The Best Drum Machines for Percussion Synthesis
Designing your own drum sounds isn’t easy, but it’s extremely rewarding as it instantly sets your music apart, giving you a unique sound. We’ve selected some of the best drum machines for synthesizing your own drum sounds from scratch.
Almost any synthesizer is capable of creating drums, but because there is often layering involved in the process, your average monosynth may not provide the ideal workflow.
There are multiple ways to approach drum synthesis whether you use pitched or atonal sounds. You can use the tuned fundamental frequencies in synthesized drum sounds to bolster your digital drum samples.
The key is to select your samples very carefully to avoid frequency masking, and with some EQ and compression, you can create an extremely punchy drum sound to build your track around.
The Best Drum Machines
Remember that, although it’s essential, you aren’t simply selecting the instrument based on its sound alone. You’re creating ideas rather than just beats or drum patterns, so check out these recommendations and find something that suits your production style.
Not all drum machines are built the same, and useful professional features like multitimbrality, high-quality integrated effects, and multiple outputs can make the instrument more versatile both for music creation and live performance situations.
Korg Volca Drum
If you’re a beginner, or you’re wary of overinvesting in such a niche aspect of your music production setup, the Volca Drum is a great entry point. It may look simple, but it gives you 6 dual-layer drum parts each with a fundamental waveform and tunable resonator.
Korg’s motion sequence feature is plenty of fun here, as you can create some dynamic rhythm patterns by modulating simple parameters within each layer. Connectivity is limited, but it does have MIDI in to create sequences within your DAW.
The Model:Cycles is an FM-based groovebox with 6 parts including Kick, Snare, Metal, Perc, Tone, and Chord. Not everyone is going to love its sound, but the sequencer makes it an incredibly versatile creative tool for music production.
The synthesis parameters might not be the most extensive, but the workflow is intuitive to keep the ideas flowing, and there are 6 additional audio tracks that can also be used as MIDI tracks for sequencing other instruments.
Almost a drum workstation, the Drumlogue combines analogue and digital synthesis engines with sample-based sound generation in a way that actually sounds great with plenty of punch.
There are 4 analogue voices, 6 sample-based channels, and Korg’s VPM synthesis multi-engine layer. In addition, there are both individual and master effects, and the range of connectivity options with multiple outs is impressive for the price.
Elektron Analog RYTM MKII
If you don’t mind the price, the Analog RYTM is probably the only drum machine you’ll ever need. Each of its 8 sound generation layers provides an analogue sound generator, a sample playback engine, an analogue multimode filter, an analogue overdrive, filter and amp envelopes, and an LFO.
In addition, you have sampling capabilities and extensive I/O for control and audio routing. Overall, the interface and sequencer provides an unmatched performance-orientated workflow that you’re likely to make better music with. Oh, and the kick drum is earth-shatteringly good.
Erica Synths Perkons HD-01
If you’re looking for a unique sound and approach to drum synthesis, the Perkons HD-01 certainly has that covered. It’s equipped with four digital voices, each with 3 selectable algorithms and there’s an opto-compressor, overdrive, and an authentic-sounding BBD delay which has plenty of character.
When you look at the rear panel I/O you’ll immediately notice that the Perkons HD-01 has been designed for use with other hardware. There are send/return loops on the master and each of the four voices as well as trigger inputs and global clock I/O, adding plenty of versatility.
More about the best drum machines:
- All about drum machines
- More about synthesis
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- Korg Volca Drum: Korg
- Elektron Model:Cycles: Elektron
- The drumlogue is finally here!: Marcus Schmahl
- elektron-analog-rytm: Elektron
- Erica Synths Perkons HD-01: Erica Synths
Erica / Sonic Potion LXR-02, great little gem, don’t miss!!