Drum machines need no introduction and are a key part of music production. Here’s our list of the 10 best drum machines 2023.

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 Impact

With 10 sounds (Kick, Snares 1 and 2, High and Low Toms, Cowbell, Cymbal, Closed and Open Hat and FM) 64 patterns, each with 64 steps, poly-rythm function and built-in distortion on the output, Arturia DrumBrute Impact replaces its discontinued older brother DrumBrute as a feature-packed, more affordable option without losing the tactile satisfaction of the analogue realm.

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.

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!