THESE ARE THE BEST DRUM MACHINES AVAILABLE TODAY INCLUDING IOS COMPATIBLE OPTIONS, ANALOGUE DRUM MACHINES, MIDI DRUM MACHINES AND MORE FROM THE LIKES OF ARTURIA, ROLAND, AKAI AND MORE INDUSTRY STANDARD BRANDS

Sometimes, rather than trying to find the right drummer you can really gel with, it makes more sense to start the song writing process on your own terms and craft your own drum beats with the help of a drum machine. The best drum machines allow us to create drum beats quickly and easily and allow us to enjoy a selection of different sounds for an array of genres. So, with that in mind, whether you need an analogue drum machine, want to know what (we think) is the best drum machine for live performance, you're in need of something compatible with your iOS device or a simple drum machine that you can just plug in and play, these are all ideal options to cover a wide range of skill levels, set ups and musical styles.

THE 12 BEST DRUM MACHINES FOR MUSICIANS AND PRODUCERS

1. ARTURIA DRUMBRUTE ANALOGUE DRUM MACHINE

ARTURIA DRUMBRUTE ANALOGUE DRUM MACHINE

 The Arturia DrumBrute Analogue Drum Machine is easily one of the best drum machines ever created, yeah it’s THAT good! It may look like you need a degree in production to work it, but it’s a simple drum machine to operate and one of the best drum machines for live performance due to that fact – an important feature for sure.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

You have 17 pure analog drum sounds as well as percussion sounds at your disposal including two amazing kick drums, an impressive selection of snare drums, two hi hats and so much more. The best part is, the Arturia DrumBrute is polyphonic, so you can create intricate drum fills without any limitations on the amount of drums you can use so you can really take advantage of the 64-step drum sequencer. The ability utilise the Steiner-Parker filter in real time and also create new sounds in real time really lends itself to live performance, especially when you want to take out the bass for a section and drop it back in manually for those big chorus drops. The ‘Polyrhythm’ mode is also a fantastic addition to this drum machine as every sound can have a different sequence length, so making your drum patterns unique has never been easier. A fantastic sound, huge array of connectivity options and the ability to tweak drum sounds on the fly makes the Arturia DrumBrute one of the best drum machines available today.

Need a smaller option? Check out the Arturia DrumBrute Impact which is a smaller and less expensive brother to the DrumBrute.

Arturia DrumBrute Impact 

This analogue drum machine features physical synth circuitry behind each of the 10 built-in instruments for lush dynamics and response. Step Sequencing features allow you to store 64 patterns in 4 banks of 16 patterns each, so there’s plenty to work with and a new distortion unit provides a really cool element to your sound. In addition, it’s a lot cheaper too!

2. ROLAND TR-08 BOUTIQUE DRUM MACHINE

ROLAND TR-08 BOUTIQUE DRUM MACHINE

 Let’s face it, we’d be crazy to have the best drum machines list without the Roland TR-08 Boutique Drum Machine wouldn’t we?! The TR-08 is a faithful, modern day recreation of the classic Roland TR-808, of which its sounds can be found on some of the most popular songs of all time from the 80s such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ plus many more - chances are you’ve heard the drums on this. However, it’s still used today especially in the likes of Hip Hop, Trap, Grime and many more genres.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

This is a simple drum machine to operate, with all buttons and knobs easily placed for live performance. You can make excellent use of the 16-steps and 16 sub-steps to create intricate patterns and rolls and utilise an array of different drum sounds including those snare and conga sounds that made the 808 so famous. This is one of the best drum machines available today as it really puts a huge amount of control in your hands, both over the drum sequencing process and the adding of effects, but also due to the fact it comes equipped Roland's proprietary Analog Circuit Behaviour (ACB) technology which accurately recreates all the quirks and details in the original hardware. This is easily better than the original!

3. ALESIS SR16 DRUM MACHINE

ALESIS SR16 DRUM MACHINE

 The Alesis SR16 Drum Machine is a classic drum machine packed to the brim with useful drum sounds, preset patterns and an array of connectivity options to suit all studio set ups and live performances.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

The Alesis SR16 Drum Machine is actually one of the most popular drum machines of all time, and its easy to see why. Each of the 233 realistic drum sounds have been expertly sampled, both in dry form and with lush reverbs to provide musicians and producers with a great selection of sounds that breathe life into whatever you’re playing. The 50 preset patterns will really appeal to the drum aficionados out there as each of the 50 patterns were actually played by top studio drummers from around the world rather than programmed and quantized. You’ll find that there’s more than enough fills to build songs, but you can easily create your own patterns on the unit.

The Dynamic Articulation technology offers something particularly useful for live situations as it actually changes the tonal content of your drum sound the harder (or softer) you play the sample on any of the 12 pads. Hit it hard and the drum will respond accurately, gently tap it and it’ll sound like you’re barely touching the drum. You have full MIDI I/O connection, footswitch outputs so you can trigger samples and 2 x stereo pairs – plenty to create full live sets or record anywhere.

4. AKAI PROFESSIONAL FORCE STANDALONE MUSIC PRODUCTION SYSTEM

AKAI PROFESSIONAL FORCE STANDALONE MUSIC PRODUCTION SYSTEM

The Akai Professional Force Standalone Music Production System is a fantastic song writing tool which will help you build songs in minutes. Yes, this is a drum machine, but its also an extremely intuitive sampler too, and complete music making machine allowing you to edit, tweak and fine tune any of your recorded samples, create step sequences and more. This amazing drum machine, but also a complete music making tool.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

The Akai Professional Force picks up where the Akai MPC Touch left off, and is essentially a DAW built-in to a hand-held machine, allowing you to change RPM, velocity and even edit the names of the tracks. You can also manually configure drum sequences within the unit and make great use of the intuitive step sequencer to craft your own fully fledged song. Best of all you have the RGB backlit, velocity sensitive pads to play with so you can create realistic feeling drum sequences, assign them to the sequencer and loop your tracks, or create an entire song directly within the unit for playback later. Call it the best beat maker machine for studio geeks and those who really take their recording seriously!

 

5. DIGITECH SDRUM STRUMMABLE DRUMS PEDAL

DIGITECH SDRUM STRUMMABLE DRUMS PEDAL

The Digitech SDRUM is actually the world’s first strummable drum machine and an extremely interesting piece of kit for guitarists who need a backing track, but don’t want to have to have a load of “separate” gear, as this fits perfectly on your pedal board.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

First of all, you're probably wondering how it works, right? All you do is plug the pedal in to your guitar and amp and play or scratch your strings in a timing that suits your song. That's why we think its so good! Once you’ve specified the kick and snare timing via the bass and treble strings, you engage the pedal again and based on the pattern you’ve played, the SDRUM will create a groove complete with your specified beats and added embellishments.

It listens to what you want and creates an entire drum track based on what you’ve played – without any arguments! There are 5 different kits built-in and you can store up to 36 different songs, complete with verse/chorus/bridge sections, so you’ll have no problem creating a complete live set on your own.

In addition, you can also operate the drum machine via the backlit touch pads, making it a great option for DJs, MCs and keyboard players. Watch our review below and see how easy it is to create beats with a guitar and jam along.

6. BOSS DR-01S RHYTHM PARTNER ORGANIC GROOVES GENERATOR

BOSS DR-01S RHYTHM PARTNER ORGANIC GROOVES GENERATOR

The BOSS DR-01S Rhythm Partner is the perfect accompaniment for the acoustic and unplugged musician and live performance artist. The BOSS DR-01S provides a great deal of percussion instruments and grooves made specifically for acoustic artists, violinists, vocalists, ukulele players and more, all of which can be played in a variety of different time signatures and added to or stripped back depending on what backing instruments you prefer.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

You have everything from tambourines, shakers and congas, to a full drum kit, sound effects, and a metronome at your disposal, plus many more options all played out through the high quality speaker or via the Line Out socket which can be connected to an acoustic guitar amp or PA system. There’s also an Aux input for MP3 players and you can power the unit via 6 x AA batteries or the included AC adapter. This is one of the best drum machines for acoustic artists and those who want everything from a simple backing track to a complete drum and percussion track with a host of world instruments. Check out our review and demo below

7. NEKTAR AURA

Nektar Aura

The Nektar Aura

easily makes our best drum machine list due to the fact that it’s an absolute powerhouse drum machine ready to help you create some sick beats.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

Straight out of the box you have the ability to create natural grooves and entire beats quickly. Producers and beat makers will appreciate the intuitive features like Pad Repeat, velocity changes, as well as Swing and Trigger Modes which enable fast and fluid beat creation.

The backlit RGB pads ensure you know where you are in the midst of a live session.

If you want to create catchy beats, you'll love the Pad Repeat Engine which offers Repeat Rate, Gate, Accent Interval, Accent Velocity Offset, Swing, Trigger Mode and Clock Source - which is impressive for asuch a small unit. You also have complete DAW Integration as well as USB and MIDI I/O.

This is more than just a beat maker machine, but a complete sound system in a small and easy to carry box for guitarists and live performance artists.

8. KORG KR-55 PRO KORG RHYTHM

KORG KR-55 PRO KORG RHYTHM

The Korg KR-55 Pro Korg Rhythm features 24 different types of drum grooves, which have been recorded at high quality audio by real musicians so each drum sample, groove and fill sounds exactly like a real drummer is in the room with you.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

Each of these easy to activate sequences can be chained together to create complete songs, which makes this one of the best drum machines for solo performers, street artists and acoustic acts looking to create a full set on their own. The Korg KR-55 Pro also works with an external footswitch like the Vox VFS5 5 Way Footswitch (sold separately) so you can start, stop and add fills in to your music to match what you’re playing utilising the ready-made Fill-In settings. These Fill-In 1, Fill-In 2, and Ending modes really bring a human element to your sound and live performance. You can even use the Korg KR-55 Pro Korg Rhythm as an audio interface, recording your guitar or line level instrument along with the backing tracks and drum grooves to an SD card – in fact you have 1 x XLR mic input, 2 x guitar/bass inputs, and a stereo AUX input so pretty much all types of audio is covered here. It’ll run off 6 x AA batteries and provide you with 7 hours of use, so you’re all set for longer gigs and recording sessions making it ideal for the travelling musicians.

9. ROLAND TR-8S RHYTHM PERFORMER

ROLAND TR-8S RHYTHM PERFORMER

For those who want the entire suite of classic Roland drum machines rolled in to one sleek device, the Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer is the only option – in fact, we think it’s not only one of the best drum machines ever made, but easily a contender for the best step sequencer too.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

This is an evolution of the AIRA TR-8, but an entirely easier to operate version complete with every sound from the Roland Drum Machines including authentic recreations of the 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606 with the ability to loud your own stereo or mono samples via SD card. Auto Fill gives live performers the tools they need to create seamless drum patterns, and the new Effects Bank allows you to sculpt your own samples and drum beats exactly to your specifications. Speaking of which, you’ll enjoy activating any of your samples or drum beats via the velocity-sensitive performance pads which will allow you to play drum beats live or record into the Roland “TR-REC” step sequencer. You can actually store 128 patterns each with eight variations and three kinds of fills, so you’ll have plenty of variance with your drum sounds.

It’s got loads of effects, modular studio connectivity and can act as a multi-channel audio and MIDI interface – what’s not to love?

10. ROLI LIGHTPAD BLOCK M

Roli Lightpad Block M

The ROLI Lightpad Block M is an amazing touch sensitive drum machine and music making device that is compatible with Android and Apple devices, as well as your Mac or PC laptops/computers.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

This is a complete music making device, that when paired with the NOISE App for iOS or any other DAW via MAC or PC provides you access to hundreds of free sounds including drum beats, guitar leads, orchestral melodies and much more. The ROLI Lightpad Block M is a completely wireless way to create music which is both extremely fun to play and easy to learn on. It's also perfect for iPhone and iPad users who want to create music anywhere. The cool thing about this is the pressure-responsive silicone surface which actually responds to your touch in a myriad of different ways. Slide your finger all the way to the edge and the drum beat will respond, hit it softly and the drum beat/synth sound/guitar will respond to the velocity or gently move your finger slightly and the beat will speed up or slow down in response. The loop will quantize each aspect for you whilst still retaining a human feel so your song still has a load of personality.

A great starting point for music makers and those who want to create drum beats on the fly. The fact it fits in the palm of your hand is also a great benefit if space is tight.

11. KORG VOLCA BEATS ANALOG RHYTHM MACHINE

KORG VOLCA BEATS ANALOG RHYTHM MACHINE

If you’re an analogue drum machine purist, on a budget and want to create drum sequences easily without too much fuss the Korg Volca Beats Analog Rhythm Machine is a great option. You have a Kick, Snare, Lo Tom, Hi Tom, Open Hi Hat and Closed Hi Hat to work into your 16-step sequencer.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

Aside from the cool sounds within, we think its cool because you can edit each drum sound individually to get a variety of different kicks, snares and hi hats and even edit your step sequencer on the fly, keeping you in control of your sound and enabling live performance. The MIDI In connector allows you to sync the Korg Volca Beats with your external MIDI devices and control it from your MIDI keyboard. Furthermore, you can send note information from your DAW, wirelessly control tap tempo and swing settings using the SyncKontrol iPhone app and synchronise playback with iOS music apps via WIST, making it one of the best drum machines for users of both modern and vintage style instruments.

12. TEENAGE ENGINEERING PO-24 OFFICE DRUM MACHINE SEQUENCER

Teenage Engineering PO-24 Office Drum Machine Sequencer

 Last but by no means least we have the Teenage Engineering PO-24 Office Drum Machine Sequencer from the very budget friendly Teenage Engineering pocket operator series. This calculator sized drum machine is a 16 step sequencer featuring a whole array of extremely useful synthesised and real drum sounds as well as built in patterns, effects and filters to help put the fun back in to creating music.

WHY DO WE THINK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST DRUM MACHINES?

A built-in speaker allows you to create music anywhere or you can hook up to your workflow via the 3.5 mm audio out / in, chaining multiple Teenage Operators together. There’s 16 patterns already built-in, so you can start jamming a long straight away or you can create your own patterns with ease. Check out our review and user guide video below.

 Shop a complete selection of the best drum machines & DJ & Production gear on the market today over at PMT Online or call in to your local PMT Store to speak to one of our synth experts about your needs.