Best Drum Machine for Metal: Your Key to the Legends

To find the best drum machine for metal is not simple. There are hundreds and thousands of offers from American-based and international companies. But if you can’t find a drummer in your group, or if your group is Spinal Tap, and drummers keep disappearing or worse, your only solution is a reliable drum machine. The drum machine is less demanding than any drummer.

AKAI Professional MPD218 is my personal choice. It is a lightweight instrument with expendable banks and assignable control. All the features you need are there, including the MPC note repeat. I also provide a list of competitive alternatives for you.

Top 7 Best Drum Machines

This device does not make mistakes during live records, so you can improve your music in no time. Check out my favorites.

1. AKAI Professional MPD218 – Portable Metal Music Drum Machine

This machine is packed with a pad controller of 16 MPC pads, powered by USB. There are melodic samples for any type of music, including metal and its sub-genres. You can also spice up your song with numerous effects. Controls are simple, with 48 assignable pads.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎25.4 x 20.32 x 5.08 cm
  • Weight: 907 g
  • 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

What’s included:

  • AKAI Professional MPD218
AKAI Professional MPD218 - USB MIDI Controller with 16 MPC Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Note...
5,594 Reviews
AKAI Professional MPD218 - USB MIDI Controller with 16 MPC Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Note...
  • 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
9Expert Score

AKAI is a famous developer of audio systems from Japan. They have been providing drum machines on the American market for many years. The company was founded in 1929.

Perfomance
9.0
Easy to use
9.1
Sound quality
8.7
Value for money
9.2

PROS:
  • Multiple features;
  • Compatible with numerous devices;
  • Affordable price.
CONS:
  • Problem with oversensitive pads.

2. Native Instruments Controller – Metal Drum Beats Machine

This drum controller may be less affordable than AKAI but has multiple amazing features inside. The integrated hardware includes a mixer, a sampler, and even an arranger. It has a wide library of samples of 25 GB great mixes.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎30.1 x 32 x 4.09 cm
  • Weight: 2.2 kg
  • 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

What’s included:

  • Native Instruments Controller
Sale
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller
503 Reviews
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller
  • 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
8.7Expert Score

Native Instruments provide this limited series for professional musicians. They offer big comfortable pads, fast workflow. There are 8 touch knobs and full-color screens.

Perfomance
8.6
Easy to use
8.7
Sound quality
8.3
Value for money
9.0

PROS:
  • Big pads;
  • Numerous features;
  • Gigantic library.
CONS:
  • High price.

3. Alesis SR-16 – Standalone Drum Machine with On-Board Library

The machine has a classic design, which you may have seen in numerous music studios. There are 233 sounds recorded by professionals. You may also appreciate the complete support of MIDI for the use of keyboards. Among all the drum machines for metal reviews, this one contains an incredible number of ready-to-use records.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎9.25 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Pads: 12, velocity-sensitive
  • Sounds: 233
  • Kits: 50
  • Patterns: 200
  • Analog Inputs: 1 x 1/8″ stereo
  • Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/4″ stereo
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • MIDI I/O: In, Out/Thru
  • Power Source: 12V DC power supply (included)

What’s included:

  • Alesis SR-16
Alesis SR-16 | Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine With On-Board Sound Li-brary, Performance Driven...
  • A Studio Icon - Legendary classic drum machine for songwriters, live performers and remix engineers
  • In Demand Sound - 233 professional sounds included, built-in digital effects for added realism and powered by Alesis exclusive Dynamic Articulation
8.5Expert Score

Alesis is an American developer of electronic instruments. The company has existed since 1980. They offer high-quality tools for your musical performance.

Perfomance
8.4
Easy to use
8.9
Sound quality
8.5
Value for money
8.3

PROS:
  • Multiple records;
  • Versatile genres;
  • Affordable.
CONS:
  • Sensitive pads.

4. Korg Synthesizer – Best Metal Drum Samples Machine

This is a 16-key synthesizer from the famous Korg company. It has 8 memory patches. There is clock compatibility with all Volca instruments in the series through the sync out and sync in. This instrument provides numerous sound effects and is great for any metal subgenre.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎4.54 x 7.61 x 1.78 inches
  • Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Sound Engine: Analog, FM, Wavetable
  • Analog/Digital: Analog-Digital Hybrid
  • Number of Keys: 61
  • Type of Keys: Natural touch synth action
  • Velocity Sensitive: Yes
  • Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod wheel
  • Polyphony: 16 voices
  • Number of Presets: 200+
  • Oscillators: 2 x Analog Oscillators (square, triangle, sawtooth) 1 x Digital FM/wavetable
  • LFO: Wave (saw, triangle, square), Mode (fast, slow, BPM), Rate, Int, Target (pitch, shape, cutoff)
  • Filter: Cutoff, Resonance, EG Internal, Drive, Low Cut, Key track
  • Number of Effects: 43 types
  • Effects Types: Chorus, Flange, Phase, Ensemble, Delay, Reverb
  • Arpeggiator: 6 types (manual, rise, fall, rise fall, random, poly random)
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (L/mono, R)
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • USB: 1 x Type B
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out
  • Pedal Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (expression, damper)
  • Other I/O: 1 x 1/4″ (headphone), 2 x 1/8″ (sync in/out)
  • Power Source: Standard IEC AC cable

What’s included:

  • Korg Synthesizer
Korg, 16-Key Synthesizer (VOLCABEATS),Black
737 Reviews
Korg, 16-Key Synthesizer (VOLCABEATS),Black
  • Electribe-style 16-step sequencer with eight memory patches
  • Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the Volca series
8.5Expert Score

Korg is a Japanese company that produces electric instruments. It has been selling products since 1962. The sequencer allows editing the music and receiving professional sound.

Perfomance
8.9
Easy to use
8.4
Sound quality
8.0
Value for money
8.8

PROS:
  • Compatible with Volca instruments;
  • Professional sound;
  • Affordable.
CONS:
  • There is no power cord.

5. Roland Rhythm Composer – Black Metal Drum Machine

This instrument includes 10 outputs for your convenience. It recreates the well-known drum machine TR-808 with a similar interface, character, and even sound. Besides, the new model contains extra features you may definitely appreciate.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎35.56 x 17.78 x 8.89 cm
  • Weight: 1.75 kg
  • Pads: 16 x trigger buttons
  • Sounds: Bass drum, Snare, Low conga/tom, Mid conga/tom, Hi conga/tom, Claves, Rim shot, Maracas, Handclap, Cowbell, Cymbal, Hi-ht
  • Patterns: 16 banks (12 x 16 patterns, 4 x 16 intro/fills)
  • Sequencer: 16-steps, 16 sub-steps
  • Effects: Compression
  • Analog Inputs: 1 x 1/8″ (mix in)
  • Analog Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ (output)
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out
  • Other I/O: 1 x 1/8″ (trigger out)
  • USB: 1 x Type Micro-B
  • Power Source: 4 x AA bateries / USB bus power

What’s included:

  • Roland Rhythm Composer
Roland Rhythm Composer, 10 Outputs (TR-08)
94 Reviews
Roland Rhythm Composer, 10 Outputs (TR-08)
  • Ultra-compact recreation of the legendary TR-808 drum machine
  • Retains the sound, character, and user interface of the original TR-808
8.4Expert Score

Roland is a Japanese-based developer of electronic instruments. They appeared in 1970 and quickly became popular around the world.

Perfomance
8.5
Easy to use
8.1
Sound quality
8.5
Value for money
8.3

PROS:
  • Original TR-808;
  • Modern features;
  • Competitive price.
CONS:
  • Minor problems with the Windows connection.

6. Novation Circuit Groove Box – 4-Part Metal Drum Machine

This is a perfect combination of a sequencer and a drum machine. This instrument has a sample import. It offers numerous samples of a wide range of music styles.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎42.49 x 28.5 x 9.5 cm
  • Weight: 950 g
  • Pads: 32 x Backlit Velocity-sensitive Pads
  • Sounds: 128 x Digital synth, 64 Percussion sample
  • Polyphony: 6-voice (synth)
  • Sequencer: 8 Pattern, 32-step
  • Effects: 8 x reverb, 16 x delay, Filter, Sidechain, Compressor
  • Analog Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ TS
  • Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ TS (L/mono, R)
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out/Thru/USB
  • Other I/O: 1 x 1/8″ TRS (sync)
  • USB: 1 x USB-C
  • Storage: MicroSD Card Slot
  • Software: Novation Components, Sound Collective
  • Power Source: Built-in rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, USB bus powered, USB power supply (included)

What’s included:

  • Novation Circuit
Novation Circuit Groove Box with Sample Import: 2-Part Synth, 4-Part Drum Machine and Sequencer,...
389 Reviews
Novation Circuit Groove Box with Sample Import: 2-Part Synth, 4-Part Drum Machine and Sequencer,...
  • 2-part Nova, analog-modeled synthesizer, 4-part drum machine, 6 voice polyphony per synth; Compatibility - macOS 10.12 Sierra , Mac OSX 10.11, Mac OSX 10.10, Windows 10 , Windows 8
  • 4-part drum machine: store up to 64 drums, samples, and one-shots – combine up to 128 steps of synth and drum patterns; save up to 32 sessions, each comprised of up to 8 patterns per track
8.2Expert Score

Novation digital music system is a well-known British company that develops music equipment. It was founded in 1992. It is extremely popular in the USA.

Perfomance
8.3
Easy to use
8.5
Sound quality
8.1
Value for money
7.7

PROS:
  • Wide range of sounds;
  • Compatible with numerous devices;
  • Simple to use.
CONS:
  • The price is higher compared to the other machines.

7. Singular Sound BeatBuddy – Heavy Metal Drum Machine

This is a pedal that provides an effect on the drum machine. Since this is a hands-free tool, you can play any instrument you like, adding the drums whenever you need it. There is a limited library with 200 songs, which I consider more than enough for the beginning.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions (L+W+H): ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎5.84 x 11.18 x 3.3 cm
  • Weight: 620 g
  • Pedal Type: Drum Machine Pedal
  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (L/mono, R), 1 x 1/8″ (headphones)
  • MIDI I/O: PS/2 MIDI In/Out Sync Port (breakout cable required)
  • USB: 1 x Type Mini-B
  • Other I/O: 1 x 1/4″ (external footswitch)
  • Storage: SD Card Slot
  • Power Source: 9V DC power supply (included)

What’s included:

  • Singular Sound BeatBuddy
Singular Sound BeatBuddy MINI 2: Personal Hands Free Drummer Guitar Effect Pedal
532 Reviews
Singular Sound BeatBuddy MINI 2: Personal Hands Free Drummer Guitar Effect Pedal
  • A drummer in a guitar pedal format, enabling full hands-free, creative control of the beat
  • Includes 200 songs (that you control) in 21 genres
8.3Expert Score

Singular Sound offers a wide range of electronic instruments for any genre. You can use it with the piano or guitar. There are 9 drum sets.

Perfomance
8.4
Easy to use
8.7
Sound quality
7.9
Value for money
8.2

PROS:
  • Hands-free;
  • 21 genres of music;
  • Affordable price.
CONS:
  • Not the standard drum machine.

Metal Drum Machines Guide

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine

Drum machines are a must-have for any music band without a drummer, especially for metal bands. These instruments provide the flawless and exact rhythm that is usually hard to find. If you are wondering which of the machines to pick from my list, I can point out things to consider when buying a drum machine for metal.

Budget

I have gathered only affordable models for you here. The price varies from $100 up to $600, depending on the features, developers, and durability. The market’s average price for a drum machine is $300-$700. It is up to you, but you can always buy several affordable options together.

Patterns, voices, and flexibility

A drum machine must provide you with a high-quality sound. The instruments on my list offer versatile music genres and giant music libraries. Almost all of them contain MIDI patterns for unique sounds. It is extremely important to find your unique sound for your music, and it must be crystal clear.

Responsiveness and controls

You have to deal with numerous pads using a drum machine unless you prefer the hands-free pedal or decide to learn everything that a drummer should know. Make sure that they are not over-sensitive, and you can easily tap them during a song. Find the most suitable option for you. Some musicians prefer sensitive pads; others have to heat hard to feel the music.

Reliability and portability

All the drum machines on the list are portable. You can charge them with the batteries or the USB cable. They are all lightweight, and you can carry the instruments around in your backpack if you need them. Besides, they are made of high-quality materials. As for reliability, the Roland TR-808 is a true legend among musicians. The same goes for AKAI.

Digital compatibility

Nowadays, it is extremely important to be able to switch the drum machine to your computer or even iPhone. Check out the number of joints and whether there is a connector for your smartphone or laptop.

Drum machines for beginners

Prime instruments do not require specific musical education to use them. There are step-by-step instructions for every machine on the list. You can always watch tutorials on YouTube. Otherwise, you have to learn how to play drums.

What’s a Perfect Drum Machine for You?

I believe you should not limit yourself to only one machine if you play in a band. Besides, there are so many delicious features modern drum machines offer that it is hard to resist. It was my intention to show you the leading products on the market, so you can decide which one you really need and which you can put into your wish list. They all provide high-quality sound and a wide range of music genres.

If you have tried one of them, share your impressions in the comments. How do you like it? Which features are your favorite?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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