Drum machines need no introduction and are a key part of music production. Here’s our list of the 10 best drum machines 2022.

Behringer Rhythm Designer RD-8 MKII

Behringer made waves a few years ago when they first got into the synthesizer business, so it’s all but natural that they would eventually have a say in the drum machine game, particularly in the vintage department. The Rhythm Designer RD-8 MKII recreates the iconic Roland 808 sound and sequencer layout, but it adds a few extra features such as the wave designer for adjusting the attack/sustain levels and a dual-mode LP/HP filter with resonance for extra beaf. It also adds some current-day amenities such as MIDI and USB connectivity so we can experience the classic sound without any hassles.

Akai Professional MPC Live II

Akai Professional’s first Music Production Center was pivotal to the makings of the hip-hop sound, a truly ground-breaking instrument at the time that inspired a whole generation on a new way of making music. The MPC Live II has all the DNA of the original MPC while also being equipped with the latest tech trickling down from the current flagship MPC X. At its core we have the classic 4x4 set of pads and a high resolution 7” multi-touch display that greatly speeds up the workflow, and underneath it there’s a powerful computer running the feature-packed MPC software. The MPC Live II also features built-in speakers and packs a lithium battery for up to five hours of operation, making it one of the best choices for making beats wherever you are, whenever you want.

Arturia DrumBrute

Arturia steps into the analog drum machine arena with the impressive DrumBrute, a unit that presents seventeen unique analog sound generators, twelve voices of polyphony, individual outputs and a layout with a great focus on hands-on control. Its “one-knob per function” approach and accessible sequencer definitely favours live performance and quick improvisation. This Brute becomes even more interesting when we look at the price, which is remarkably friendly for an all-analog machine. Arturia has recently released a spin-off of this machine with the DrumBrute Impact as well, featuring a different sonic palette in a smaller format with fewer voices but at an even lower price, which is also very enticing.

Dave Smith Instruments Tempest

When industry titans Dave Smith and Roger Linn joined forces to create a drum machine, one expected nothing but a brilliantly-made, fine sounding instrument with vast depth, and this is precisely the case with the Tempest. This sultry 6-voice drum machine boasts an architecture with two analog oscillators plus two digital oscillators with per-voice sample-loading capabilities, including over 400 drum sounds, two LFOs per voice, classic Curtis filters, six individual outputs, a flexible routing matrix, two mod strips, realtime recording with parameter changes, onboard effects and a clever layout that can be configured as sequencer, or regular pads for live performance. An endgame machine in all regards!

Elektron Analog Rytm MKII

The first iteration of Elektron’s flagship drum machine Analog Rytm was already an extremely powerful unit, boasting eight voices with multiple analog and sample-based sound generators, multimode filters, onboard effects, individual instrument outputs and an acclaimed sequencer that made the Swedes 'drum-machine famous,' with per-step parameter or sound changes and real time recording capability. Now add to that sample recording capabilities, a more imposing form-factor with an improved LCD and further refinements to the analog circuitry and we have the new Analog Rytm MKII. Needless to say, such quality comes at cost, so if budget is tight make sure to check out the Rytm’s smaller brother Digitakt, an eight-voice drum machine with Elektron’s trademark sequencer and many interesting features, including sampling.

Native Instruments Maschine Plus

Native Instruments makes some of the best computer software when it comes to virtual synths and samplers, so it comes as no surprise that they would excel in the real world of hardware. The Maschine+ is the flagship of the line and actually much more than a drum machine, and perhaps that’s exactly what makes it an excellent choice for such a role: it’s basically a portable electronic music production studio with full-fledged multitrack sequencing for up to nine instruments, advanced sample and sound editing capabilities, 35 studio-grade effects and most importantly, it includes thousands of presets from NI’s acclaimed Kontakt and Massive virtual instruments. All without having to ever reach out for a computer, unless when it’s for loading more sounds!

Jomox Alpha Base

The Jomox Alpha Base packs in an immense array of features, combining different sound sources such as analog synthesis, high-quality (16-bit/48kHz) sample engine and the brand’s proprietary MBrane drum synthesizer, for a grand total of eleven distinct instruments. It also features many modulation options, including one LFO per instrument, parameter locks per-step, eight individual outputs, delay/reverb effects and even a small 6-voice FM synthesizer that can be used for basslines and melodies. The Alpha Base also features a SD card slot for expanding its sample pool with user samples or external sound libraries. Another fine candidate for an endgame drum machine for the ages.

Roland TR-09

The Roland Boutique series revived many of the brand’s classic electronic instruments and the drum machines were not to be left out of the party: needless to say that the TR-808 and TR-909 were the first to arrive given how historically important they are. Featured here is the TR-09, a machine based on the revered beat-making powerhouse that is the spirit of early techno, and as with its Boutique-series siblings it is presented in a small footprint that takes advantage of Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior technology to deliver digitally-modeled sounds that are closely matched to the original hardware, but it does so in an affordable and conveniently portable unit that can even run on regular AA batteries. The Boutique series also offers a version of the legendary TR-808 with the TR-08, make sure to check that out as well if it's more your speed.

Korg volca beats

Don’t let the small size fool you, the Volca Beats is a capable little drum machine and Korg has done an amazing job on squeezing features on every inch of this small box. The Volca packs six analog-inspired instruments for kick, snare, low/high tom and open/closed hi-hat with three controls to shape each sound, and alongside it there are four PCM-synthesized sounds for claps, claves, agogo and crash, totalling ten voices on a super compact form factor. The Volca Beats can be powered by a couple of AA batteries and with a weight of 372g/0.82lbs you won’t even notice it in your backpack.

Novation Circuit Rythm

The Novation Circuit line presents quite a minimalistic proposition: there are no screens, just a set of pads and a few knobs wrapped together in very clever fashion, with a sound engine underneath them that is tailored to a certain purpose. Here we have the Circuit Rhythm, which is optimized towards drum sounds and features eight sample-powered tracks. This neat groovebox features a number of sequencing tools, sampling capabilities, basic editing, auxiliary reverb/delay effects and even master bus compression. It can also be used as a MIDI device to trigger other devices, so it can easily be integrated to bigger setups as well.

* If you still rather stay old-school, Check out our round-up of ten of the best vintage drum machines.

* See more drum machines here!

* Read / take part in a good discussion thread about drum machines here!