Best Cheap Drum Machine

Drum machines have been designed to offer music creators with different sounds that would have otherwise forced them to learn new musical instruments.

Finances are really stretched out these days, so getting a world-class drummer to help you record music remains a pipe dream at least for many veteran and upcoming musicians. The reason for the above is because drummers normally charge an average fee of about $125 and that is for 2hours, the above charges are for gigs, but when it comes to hiring a drummer for a song, then it gets even more expensive.

A major drum player will, therefore, charge up to $300, while a famous drummer will have you fork out up to $200 and an amateur drummer will want a payout of about $100 for one song. So, since making music has become more expensive many people have turned to drum machines. The latter relieves musicians of financial and instrumental burdens because they offer complete musical direction by providing a wide variety of sounds.

And that is why we have consolidated a few of the best cheap drum machines to help you make a good choice as you venture into the music world.

Comparison Table for the Best Cheap Drum Machine

Model
Battery Use
Check on Amazon
Korg Digital FM Synthesizer (VOLCAFM)
Yes 6 AAA batteries
Roland Rhythm Composer, 10 Outputs (TR-08)
2 AA batteries
Arturia Sparkle 420101 Drum Machine
N/A
Korg Portable Keyboard, inch (KRMINI)
3 AAA batteries
Alesis SR-16 | Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine
Uses power
BOSS Dr. Rhythm, Black,
6AA batteries
Korg, 16-Key Synthesizer (VOLCABEATS)
6 AA batteries

Reviews of the Best Cheap Drum Machine

Korg Digital FM Synthesizer (VOLCAFM)

Sporting an easy to manipulate Volca interface, the Korg Digital FM synthesizer, can be used to reproduce the sound engine of a classic FM synthesizer, while also enabling compatibility. Users will also have the opportunity of using the 16 step sequencer that has incorporated new functions, like the PATTERN CHAIN which gives music makers the power to create the best unique rhythms.

Other interesting features incorporated in the Korg drum machine are such as the 3 voice polyphonic FM synthesizer that is characteristic of up to 6 operations, and 32 algorithms, which users can be sure will offer compatibility and load files in the SYS-EX/SYS format. The unit is also capable of editing sound and in a simple and easy fashion, users will then use the modulator edit knobs, and the parameter list guide, to achieve the relevant sound changes.

Important to note is that the knob movements have been mapped out to a couple of the parameters for sound enhancements and which are fairly easy to comprehend. Additionally, Volca FM offers a synch connector that users can easily connect to Korg’s groove machines. The latter when connected to other Volca series unit, musicians will be able to engage in a session with a synchronized sequencer playback.

Pros

  • Great price for a versatile unit
  • Features the best workmanship
  • Fairly priced
  • The best for FM synthesis

Cons

  • Good for FM synthesis though limited to three voices

 

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Roland Rhythm Composer, 10 Outputs (TR-08)

The Roland rhythm composer boasts of being an ultra-compact recreation of the re-known TR-808 drum machine. Well, the above is true given that it has retained the sound character and the user interface of the original TR-808 model. This unit has done its best in mimicking the original version and as a bonus the Roland Rhythm composer is also highly portable.

The above then means that you can play live, anywhere thanks to its compact size, the unit features a sturdy build, and this also goes for the knobs, switches, and buttons. Users also have the option of tilting the unit, for proper viewing in both the studio and live sessions, without necessarily compromising the drum machine’s structural integrity.

The Roland rhythm composer runs on batteries and its construction has incorporated a speaker. Music enthusiasts who still have doubts about the capabilities of the TR-08 might be interested to know that it has been configured to actively recreate the very things that made the 808 very special.

Pros

  • Equipped with a miniaturized 100 that is also 100% authentic
  • The unit is compact and portable to be used anywhere
  • The drum machine is fairly easy to program
  • The drum machine is sturdy built

Cons

  • Has a steep learning curve
  • Fairly priced for the legendary 808 sound

 

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Korg Portable Keyboard

When they said you get what you pay for, then must have been talking about the Korg portable keyboard, which retails at a fair price of about $80. 99. The unit is compact and can even fit in a bag, and features one of the simplest designs such that the user only needs to select a rhythm pattern and proceed to play.

New users will have an easy time with the Korg Portable keyboard given that they can easily arrange their favorite rhythms and patterns using the chain function, and come up with a complete song. Interestingly the drum machine comes equipped with an optional footswitch that allows them to easily control their fill in, stop, and start hands-free.

For finger drumming, users can tap the 16 pads and even record their performances, the drum has been made versatile for use to which end it has incorporated built-in speakers complete with a 2-watt output that keeps the groove going without necessarily needing an additional monitor.

Pros

  • The user interface is pretty intuitive
  • Easy to use to create complete songs
  • The built-in speakers enable it to be used anywhere
  • Users can program patterns

Cons

  • Has poor sound
  • Lacks the quantize function

 

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Arturia Sparkle 420101 Drum Machine

The Arturia Sparkle can be described as more of a beat production center, and has, therefore, combined the power of analog synthesis with physical modeling and samples, complete with the intuitive workflow of an innovative and portable drum machine. Users will, therefore, be able to make beats with ease thanks to the intelligent combination of Arturias virtual analog technology with a hardware controller.

And for users wishing to create the live fills, they have been provided with an FX pad, which comes loaded with a 6 mode slicer and a 3 mode, filter complete with a roller. The sparkle drum machine is not only versatile but also allows users to create patterns and for this purpose, it has provided up to 64 steps, with about four 16 step zones. All the above can be done with the step sequencer which comes with up to 16 keys.

Other incredible features that you don’t want to miss out on are such as the incorporated 180+ kits that comes with a 64 step sequencer, the up to 1900+ instruments, the 16 track mixer, the 8 pads, and the effect pads.

Pros

  • Sparkle is the best drum controller
  • The best machine when it comes to building a quick beat
  • The product quality is good
  • Has a huge library at a low price

Cons

  • The software needs polishing
  • Requires an authorization code to work

 

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Alesis SR-16 | Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine

Alesis SR-16 is not only a studio icon but has been configured for use by the remix, engineers, live performers, and songwriters. The drum machine is pretty easy to use, and set up; the unit has incorporated tons of built-in rhythmic variations that users can adopt to compose complete arrangements and customized songs and patterns.

Musicians and the mix geniuses also get to engage the dynamic articulation feature, which allows for the drum sound to change their tonal content when they are played harder. The digital machine also produces some of the best authentic sounds, as it has incorporated a variety of about 233 realistic natural drum sounds.

Even better is that there are about 50 preset patterns, that haven’t just been programmed and quantized but were initially played in by the top studio drummers. Users who were looking for MIDI implementation then this is the unit to settle with because apart from the complete MIDI implementation, users also get to enjoy the flexible editing and programming features.

They also get to use the footswitch input and the velocity-sensitive pad buttons, the Alesis –SR 16 is among the drum machines that help encourage creativity; and users are also at liberty to create and save their own customized patterns and songs.

Pros

  • A good and fairly priced drum machine
  • Comes equipped with a power supply
  • Does everything that it has indicated it does
  • The Alesis SR-16 is a highly versatile and simple drum machine

Cons

  • The buttons are not easy to use as they must be hard-pressed
  • Not the best unit for finger drumming

 

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BOSS Dr. Rhythm, Black,

Boss Dr. Rhythm is a simple user intuitive and colorful drum machine and comes equipped with bass guitar sounds. Boss drum machine does have a low rating when compared to the ones already reviewed in this article, but that does not mean that it performs any less, on the contrary, it can be a useful jamming and practice drum machine.

The unit has incorporated realistic percussion, drum, and bass sounds, which are made complete by the velocity-sensitive pads. Programmable rhythm progression is also possible with up to 3 variations for the intro, verse, fill, and ending. Users get to enjoy the total sound control feature thanks to the sound shape function and ambiance for the professional drum sounds. Also available are the 1 preset styles, 1 user style programmable through step recording or in real-time.

Pros

  • The drum machine can store full songs
  • Works best when used in live venues
  • Equipped with real drum sounds
  • Offers value for money

Cons

  • Using the Boss drum machine involves a steep learning curve
  • The preset beats are overplayed and fancied up

 

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Korg, 16-Key Synthesizer (VOLCABEATS)

Korg 16-key synthesizer features an intuitive interface with easy to use functions, users are, therefore, provided with a step sequencer, which will make editing pretty easy. Users can, therefore, add or remove parts in a modern fashion. The 16 incorporated step keys can be used to input notes, and at the same time visually monitor the timing of the notes within the measure.

Another important function that the beatmakers will like is the touch panel keyboard that can be used to record in real-time. Now the good thing with Volca beats is that it is not feature intensive, the above is an advantage because the incorporated minimal set of parameters, are easy to use and users can quickly create the drum sounds that they want.

The unit is highly portable and versatile meaning that music makers can take it with them; the best part of it all is that it is battery operated, has a built-in speaker, and can be used with a DC 9v power cord.

Pros

  • Can be used anywhere
  • Compact in size thus portable
  • Easy to use
  • Can provide some rather huge sounds

Cons

  • Does not come with a power cord
  • The vocals are not reliable

 

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Conclusion

While we might have provided you with the best budget option drum machines, it is all up to the skills and passion of the user. Some other parameters that you might want to consider are the size of the drum machine and its usability when out of station, the sound effects are also an important consideration complete with the build quality.

FAQ’s

Can I use a drum machine without a computer?

Most drum machines are supported by computers and software

Does the drum machine work the same as an MPC?

Samplers only allow users to record or modify their sounds; most of them don’t have a sequencer, while others have. Drum machines are characteristic of pre-installed percussion and drum sounds, and come complete with a built-in sequencer.

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