Best Drum Machines of 2020
So, you are searching for a new drum machine and are lost as to where to start. It can be confusing to know what kind of machine would be best for you and your musical preferences; that’s why we are here!
We’ve compiled a complete guide into buying the best drum machine for you, featuring our top ten recommendations for 2020 and a buying guide.
The 10 Best Drum Machines of 2020:
The Akai XR20 is a fantastic device for anyone who’s in the market for a new drum machine. The Akai XR20 has over 700 sounds that can be produced by Chronic Music. With 99 preset patterns and 99 user patterns, you will never be stuck for creativity with this drum machine!
The preset kits on the Akai XR2- are particularly great, with a mixture of percussion sound and effects, including needle drops, scratches, and even vocal manipulations. Should you wish to tweak your sound even further, the Akai professional XR20 even has the capability for reverb, EQ, and compression so you can easily fine-tune your track.
This level of precision is perfect for any drummer looking to perfect their sound. The Akai XR20 has a traditional, drum machine physical set up with a pad grid, function buttons, a data-entry wheel, and transport control buttons, which makes it incredibly user friendly.
The LCD display screen is of top quality with immense light capability which is perfect for when you are playing in dark nightclubs. The Akai XR20 also has extremely bright backlight pads for extra comfort when playing in the dark.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those drummers looking for a more specific Hip Hop or Rnb sound. The Akai XR20 has over 700 sounds that are mostly geared towards Hip Hop and Rnb drum beats. However, if this isn’t your style the beats can also be adapted quite easily to suit other musical preferences and genres.
2. Alesis SR16 Classic 24-bit Stereo Electronic Drum Machine – Budget Pick
- Dimensions: 34.3 x 17.5 x 6.5 cm
- Color: Black
- 50 preset patterns
- Pressure Sensitive Pads
Branded as the drum machine that ‘started a music revolution,’ the Alesis SR16 is certainly one of the most popular drum machines on the market.
One of the main reasons for this is its versatility. The Alesis SR16 is currently being used by songwriters, performers, home sound engineers, and beginner players.
This versatile machine can get you solid and expressive rhythm tracks with ease.
This ease ensures that no matter what your experience and knowledge on drum machines, the Alesis SR16 is a great choice for you!
This particular beat machine features 233 drum sounds in both dry and sampled form. Alongside the 50 preset patterns that are included, you will never be short of samples or beats to drive forward your inspiration. The Alesis SR16 is a great platform to produce music on due to the variety of creative sounds available.
The Alesis SR16 features MIDI connectivity that is of top quality, making it very easy to use alongside things such as keyboards, computers, DAWS, and other drum kits. This makes the Alesis SR16 perfect for anyone who will be experimenting with a variety of instruments and machines in the studio.
BEST SUITED FOR: The Alesis SR16 is very easy to use making it ideal for someone who is just starting out with drum machines. Those searching for versatility and the ability to easily pair with other devices or instruments. The Alesis SR16 provides many preset beats for a variety of genres and musical styles so can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what your preference. As it is being used by all kinds of professionals, the Alesis SR16 is not just for home beat makers!
The Novation Launchpad Pro 64 is an amazing choice for anyone purchasing their first drum machine and who hasn’t used one before. This machine is incredibly easy to handle and you’ll be on your way making beats in no time!
The Novation Launchpad Pro 64 has five simple modes to choose from, making it very easy to start your music-making. The 8×8 grid of pads lights up to match the color of your clips on Ableton, making it even easier to know exactly what you’re doing in real-time.
Not only this, but the Novation Launchpad Pro 64 is incredibly sleek and looks great on a pedalboard among other devices. This means it’s great if you plan to play live or take it on tour, as it looks the part also! It is very lightweight so you also do not have to worry about it taking up too much space in your equipment bag.
BEST SUITED FOR: With 32 preset patterns to choose from, pressure sensitive pads, and the ability to manipulate and adjust each beat in terms of effect and sound, the Novation Launchpad Pro 64 gives you everything you would ever need from a drum machine, laid out in the easiest to understand and use way.
The Korg Volca Beats is one of the best analog drum machines due to the fact that they are essentially hybrid beat machines. The Volca beats drum machines utilize an analog sound engine, with all control signals generated in a digital way.
The Volca beats has the best of both worlds; real analog sounds created from classic beats and rhythms, with digital additions like recording into the sequencer, for example. The Korg Volca beats includes a 16 step sequencer with 8 memory patches, allowing you to instantly retrieve sequences stored on the machine. There is also the ability to make longer sequences than the 16 step through your DAW.
The Korg Volca beats drum machines resemble the size of a VHS cassette, so make an ideal choice for anyone looking to save some space in their studio set up. The MIDI connectivity on the Korg is of superb quality, meaning you can easily connect other devices such as a keyboard or DAW to this drum machine with no issues.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those looking for drum machines that give you the possibility to utilize analog beats and rhythms. The unique feature of this drum machine is to give you this ability to choose what would be best for your particular music making at a particular time. Very few drum machines will give you this option!
- Dimensions: 29.8 x 17.1 x 10.2 cm
- Color: Black
- 8 preset patterns
- Does not include Pressure Sensitive Pads
The Tascam Portastudio is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a portable drum machine. This pocket drum machine is battery powered with elongated battery life to ensure that you can be making music on the go, whenever you want.
The Tascam features a built-in condenser microphone which is a great addition to this nifty machine. You can record vocals, or even extra instruments, on the go without needing any extra equipment.
The interface on the Tascam Portastudio is very user friendly, making it ideal for beginner users.
It records directly to an SD card, making it easy for you to transfer all your work between devices. You can connect to a PC via a USB port and transfer all your data incredibly quickly. These files can also be used with a DAW.
This particular model of Tascam allows you to utilize effects such as EQ, de-esser, compressor, and exciter. This makes it great for adding vocals on top of your beats as you can use the EQ to boost to whatever frequency range you want or need.
BEST SUITED FOR: Anyone who needs a portable drum machine that can record vocals with minimal equipment. The Tascam Portastudio is incredibly compact and portable making it perfect for anyone that wants the best drum machine that can be carried around easily, or that can be stored without taking up too much space in your home studio.
The Arturia DrumBrute drum machines are another addition to the ever-expanding and incredibly popular list of Drumbrutes. The Arturia is 100% analog and includes 17 voices and a 16-step sequencer. The particular sequencer in this analog drum machine sounds great when playing live and is geared towards varying the bar length as much as you like.
In fact, the 16 step sequencer makes the Arturia one of the best drum machines to choose from if you are a gigging musician and performing live frequently. Alongside a 64 pattern memory, the Arturia DrumBrute will give you endless options of creativity for making music. The Arturia offers a balance between analog and digital. It includes 12 individual outputs for each of the drum tracks and a metronome.
If you are someone who enjoys classic drum sounds, including a unique analog reverse cymbal, hi hats, and kick snare, then the Arturia drum machines would be great for you.
Overall, this drumming machine is one of the best for producing new and unique sounds with a vintage drum, analog twist. The drum pads used on the Arturia are of top quality and have been reviewed as producing beautiful sounds while playing live on stage.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those who enjoy the classic drum sounds and who want to recreate this with an affordable and compact device. The Arturia Drum Brute machines are known for being one of the best analog drum machines and for their ability to produce ‘vintage’ style drum beat sounds. So if your music is craving some of these sounds then try out the Arturia – You will not be disappointed.
The Alesis electronic rhythm beat maker machine has become a studio icon and has been utilized by musicians and producers since the 1990s.
By purchasing this device you can be assured that you are purchasing a reliable and long-lasting product. Not only is the Alesis Electronic rhythm beat maker machine highly durable and long-lasting, but it is also one of the more affordable machines on the market right now. If you are looking for a drum machine without breaking the bank, then the Alesis could be great for you.
The Alesis sound engine boasts over 200 professional sounds, a built-in speaker, and other effects. You have a range of sounds to choose from and you will never be stuck with what to mix next with this particular drum machine. The MIDI connectivity on the Alesis has been described as seamless, being one of the best on the market for connecting to other instruments to produce an even wider range of sounds.
You can pair this easily with your DAW, keyboard, or computer. The drum pads on the Alesis are pads which are high velocity sensitive. This means that each beat you produce on the Alesis will sound much more realistic and similar to that of the classic drum sounds.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those searching for classic drum sounds at an affordable price. The Alesis electronic beat maker is a high quality drum machine for an incredibly affordable price. If the budget is a worry for you then the Alesis could give you everything you need from a machine at a suitable price.
The Yamaha RX-7 drum machines are fantastic alternatives for those who are searching for a drum machine that is simple and easy to handle.
The ‘no frills’ approach the Yamaha RX-7 has taken means that even beginner users will find it easy to make some of the best drum sounds. The sounds available on the Yamaha RX-7 vary from the marimba, orchestra and other drum sounds, including hi hats, cymbals and snare drums.
The LCD display screen works amazingly in dark situations so it is great for a gigging musician. It also has a series of status lights to assist you with every beat you make on this drum machine. You can work in real time with fantastic MIDI connectivity which allows you to connect to other instruments and sounds.
The Yamaha RX-7 boasts an amazing selection of 100 preset patterns of 99 bars each. It even gives you the option to edit these patterns in terms of effect, pitch, and position. To have this level of freedom on a drum machine with such a simple and easy front panel is amazing.
BEST SUITED FOR: Beginner users who want an interface that is easy to handle but still sounds great. The Yamaha RX-7 drum machines are some of the best around for ease of use with a simple and easy front panel. If this is your first drum machine and you have never used one before then the Yamaha RX-7 could be a great choice for you.
The Roland Aira TR-8S is one of the best drum machines on the market right now for the number of preset patterns it includes.
Roland’s goal was to take all of the features of the classic 808, 909, and the entire history of Roland’s drum machine collection and put all those sounds into one box.
This level of choice and features gives you endless opportunities for creative music making. You can choose from 128 preset patterns to enhance your music-making immensely.
The design kits that you can choose from include sounds including authentic TRS drums. With the Roland TR-8s you can utilize an SD card slot to store your own sound. It can even be used to successfully transfer your sounds to other devices.
The pads and the sequencer buttons included on the Roland Aira TR-8S are of top quality and feel light to the touch, making every playing experience enjoyable.
A unique feature of the Roland Aira TR-8S is the multiple variations the user can have on each individual sound.
When you are working with the 11 ACB kicks, each one offers different takes on each instrument. This level of variation on the already high number of various sounds makes the Roland Aira TR-8S really stand out from the crowd. The price of the Roland Aira TR-8S is far above any of the other drum machines listed here. However, many users would argue that paying the extra cash is totally worth it for this machine.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those looking to splash some hard-earned cash on a fantastic and complex drum machine. There is no denying that the Roland Aira TR-8S is one of the more expensive machines on the market right now. If you are searching for a high quality machine, with great features and all you could ever need, and don’t mind spending some extra cash, then the Roland Aira TR-8S would be a great choice!
The Korg Electribe drum machine is a fantastic machine in terms of sound, functionality, and compactness.
There are 16 preset patterns to choose from one the device, with an astonishingly further 400+ patterns available to download after. Included in these patterns are analog beats and PCM waveforms of any combination, all of which can be customized to suit your own musical tastes.
If you are someone who likes a shocking amount of options, then this could be the drum machine for you. You can create in real-time or step by step, while also adding effects as you go.
The touch pads included are similar to some of the best drum machines and will make playing live so much easier and enjoyable. The front panel and overall use of the Korg Electribe is incredibly easy and versatile, making it a great choice for beginners too.
One of the most unique features of the Korg Electribe is the relationship with Ableton Live DAW. This means you can actively use the software and export each sound to a dedicated .wav file. This will make your music creation process a whole lot easier!
BEST SUITED FOR: Those looking for the most amount of sound options that a drum machine can give them. With over 400 preset beat patterns, the Korg Electribe Drum machine has the most options out of all the machines listed here. If you are on the market for something with a lot of choices, then check out the Korg Electribe!
4 Things to Consider Before Purchasing A Drum Machine
Obviously, purchasing your first drum machine can be quite stressful. There are so many on the market right now that range in price and quality and it can be difficult to know where to start. Don’t worry, that’s where we come in. We’re sure you have a better idea of what drum machine you would like to buy now after reading our top 10 recommendations, but below is also a list of the top considerations that need to be made before you hand over your cash.
Consider your budget
Obviously the price of the particular drum machine is an important thing to consider before you make your final decision. Drum machines can range in terms of pricing and, generally, the more you pay the higher the quality machine you will get.
However, if the price is a concern for you, you will most certainly be able to find a fantastic sound machine for an affordable price. It may take a little bit of research, but that’s why we are here to help you along with this. Follow our tips and even check out one of our top ten recommended drum machines to see if they match your budget.
Do you need Pressure Sensitive Pads?
Some of the machines that we have mentioned earlier in the article will feature what is called velocity sensitive pads. This basically means that the pads will make slightly different sounds when you hit them with your fingers. You can assign a sound to a particular pad and make music that you can then store later.
These types of pads work well for those that will be using the drum machine regularly and even playing live with it. Drum pads with this feature will enhance your live performance even more by allowing you to dedicate differing sounds to the pads without changing instruments or devices.
Analog vs Digital
You will have read a lot about the various drum machines with analog and digital features earlier in the article. This is an important thing to consider before buying your machine. Some people can’t tell the difference between the two sounds, but if you are someone that really loves the classic and vintage sound of the drum kit, you may want to look into a drum machine with analog features.
Some machines will have part analog features and part digital features, making the best of both worlds. You will have to decide what kind of sounds you will want to make with your machine and then decide accordingly what analog or digital features you will need.
Size, Weight and Portability
The size, weight, and portability of your machine will be a huge factor in your decision-making process. Some machines can be incredibly bulky and heavy, which is just not suitable if you plan to transport it around a lot while gigging or rehearsing. Smaller drum machines can be more expensive due to the fact that they are so portable, and they may also be harder to figure out.
You will need to consider how often you will be carrying your machine around, and what kind of space you have at home. Many prefer to buy the smallest and most compact drum machine outright as it will definitely cut down on space should you ever need to go on tour.
The Novation Launchpad Pro 64 drum machine is one of the easiest machines to use right now. The Novation Launchpad is a great choice for anyone just starting their journey using drum machines as it is very easy to use and you will get to grips with it in no time. With five simple modes and easily manipulated beats and sounds, the Novation Launchpad will make for a perfect machine if you are looking for a no-frills approach.
Although your choice of software for your drum machine will depend greatly on your musical preferences and performance needs, there are a lot of free software downloads out there that can satisfy the majority of beat makers. Melda Production is one company that has a wide range of free and charged software to choose from. The MDrummer Small software gives you 500mb of sounds, including over 30 drumsets, over 400 drumset components and over 200 samples.