Top 5 Best Drum Machines of 2016

What Are The Best Drum Machines on The Market?

Technological Innovations are always occurring, and it’s common to utilize technology for everything. For example, if you’re in a band and can’t find a good drummer, a drum machine would be an option worth considering. The first commercial drum machine was released in 1959, and they’ve revolutionized the way music is produced. Drum machines allow musicians to create the sound they want quickly; they’re portable, can be used for a variety of genres and can save a lot of money in the long run. That being said, drum machines vary in price, and if you’re considering buying one, it’s worth putting in the research to ensure you get one that best suits your needs. Check out our recommendations below based on performance and budget.

1) Alesis SR16

alesis sr16 drum machine

Key Features:

  • 12 velocity sensitive pads
  • 20-255BPM tempo range
  • 16-voice polyphony
  • Sound stacking, step editing, stereo samples with reverb and ambiance
  • Four audio outputs (2 stereo pairs)

The Alesis SR16 is an entry-level drum machine that’ll be good for beginners to learn the basics of implementing this technology into their music. Featuring 233 drum and rhythm samples and 50 preset patterns giving you a range of beats to work with. The SR16 is easy-to-use, and it’s affordable at an average $150. Don’t mistake the SR16’s entry-level status for being inadequate; this machine is popular with many live performers and studio recordists. It also has two inputs for foot pedals so if your hands are busy with other things you can control the drum loops with your feet. A couple of things to keep in mind, however, it can’t run off batteries, and you can run out of memory quickly as it only has 50 user presets. Overall, we’d recommend this for practicing, low-key live performances and improving core competencies.


2) Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1 MkII

Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1 MkII

Key Features:

• 16 step sequencer
• Real-time 32 step pattern creation
• 16 kits with 11 instruments types
• Analog circuit behavior technology
• MIDI clock with sync for great timing with external equipment.

The Swedish-made Elektron Machinedrum is a modern, versatile drum synthesizer/sequencer that has a range of high-tech features. Its features enable the ME to perform to a high standard for a variety of purposes, although, it’s more suitable to be used by DJs as the range of sequencing capabilities and preset sounds favor electronic/house music as it enables you to manage and shape customized sounds during live performances. You can also add mode-filters and track effects, if you can imagine a sound in your head, you will be able to create it on this machine. Due to the sampling and sequencing capabilities, it may be too advanced for a beginner, but if you have around $1000 and want a state-of-the-art machine that will be good for years to come, look no further than here.


3) Dave Smith Tempest (DST)

Dave Smith Tempest (DST)

Key Features:

  • 16 track sequencer.
  • 16 LFOs (Low-frequency oscillation)
  • MIDI sequencing
  • 6 audio outputs / 2 audio inputs
  • Section effects, delay, reverb, EQ, filtering

The DST is a machine for the analog-loving musician that wants modern technologies with vintage design. Costing around $2000, the DST is a little pricey but it’s worth it, you get so much more than a standard drum machine, it’s more of a sound studio. Featuring an advanced operating system to create and edit your music in real time, a massive 16 velocity sensitive pads, six analog synthesis voices, low-pass filter with audio-rate modulation; the DST is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. It’s an excellent piece of equipment that allows you to engineer perfect sounds for all kinds of performances be it live or in the studio. It surpasses everything else in this list easily.


4) Roland Aira TR-8

Roland Aira TR-8

Key Features:

  • 90-panel controls
  • Real-time and step recording
  • 452 different sounds
  • Note FX slide controllers
  • VCA with feedback, 2 LFOs, and five envelopes

With a cost in the region of $500, the Roland Aira TR-8 is a modern, digital enabling drum machine that boasts an array of features. You can enter steps manually or record in real-time, connect with USB and it also has a 7-segment/4-character LED display if you ever play in dark-lighting environments. Roland has an impressive history of producing drum machines, and the RT-8 is considered to be an updated version consisting of all their best work from previous models. The sound quality the TR-8 produces is excellent, and Roland themselves describe it as a machine for DJs to produce studio music by day and perform it by night. The machine itself is for more experienced performers as there’s a knob for everything on the dashboard which will take practice to learn. The TR-8 rivals the DST for some of its features and could potentially serve better as a drum machine depending on your usage, but it lacks the cutting-edge synthesizing abilities the DST has. Overall if you prefer digital production to analog and your budget isn’t large the RT-8 is worth looking at.


5) Korg Volca Beats

Korg Volca Beats

Key Features:

  • Analog drum sounds
  • Electribe-style 16-step sequencer with eight memory patches
  • Loop sequencer
  • PCM sound engine
  • Battery powered and built-in speakers

The Japanese-made Korg Volca Beats is an impressive drum machine considering its size. Weighing just 1lb, the KVB offers a range of other useful features such as a built-in sequencer that helps you design your tunes wherever you are, without a computer. You can even sync all Volca equipment wirelessly by using the company’s SyncKontrol iPhone app. Using the KVB is simple, it has six editable analog parts for editing at the turn of a knob, a step-jump functions, MIDI inputs for note entry and can fit in your bag ready to use at any time. However, it may not be suitable for live performances in a large venue, but at a price between $100-$150, it’s an absolute steal.

For more on the Korg Volca Beats, read our review

The Best Drum Samples (Reviewed)

Music production and sound engineering are two areas of the music industry that are constantly innovating and inventing new methods to make things easier. This can obviously have positive impacts on people’s work as they’ll be able to produce music more efficiently and at a considerably lower cost. These innovations are not high-end ‘industry exclusive’, they have been passed into the commercial market meaning that the average Joe can afford revolutionary software to compliment their music production.

Computers have changed the way we live forever; the music industry has embraced this, and a large quantity of new software applications or DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) are now released annually. These can be used for a variety of reasons as they’re educational, cost-effective, convenient and can take music that is produced to the next level.

Percussion instruments, and particularly drums, are responsible for making some of the most iconic and greatest songs in history. For example, John Bonham’s drum intro for Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ is still widely regarded as one the best drum solos ever and is one of the British band’s most famous hits. Modern day musicians still consider the instrument a pivotal part of a band’s sound and thanks to technology; everyone can include drums into their work without having to hire a drummer.

Drum sample software is music that is recorded live then released as a software application. As mentioned previously, the advantages of using this software are great and enable people to have varied, authentic drum sounds in their work. With so many to choose from it can be confusing picking the right one for you so we have compiled a small list of some of the best drum samples worth looking at.  Keep in mind that this is only a small selection of what’s out there.  If you want more options, we recommend checking out these drum kits by

The Producer’s Choice – Night At The Drum Shop

Night At The Drum Shop is an extensive library of diverse, innovative and unique drum samples. Created for producers who want their product to stand out, NATDS provide 347 unique sounds that were professionally mixed and perfected including 67 snares, 60 hats & cymbals, 60 loops, 56 kicks, 35 hats & cymbal loops, 31 percs & hits, 21 808’s and 17 SFX. If you can’t find the sound you want here, it probably doesn’t exist. The range of beats you can produce with this sample pack is inspiring. It’s 3 drum kits in 1 split up into three distinctive flavors; future drums, live drums and warped drums!

The drum samples included in this sample pack are so diverse that they can be incorporated in most genres effortlessly; R&B, pop, rap, hip-hop, etc. NATDS is available for people who work with different formats also; Kontakt 5 and WAV 24-bit formats are included making it more accessible for people with their tastes. You get all you could ever need from a DAW and will never have to buy another to use it for your tunes.

Julez Jadon, one of the designers of the product says, “Going through these ssamples will remind you of how you felt when you first fell in love with making music.” Judging from everything that’s included, we couldn’t argue with that. At a cost of $47, NATDS is worth looking into.

Modern Samples – Trap Drums HQ

Trap Drums HQ is another drum sample pack worth looking at. However, these samples are mainly targeted at people working within the trap and hip-hop genre. Featuring 314 sounds including 25 808 Bass samples, 24 808s tuned, 21 claps, 24 crashes, 18 FX, 28 hats, 19 hits, 34 kicks, 22 open hats, 25 rides, 15 risers, 33 snares, seven tambourines and 19 toms; all made from analog drum machines. Each sound is 100% royalty-free and can be used as you wish.

It’s obvious that a lot of love has gone into developing these drum samples; over 1600 samples were recorded with a little over 300 selected. Trap Drums HQ also offer unique sounding FX, tempo synced risers and hand-tuned 808’s. Reputable industry professionals including Grammy Award-winning producer and mix engineer Gary Noble also uses these samples, so it’s worthy of being used for high-level productions.

Overall, with a price tag of $37, the Trap Drums HQ drum sampler is good value for money and if your work predominantly within the hip-hop/trap genre it may be perfect for you.


Woodshed Audio – Essentials Pop

At $30, this application of drum samples is the cheapest, and rightfully so. It has far fewer sounds available to use within the tunes you create. However, ESSENTIAL: POP does have a lot going for it. As you would guess by the title, it is manufactured with a sole genre in mind. It was created and mixed by Jonathan Roye who has tailored the core ingredients of this DAW to engineer top quality pop tunes. Most of the samples are ready-to-go to drop into your timeline to minimize your mixing time while maintaining a high standard of sound production. It includes 210 of the basic one-shot sounds such as hats, shakers, claps and it also includes 60 ‘top-end’loops, etc.

Again, the sounds you use are royalty-free, so you’re free to use everything without restrictions. After you purchase the product the films are delivered in 44.1 x 24 wav files/Apple Loops.

Overall, ESSENTIAL: POP provides a good product for its purpose. It does what it says on the tin. If you’re not the most experienced with mixing and creating your sound the 60 loops included will probably make this DAW a suitable product for you…if you’re into pop. is currently undergoing some crazy renos

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