Are you fond of making musical beats and starting out as a music producer? Or, are you just looking out for some stock drum sounds in your musical piece?
Either way, you should own a drum machine that will create your favorite drum beats and sounds with ease.
A drum machine, which is an electronic instrument for making music, creates percussion sounds and patterns that imitate drum beats, played at a wide range of tempos.
Modern drum machines are made in imitation of percussion instruments or a drum kit that can be customized by the user as per their beats and rhythms.
Things To Consider When Buying A Drum Machine
In the music production industry, drum machines are used to create beats that can be incorporated into other melodic elements in the musical piece.
It can either be controlled with MIDI or can be clocked with the whole set-up to get synced. These are way more than just a sequencer creating a band of drum sounds.
When you are looking for a quality drum machine, check out if the engine is a riveting one that allows you to tweak its features in order to get its own unique sound.
The drum machines with smaller sizes are not best to handle as the tiny knobs and buttons fitted to it are quite difficult to program.
These are not fit for live performances too. So always look for larger drum machines if you are planning to play it live on stage.
But if you have a limited studio space, a battery-operated smaller drum machine can be a better choice.
Analog vs. Digital
If you want a warmer and realistic sound, then you must go for a digital or hybrid machine.
Analog drum machines cannot create a realistic and fuller tone as far as percussion is concerned. So you should choose a type that fits your kind of music.
While performing live with a drum machine, you should look for pattern memory machines that can store as many patterns as you need.
But if you’re a solo artist, you should go for an autonomous one that can store the patterns in the song mode for easy catch-ups afterward.
This is helpful because you might need a hand in other instruments while jamming or performing solo.
Initially, you don’t have to go for large pattern memory drum machines. You can manage with a MIDI-enabled machine in the studio while mixing the tunes.
You can always build your patterns through your computer or laptop with the help of a software. These machines are really helpful for advanced music creators.
Sampling and Sampler
A sampling drum machine is not the same as a sampler. While a typical sampling drum machine plays pithy, short phrases, a sampler drum machine allows you to play longer phrases to help you make a complete track.
Unlike most drum machines, sampling ones enable you to upload your own music samples. This will make you stand out as you can record and put up any distinct sound you like and mix it later.
Over the years, drum machines have got improved with user control patterns, elaborations, and timings.
If you are just starting out, you do not need to jump off to any expensive set of drum machines. You can just have a quality drum machine within a reasonable price range.
To help you out, we have curated a list of 10 best cheap drum machines that are available in the market now.
No matter what your budget is or what size you want, there is a suitable one for everybody in the following list.
Starting off our list of best cheap drum machines we have the Korg Volca FM with its sub $200 powerful user-friendly virtual drum machine.
It can work on any Mac or PC simply with the help of a USB. On the other hand, this USB also works as a power unit that leaves out the risk of messing up with your cables.
The Korg Volca FM drum unit can be used as a MIDI controller almost with every modern DAWs. You also get to access the additional bundled Arturia software containing innumerable percussion pieces.
It is a Volva software drum machine with 3 synthesis engines, pressure-sensitive pads among other stunning features enabled with the Classic TR programming style.
For beginners as well as professionals alike, the Korg Volca FM can be really helpful as it has extremely versatile features.
Not only can it be your dream drum machine but it can also be used as a real-time sequencer.
- Has a small, sleek, solid design with pad buttons.
- USB powered and has knob controllers.
- It can also be used as a real-time sequencer.
- You need to connect it with a MAC or PC.
- Comes with a travel sleeve for extra protection.
Korg is a well-known brand among sampling and mixing instruments. Musicians who like to play with their own beats and ideas must find the stylish Korg Volca Beats perfectly suitable to their needs.
With some great sound quality and features, this relatively smaller drum machine can really sweep you off your feet while playing around.
Because of its smaller structure, the Korg Volca Beats can be gripped easily. It has an Electribe-style 16-step sequencer made with 8 memory patches.
There are also knobs and buttons present for controlling the step sequencing levels and effects. There is a tempo indicator attached to it that allows for adding triggering sounds.
As a passionate beginner, you can not get creative enough without this little gadget. It is among those best cheap drum machines in the market that comes with optional power and in-built speakers for more easy usage.
- The device has a nice and sleek design.
- It can produce glitch or delay-like stutter effects.
- This 16-key synthesizer has a classic analog sound quality.
- Possess the PCM-based drum parts.
Loaded with hundreds of fresh sounds right out of the box, the Akai XR20 professional drum machine is an ideal one for you.
It is a budget-friendly, lightweight beat production machine that can create your desired beats within a few seconds.
Having all the essential drum beats effects, the Akai XR20 is a great portable drum machine that can be powered up on batteries or any other wall adapter.
You can simply plug in a microphone to get your vocals to go under the beats. It enhances the effect if you use dim environments to create the music.
You can easily mix and match various patterns from each pad in the Pattern Play mode.
This is a great choice for the music creators who cannot afford to have an expensive drum machine right away.
- Includes EQ, reverb, and compression.
- It can support up to 99 preset and user patterns each.
- Comes with an exciting backlit LCD pattern.
- From one-shot hits, bass, and synth to standard and electronic drums, this device can mix it all quite easily.
- Runs on the battery as well as AC adapters.
If you are in search of a budget classic drum machine with the best qualities possible, then the Alesis SR-16 is a great value for money device.
It is a compact black device with a small display having its control dial and all 37 buttons on the front part.
You can create some of the best music just by pushing some controllers and customizing the rhythms as per your need on the Alesis SR16.
At the same time, you can control the effect with the help of your foot by using any compatible footswitches.
There is a wide range of pre-programmed beats including the exclusive articulation features of changing the tonal content of a drum sound for a more realistic feel.
It is a great option for creators who are just starting out as well as for professionals. This is an extremely user-friendly instrument that can be played in real-time.
- It has a nice small display with a control dial and buttons – all black.
- Comes with the exclusive Alesis Dynamic Articulation feature.
- Has over 200 sound patterns and 50 preset drum kit configurations.
- Portable device with touch-sensitive pads and 2 compatible footswitches.
- No USB MIDI is available with the said variant.
Another portable and value for money drum machine on the list includes the Teenage Engineering PO32 Tonic. It is a bang for the buck option as it is among those rare good quality drum machines coming under only $100.
The PO32 Tonic is a compact size device including an in-built speaker along with a step multiplier and microphone. You can get almost unlimited sounds through data transfer if you attach it with a separate micro tonic vst. Another striking feature is that the company claims it to be “the new gold standard drum machine” because of the gold plated box of the device. Bet you have never seen a stylish drum machine sounded this good.
So, if you are looking for a quality device of compact size and budget price, then you should go for the PO32 Tonic drum machine. You are just going to love its cover as this best cheap drum machine comes in a striking gold plated cardboard box.
Key Features :
- The device comes in a gold plated cardboard box.
- It has parameter locks and punch-in effects.
- Has an animated LCD display.
- Runs on just two AAA batteries.
- It is attached to a folding stand.
Another cheap drum machine under $100 is the Korg Rhythm KR Mini. It is a simple drum machine that comes with a very basic interface. It is our second-best pick on the list from Korg that stands out among great value for money devices for beginners.
As the name suggests, this is a small portable basic drum machine. You can input your personal beats on this device with the help of pad mode. This makes the buttons easily assignable to other different drum beats. It has a 2-watt built-in speaker that lets you the freedom of casual jamming anywhere you like. You can use the 16 pads for finger drumming and can also record up to six personal drum beats.
With a simple and very easy to use design, this Korg Mini portable drum machine will be a catch for you among the best cheap drum machines in the market.
- Has a simple design and a basic interface.
- Includes over 50 preset rhythms of different styles.
- No need to attach an additional monitor because of the inbuilt 2-watt speaker.
- Runs on 3 AAA batteries.
We bet you have heard about the legendary TR-909 drum machine. Right? The Roland TR-09 rhythm composer is just like a clone to it. Although the new TR-09 shares a lot of common qualities and the name itself with the classic TR-909, it does have some dissimilarities too. Besides being a good quality drum machine, this TR-09 from Roland is also a portable and affordable one.
This ultra-compact recreation of the legendary TR-909 drum machine, the TR-09 from Roland has quality construction with a front metal panel. It lets you control an array of parameters like tune, reverb, level, and decay with much precision. It comes with 4 individual outputs through USB audio and the external control through trigger output besides the typical USB MIDI.
If you want to get the iconic TR-909 features enhanced with the ultra-compact design under budget then you should go for this best cheap drum machine.
- Shares the same front-panel layout and user interface with the iconic TR-909 drum machine.
- Powered by Roland’s ACB technology.
- It is also compatible with any K-25 keyboard unit.
- Programmable via Step and Tap write modes.
- Runs on 4 AA batteries besides USB power.
If you need a low-cost drum machine to play in small shows, then the Boss DR-3 Dr. Rhythm makes for an ideal choice. It is a great value for money device that fits your need of backing all tracks, even from a drumbeat to bass.
The Boss DR-3 has a tiny display that approaches the need to create full-length drum patterns. You can simply pick from the preset patterns to chain them all together to make a completely new piece. Besides the New Rhythm Progressions, the velocity-sensitive pads attached to the instrument allows you to make up to 3 variations each. These variations are for Intro, Verse, Fill, and Ending respectively. The compatibility of the device with a footswitch lets you perform live freely and with ease.
It is not suitable for creating new unique custom beats. This Boss rhythm maker can create a professional ambiance with its total sound control and shaping function. So if your purpose is to back up all your tracking pieces, then this is an ideal option for you under $200 budget.
- Includes 100 preset patterns and user styles each.
- Compatible with a footswitch.
- Stores full-length songs.
- Runs on AC or optional battery power.
- Band-in-a-box-type drum machine.
Speaking of another cheap analog drum machine, we have the Arturia Drumbrute on the list. It provides over 15 fully analog drum and percussion beats of distinct quality.
The device also has an intuitive sequencer with massive connectivity, dynamic control buttons, and a two-mode Steiner-Parker filter. Thus, it can apply randomness in whichever instrument you like. It includes a connection to any device with USB MIDI ports besides the enabled patent clock and DIN sync I/O. Though it’s not so portable like other battery-operated drum machines, it is one of a kind among analog featured low-cost drum machines.
This Drumbrute drum synthesizer from Arturia is a stunning cheap drum machine in the market that sounds big under low budget. If you want to have such a paradisiacal experience to inspire your creativity then go for this dynamic drum machine that makes your beat production an energetic masterpiece.
- An all-in-one analog drum machine.
- Attached with a two-mode Steiner-Parker filter.
- Offers the advanced 64 patterns with up to 64 steps sequencing possibilities.
- Uses 12V DC input for power.
- You can record up to 16 personal songs.
And now for the last best cheap drum machine on the list, we have Elektron Digitakt. It is a bit more expensive than the other products discussed on the list.
As the name suggests, the device offers a completely digital architecture with digital synthesis and samples. It is an 8-voice drum machine that allows for sampler and grooving sequences. A highly flexible sound engine, Digitakt from Elektron has a refreshing OLED screen with sturdier back-lit buttons, perfectly enabling a clear and crisp user interface.
Preloaded with lots of dedicated electronic and acoustic sounds, the device can make you create, experiment, and produce your ideal music right away.
With over 1GB of onboard storage, this compact drum machine calls for a breath-taking experience. The Elektron Digitakt is thus a meticulous pick on our chart of best cheap drum machines.
- Can stream 8 audio tracks and MIDI tracks each.
- It can also be used as a sound card.
- It can be controlled with a dedicated VST/AU plugin.
- Has an ultra-clear OLED display.
- Fully integrated with DAW environments.
Hope this article helped you out in searching for a quality drum machine under your budget. Be it the size, build quality, sound effect, usability, memory patterns, or value for money of drum machines for beginners, we have got you covered in this article.
Though we have suggested what to look for in a suitable drum machine, after all, it’s your skill and passion that will take you ahead in this musical endeavor. It is your creative musical ideas that will make the beats of the drum machine marvelous.