Grooveboxes offer different creative approaches to sound creation and pattern sequencing that can change the way we make music. Sometimes getting your head out of DAW mode is just the spark you need, so let’s check out the best budget grooveboxes!
Whether you’re after portability, synthesis capabilities, or you’re after a classic sound of an era there are grooveboxes that allow the freedom to create without worrying about your buffer size.
Choosing the best budget grooveboxes
Luckily this end of the market is quite competitive, which means it doesn’t cost the earth to get your hands on a really inspiring beat creation station anymore.
How you resonate with the workflow of the instrument is important, so don’t judge a book by its cover! We’ve chosen a range of instruments, from those that offer timeless classic drum machine sounds to having the capabilities to design your own sounds.
Korg Volca Drum
Although it has its limitations, the Volca Drum is one of the most extensive instruments for designing drum sounds and rhythms in this price range.
You may not like the Volca layout or the tiny knobs, but there is no denying the power of this little guy and it genuinely has its own unique sound.
The Volca Drum is portable and battery-operated which is fun, but it does require some menu-diving to access the more advanced features.
Instead of simply re-launching the classics, Roland continues to bring out instruments like the T-8 that offer something slightly different.
It gives you a selection of the famous 606, 808, 909, and 303 sounds with plenty of tweakability once you’ve worked out the interface.
The new AIRA Compact series might not be Volca killers, but there is certainly more to the T-8 than meets the eye.
Sonicware LIVEN Bass & Beats
The LIVEN Bass & Beats is a rather involved instrument for something in the budget range. Apart from the unique sound, there are a ton of features for designing your own drums and bass sounds.
From the ability to insert your own wavetables to the variable bitrate feature, this groovebox is an endless inspiration supply and it definitely pays homage to the 1990s.
The interface, however, does demand a steep learning curve, and some might find using overlay cards to access alternate features a little tiresome at times.
Novation Circuit Rhythm
The Circuit Rhythm is a highly intuitive multitrack monophonic sampler and sequencer that encourages you to use or record your own samples in your workflow.
Once you get your head around the fact that the pads replace the need for a screen, the lightbulbs start appearing and even chopping up loops becomes a dream.
Unlike most grooveboxes there is no menu diving, making the Circuit Rhythm ideal for performing your existing tracks live.
In true Elektron style, the Model:Cycles is a groovebox with a difference. The irresistibly intuitive design makes it stand out immediately from a horde of other instruments at a price you can’t complain about.
It brings together FM sound creation, a powerful sequencer engine, and effects that allow you to create expressive and unique rhythmic patterns from scratch.
Yes, some features involve menu diving. However, there are different ways to approach the Model:Cycles that will keep everyone happy, at least for a while.
More about the best budget grooveboxes:
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- Korg Volca Drum: Korg
- Roland T-8: Roland
- Sonicware LIVEN Bass & Beats: Sonicware
- Novation Circuit Rhythm: Novation
- Elektron Model:Cycles: Elektron