Drum Machine

I finally broke down and purchased an Alesis SR-16 drum machine. Wow, this thing is awesome with it’s built in drum tracks and the ability to make my own.

What a difference it makes practicing to the drum machine at whatever tempo I want instead of the boring metronome. I can also send the tracks to my DAI and record them along with my bass lines.


It’s like having a drummer in the house, minus the fighting.


Yeah, I never use metronomes. I love drum machines for this. It’s just so much better.

Another cool thing about the SR-16 is it was one of the first drum machines with velocity-sensitive keys. So you can play that thing like an instrument freehand as well, by tapping the pads, and even add english and emphasis.

There’s a reason that one is the best selling drum machine of all time.


Are those two pedals to the left of the Zoom connected to the SR-16?


Lol. Now that,s funny.


And with not having lost half your floor space too. :grin:


Awesome machine. I have not thought much about getting a drum machine, I mainly use backing tracks from B2B, or from other online sites, or from the Zoom, and / or some phone / iPad apps.

What do you see as the benefit to having a drum machine set up in your rig, and your recording line? I understand the unlimited possibilities to create original drum beats to create original music. Plus learning the drums in a way, practicing tempo, other things music theory wise.
What I am asking, is there a greater benefit then what I listed. The things I mentioned are GREAT reasons, and merit the purchase alone, I am wondering if I am missing anything else?


Yes. One is start / stop, the other controls fills and some other things.


Aside from my earlier comment about it being so much better than a metronome, I see a few other benefits as well. Without even getting into the actual creation of drum sets and tracks, and just using the built in tracks, the benefits are enormous. The main thing I’ve noticed so far is that it takes the doldrums (pardon the pun) out of practicing. I’ve been doing sight reading drills from my Sight Reading course that I’m taking, and doing them with the metronome is very tedious and boring. Now, doing them with a drum track playing along on my amp, I feel like there’s an actual drummer behind me and I’m playing for real instead of just playing random notes from a sheet. Granted, I AM just playing random notes from a sheet LOL, but at least it FEELS better and makes these drill a little less work, and lot’s more fun.
I haven’t yet explored every aspect and feature of this wonderful little machine, but I’m sure I will discover lot’s more benefits.
Definitely a good investment in my book.


… and oh, by the way, it sounds MUCH better than the drum tracks in the Zoom effects processor.


There’s the info I am after, besides your starting comment about the creation of drum sets and tracks, I was thinking to myself while reading your answers, I can play to drum tracks on my Zoom and / or my IPad thru my amp or headphones.
But hearing the sound quality GREATLY improves is big for me, as I find the Zoom beats very thin, and don’t really use it for more then a metronome. I have not explored drum beat apps much, and I am sure some are pretty good, I think they may still be rather thin out of ny amp.

@howard, does Garage band have a drum machine so to say? Are you able to create drum sets, sounds and play your own creative beats?
If so, where does it fail in comparison to a drum machine like this?

What is the cost of this unit? What is the price range for decent quality drum machines.
@PamPurrs, was this your only choice, or did you think about others? If so, which ones?

If used ones pop up in Offer Up and Let Go, what are good brands and models, and what are features to look for? What are features you can’t live without? What are nice features, but you can make do without?
Thanks in advance for anybody answering!

1 Like

There are others out there, but the SR-16 is pretty much the pinnacle of drum machines, and with everyone talking so highly of them, I didn’t even bother looking at anything else.
I got mine on Amazon for $134.00 I had originally purchased a used one on Amazon for $116, but it was faulty and I sent it back.


Ok, that is very reasonable. At that price, the sound quality is enuf to warrant one, all the other questions fall by the wayside.

I was thinking $400 as a starting point, so I was way off.

I still want to explore Garage band, but I doubt it compares.


I wouldn’t say it’s the pinnacle of drum machines. It’s the longest made affordable drum machine. There’s a lot of higher end or more sought after drum machines out there, but for a reasonably priced but high quality machine for general use it’s a very good buy.

It’s definitely a classic. Alesis has been making it since 1990. It’s sold more copies than any other drum machine, and has been used on hundreds of albums. It’s a solid musical instrument and a great choice for someone interetsed in '80s/'90s rock or pop drums. For other genres I would make other choices but it’s definitely a safe all-around choice, and sounds awesome.

Also, for general practice, the drums and patterns in the Zoom sounded pretty good to me. The difference between the Zoom patterns and a real drum machine is that a drum machine is an actual musical instrument. You can play and program it and add new patterns and fills to it, which you can’t do to things like canned patterns in the Zoom.

The reason you buy a drum machine is to get the ability to write songs with it or do more than just have a simple pattern player.


Actually, yes there are many drum machines (and drum patterns/fills) available to Garageband and any other DAW that can take virtual instrument plugins, and actually they will sound as good or better than external drum machines (as they are only limited by sample size and fidelity, while drum machines have them in ROM - in fact the nickname for machines like the Alesis is “ROMpler”, as it plays back drum samples from read-only memory but can’t sample new ones itself.) These days I would guess that more people make music with VST drums in DAWs than actual physical drum machines.

Physical drum machines have other advantages though. They aren’t tied to the DAW and are standalone and can be used for quick practice or jams, they are tactile and fun to play with, etc.

But lot of people make music and record it (especially electronic music) using VST drum kits in their DAW. It’s a completely viable option, and actually easier than using an external drum machine for recording. Garageband on mobile is also a convenient little pocket drum machine, I’ve done that plenty of times.


Thanks for the great info @howard. Much appreciated.


You can always count on @howard for a great technical explanation of things. Thanks @howard,


Hah, thanks. It’s only because this is what I used to do in my college band - I was the keyboard player so I did all the MIDI sequencing and drum machine programming too. The keyboard work required a lot of effects knowledge and that’s where I learned about all that. I wish now that I had been the bass player instead (or more full time at it). My friend was actually good at that though so he did it, probably fortunate.

There’s people on this forum quite a bit more knowledgeable than me as well. I remember reading one person that was doing live work with Ableton, turntables, and a drum machine - he would be a lot more knowledgeable about the current choices than me. The problem is I forget who it was :slight_smile:


nice drum machine


I know this comment is going to raise a few eyebrows…

Playing with a drum machine is actually alleviating my back pain.