8 Best Drum Machines in 2020 Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Ever imagined of finding a perfect drum machine? You may not be alone. Many musicians will still prefer old drum machines. They are practical devices that will always offer versatility and quality sound. 

The market is getting saturated with various models. It becomes a challenge to select the right one. Most of the beginners will not interpret precise specifications with ease. Complicated hardware will become tricky to such individuals.

If you are facing a similar situation, do not panic. This review has a collection of 8 best drum machines that are in the market. Some are analog, and others feature digital specifications. By reading this article to the end, your learning curve will s raise.

Most of the products on our list have different features that make them unique. You only need to understand your diverse needs before you settle for the right pick. Let us take a look at some facts in broader details. 

Comparison table for the Best Drum Machines

IMAGEPRODUCTFEATUREBUY
Roland Rhythm Composer 1. Roland Rhythm Composer
Best in customization
  • Robust build that is durable
  • Lightweight design
  • LCD screen
Novation AMS-CIRCUIT Circuit Groove Box w/ Sample Import 2. Novation AMS-CIRCUIT Circuit Groove Box w/ Sample Import
Best in functionality
  • Powered by mains electricity and battery.
  • Regular software updates.
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller3. Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller
  • Touch sensitive knobs
  • Integrated software
Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Machine - Best for a professional studio4. Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum MachineBest for a professional studio
  • Sequencer
  • Chain patterns
Korg Volca Beats 5. Korg Volca Beats
Best for Budget
  • Compact and versatile design
Korg ELECTRIBE Synth Based Production Station 6. Korg ELECTRIBE Synth Based Production Station
Best for live performances
  • 409 different oscillator types
  • 64-step sequencer
  • Integrated software
AKAI Professional MPD218 7. AKAI Professional MPD218
Best in Portability
  • LCD screen
  • Lightweight design
Alesis SR-16 8. Alesis SR-16
Best for Beginners
  • User friendly features.
  • Portable.

Drum Machines Reviews

1. Roland Rhythm Composer – Best in customization

Roland Rhythm Composer- Best in customization
  • Robust build that is durable
  • Lightweight design
  • LCD screen

Things we liked

It is a vintage machine that is ideal for modern beat makers
The drum machine has a LED display which has controls for better management 
The user will have hands-on control over certain aspects like tuning, tone, and level
The drum machine has a robust build to make it durable
The lightweight design enhances the portability aspect

Things we didn’t like

The pricing is slightly high when compared to other digital models

While making a list of the best drum machines, it will be impossible to ignore Roland. It is a digital drum machine that is of high-quality. Precisely, it is an improvement of the analog TR-808 drum machine. 

It has a 61-step sequencer with 16 sub-steps to suit intricate patterns. Furthermore, the drum machine has several built-in sounds. These sounds come in 96k/ 32 bit. You can easily navigate the menu, thanks to the 4-character LED display.

The product has dedicated controls that enable you to tweak certain features. They can be tone, level, decay, and tuning. Typically, the drum machine has ten different audio outputs. You can control them at DAW through a USB connection. 

The fully customizable and programmable drum machine is vital. It enables one to manipulate it to your needs. Still, these drum tool has robust build quality, which makes it long-lasting.

The compact size of this Roland Rhythm composer makes it highly portable. It is suitable for musicians that want a product with digital capabilities. The top has a LED display, which is bright and cool.

The LED also makes these drum device to be unique, creative, and appealing. This vintage drum machine is suitable for a modern beat maker. It has numerous features that will enhance the correct sound quality. 


2. Novation AMS-CIRCUIT Circuit Groove Box w/ Sample Import – Best in functionality

Novation AMS-CIRCUIT Circuit Groove Box w/ Sample Import - Best in functionality
  • Powered by mains electricity and battery.
  • Regular software updates.

Things we liked

It has an exclusive six-voice polyphony and 2-part nova 
You can power it through mains electricity or battery
It has various functional features that make it versatile
The drum device has regular software updates
The buyer will enjoy a 2-year warranty

Things we didn’t like

No drawbacks

Novation AMS-Circuit is a drum machine that will act as an autonomous synth. The drum machine has a built-in speaker and synthesizer, which will produce drum beats. It also has a backing of 32 pads. 

This drum machine is flexible when it comes to power. You can either use 6 AA batteries or tap it directly from mains electricity. This drum machine is in four parts. The user can save up to a range of 32 sessions. 

The product offers a wide range of sounds. It has drum patches that are useful for creating rhythms. Moreover, it can store up to a variety of 64 drums. It also has RGB pads that are velocity-sensitive with a measurement of a 4×8 grid.

The presence of volume pots and a dedicated filter will enhance the functionality. The Circuit has an internal tempo that ranges between 40 -240. Still, it has eight macro encoder knobs. 

As you use this product, there will be periodic software updates. Such actions are useful, especially for the cloud-based sessions. There is a drum patch that creates rhythms in diversity as one varies them.

You can use a matrix to program melodies, rhythms, and harmonies. It is easier to program drum patterns and synth to a range of 28 steps. As you complete the programming part, it is easier to transfer creations. All is possible through the connection to Mac or PC. 


3. Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller
  • Touch sensitive knobs
  • Integrated software

Things we liked

The drum machine comes with the best software and hardware
The touch-sensitive knobs are useful in managing the operations
The drumming machine has a complete library having 25 pro-quality studio
The audio interface is reliable to enhance better results while recording 

Things we didn’t like

No drawbacks

Native is among the best drum machine in existence. The drum device is suitable for creating a piece of favorite music. It is dependable while performing live. Still, this product will offer a variety of cool features that enable the best experience. 

The drum machine has perfect dimensions that make it convenient for storage. Luckily, the same drum machine has more features, which makes it slightly heavy. The entire weight is about 4.85 pounds, which is portable.

Besides, the drum machine comes with integrated hardware and software. The two will work in collaboration to run the mixer, the arranger, FX, and the sampler. It also includes a library with creative FX and a pro-quality studio. 

You will easily manage the drum device as it has touch-sensitive knobs. The design is useful in parameter tweaking. 

You can also connect it to a computer while running its operations. The output will produce outstanding results. 

Interestingly, the drum machine has a smart strip. The feature is essential while strumming the notes. Also, it assists when pitch bending sounds. You can also involve it while performing with FX. 

The entire package has a MIDI connection. Also, it consists of a stereo headphone output and an audio interface. 

It has a black finish having an Ableton push. The durable inside rubber is where every function name available. 


4. Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Machine – Best for a professional studio

Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Machine - Best for a professional studio
  • Sequencer
  • Chain patterns

Things we liked

The drum machine uses 17 types of analog drum sounds
The drum machine will help the user in creating complex polyrhythms
The user will take advantage of the step sequencer
It has chain patterns and effects 
It has functional and straightforward features that make it functional

Things we didn’t like

The 1/8 inch connectors that require separate outputs are insensible

If you are an analog sound lover, then you can make Arturia DrumBrute your right pick. The product features 17 drum sounds. Furthermore, it has various controls that can let you create your sounds. 

The drum device produces sonic quality. As a result, it makes it distinctive as compared to others. Still, the drum machine has 12 physical channels, with each one having a dedicated button. 

You can easily create songs and drum patterns courtesy of a 64-step sequencer. Most of the available features are user-friendly, making it favorable to beginners. Unfortunately, it lacks extra features to make it versatile. 

Notably, the drum tool is slightly heavy due to the analog build. The user will enjoy the analog sounds. The manufacturer compensated that heavy aspect by making it have a compact design. It utilizes a considerable memory for sampling.

The drum machine has a Steiner-Parker output filter. The feature will assist in delivering smooth LPF or HPF sweeps. You can only operate it by pressing a single button on the board. Due to 12 individual outputs, it is the best drum machine on stage.

The box features many functions that enhance creativity while performing. The user can apply them to produce various styles like hip hop and more. The features are easy to use as you connect it to a state-of-art application.


5. Korg Volca Beats – Best for Budget

Korg Volca Beats-Best for Budget

Compact and versatile design


Things we liked

The product comes in a compact design which makes it easily portable
The product comes with pocket-friendly prices to make it affordable
The product has a versatile design that enables it to produce various volca beats
It features a MIDI adapter to facilitate connections
It can run on both battery and mains electricity 

Things we didn’t like

The Korg Volca lacks many connectivity options

Several drum devices appear in analog design to serve the user efficiently. If you think analog is an old concept, then you are wrong. The product is an analog drum machine that offers excellent and dependable service. 

Korg will produce top-quality analog sounds. It has a variety of features, which are precisely ten drum parts. The six of the ten features are Pulse Code Modulation (PMC) based parts. 

Besides, the analog drum machine uses a DSP synth engine that is highly versatile. You can create drum sounds by selecting various oscillator waveform modes. There also three-kinds of pitch modulators with an envelope.

The drum machine features a 16-step sequencer, which provides at least 256 steps. Also, this best drum machine has a built-in speaker, plus a 3.5mm stereo out. The product can comfortably run on both mains electricity and batteries.

It has a remarkable distinctive feature to produce volca beats. It comes in a smaller size, which is also lightweight. Such a design makes fit for travel. The user will also take advantage of various connectivity options and sequencer.

It has sync in and out, whereby the user can sync multiple instruments. Moreover, it allows for MIDI support. The step sequencer will improve the overall functionality.

Beyond that, it comes with fair pricing, which is suitable for those on budget. 


6. Korg ELECTRIBE Synth Based Production Station – Best for live performances

Korg ELECTRIBE Synth Based Production Station - Best for live performances
  • 409 different oscillator types
  • 64-step sequencer
  • Integrated software

Things we liked

The drum machine comes with the MIDI adapter that supports the related functions
It has an outstanding sequencer that features 64 steps meant for each part
The product will offer a maximum polyphony featuring 24 voices and sequencer
It provides more straightforward mechanisms for sampling 
It uses the latest software for easier management of Korg volca beats

Things we didn’t like

The drum device is not a favourite option to a beginner 

Korg Electribe presents a new generation of the best drum machine. The model will allow you to produce a piece within a short period. This drum machine happens to be a pattern sequencer that comes with a synthesizer. 

It is also has a polyphony having a maximum of 24 notes with complex arrangements. It also features hundreds of oscillators that have conventional instruments like percussion. One can modify the entire drum machine by using filters, envelopes, and modulations.

The Korg will feature a Blue Electribe 2 with a new operating system. The software has various functions. You can start it by using chain patterns that are ideal for live performances. The product has a MIDI adapter to support the related services. 

The Korg has an elaborate memory capacity. It can support up to 250 patterns and better Korg volca beats. Still, the drum machine has 38 types of insert effects. The user will enjoy 32 kinds of master effects. Overall, the functional features make this machine to be popular. 


7. AKAI Professional MPD218 – Best in Portability

AKAI Professional MPD218 - Best in Portability
  • LCD screen
  • Lightweight design

Things we liked

The drum machine has a complete software and hardware integration
It offers a sampling and flexible sequencing software which enhances the functionality
The product has a large LCD screen for more natural controls
The lightweight design allows you to transport it from one point to the next easily
The vintage drum machine set up is easily customizable to suit our style

Things we didn’t like

The drum machine lacks built-in sounds

Akai Professional is a purely an MIDI drum machine which is suitable for beginners. Its 48 pad banks are typically velocity-sensitive. Remarkably, it has the Repeat function, which is useful while creating loops. 

Moreover, 16 backlit MPC pads that have 6 knobs make you control sounds. One can comfortably customize a drum machine in relation to particular needs. The primary reason is that both the knobs and the pads are assignable. 

Unluckily, this product lacks onboard sound. One may need a PC to operate it effectively. On the other hand, the product has three banks of various styles and preset-sounds. You can only power it via USB. You may not need an AC connection.

This Akai Professional drum machine is compatible with iOS devices and the PC. Beyond that, the same product has a compact size. The small size with low weight allows the user to transport it to any destination easily. 

Another exciting feature is that the drum machine features free software. A perfect example of the software is the Ableton Live Lite that increases its value. This best drum machine is ideal for any user that wants a portable and customizable device. 

The box comes from durable brushed aluminum stuff. The large backlit LCD is suitable for controlling drum sound. 

This drum machine has a 1GB sound library. The user-friendly device allows you to import AIFF and WAV samples.


 

8. Alesis SR-16 – Best for Beginners

 Alesis SR-16 - Best for Beginners
  • User friendly features.
  • Portable.

Things we liked

The product has various functional features that are easy to use
The Alesis has an LCD screen which is ideal in easier managing of the menu
The kit will produce more than 230 realistic and professional sounds
The entire set is compact and lightweight hence easily portable
The drum device has user-friendly features necessary for any beginner

Things we didn’t like

The drum machine lacks a battery option thus limiting it to electrical power only

The Alesis SR-16 is among the best drum machines in the market. Many musicians consider its popularity due to the extensive features that it has. Firstly, the product is user-friendly. The user can quickly change the learning curve practicing.

The versatile design of Alesis SR -16 allows one to make complicated kinds of stuff. The product comes with a footswitch input. Furthermore, it has velocity-sensitive finger pads. The product has USB MIDI support.

You can easily navigate the menu since the Alesis SR 16 features an LCD screen. Still, you can enjoy the four input types. The user will make use of 50 different recordings of drum kits for selection. As if that is not over, there are 233 professional drum sounds.

The set will sound like an actual drum set. The builder used dynamic articulation technology. Besides, the product will produce realistic sound quality, which is of high-quality. The cool aspect is all about its compact size. You can easily carry it around.

It is noteworthy that the Alesis SR-16 will not operate on batteries. A battery feature is always advantageous when you consider portability. We recommend this Alesis SR-16 to the beginners. 

The product happens to be among the 24-bit models, which is of age. The design will still meet the demand of musicians. 


Buying Guide for the Best Drum machines

The drum machine is still relevant to the present musical society. The emergence of computer software did not make them null and void. The hundreds of models in the market make the selection exercise a bit complicated. 

There is more hope for you when you are in a state of indecision. Multiple models will favor each one’s taste and level. It would be better if you understood particular specifications for an individual drum machine. 

In this review, will guide you stepwise on every aspect  that you should know. Once you have proper facts about the best drum machine, the selection becomes easy. Let us take a look at some of the vital points to consider 

Sound Performance 

When you focus on musical instruments, sound performance happens to be the heartbeat. As for the analog drum machine, they have complex circuits. Such a design will enable the user in the creation of percussion sounds.

The beginner will use a particular drum tool well as they come with presets. On the other hand, digital drums have a different design. The internal library will store the sounds. The user will automatically recall them while making beats. 

Some drum machines will enable one to tweak the sounds through filters. They may include tuning, decay, and compressors. There is another category of the drum machine that will replicate sound accurately. 

Digital or Analog

The functionality of the drum machine will overly depend on their designs. The analog enthusiast will treasure the superiority of the analog electric sound. On the contrary, some people value the digital machines.

Digital drum machines are easily customizable and versatile. However, the different musicians will have varying tastes of that meet their needs. Those who hold for old-school will use analog technology to create sound.

Interestingly, the digital drum machine offers more parameters to produce a different output. They have a vast library where one can creatively make several sound outputs. Furthermore, they have simple menus for more straightforward navigation while operating.

Operation

If you are a mere beginner, the drum machine can be challenging to manage. Also, a piece of sophisticated equipment will be difficult to operate. If one encounters such an experience, it is likely to trigger sad feelings. 

On the contrary, some people experiment with a smaller drum. Unfortunately, such drums become useless after a certain period. Most of the machines that have simple features will favor beginners.

If you want drum machines that have more advanced features, the experience is vital. Such complex drum machines will offer better options for experimentations. You can still produce improved pieces when using the available features. 

Customization

It is noteworthy that some of the drum machines are not fit for customization. It is possible to find a drum set that you can tweak fully according to the needs. A better one is that which allows the user to add sounds to the library. 

Also, it would be better if you used a programmable machine. The ideal drum machine should have built-in effects to help one to refine the sound. 

Additionally, some functional digital drums have assignable pads and knobs. You can personalize the controls to determine the output. As a result, you will be in charge of the type of sounds that come out. 

Portability

Most of the drum machines are ordinarily versatile instruments. The user can manipulate them to accept various ways of meeting precise needs. Do you know that one can use them instead of an acoustic drum set?

The good news is that these drum machines happen to be more portable. However, some may not feature a lightweight design. Thus, becoming challenging to carry around. It is vital to understand the entire weight of the drum machine.

Casing for Drum Maschine

Some models of the drum machines feature both lightweight and compact design. You can easily pack them as you carry them while on travel. Since they are electronic equipment, you should thoroughly protect them. You should carry them in a proper casing.

Size

The drum machine does not manifest in similar proportions. Some come in a compact design that is easy to carry around. On the other hand, other products are somehow large.

It is quite interesting that a large or small machine does not offer any advantage. It usually gives a similar output. The only difference will be evident when it comes to portability. The big t sized option tend to be heavier.

The larger drum machine is more comfortable to play. It is convenient with adequate space for the user to play. On the other hand, a smaller machine is more complicated while playing. The user may feel frustrated. 

Memory 

Memory happens to be a crucial part of the drum machine. The mind increases the ability of the drum machines in storing patterns. Make sure the new device has a better memory to allow you to upload different files. 

Moreover, the memory should save different kinds of patterns. You can consider using drum machines that have a smaller memory. A lower mind is ideal when playing the drum machine for fun inside the room. 

If you are performing on stage, you may require more significant memory. A bigger memory will help you in storing different patterns. Still, it allows for better music production.

Control Knobs and Pads

The control knobs and pads found on different drum machines are in various sizes and shapes. The LCD screen assists in controlling them efficiently. The velocity-sensitive feature makes them more intuitive while playing.

Some knobs are touch-sensitive. Others come in a particular color for more effortless operation. 

The drum machine is a more versatile feature of USB MIDI implementation. The knobs and pads of such drum machines are assignable.

One can still use them in dark situations because they have backlit knobs and pads. Such designs are practical during live performances. 

Other features

There are other essential features that one needs to know. One of the lists is power. Some drum machines will allow both powers from mains electricity or battery source. The ultra-portable drum machines are suitable for battery power.

Also, pricing is another aspect that affects the selection of drum machines. If you are operating on a budget, you can settle for inexpensive ones. In case you want the drum machines that have more features, be ready to pay higher. 

FAQs

Who is the ideal user of drum machines? 

Anyone is eligible to use a drum machine. Typically, most users of drum machines are DJs, songwriters, and musicians. Their popularity will depend on their versatility and portability. If the user has more skills, the sounds and patterns will be better.
 
For every drum machine, the best part will manifest when you produce the beats. Most of the musicians find drum machines to be useful on many applications. 

Can one load samples in a drum machine? 

The majority of the drum machines that you will encounter have installed software. This software has some of the installed samples. If you have a collection of samples, you can install them. A good drum machine should allow the user to download samples and new music. 
 
Moreover, you will be expanding as you use new beats to record music. 

What are the sounds that a drum machine can produce? 

One can produce multiple sounds depending on the ability of the drum machine. The basic tools will provide a few sounds. We also have classic sounds, which are kick snare, bass, and cymbals. 
 
If you are majoring in electronic music, you should practice more drum styles. You can get more flavor by checking the specifications of the music. The nature of your music may determine the type of sound to produce. 
 
It is vital to be sensitive to particular sounds. 

In Conclusion

Many folks resolve to music as a portion of soul food. Music plays a critical role in restorations of someone’s emotions. It is evident, especially when he needs encouragement. For that matter, you need to employ the drum machines to restore the flavor. 

Most of the products in our list have excellent features for operation. One can confine the option to the list and meet the needs. Fortunately, some of the drum machines use either digital or analog technology.

From the above collection of 8 drum machines, one stands out. Our best choice is Roland Rhythm Composer. The drum machine has a LED screen that offers more natural controls to manage its functions.

Moreover, it has a robust build that makes it long-lasting. Also, the lightweight design will allow the user to carry it around. It has excellent features that produce modern beats to match your needs. 

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