Best Drum Machines for Electronic Music Under $500 (Ultimate Guide)

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Looking for the best drum machines for electronic music under $500? This ultimate guide will help you find the perfect device for your needs and budget. Whether you want to create beats, loops, or samples, you’ll find a drum machine that suits your style and genre. Learn about the features, pros, and cons of each model, and compare them with our handy table. Don’t miss this opportunity to upgrade your music production with a drum machine that sounds amazing and is easy to use.

1. Arturia DrumBrute Impact

ANALOG POWERHOUSE.

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2. Korg Volca Beats                  

ANALOG/POLYPHONIC BLEND.

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3. Roland TR-08                           

LEGENDARY RECREATION.

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4. Alesis SR-16

CLASSIC DRUM SOUNDS.

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5. Novation Circuit

POLYPHONIC GROOVEBOX.

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6.PO-32 Tonic

POCKET-SIZED POWERHOUSE.

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1. Arturia DrumBrute Impact

ANALOG POWERHOUSE.

64-step sequencer with polyrhythms.Raw, aggressive, and punchy.
Color function adds dynamic changes.Portable design with built-in speaker.
Picture by Arturia

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PROS

  • If you’re searching for an affordable drum machine that can add excitement to your electronic music production without breaking the bank, the Arturia DrumBrute Impact is definitely worth checking out. This compact yet powerful analog drum machine offers great value for money. Here are four key advantages of the DrumBrute Impact that make it an excellent choice for electronic music under $500.

    Firstly, it boasts a killer sequencer. Inheriting the excellent sequencer from its larger sibling, the DrumBrute, the DrumBrute Impact allows you to create up to 64-step patterns with polyrhythms, swing, randomization, and color effects. You can even chain patterns together to form songs and store them in its memory. The sequencer is not only highly intuitive but also syncs flawlessly with other devices via MIDI, USB, or analog clock.

    Secondly, it has a unique sound character. With 10 analog drum sounds that differ from its predecessor, the DrumBrute Impact offers raw, aggressive, and punchy drum sounds. These sounds can be further shaped using various parameters and distortion. One standout feature is the FM Drum channel, which enables you to create metallic and noisy sounds through frequency modulation.

    Thirdly, the DrumBrute Impact features a color function. This new addition significantly enhances the depth and variation of your drum sounds. With a simple press of the color button, you can activate a secondary mode for each drum sound, allowing you to add harmonics, pitch modulation, decay, or tone. What’s more, you can sequence the color function per step, resulting in dynamic changes within your patterns.

    Lastly, the DrumBrute Impact boasts a portable design. It is smaller and lighter than the original DrumBrute, making it convenient to carry around and fit in any studio space. With a sturdy build and sleek appearance, featuring eye-catching orange accents and wood-like panels, it offers both style and durability. Additionally, it has a built-in speaker and runs on batteries, enabling you to jam anywhere you desire.

    These are just some of the reasons why the Arturia DrumBrute Impact stands out as one of the top drum machines for electronic music under $500. If you desire a more in-depth understanding of this remarkable device, we encourage you to read our comprehensive review. Alternatively, why not get one for yourself and experience the impact firsthand?

CONS

  • The Arturia DrumBrute Impact is an affordable drum machine with 10 analog drum sounds and a strong sequencer. It’s perfect for electronic music producers who want to enhance their beats. However, there are downsides to consider.
  • First, it lacks automation and motion sequencing, restricting the ability to record parameter changes or modulations over time.
  • Second, the sound palette is limited, with basic and generic analog drum sounds that sound similar to each other. The FM Drum channel offers some diversity but lacks control. If you desire more versatile and unique drum sounds, explore alternatives like the Roland TR-8S or Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic.

2. Korg Volca Beats

ANALOG/POLYPHONIC BLEND.

6 analog voices, 4 PCM sounds.16-step sequencer for pattern programming.
MIDI input for external control.Built-in speaker for portable play.
Picture by Korg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

PROS

    • If you are in the market for a drum machine that seamlessly blends classic analog sounds with modern digital features, then the Korg Volca Beats is definitely worth considering. Priced under $500, this compact and affordable device is among the best drum machines for electronic music. Let’s dive into four key pros of the Korg Volca Beats:

      1. First and foremost, the Volca Beats boasts a full analog signal path, complete with six analog voices and four PCM sounds. The analog voices encompass kick, snare, low tom, high tom, closed hi-hat, and open hi-hat, while the PCM sounds include clap, claves, agogo, and crash. With dedicated knobs for each voice, such as pitch, decay, grain, and stutter, you have the power to tweak and manipulate sound parameters to your heart’s content.

      2. The 16-step sequencer of the Volca Beats allows you to either record your real-time performances or meticulously program patterns step by step. What’s more, you can even record knob movements as motion sequences, enabling you to infuse your beats with added variation and dynamics. With the capacity to store up to eight patterns in its memory and switch between them seamlessly during playback, the Volca Beats offers exceptional versatility.

      3. Thanks to its MIDI input, you can effortlessly control the Volca Beats using an external MIDI device like a keyboard, controller, or computer. Furthermore, the sync in and out jacks allow you to sync the Volca Beats with other Volca units or analog gear. As a result, the sync function empowers you to create intricate rhythms and grooves utilizing multiple devices.

      4. To top it off, the Volca Beats features a built-in speaker and headphone output, facilitating easy play and immediate gratification wherever you may be. Additionally, the option to power the machine using batteries or an optional AC adapter adds to its portability and convenience. This makes the Volca Beats an excellent choice for traveling musicians and producers.

      All in all, the Korg Volca Beats is a remarkably versatile and enjoyable drum machine that offers excellent value in its price range. By blending the warmth and character of analog drums with the convenience and flexibility of digital sequencing and MIDI control, this device has the ability to spruce up your electronic music production. Don’t miss out on the chance to try the Volca Beats and elevate your beats to a whole new level.

CONS

  • The Korg Volca Beats is an affordable drum machine with 16-step sequencing, six analog drum sounds, and four PCM sounds. It can sync with other Volca devices or external gear through MIDI or sync in/out. However, there are drawbacks you should consider before purchasing. Two cons of the Volca Beats are:
  • 1. The snare sound is weak and thin, disappointing users looking for power and realism. Some have even modified the circuit board or replaced the snare capacitor to improve it.
  • 2. The memory is limited and not expandable, restricting pattern storage, sequence length, knob settings, and sound loading. Be aware of these cons, but also consider the pros like portability, simplicity, and analog warmth. 

3. Roland TR-08

LEGENDARY RECREATION.

High-quality sound engine with customizable drum sounds.16-step sequencer creates versatile patterns.
Portable, built-in speaker, battery-powered.Replica TR-808 interface, authentic.
Picture by Roland

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

PROS

  • If you are in search of a drum machine that can perfectly recreate the legendary sounds of the Roland TR-808, while also incorporating some modern enhancements, then the Roland TR-08 might be the perfect fit for you. This device is not only compact and reasonably priced, but it also faithfully reproduces the original drum machine’s sounds while adding additional features. Here are four crucial advantages of the Roland TR-08:

    1. This drum machine possesses a top-notch sound engine that emulates the analog circuitry of the TR-808, ensuring that you obtain the same warm and punchy tones that made it iconic. Moreover, you have the freedom to personalize each drum sound’s tuning, decay, and tone to match your preferences.

    2. Another noteworthy feature of the Roland TR-08 is its 16-step sequencer, which enables you to effortlessly create patterns and songs. You also have the opportunity to utilize the sub-steps, flam, and shuffle functions to add more variety and a captivating groove to your beats. Additionally, you can conveniently save up to 16 patterns and 16 songs in the device’s internal memory, or even utilize an SD card to store more.

    3. Offering a built-in speaker and the option to use battery power, the Roland TR-08 is incredibly portable and convenient for jamming on the go. Furthermore, you can effortlessly connect it to other devices via USB or MIDI, and even synchronize it with other instruments from the Roland Boutique series through the trigger in/out jacks, enhancing its versatility.

    4. The Roland TR-08 features a miniaturized replica of the original TR-808 interface, boasting the same layout, knobs, and buttons. Not only does this provide a nostalgic and authentic feel when utilizing the device, but it also offers easy access to all the functions and parameters.

    The Roland TR-08 is an outstanding drum machine designed for enthusiasts of electronic music who yearn to experience the iconic sound of the TR-808 in a modern and compact form. It is widely regarded as one of the best drum machines available for electronic music under $500, and can be conveniently purchased from Amazon or Roland’s official website.

CONS

  • The Roland TR-08 is a budget-friendly drum machine that accurately captures the legendary sounds of the TR-808. While it excels as an electronic music production tool under $500, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider.
  • Firstly, its connectivity is limited, with only a USB port and a 3.5mm audio output, lacking MIDI ports, CV/gate outputs, and individual drum sound outputs. This hinders its integration capabilities and impedes recording of individual sounds.
  • Moreover, its compact size compromises the size of its knobs and buttons, making it challenging for those with larger fingers or impaired vision to attain precision and comfort while adjusting sounds and parameters.

4. Alesis SR-16

CLASSIC DRUM SOUNDS.

233 drum sounds, 24-bit sound engine.50 preset patterns with variations.
Velocity-sensitive pads for finger-controlled rhythms.Portable, compact, and durable.
Picture by Alesis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

PROS

  • If you are in the market for a drum machine that can produce realistic and dynamic sounds, the Alesis SR-16 is definitely worth considering. This iconic drum machine has been a popular choice since it was first introduced in 1990, and it continues to be one of the best-selling and most versatile options available. In this article, we will highlight four key advantages of the Alesis SR-16 that make it an excellent choice for electronic music enthusiasts on a budget.

    Firstly, the Alesis SR-16 boasts an impressive library of 233 high-quality drum sounds, powered by a 24-bit sound engine that ensures pristine audio fidelity. Unlike many other drum machines on the market, these sounds are not artificially generated but are instead real samples recorded by top studio drummers. Furthermore, the SR-16 features Dynamic Articulation, a feature that allows the sounds to dynamically change depending on how hard you strike the pads.

    Secondly, the Alesis SR-16 comes pre-loaded with 50 preset patterns, each with A and B variations, as well as two fill sections for each pattern. These patterns were recorded by professional drummers, resulting in a natural and authentic sound. Additionally, you have the flexibility to create and save your own patterns in the user memory.

    Thirdly, the Alesis SR-16 is equipped with 12 velocity-sensitive pads that enable you to play rhythms directly with your fingers. These pads are highly responsive and user-friendly, and they can also be assigned to different sounds or functions. Additionally, optional footswitches or MIDI devices can be used to control playback, offering even more versatility.

    Lastly, the Alesis SR-16 is portable, compact, and built to withstand the demands of live performances. Its compact size allows it to easily fit into a backpack or gig bag, making it a convenient choice for musicians on the go. Additionally, the sturdy metal chassis ensures durability in any setting. The bright LCD screen and straightforward controls make navigating and programming the SR-16 a breeze.

    In conclusion, the Alesis SR-16 is a timeless drum machine that offers an array of features and flexibility at an affordable price point. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned musician, this drum machine can help you create realistic and expressive drum tracks for your electronic compositions. If you are considering purchasing the Alesis SR-16, you can find the latest price and availability information by visiting the provided link.

CONS

  • The Alesis SR-16, a popular drum machine used by many musicians and producers, does have its drawbacks. Here are two negative aspects to consider before purchasing:

    1. The Alesis SR-16 has a limited sound palette. While the 233 drum sounds are realistic and dynamic, they might disappoint those seeking modern and diverse sounds. The inability to import samples or extensively edit the sounds may result in feeling restricted.

    2. The Alesis SR-16 has a cumbersome interface. The small, unresponsive 12 pads and tiny, hard-to-read LCD screen can make programming and editing frustrating and time-consuming. Creating complex patterns and arrangements requires navigating through numerous menus, which can be confusing and tedious.

    Despite its flaws, the Alesis SR-16 is a great drum machine considering its price and features. 

5. Novation Circuit

POLYPHONIC GROOVEBOX.

4 pros, electronic drum machine.versatile and powerful drum machine.
Portable, inspiring, with performance mode.Affordable drum machine with value.
Picture by Novation

PROS

  • If you are in search of a drum machine that offers more than just drums, the Novation Circuit is worth considering. This compact and portable groovebox combines two synth engines, four drum tracks, and a sequencer. Here are four key advantages of the Novation Circuit:

    Firstly, it is incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. With its 32 RGB pads, you can effortlessly create beats and melodies without the need to navigate complex menus or constantly refer to a screen. These pads allow you to play notes, chords, drums, and adjust various parameters and effects. Additionally, the Circuit includes knobs that enable you to easily modify the sound of each synth and drum track.

    Secondly, the Circuit is highly versatile and powerful. It boasts a vast range of sounds, ranging from traditional drum machines to contemporary synths. You can choose from over 400 presets or use the Circuit Components software to craft your own unique sounds. Furthermore, you have the ability to incorporate your own samples as drum sounds or additional synth voices.

    Thirdly, the Circuit is both entertaining and inspiring. It features a built-in speaker and a long-lasting battery, ensuring up to six hours of uninterrupted jamming wherever you go. You can connect it to other devices through MIDI or sync it with other gear using the 3.5mm jack. The Circuit’s performance mode allows you to instantly mute, solo, and launch patterns, as well as record automation and modulation.

    Lastly, the Novation Circuit provides exceptional value for money. Retailing for under $500, it offers an array of features and functionalities. Included with the Circuit are a USB cable, a power supply, and a 2GB microSD card capable of storing up to 60 minutes of samples. Additionally, you gain access to the Circuit Components software which facilitates project backup, restoration, editing, and allows for the download of new content from Novation and other users.

    In conclusion, the Novation Circuit is an excellent choice for electronic music producers seeking more than just drums. It combines ease of use, versatility, power, enjoyment, and affordability. To purchase the Novation Circuit, you can find it on Amazon or through Novation’s official website.

CONS

  • The Novation Circuit is a portable drum machine with numerous features for electronic music producers. However, it does come with some limitations.
  • Firstly, the Circuit’s sound editing capabilities are somewhat limited. While it offers a built-in synth engine for creating and modifying sounds, there is no dedicated screen or knobs for parameter editing. Instead, you must rely on external software or apps, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
  • Secondly, the Circuit lacks a song mode, limiting your ability to arrange patterns into a complete song structure. You must either perform live or use an external sequencer. Despite these drawbacks, the Circuit remains a highly regarded drum machine for electronic music at an affordable price point.

6. Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic

POCKET-SIZED POWERHOUSE.

Compatible with MicroTonic software.16 performance effects for beats.
Portable device with microphone and speaker.Sync with other devices.
Picture by Teenage

PROS

  • If you’re in the market for a drum machine that is portable, versatile, and affordable, look no further than the Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic. This compact device serves as a drum synthesizer and sequencer, delivering a wide array of sounds and rhythms for your electronic music productions. Here, we delve into four key advantages of the PO-32 Tonic:

    First and foremost, its compatibility with MicroTonic, a software drum synthesizer by Sonic Charge, is a major plus. By using the plug-in, you have the ability to craft your own unique sounds and patterns, which can then be effortlessly transferred to the PO-32 through an audio data burst. This unparalleled feature opens up a world of unlimited sonic possibilities and customization options, giving your music a distinct edge.

    Furthermore, the PO-32 Tonic boasts 16 performance effects that can add spice and flair to your beats. From stutter and reverse, to distortion and filter, these effects can be applied to any sound or pattern and even automated with parameter locks. This paves the way for glitchy, IDM-style sounds that are tailor-made for electronic music.

    Another noteworthy advantage is its built-in microphone and speaker, enabling effortless usage no matter where you are. You have the option to record sounds from your environment or transfer data from another PO-32 or computer. Additionally, you can jam along with the internal speaker, or for enhanced sound quality, connect headphones or external speakers.

    Last but not least, the PO-32 Tonic is part of the esteemed Pocket Operator family, allowing seamless synchronization with other PO devices or external gear. The ability to chain multiple POs together permits the creation of intricate polyrhythms and melodies. Moreover, the sync input and output jacks enable integration with your existing setup, further expanding its functionality.

    In conclusion, the Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic is an incredibly powerful and enjoyable drum machine that can be neatly tucked into your pocket. Priced at an affordable $89, it easily ranks as one of the best drum machines for electronic music under $500. Don’t miss out on this gem!

CONS

  • The Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic is a portable drum machine with numerous sonic possibilities. However, there are important considerations before purchasing it.
  • Firstly, the device has a steep learning curve, requiring manual or tutorial assistance to grasp its usage. With its small screen displaying cartoon animations and multi-functional buttons and knobs, memorizing button combinations and shortcuts is essential for accessing diverse features and modes.
  • Secondly, customizing sounds necessitates separate software, incurring additional expenses, using the MicroTonic plug-in, and transferring data via audio cable or microphone. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the PO-32 Tonic boasts portability, sound quality, performance effects, and parameter lock automation.

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