine would be a worthy investment.

Alesis SR18

Alesis SR18


Things we liked

Great drum, bass and percussion sounds
Excellent build quality
Lots of control functions

Things we didn’t like

Complex user interface
Lacks auto-save function

The Drum Kit Review

Alesis SR18 is not a new invention, but it’s an upgrade of its predecessor, SR16. The SR16 drum machine is one of the most distinguished market leaders, having dominated the market for over 20 years. It features 12 velocity-sensitive pads, pattern-based sequencing, and a decent drum core ROM.

So, instead of changing this already good unit, Alesis decided to upgrade its quality and usefulness. The result was the SR18, which premiered in 2008. Since then, the SR18 is one of the best-selling drum machines in the world.

It is little, lightweight, easy to use, and has incredible percussion, drum, and bass sounds.

Who is this product for?

The Alesis SR18 is an excellent choice for new musicians. Thanks to its screen LCD backlight. This feature is useful, especially during a live stage performance, when lights go down, making it difficult to see.

This product is also a great choice for on-the-go musicians. Besides the provided wall adapter, this drum machine comes with 6 AA batteries. As such, you can use it in real-time, remotely, and when traveling to work on a song.

Are you looking for a unit that can produce professional results without breaking the bank? The SR18 is a perfect piece of gear as it has top-notch sound quality and control functions. It has all you need to take your music to the next level.

What is inside the box?

  • AC adapter
  • The SR18 drum machine
  • User manual
  • Safety and warranty information
  • Six batteries (not included)

Key Features of these Drums?


One of the most prominent features of Alesis SR18 is its sound quality. There is a great improvement on this new unit as compared to previous models.

It’s designed to sound like a real drummer, rather than a toy. The machine comes with standard pitch and envelope controls for easy tailoring of hits.

It has a bass instrument and percussion kit, a significant improvement from its predecessor. You can program these two additional kits just like the drums.

Overall, this product comes with 102 root sounds, 50 different bass sounds, 100 drum kits, 571 sounds, and 175 preset rhythm patterns.  

Beyond the filter, pitch, and envelope controls, sound processing for each hit comes as presets. There are 14 EQ compression presets and 22 reverb presets.

Setting the tempo on this machine is incredibly easy. You can either use the tap tempo button or the rotary knob. Amazingly, you can also type in a tempo through the numbered pads.

Creating patterns is also very simple. All you need to do is select an empty bank and then hit the record and play buttons simultaneously. Finally, use the bottom pads to create your desired beat.


The top panel of this instrument has three rows with lots of control functions.

Top row

On the top row, you will find the LCD screen, record and tempo LEDs, and a broad rotary control. The tempo LED is very helpful in improving your feel and time.

Middle row

The middle row has numerous buttons, some of which you will not need. The main buttons that you need in this section are stop, play/pause, and fill. If you want to add some percussion or write a bass line, you will need the perc, drums, and bass buttons.

Other vital buttons in the middle section are drum kit selector, pattern builder, and effects controls. These keys are fundamental when recording guitar, drums, and bass. The tap tempo button is also in the middle.

Bottom row

Here, you find 12 pads that function differently based on the set mode. When set in a drum mode, you can use them as drum set elements. In percussion mode, each pad controls a different instrument, while in bass mode, you can program bass lines with ease. You can also set the pads in a pattern play mode.

You can also use the pads to trigger patterns.

On the bottom of this instrument, there is a battery door that accommodates six batteries.


The Alesis SR18 has its connectivity ports on the rear side. It comes with a guitar instrument input making it easy to play along with built-in patterns.

Alesis SR18 connection

 It comes with a headphone out through which you can connect a guitar amp or jam silently. Also, this machine has two stereo outputs, which are ideal for recording or connecting a PA system.

It also has a MIDI in and out/thru, which is compatible with a keyboard and a DAW. On the back of the machine, you will get a ¼ inch instrument input via which you can plug a guitar and play along.

Build Quality

Alesis’ brands are always on top of the game when quality is concerned.

The outer case of SR18 is from powdered coated aluminum. Its jacks are correctly screwed in to give it longevity, and it has rubber buttons for a solid feel.

Alternatives to this Electric Kit

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Downsides of this Electric Kit


Despite having top-notch sound, there are a few grey areas in this instrument, just like in every other. The good thing is that when handled well and with caution, you’ll be on the safe side.

The most recurrent complaint among customers is the manual. Many people claim that the manual is a bit complicated to follow, given all the options available.

Another downside of this machine is that it lacks the undo function. Mind you; the erase button is right next to the save button. Any slight slip of the finger you risk losing all your work. However, you can avoid this problem by being more careful.

Also, this instrument does not save work automatically. As such, be sure to save every little change you make.


To sum it all, Alesis SR18 is a simple but very effective instrument. It has excellent drum and percussion sounds, making it one of the most consistent best sellers in the world.

If you want to improve your time and feel, this instrument would be the best investment.

Well, the SR18 is a bit complex to operate and has many unnecessary options, but it is user-friendly.

This studio icon is ideal for playing live, song-writing, and music remixing. You can use it anywhere, thanks to its flexible wall adapter and battery power. Get yours today for the best price!

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