Roland’s latest and greatest drum machine builds on the hugely popular Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer. It loses the opinion-dividing Aira family looks for a more elegant and dapper black. The TR-8s gives us more flexibility and the ability to load your own samples into the machine. Add to this the expanded out of the box palette of sounds, separate analogue outs and you have a real powerhouse of a machine.
Elektron is a company known for making supremely well engineered, incredible sounding kit. Traditionally you have had to work for your supper, with a lot of their ‘legacy’ machines having somewhat thorny user interfaces. That has all changed with the new generation of Elektron gear, all, apart from, their sonic fortitude and bulletproof build quality. This thing sounds absolutely amazing, punchy, dynamic and concerted.
Pound for pound the pick of the bunch from this list. Korg’s Volca beats is a pure all analogue ‘808’ inspired hardware drum machine for just a little over a hundred quid. With careful programming, what this little machine is capable of is frankly astounding. A lot of punch for very little mula. Power and pep for pennies. If you are starting out, or looking to expand your percussive potential, go get.
Arturia’s first foray into the hardware drum machine gives you an impressive yet intuitive front panel, and a whole lot of analogue sound generation for your money. 2 kicks, flexible editing and sequencing inspired by their excellent and very popular ‘Beatstep’ range, the Drumbrute is a powerful machine that encourages experimentation. If you are looking to buy this type of unit the Drumbrute offers an awful lot to like.
Honourable mentions in this category go to… All of the Roland Boutique range of drum machines. despite the amount of shade these little beat boxes undeservedly find themselves in, they are in fact fabulous little machines. Very well made and they sound absolutely spot on. The AKAI XR-20. If you are into ‘Urban’ genres of any type then this should be up there on your list. It covers everything from Grime to RnB and has a handy mic input so you can spit along to your beats. Not everyone, however, is looking for club pumping bombast, so if you are a singer-songwriter that plays an acoustic guitar of any type the Korg KR-MINI is a compact and affordable rhythm accompaniment machine that has a very handy built-in speaker for those fireside sing-along sessions.