While progressing technology may have provided for an explosion of options in the world of music production, many people think a certain organic quality was lost in the rush to digitize the process.
Though this may make music production more streamlined and consistent, it also makes it a robotic.
In response to this, many people have turned once again to older modes of music production–now updated with advances in technology.
In that vein, the beat production niche has seen an upsurge of updated analog drum machines that can create that warm, organic feel without sacrificing too much in terms of features.
Still, figuring out which analog drum machine to choose can be confusing.
That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best analog drum machines, highlighting what each is best suited for.
Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best analog drum machine to suit your needs.
Wanna get to the point and start programing phat bass lines and timeless synth loops? Click the link below to get your hands on the hottest analog drum machine this side of flat earth.
- 1 Analog Drum Machine Buyer’s Guide
- 2 Best Drum Machine Reviews
- 2.1 1. Korg Volca Beats Analogue Drum Machine
- 2.2 Best All-Around Value Analog Drum Machine
- 2.3 2. Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Machine
- 2.4 Best Step Sequencer Analog Drum Machine
- 2.5 3. Teenage Engineering TE010AS012 PO-12
- 2.6 Rhythm Drum Machine & Sequencer
- 2.7 4. Akai Professional Tom Cat
- 2.8 Best Sounding Analog Drum Machine
- 2.9 5. Novation Circuit Drum Machine
- 2.10 Best Digital/Analog Drum Machine
- 3 Conclusion
Analog Drum Machine Buyer’s Guide
Best Drum Machine Reviews
1. Korg Volca Beats Analogue Drum Machine
Best All-Around Value Analog Drum Machine
Korg is known as a heavy hitter in the music production industry, but their products generally take one of two extreme positions on the complexity spectrum: minimal or maximal.
Rarely will a Korg product fall somewhere in between.
Both of those positions have their advantages and disadvantages though.
The Korg Volca definitely falls on the minimal side of that spectrum.
This is most notably seen in the 16 step sequencer which offers the least number of steps out of any other product on our list.
Still, the 8 memory patches do at least provide a bit of wiggle room, but they are not chainable, so it does not really improve on this function.
On top of that, the individual voice volumes cannot be adjusted which makes outputting the created beat a bit difficult to master on other hardware.
Of course, this may be the best analog drum machine for live performances due to a couple qualities.
First, this is a fairly portable drum machine and is much smaller than some of the others on our list.
However, the best feature of the Korg Volca has to be the use of high-quality Japanese components.
This ensures the sound quality is exceptional and will remain so after years of use.
2. Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Machine
Best Step Sequencer Analog Drum Machine
If you need an analog drum machine to help you build large, complex beats, then the Arturia is arguably your best bet.
With its robust 64 step sequencer and a 64 pattern bank, there is no other true analog drum machine that we reviewed which can even come close to the sequencing abilities of the Arturia.
When you add the 17 different voices, you have an analog drum machine that tops the list for two of the most important qualities.
Another benefit of the Arturia’s sequencer is that it can handle polyrhythm sequencing.
This means that different patterns can run along different time signatures and be adjusted in real time.
Though it will take some practice for you to be able to use all of these features quickly and efficiently, but once you do, the sky’s the limit.
In terms of connectivity, the Arturia once again leads the pack with 11 different outputs–though many of them are not directly related to additional hardware.
Still, with both inputs and outputs for USB, MIDI, and Clock, the fact that the Arturia also uses a high and low pass filter makes this one of the better analog drum machines to chain with other hardware.
3. Teenage Engineering TE010AS012 PO-12
Rhythm Drum Machine & Sequencer
If you are looking for an inexpensive analog drum machine that you can noodle around with or that can provide a modest accompaniment to a smaller live performance, then the Teenage Engineering is an excellent choice.
However, if you are looking for a robust analog drum machine that can be used to quickly and easily produce bumping beats in a live setting, you are better served looking at one of the other products we reviewed.
This places the Teenage Engineering in a bit of a smaller niche, but it serves that niche arguably better than any other product we saw.
Solo musicians or duos will be overjoyed with the surprising depth that this drum machine can provide in such a small package.
The 16 different voices provide some of the better sound quality we noted, and it is by far the most portable drum machine on our list.
That said, the buttons on this drum machine are exceedingly small, and many of the functions require pressing and hold multiple buttons simultaneously to activate.
On top of that, the buttons are not clearly identified and require plenty of familiarity before they can be used quickly.
All combined, this makes the Teenage Engineering a poor choice for live beat making.
4. Akai Professional Tom Cat
Best Sounding Analog Drum Machine
Akai is known for their synthesizer and drum pads.
In fact, they are seen as the gold standard when you are looking for an overall great value.
That said, the brand is not without its flaws, and some of those issues do make an appearance with the Tom Cat.
The most notable issue with this analog drum machine is its pads.
It is important to note that the Tom Cat touchpads are not definitively poor quality.
However, there are more than
a few instances when the pads do not live up to the quality of the rest of the drum machine.
On the plus side, the touchpads are larger than for most analog drum machines and their touch sensitivity does provide plenty of room to alter the sounds and beats.
The only issue is that sometimes the sensitivity of the touchpads can be a bit hit or miss.
That said, if the pads on your Tom Cat are solid, then you should have no issues producing professional quality beats.
The sounds of the Tom Cat are some of the best that we encountered, and the 32 step sequencer is good for the second best on our list.
Finally, this drum machine is definitely a bit easier to use than many of the others we reviewed.
5. Novation Circuit Drum Machine
Best Digital/Analog Drum Machine
OK yes, we know we are cheating a little bit by including a digital–read: non-analog–drum machine on our list of the 5 best analog drum machines, but it is difficult not to as this is easily one of the better all-around drum machines available–period.
Moreover, this drum machine was made to feel like an analog model, so you may not even notice the difference too much and will certainly appreciate some of the additional features a digital drum machine provides.
First, this drum machine offers more voices than any other we looked at with 64 voices for the synths and drums each.
Granted, those are digital voices, but there are a wealth of them.
Still, the synth voices do leave a bit to be desired in regards to customizing the sound, though the drum voices oddly do not share in this limitation.
When it comes to step sequencing, the Novation can actually be fairly impressive, but it takes a couple extra steps to accomplish this.
Basically, you are limited to 16 step sequences. However, you can turn a 16 step sequence into a pattern and chain them together.
Ultimately, this can allow for up to 32 step sequences.