If you’re in love with the characteristic wobble bass and deep, moving notes associated with dubstep but aren’t sure you can trust your average drum beat machine, you’re probably right. Finding a drum beat maker that has sufficient bass and sampling capabilities can be a challenging task.
Read below to learn more about it and find out what other drumbeat machine models might work well for a dubstep enthusiast.
Top 5 Dubstep-Friendly Drum Machine Reviews
For this section, I’ve carried out some hands-on research and picked five beat-making machine options that are capable of delivering good dubstep sound.
1. Alesis SR-18: Best Beat Machine for Dubstep Overall
Dating back to the early 90s, with the legendary SR16 laying the groundwork, Alesis has done a lot to stay up-to-date while also preserving the rugged, unsophisticated design that won it a reputation in the olden days.
Indeed, the first thing you notice when you look at this modern-day heir of SR16 is how simple and intuitive this drum machine is. It has all the classic controls such as Roll, Fill, Tap Tempo, Step Edit, and more. Speaking of the latter, step editing might seem a bit of a pain with SR18, but the rest should be a breeze.
What makes this drum machine perfect for dubstep is an impressive library of 500+ professional built-in sounds. The company’s Dynamic Articulation technology provides a level of responsiveness that is rarely found in electronic drum instruments, causing sample sounds to change in timbre and tone.
- A Studio Icon - Legendary classic drum machine for songwriters, live performers and remix engineers
- In Demand Sound - 500 professional sounds included, built-in digital effects for added realism and powered by Alesis exclusive Dynamic Articulation
- Dimensions (L+W+H): 23.5 x 33.02 x 10.16 cm
- Weight: 521 g
- Pads: 12, velocity-sensitive
- Sounds: 500 drums, 50 bass
- Kits: 100
- Patterns: 100
- Analog Inputs: 1 x Instrument, 2 x Footswitch
- Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/4″ stereo
- Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
- MIDI I/O: In, Out/Thru
- Power Source: Power adapter included, 6 x AA battery
- Alesis SR-18
With effortless MIDI connectivity and the 6 x AA battery powering, SR18 is a versatile portable drum machine for dubstep musicians regardless of expertise level, all at a reasonable price depending on how many patterns you choose.
- Easy to navigate;
- Built to last;
- Excellent sound quality;
- The extensive built-in sound library;
- Impressive dynamic responsiveness.
- Step-editing might be a challenge.
2. AKAI Professional MPD218 Drum Pad Machine: Runner-Up
If portability is your number one priority and you aren’t prepared to invest a fortune in your beat-making machine, this budget-friendly device packed with useful features has every chance of becoming your go-to instrument for expressive dubstep performance.
The device boasts seamless USB connectivity. Once you have plugged it in, you can play it; that’s simple. It comes with a long list of software titles included. As many as three pad banks are available, resulting in as many as 48 assignable pads in total.
- Beat Production, Anywhere - Ultra-portable, feature-packed and USB powered pad controller with 16 thick fat MPC pads for triggering drums, melodic samples, effects and more
- Expandable Banks - Easily accessible dedicated controls for three pad banks provides a total of 48 assignable pads
- Dimensions (L+W+H): 25.4 x 20.32 x 5.08 cm
- Weight: 907 g
- Type: Pad Controller
- Pads: 16 x Backlit MPC pads
- MIDI I/O: USB
- USB: 1 x Type B
- Hardware Requirements – Mac: Intel Multicore processor, 2GB RAM minimum
- Hardware Requirements – PC: Multicore processor, 2GB RAM minimum, ASIO compatible
- OS Requirements – Mac: OS X 10.7 or later
- OS Requirements – PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later
- Power Supply: USB bus powered
- AKAI Professional MPD218
It’s obvious the moment you first touch an MPD218 that a lot of effort has gone into establishing a level of responsiveness that most players will feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, the nice-to-the-touch surface appears to be a dust magnet. Unintended triggering does happen occasionally, too, which I think is fine for a dubstep board for beginners that still has a wealth of features.
- Highly portable with iOS compatibility;
- Plug-and-play USB MIDI connectivity;
- Fine controls with 48 assignable pads;
- Excellent responsiveness;
- Affordable price.
- Occasional mistriggering;
- Dramatic dust accumulation.
3. Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Beat Pad Machine: Premium Pick
Something you’d most probably buy in a fit of self-indulgence, Maschine Mk3 is a full-fledged integrated hardware and software system that consists of a sampler, arranger, FX, mixer, and a pro-grade 96 kHz / 24-bit built-in audio interface.
The instrument is packed with expressive features powered by Smart Strip that you can use to add a new dimension to your creative experiments. Combined with an 8 GB library of pre-sampled sounds along with a selection of premium effects, this makes Maschine Mk3 a professional-grade time-saving device with nearly infinite potential.
- Integrated hardware/software system includes sampler, arranger, mixer, FX, and more
- Includes 25 GB KOMPLETE 11 SELECT library featuring 25 pro-quality studio and creative FX
- Dimensions (L+W+H): 30.1 x 32 x 4.09 cm
- Weight: 2.2 kg
- Type: Pad Controller with Sequencer and Sampler
- Screen: 2 x High-resolution RGB color displays
- Pads: 16 x ultra-sensitive pads
- Other Controllers: 1 x Touch Strip, 8 x touch-sensitive rotary encoders
- Sounds: 8GB library of samples, one-shots, loops, instruments, patterns, drum kits
- Sequencer: Step Sequencer, Realtime Recording Sequencing
- Looper: Yes
- Sampling: Yes
- Effects: Filter, Delay, Reverb, Compression, Tape Saturator, Frequency Shifter, and more
- Analog Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (line in), 1 x 1/4″ (mic in)
- Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (line out)
- Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
- MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB
- USB: 1 x Type B
- Pedal Inputs: 1 x 1/4″ (pedal)
- Format: VST, AU, AAX, Major DAWs
- Software: Maschine 2.0, Komplete Select (download)
- OS Requirements – Mac: macOS 10.12 or later, Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
- OS Requirements – PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later, Intel Core i5 or higher, 4GB RAM minimum
- Power Source: 15V DC power supply (sold separately) / USB bus power
- Native Instruments Maschine Mk3
The device has a color display and 16 backlit pads for engaging and intuitive navigation in real-time. A selection of tuning knobs is included for fine control.
- High-resolution audio;
- Highly visual and easy to play;
- Easy on-the-go control;
- Huge sound library;
- Impressive effect software.
4. Korg VOLCA BEATS: A Keyboard Drum Machine for Authentic Sound
You’re likely to enjoy VOLCA BEATS if you just can’t resist the thick sound of analog drums. With 26 knobs and buttons along with a 16-step keyboard crammed into a tiny board, this device enables you to focus on the physical aspect of playing the drums.
This is paired with compelling dynamic control for a wide range of sound effects. There is a stutter capability for a glitchy feel, too, and a selection of digital samples to complete the drum performance.
- Electribe-style 16-step sequencer with eight memory patches
- Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the Volca series
- Dimensions (L+W+H): 4.54 x 7.61 x 1.78 inches
- Weight: 13.1 ounces
- Pads: 16 x keypad-shaped touch sensors
- Sounds: 10 drum parts
- Patterns: 8 user patterns
- Sequencer: 16-step
- Analog Inputs: 1 x Sync input
- Analog Outputs: 1 x Sync output
- Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
- MIDI I/O: In
- Power Source: AC adapter (sold separately), 6 x AA
- Korg VOLCA BEATS
The machine can be used in an ensemble with other VOLCA BEATS series instruments. It is generally a versatile, highly portable tool with optional battery power. The MIDI In port allows you to combine it with a MIDI controller/computer for software control.
- Analog drum sound;
- A range of dynamic effects;
- Intuitive real-time control;
- Can be played anywhere.
- Mains power supply not included.
5. Tascam DP-008EX: A Recording-Oriented Electronic Drum Machine
This simple yet powerful recording tool comes with a wealth of onboard effects that can be applied to all the input channels, which is a great advantage for dubstep artists looking for depth and diversity.
The tool can save you a lot of time as it supports multitrack recording and is quick and easy to operate. The SD/SDHC cards used for this purpose ensure USB connectivity, and two 1/4″ analog inputs are included in case you want to connect some of your instruments. Another two XLR inputs are meant for condenser microphones.
- Tascam 8-Track Digital Pocketstudio
- Dimensions (L+W+H): 29.85 x 17.15 x 10.16 cm
- Weight: 600 g
- Simultaneous Rec Tracks: 2
- Simultaneous Play Tracks: 8
- Sample Rate: 44.1kHz
- Bit Depth: 16-bit
- Effects: Yes
- EQ: Yes
- Compression: Yes
- Phantom Power: Yes (2 channels)
- Number of Mic Preamps: 2
- Computer Connectivity: USB 2.0
- Built-in Mics: 2
- Analog Inputs: 2 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ line, 1 x 1/4″ line/DI
- Analog Outputs: 2 x RCA line, 1 x 1/8″ stereo headphone
- Storage: Up to 32GB SDHC (2GB SD card included)
- Faders: 8 x radial potentiometers
- Power: 4 x AA batteries / 5V DC power supply (sold separately)
- Tascam DP-008EX
The only flaw I’ve found with the device is that the export functions tend to take longer than ideal.
- Dedicated to recording;
- Highly portable;
- Unfussy interface;
- A wide range of audio processing features.
- Slow export.
Finding the Perfect Drum Machine
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your budget when it comes to drumming machine shopping. Take the following steps to avoid regrets.
Determine the Budget
Indeed, it’s the amount you are prepared to spend that should determine your approach and criteria regardless of what music genre you are interested in, so start by deciding whether you’re looking for an entry-level tool or ready to invest in a pro-grade drum machine.
Think of How Much Flexibility and Diversity You Need
Most drum machines come with a library of onboard sounds. While it’s tempting to say the more, the better for the purpose of dubstep, I wouldn’t invest a fortune in a ton of voices and sounds you aren’t likely to use.
Find out What Kind of and How Much Control You Like
Choose a drum machine that you find easy to trigger and responsive enough to avoid delays in playing. Sound parameter controls should be simple yet powerful.
Think about Portability
If you are going to carry your device around a lot, make sure it’s lightweight and easy to mount but also built to last. Remember that small size is great in terms of portability but might affect control if the pad/key area is compromised.
Decide on the Necessary Digital Connectivity
Your drum machine should have enough inputs and outputs and connect to the devices you are going to use for further sound processing easily to save. For example, iOS connectivity can be a great bonus where portability is a priority.
A Dubstep Drum Machine That Has It All
If you are looking for an extensive palette of sounds and effects to create a deep and compelling ambiance characteristic of dubstep music, an easy-to-manage yet flexible library such as that offered by Alesis SR-18 is the perfect solution.
Built into a rugged body designed with portability in mind, the instrument is highly usable regardless of your expertise level and situation. Add all the necessary connectivity features, and you get the dubstepper’s best friend.
What’s the most important thing about a drum machine when it comes to dubstep in your opinion? Please share in the comments!