Drum machines have been around since the 1930s, but established themselves as an electronic instrument in the 1980s. The first synthesized drum machines may not resemble the ones we have today, but the basic principle of them is the same, replacing and mimicking the sound of drums.
Drums are very big and unpractical instruments to carry around. Because of that, drum machines have gained popularity among musicians who play and produce electronic music like techno or house, usually played in clubs and bars with limited space. Although they’re rather simple concepts of machines, it is nevertheless necessary for everyone interested in them to know what key features to look out for when buying one. Depending on how much (or how little) you need, you may save a few bucks by taking a look at what we think of some of them.
Korg KR mini Rhythm Machine
This model is as simple as it is powerful when used correctly. Korg is a well-known brand in the world of drum machines, and this model is simply perfect for everyone who wants to pack light for his or her gig. The price is very affordable and may attract even professionals to having it as a sort of backup. This will cost around $80.00
- Very affordable
- Easy and simple design
- Optional foot switch lets you control fill-in/start/stop hands-free
- Not suited for high professional usage as a first choice
- No connection to a PC is possible
The “Korg KR mini Rhythm Machine” is a great device for beginners and musicians who are in need of a simple drum machine. It takes minutes to figure out how it works, but you can spend hours getting inspired by its performances and sounds.
Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine
This drum machine, although very small in size, packs a huge collection of drum and percussion sounds. The possibility to program these sounds into different music genres like hip hop, rock, blues etc. gives you an almost infinite number of possibilities. The price is a bit high for this device, but it makes it up with high performance and incredible control over the sounds you create. This will cost around $490.00
- EZ Compose feature for quick, hassle-free programming.
- Guitar/bass input, multi-effects, COSM amp models. 20 velocity-sensitive pads
- 440 drum and percussion sounds, 40 bass sounds with COSM bass-amp models
- 3 independent insert effects (EQ and compression), TSC (Total Sound Control) featuring 3-band EQ
- 500 preset and 500 user patterns; add fills, ghost notes, chord progressions and more
- May be too complicated for some who need a simple drum machine
The “Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine” has certainly a doctorate in rhythm, as it is advertised. But having this kind of high degree, doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone. The complicated programs can be overwhelming for users who just want a simple drum machine.
- Eight drum voices
- Each voice features an analog percussion sound generator, sample playback, analog multimode filter and analog distortion
- Twelve velocity and pressure-sensitive pads
- Analog master compressor and distortion
- Beginners may find the layout confusing
- Drum pads too small
The “Elektron Analog Rytm – 8-Voice Drum Computer” is a drum machine that does so much more than expected. The controls it gives the player over the beat he/she creates is magnificent.
Zoom RT223 Rhythm Trak Drum Machine
This drum machine is easy to handle, easy to control and easy to set up. The simple nature of the drum machine is great for jamming, while actual recording and studio producing may be a bit of a leap too big for it. Great price, though. This will cost around $130.00
- 511 Rhythm Patterns
- 127 Drum Kits (User Programmable)
- Not the best for studio use
- Some drum patterns may be too “weak” for a satisfying loop
All in all, the “Zoom RT223 Rhythm Trak Drum Machine” drum machine is something everybody can have a lot of fun with. OK, almost everybody. Professionals may be left unsatisfied by its studio performances, but you can’t please all, can you now?
Korg KR mini Rhythm Machine
- Very affordable
Boss DR-880 Drum Machine
- Wide variety of sounds
Elektron Analog Rytm Drum Computer
- Proffesional use
- High Quality
Zoom RT223 Drum Machine
- For beginners
In conclusion, it would be best to split the four devices we reviewed here into two groups: the ones that are great fun with not much hassle; and the ones that are great fun if you know how to handle them.
As you could’ve guessed it, the two devices in the first category are the “Korg KR mini Rhythm Machine” and the “Zoom RT223 Rhythm Trak Drum Machine”. These two drum machines are incredible in the way they’re designed for beginners. The intuitive way you do the programming is incredibly easy and will provide much fun throughout the experience. And, with price tags many of you will be very comfortable with, it is easy to say yes to this type of fun.
On the other side we have the “Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine” and the “Elektron Analog Rytm – 8-Voice Drum Computer”. These models are a bit more sophisticated in their layout of buttons and pads, as well as the process power they have. The main thing to consider before buying one of them is to figure out whether or not you need the processing power presented. Some of the features may be redundant for what you need, so be careful because the price tags on these ones are bit spicier.
Whatever your decision in the end is, it should be tied to your needs, and to the expectations you have for the particular device. Keep an eye open for the features you need and don’t lose your rhythm while doing it.