Which drum machine is best?
Drum machines are musical hardware that allows you to create your very own beats. Think of them like electronic drum kits but with far more options for creative output. Drum machines give you the power to mix and match different drum sounds and build the perfect percussive rhythm. Musicians of every music genre can use drum machines to program and mix new sounds.
The best drum machine is the Artruria DrumBrute Machine. This high-quality drum machine comes with eight pads and buttons to produce all-analog drum sounds and 64 pattern slots to save your beats.
What to know before you buy a drum machine
Drum machines vs. drum pads
While shopping for a drum machine, you’re likely to come across drum pads as well. There’s a distinct difference between drum pads and drum machines. Drum pads are generally bigger and consist of large rubber pads designed to be hit with a drumstick. They are sometimes attached to drum kits, so the musician can add electronic drum sounds to their music. Drum machines, on the other hand, are designed to be controlled by your fingers and are primarily used to create beats.
Analog vs. digital
Another distinct difference when it comes to drum machines is the digital sounds versus analog sounds. Digital or electronic sounds offer a far wider variety than their analog counterparts. Analog sounds rely on actual drum hardware to create their audio files so your drum machine will mimic the sounds of a real-life drum kit. This includes symbols, bass drums, snares and high hats.
Drum machines vary greatly by size. Whether you’re looking for a small device to carry in your backpack for on-the-fly jam sessions or heavy-duty equipment to install in a professional studio, there’s a drum machine for you. One of the smallest drum machines available can fit in the palm of your hand and makes for very easy portability. You can also find medium weight machines that can be carried in a backpack and have their own internal speakers.
What to look for in a quality drum machine
High-quality drum machines will have a built-in synthesizer. Synthesizers usually come in the form of a keyboard that uses frequencies and electronic signals to generate different sounds. These are often used in electronic dance music (EDM) to make futuristic and experimental music. The addition of a synthesizer to your drum machine lets you create full audio tracks instead of simply a percussive beat. These sounds can even be used to make drum beats themselves if you want to get extra creative.
If you are buying a drum machine with finger pads, which allow you to make beats using your fingers only, you’re going to want good pad playability. Another term for this is pad sensitivity. Finger drumming can be harsh on your fingertips if the pads are too tough to press. Think of it like a gaming keyboard. The more feedback each key has, the better control you have over your experience. Higher quality drum machines will even include controls so you can adjust the sensitivity of the pads.
Drum machines with plenty of outputs makes them especially attractive to serious musicians. Early drum machines only included mono and stereo outputs. This limited their ability to mix and match audio and forced the user to record their beats in one unified sound. More modern drum machines primarily use USB outputs that let you connect your machine to a laptop and tweak your sounds digitally.
How much you can expect to spend on a drum machine
Drum machines cost between $70-$300 depending on the size and capabilities.
Drum machine FAQ
Can you use a drum machine in a live performance?
A. Yes, drum machines can be used in a live performance setting. While traditionalists may argue that drum machines can’t replace the heart and soul of a live drummer, they can certainly enhance a live setting with experimental sounds and added effects.
Are drum machines easy to learn?
A. Some drum machines are more complicated than others. If you are looking for an easy-to-use drum machine, look for a portable version that has limited yet simple controls. More complex drum machines are larger with more extension control options for detailed tweaking.
What are the best drum machines to buy?
Top drum machine
What you need to know: This impressive drum machine from Artruria comes with 64 program slots to house all your favorite beats.
What you’ll love: The price point is affordable for a well-rounded beat machine that has versatile sounds and comes complete with velocity-sensitive pads that make it easier than ever to maintain a rhythm.=
What you should consider: The DrumBrute does not come with a built-in speaker.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top drum machine for the money
Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator
What you need to know: The Pocket Operator from Teenage Engineering is built to be highly portable and carried in your pocket or backpack.
What you’ll love: With this device’s portability comes one of the most affordable drum machines out there. It has 64 patterns that let you save full-fledged tracks with great ease.
What you should consider: While it does have built-in speakers, it doesn’t have many output connectivity options.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This studio-grade drum machine from Alesis is built for serious musicians who demand a lot from their musical equipment.
What you’ll love: The features include 12 velocity sensitive pads, 233 drum patterns as well as sound stacking and editing. It even comes with Dynamic Articulation, which changes the tone of the drum sound based on how hard you’re pressing the pad.
What you should consider: The Alesis does not come with built-in speakers and must be hooked up to an external audio source.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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