Our Picks for the Best Drum Machines of All Time

When it comes to music technology, the drum machine is one of the top musical inventions of our time. It’s effective, precise, and affordable. The drum machine’s straight-forwardness and versatility make it a go-to for musicians across the genres. To help you recognize the best from the rest, we have compiled a list of the top 10 best drum machines of all time. Read on to learn which drum machines make a bang on the musical scene!

Top 10 Best Drum Machines of All Time

  1. 2_Full2The Alesis HR-16/ HR-16B: Throughout the 70s and 80s, drum machines were reserved for the richer players of the music scene. With an average going price of $2000 or more, it was no surprise that drum machines belonged only to the most monetarily elite musicians. The introduction of the Alesis in 1987 changed the music world forever. It originally sold for just $600 – less than a quarter of the price of most drum machines on the market. Its affordability changed the music industry forever by making drum machines affordable for many more musicians.


  1. Korg Mini Pops 120Korg Mini Pops 120: The Mini Pops drum machine series was designed to be mobile; the Korg was made to provide touring musicians with a back beat to which they could play along. The Korg featured just six analogue sounds, and didn’t let users store their beats, but the sound was nice, and its rich wooden design was easy on the eyes.


  1. E-Mu Sp-12E-Mu Sp-12: The E-Mu was the first of its kind, offering users a classic drum machine equipped with 24 samples, as well as a sampler that allowed users to create and save sounds of their own. It achieved musical history by combining the traditional drum machine with the new technology of the sampler.


  1. Elektron SPS1 - drum samplerElektron SPS1 Machinedrum: In 2001, the Machinedrum was known as the world’s most sophisticated drum machine: it featured 4 different types of drum synthesis, took care of its programming, and offered editable sample playback.


  1. Roland CR-78 - drum loop creatorRoland CR-78: This 1978-debuting drum machine was the first Roland ever to offer programmable and saveable drum patterns, which won it huge popularity amongst songwriters and producers alike.


  1. Paia Programmable Drum Set (Model 3750) - Drum Beat makerPaia Programmable Drum Set (Model 3750): The Paia was the very first standalone rhythm box, and also featured the two things that would become necessities amongst the industry’s leading drum machines: analogue synthesis and programming ability.


  1. Linn Electronics Linndrum - drum machineLinn Electronics Linndrum: In 1982, the Linndrum was a drum machine revolutionary: for the first time, it offered beats sampled from real acoustic instruments- it offered real sounds.


  1. Roland_TR-909 - drum soundsRoland TR-909: This part-analogue, part-sample-based hybrid became the staple drum machine for early dance music. Its swing control and MIDI abilities won it fame for flexibility and had it rocking out steadily throughout the 80s.


  1. Oberheim DMXOberheim DMX: 1980 was the year of the Oberheim! This drum machine served up fat sample sounds that won it hip hop recognition. From its 24 fully-tunable drum sounds to its ridiculously flexible programming options, it’s no wonder this Oberheim’s kick and snare sounds are still in regular use today.


  1. Roland_TR-808_drum_machineRoland TR-808: This drum machine easily tops the list of the top 10 best drum machines of all time. The Roland tr808 is the most sampled drum machine of all time and you can here these drum samples on all kinds of genres from the past to present day.  With its affordable and extensive ability to generate fresh beats, its filling bass sounds, and its ability to program 12 different 32 step patterns, this Roland forever changed the course of hip-hop and dance music.