What are the Best Drum Machines for Rock Music?

Discovering the best drum machines for rock music allows bands to simulate real percussion sounds even if they don’t have a physical instrument in their setup.

The best drum machines for rock music use real-life samples to generate sounds and give users plenty of effects and connectivity to help fine-tune their desired sound.

Plenty of rock bands have used drum machines in their music at some point. Linkin Park and Bring Me The Horizon have even used these to forge their signature sounds.

By fusing electronic sounds into live performances, artists can have a unique edge compared to rivals. So what are the best drum machines for rock music that bands can use today?

The X Best Drum Machines for Rock Music

Alesis SR-16 - Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Library, Performance Driven I/O and In-Built Effects
Akai Professional MPC One – Drum Machine, Sampler & MIDI Controller with Beat Pads, Synth Engines, Standalone Operation and Touch Display
Roland AIRA Compact T-8 Beat Ultra-Portable Bass Machine Sounds | TR-REC Drum Sequencer | Six Rhythm Tracks | Built-in Effects | USB and MIDI Connectivity
BeatBuddy the Only Drum Machine That sounds Human and is Easy To Use
Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine, Purple Translucent
Alesis SR-16 - Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Library, Performance Driven I/O and In-Built Effects
Akai Professional MPC One – Drum Machine, Sampler & MIDI Controller with Beat Pads, Synth Engines, Standalone Operation and Touch Display
Roland AIRA Compact T-8 Beat Ultra-Portable Bass Machine Sounds | TR-REC Drum Sequencer | Six Rhythm Tracks | Built-in Effects | USB and MIDI Connectivity
BeatBuddy the Only Drum Machine That sounds Human and is Easy To Use
Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine, Purple Translucent
$121.54
$499.00
$199.99
$379.00
$124.00
Alesis SR-16 - Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Library, Performance Driven I/O and In-Built Effects
Alesis SR-16 - Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Library, Performance Driven I/O and In-Built Effects
$121.54
Akai Professional MPC One – Drum Machine, Sampler & MIDI Controller with Beat Pads, Synth Engines, Standalone Operation and Touch Display
Akai Professional MPC One – Drum Machine, Sampler & MIDI Controller with Beat Pads, Synth Engines, Standalone Operation and Touch Display
$499.00
Roland AIRA Compact T-8 Beat Ultra-Portable Bass Machine Sounds | TR-REC Drum Sequencer | Six Rhythm Tracks | Built-in Effects | USB and MIDI Connectivity
Roland AIRA Compact T-8 Beat Ultra-Portable Bass Machine Sounds | TR-REC Drum Sequencer | Six Rhythm Tracks | Built-in Effects | USB and MIDI Connectivity
$199.99
BeatBuddy the Only Drum Machine That sounds Human and is Easy To Use
BeatBuddy the Only Drum Machine That sounds Human and is Easy To Use
$379.00
Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine, Purple Translucent
Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine, Purple Translucent
$124.00

1. Alesis SR-16

Sale
Alesis SR-16 – Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Library, Performance Driven I/O and In-Built Effects
  • A Studio Icon – Legendary classic drum machine for songwriters, live performers…
  • In Demand Sound – 233 professional sounds included, built-in digital effects for…
  • Seamless MIDI Connectivity – Complete MIDI support for use with keyboards,…
  • Connectivity Covered – 4 (stereo pairs) outputs; 2-function footswitch jacks for…
  • Production-Ready Features – Sound stacking, step editing, stereo samples with…

If you are looking for sounds driven by real performances, then the Alesis SR-16 is a great option. The SR-16 is loaded with 223 different sounds manipulated from real recordings.

This platform allows users to experiment with combinations based on real instruments. Furthermore, it has over 50 combinations loaded by a physical performance giving greater choice and selection to generate authentic sounds.

You will find a wealth of tools to play with as well. The SR-16 has 4 layers that can be programmed simultaneously to add complex rhythms. Meanwhile, the set-up can change pitch depending on how hard it is played.

It also supports a wealth of different plugins too. This ranges from MIDI devices to allowing two footswitch connections to be added simultaneously. Able to be used both on stage and in the studio, the Alesis SR-16 is a drum machine that can shine in any environment.

Pros:

  • Over 230 different sounds
  • Dozens of combos played by professionals
  • Multiple peripheral support

Cons:

  • Difficult to adjust tempo settings
  • The display is hard to see

2. AKAI Pro MPC One

Akai Professional MPC One – Drum Machine, Sampler & MIDI Controller with Beat Pads, Synth Engines, Standalone Operation and Touch Display
  • Beat Maker Essential – Standalone Mpc, Sampler, Drum Machine And Midi Controller…
  • Developed For The Modern Music Producer – 16 Velocity Sensitive Rgb Beat Pads,…
  • Connectivity – Midi In / Midi Out For Control Of Synthesizers And Drum Machines;…
  • On Demand Sound – Custom Sample & Loop Library; Exclusive Standalone Synth…
  • The MPC Experience – Compact desktop format; built in USB audio interface; USB…

If you are looking for a drum machine that shines in the studio, look no further than Akai’s Pro MPC One. There are tools galore to explore when laying down new tracks. Using sounds generated from libraries such as Rawcutz, Splice, and F9, there are dozens of styles and combos to tinker with as you go.

There’s also the inclusion of 128-layer sequencing to line up as many snippets as you want. These digital effects line up alongside a 16-key drum pad that gives you plenty of ways to sync up combinations and play as you, please.

You will also find plenty of tech within the MPC One to boost your gear and setup. You will find plenty of slots to sync connections with any output device. This includes monitor hook-ups, MIDI peripherals, and headphones too.

Progress can be saved and stored via a USB and an SD card slot should you need extra ways to store your tracks. It’s a high-tech offering gives you plenty to experiment with when jamming in the studio.

Pros:

  • Plenty of connection ports
  • Thousands of possible combinations to set up
  • 128 layers to sequence together

Cons:

  • Wired connection only
  • Tricky for new users to grasp

3. Roland AIRA T-8 Compact

Roland AIRA Compact T-8 Beat Ultra-Portable Bass Machine Sounds | TR-REC Drum Sequencer | Six Rhythm Tracks | Built-in Effects | USB and MIDI Connectivity
  • AIRA Compact puts Roland’s legendary creative magic in the palm of your hand….
  • With the T-8 you can create infectious tracks in seconds flat with a miniature…
  • Craft on-the-fly acid jams or trap bangers with the intuitive 16-step sequencer,…
  • Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology faithfully recreates the tonality and…
  • Classic TR-REC drum sequencer with 64 user patterns and up to 32 steps each

Roland’s extensive history in electronic production has truly come to the fore in the AIRA T-8 Compact. With a retro analog layout, users can quickly get to grips with this petite powerhouse drum machine.

With 6 drum percussion layers and one extra for bass, you can use this to generate a whole rhythm section. It comes loaded with 64 different patterns and 32 sounds to give you a diverse mix to play with. All the sounds are loaded from Roland’s archive of electronic tones giving sounds loaded from a range of genres.

Roland has included an Analog Circuit Behaviour mode dedicated to recreating sounds from bygone eras to add a retro feel to your music.

It’s also able to work within any electronic setup, linking it with MIDI or other synthesizer platforms. Everything is in a compact design, meaning it is easy to transport and takes up hardly any space on stage. A great drum machine that sounds great and is easy to set up.

Pros:

  • Both drum and bass sections provided
  • The retro sound mode is provided
  • Easy to transport

Cons:

  • The sound menu is overly complicated
  • Restricted drum sounds

4. BeatBuddy Drum Machine Pedal

BeatBuddy the Only Drum Machine That sounds Human and is Easy To Use
  • The first drum machine in a pedal format, enabling full hands-free, creative…
  • Over 200 songs in 24 genres (that you control) and 10 ultra-realistic drum sets….
  • Seamless MIDI Connectivity. Use your beatbuddy as a MIDI transmitter or…
  • Visual Metronome on the built in LCD screen show you which bar and measure…
  • Award-winning sound quality thanks to professionally recorded samples and…

There are few drum machines as innovative as the BeatBuddy. Designed like an effects pedal, this device can be used with your guitar – without sacrificing content.

The BeatBuddy has 10 modes for performers to try ranging from thrash metal to country music. Within the 10 modes are over 220 sounds that give you plenty of customization to experiment with when playing on stage.

It also can connect with a cloud-based library where users can share and upload songs giving you access to millions of custom combos to try out alongside preloaded devices.

There has also been a lot of thought put into its overall design. For example, a gauge on the body shows the time signature you are playing in and which mode you are in.

It can be used as a pedal with a footpad on the bottom where one simple tap can activate a change in modes. You will also find connection ports that link it with keyboards and microphones, making it a great tool for anyone within the band. It’s why the BeatBuddy is a must for anyone looking to use drum machines when on stage

Pros:

  • Drum styles match a range of genres
  • Hands-free device
  • Syncs with all instruments

Cons:

  • Software difficult to use
  • Ticky to export/import songs onto the device from an app

5. Behringer RD-6 GP

Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine, Purple Translucent
  • Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine (Purple Translucent) – Power Supply – User Manual – Adorama 1 Year Limited Warranty
  • Amazing Drum Machine with true analog circuitry for classic sound performance
  • Authentic reproduction of original circuitry with matched transistors
  • 8 original drum sounds with mix parameters and global accent capability
  • Highly acclaimed and authentic clap sound from the DR-110 drum machine

If you want to fine-tune your sound in one device, Behringer’s RD-6 GP has you covered. There’s plenty to explore when using this analog drum machine.

Using 8 different drum configurations, the RD-6 covers everything from electronic fillers to metallic roars. With 16 different sequencers, you can create 32 patterns simultaneously to create complicated and driving rhythm sections. All of these are controlled by adjusting a knob allowing for an easy feel as you go.

What makes the RD-6 unique compared to its rivals is that it can mimic different drum functions.

For example, hitting one start/stop button simulates a bass drum pedal. Some buttons can be synced to represent snare, hi-hat, and tom-tom sounds.

You can mix and match these sounds into one 250-bar piece that covers the length of most conventional songs. Add in full support for other peripherals or devices, giving you a creative hub that others will envy.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-control sounds
  • Mimics different drum parts
  • Lots of peripheral supports

Cons:

  • No tempo display
  • Difficult to setup

6. FLAMMA FC01 Drum Pedal

FLAMMA FC01 Looper Pedal Drum Machine 2 in 1 Drum Looper Guitar Pedals, 20 Minutes Loop Time with 16 Drum Grooves, Tap Tempo, 44.1kHz/16Bit Mini Guitar Effects Pedal with 3 Mode
  • 3 Modes in One: Drum, Looper, Drum Looper, create captivating drum beats, layer loops with the individual looper and drum machine modules that can work simultaneously
  • 20 Minutes Loop Time and Unlimited Recordings: Endless possibilities with 20 min of loop time & unlimited recordings
  • 8 Drum Groove Styles, 16 Variations: Immerse yourself in a diverse range of rhythms with 8 distinct drum groove styles
  • Tap Tempo Function: Effortlessly control groove tempo with our intuitive tap tempo feature
  • Power Supply Not Included: Please ensure that your guitar pedal is connected to a 9V DC power supply with a minimum of 210mA. Insufficient current may lead to operational issues

A simple and easy-to-use drum pedal, the FLAMMA FC01 is extremely easy to get to grips with.

Used like a pedal, the FC01 can switch between 8 different styles of all genres. These range from pop, fusion, metal, jazz, and funk.

Furthermore, each style has at least 2 variations allowing for different styles to be explored for a different edge. For ease of use, the pedal can be set into three modes – drums, looper, or both. In looper mode, the pedal can loop certain patterns for up to 20 minutes in one cycle. If not, patterns will be controlled manually.

It’s also straightforward to create your patterns. It can record and then play your mix in just two separate tabs. You can also dub it to add greater variation to the overall sound.

With almost every function controlled by adjusting a switch or a dial, the FC01 is extremely easy to use. There’s room to control it using your feet, meaning you can control it while playing another instrument. It’s a pedal that is efficient and deals with all your needs with minimal fuss or drama.

Pros:

  • Covers a range of genres
  • Loops patterns for up to 20 mins
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Limited pattern variations
  • Footpad is relatively small

7. Arturia DrumBrute Drum Machine

Arturia DrumBrute Impact Analog Drum Machine
  • Separate accent per drum
  • Song mode for chaining patterns
  • Optional Color sound-shaping on all instruments (except Cowbell)

As the name suggests, Arturia’s DrumBrute analogue machine makes it easy for you to have edgy electronic percussion. This 10-instrument drum machine controls various parts including bass drum, hi-hats, cymbals, snares and even the fabled cowbell.

Where the DrumBrute really shines is how it allows you to manipulate each sound. From the bouncy Swing feature to the endless polyrhythm section, each mode and instrument can be manipulated individually or together to generate complex rhythms. You can even try the Random mode to add some unpredictability to each layer.

Moving away from the effects and sounds, the DrumBrute gives users full control over the sound. Each button and knob adds a different layer to the sound meaning no layer or pattern sounds the same. It also avoids digital playback to ensure everything has a raw and classic feel to it. By syncing up with other equipment setups too, this is a piece that gives producers and artists full control in the studio.

Pros:

  • Instruments can be controlled individually
  • Punchy sounds
  • Lots of effects to master

Cons:

  • Not for beginner artists
  • Takes time to learn

What Makes a Good Drum Machine for Rock Music?

When it comes to picking the best drum machine for rock music, it might be difficult to know what to look for. This comes particularly as they don’t seem a natural fit into a band lineup. However, some features do make them ideal for some bands.

Crossing genres

For some people, using a live instrument means you are always guaranteed to get particular sounds or styles from that part. Therefore, you might need to find a different way to manipulate the sound to find what you are looking for. This is where drum machines come into their own.

Many top drum machines have a variety of ways to manipulate particular sounds. For example, drum machines can use accents to create a stuttering sound that can only be controlled electronically without any echo or feedback.

A great example of this is heard in the introduction to “Papercut” by Linkin Park. In this instance, Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn digitally accents a bass drum sound whilst the opening riff from Brad Delson chimes in over the top. This is a pre-cursor to the song’s intro riff bringing in all the other instruments.

Ease of control

For some performers, it can be difficult to have live percussion if you are playing other instruments as a solo act. Having drum machines handy means you can still have a percussion section even if it is generated electronically. However, the choice of the device style may vary depending on how you are performing. This comes in three forms:

  • Drum Pad: A device that mixes effects with pads for sound manipulation. Usually has a keypad to select particular combos or patterns. A hybrid platform suitable for users
  • Analogue Board: Containing a range of controls, these platforms look like full device rigs. Usually laden with knobs and dials for each function. Perfect for use in a studio
  • Pedals: Drum machine pedals are more stripped-back devices. These can be used as part of any live rig containing preloaded combinations. It can be used and controlled via a simple tap of a foot. Perfect for live shows.

By knowing the differences in device type and layout, it can make it easier to choose just which might be the best drum machine for the rock music you play.

FAQ

Are drum machine sounds based on real recordings?

Yes – many will have some live inputs. Depending on the brand, many drum machines will take use of live samples or examples to generate their sounds. Some of the best drum machines for rock music even have combos loaded by real drummers performing them to get an exact replication.

Do drum machines fit in all rock music styles?

Most drum machines are designed to cover all mainstream genres and styles. You will find that drum machine pedals particularly will cater for these modes. Some of the best drum machines for rock music can adapt their sounds to suit rock, metal, funk and blues.

Do drum machines sync with other devices?

You will discover that most drum machines will have a wealth of connection options. These range from linking with synthesizer setups to connecting with full MIDI peripherals. They will also support other devices such as microphones and headphones to make them easier to use.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the best drum machines for rock music, there are plenty of options to explore. All of these not only replicate percussion sounds but have a plethora of combinations to discover. They are also suited for both studio recordings and live performances depending on what you need them for.

If you are looking for a live platform, then drum machine pedals such as the BeatBuddy and the FLAMMA FC01 are excellent choices. This comes because they are easy to control and suited for all styles. On the other side, full rigs such as the Roland AIRA T-8 and the Arturia DrumBrute give users detailed and full control over how they manipulate the sounds they produce. Out of all the offerings, the Alesis SR-16 offers performers the best of both worlds.

With plenty of different sounds to explore and all of them generated from real-world performers, it gives bands a mix of authenticity to play with as well as the tools to manipulate them. That is why it is one of the best drum machines for rock music around today. 

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