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For the analog lovers, it is sad to watch as real drum machines continue slipping into extinction. It’s a huge disappointment that we have to actually use the word ‘real’ because we can still remember the college days when we would jam to two loop beats on an MPC 1000 in our crammed studio apartments. These instruments are still very alive, though. The drum industry has been packed with the likes of MIDI keyboards, Digital Audio Workstations and VST software and rightfully so, as the technology has crept up into our music equipment. In spite of this, we did find some pretty great drum machines out there. In this era of technology, this list is of course a blend of the more recent new age drum machines and vintage types – those that are still being produced and a number of some used but overpriced eBay models.
How to Decide on a Drum Machine?
- Portability - Most of them are portable, but we recommend a much slimmer and lighter one in case you travel a lot.
- Digital Compatibility - Some people would want a machine that can perform both duties, that is, have the ability to make music by itself as a solo machine and have the option of plugging into a device or computer to digitally produce music. Some of these instruments are vintage old school models and wouldn’t decipher the meaning of MIDI, and yet others are very compatible with any device and even come with the option of editing MIDI within the instrument. Well, it pretty much depends on what it is exactly that you’re after.
- The Sounds Needed - Some of these machines come already packed with a few sounds to start you off. Others have some GBs in sound packs, yet others would require you to upload your own packs or utilize the MIDI. Here we utilize both.
- Budget - The budget is by far one of the most important factors. The amount of money that you are willing or able to freely spend will enclose you in a particular bracket of drum machines. Most of the high end machines would be bought for about a thousand dollars or thereabout, although we do have a variety that falls below this landing in the middle priced range, but still not compromising on quality. Either way, whichever section that you are in, you can be sure that you are still served.
- General Machine Sounds - We have made this topic the tail of our list because it is quite subjective. Those of you that are aware of the different sounds that a drum machine produces would identify with this. Some machines would produce a sound that could be described as thick or warm or whatever word that would best suit each individual person for a certain type of output. This is, however, geared mostly towards the older machines like the grittiness and warmth from SP1200. If this isn’t a concern to behold, then please ignore this section.
OUR TOP 10 DRUM MACHINE LIST