If you fancy yourself as a music producer then you need a machine that can help you create that next catchy beat.
In this article, I am going to look at the five best beat machines for beginners.
These beat machines, or rather drum machines, are great for both beginners as well as more seasoned music producers who need some rhythmic accompaniment on a budget.
In my list, I have factored in what first-time buyers to the world of beat machines need to be on the lookout for.
So, let’s get started.
5 Best Beat Machines for Beginners of 2021
In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:
Okay, let's get to the list already!
This is a very classic looking beats machine.
In all black, with a tiny display, a control dial, and 37 buttons on the front of the unit itself.
But don’t be scared by all the buttons.
It’s compact and you get a massive number of rhythms and percussion backing tracks to use with it.
This is a very user-friendly drum machine.
It’s great to use as part of a band or simply just to compose stuff.
The pre-programmed beats that it comes with cover a broad range of musical styles – from rock to pop to funk to Latin.
You get a total of 100 patterns.
However, Alexis also offers the more expensive SR-18 version if you want more patterns.
The SR-18 gives you 200 patterns in total but costs 70% more than this unit.
If you are on a budget, then starting with the SR-16 and later upgrading to the SR-18 may be a better option.
It’s easy to choose a pattern to use just by looking at the base of the unit.
A full chart is included which you can refer to in order to see all the different rhythmic patterns and what number you need to select them with.
You can also play this beats machine in real-time, which is fantastic.
This is done using the buttons located on the front panel.
You get 12 buttons here which you can use to control real-time drumming.
And whilst these buttons may be a little small you can assign them to the onboard sample collection.
Being velocity-sensitive, you get a range of dynamics from the samples based upon how hard you press the pads.
Korg Volca Beats
This one stylish beats machine.
It resembles the classic TR-808 design.
It’s great if you like to make and manipulate your beat creations as part of your music creation.
You get buttons for step input and knobs that allow you to control effects and levels.
It’s a rather small beats machine but it has a lot of great stuff packed into it.
You get tons of classic drum sounds which you would expect to hear in drum machines from the 1980s.
Reverb and delay features are also included here.
All you need to do to get started is pick a tempo, set it off, and then start playing around, and that is where the fun begins.
Don’t be scared of how it looks.
You can easily get to grips with how all of it works.
The tempo indicator is easy to see on the step sequencer and you can trigger sounds anywhere you want them to be.
This is great fun to play around with and learn on the fly which makes it one of the best beats machines for beginners out there.
Its downside is that there is no digital USB.
Also, this beats machine is great for EDM, so if that is not your preferred genre this may not be for you.
But otherwise, its analog sound is great if you just love creating your beats.
This is a beats machine for those who love the classic 80s drum sounds and who love to be creative.
You get 233 sounds altogether here.
These include snares, toms, cymbals, and bass drums.
Percussion and miscellaneous sounds are also included, such as handclaps and finger clicks.
It also gives you 50 preset drum kit configurations as well as space for over 50 of your own.
You can also use this beats machine as a backing tool.
Something that some other ones are not capable of.
You can program a series of rhythms back-to-back thanks to the song options provided here.
Using this feature, you can easily map out an entire song to play along with.
You also get some neat features that you can use on-the-fly.
This includes a ‘fill’ option where you sequence into a seamless drum fill at any time during a rhythmic pattern.
Included also are various pre-programmed drum fills.
These are tailored for each drum pattern.
This means that you simply select the pattern you want and then customize it by adding effects to it such as reverb.
This is one of the best beat machines for beginners available.
It’s compatible with any standard footswitch controller so you can activate and stop patters just by tapping your foot.
But this unit does not support USB MIDI.
So, if you want to hook this up to your computer you need to do so using a General Midi connection.
Boss DR-3 Dr.Rhythm
This is the most expensive beats machine on my list.
Retailing at just under $200.
For that you get a beats machine for those who essentially want everything they need in one box.
A band in a box if you will.
This can also be programmed to take care of your backing track requirements, this covers everything from drums to bass, so if you are a singer or guitarist playing small shows this is just what you need.
It has a small display on it because its main purpose is not for you to create new beats.
Instead, this is a beats machine for those who want to create full song length drum patterns using the given presets.
Just pick from any of the 100 included presets and just chain them together to create a song.
You can also use this with a footswitch so live performing with this unit as part of your band is a breeze.
When you look at the other beats machines from Boss this is their most affordable.
You may need to study the manual a bit to figure out what it all does but once you have figured it out it all makes sense.
If you make beats on your PC or laptop and you are after an affordable drum machine, then this may be the best machine for you.
It’s a virtual drum machine, which means that there are no actual sounds onboard this unit.
The sounds it produces comes from the software you get with it that runs on both PCs and Macs.
You plug this unit into your computer via USB.
The same USB connection also powers the unit, so you don’t need any extra cables to use this.
That’s a definite plus point in my book.
Once you have installed the included software you plug the unit into your computer, and it installs all the needed drivers for you.
You are now ready to use this as a MIDI controller within most modern DAW software.
The included software gives you a ton of different drum and percussion soundbanks to play with.
I think that the included software with this beat machine is good.
It’s great that you are not limited to just drums.
Controlling the sounds on this is simple, thanks to the included knob controllers.
In terms of design, this is very sleek.
It looks great once you have it all plugged in and up and running, which is simple to do, as I explained already.
When the pads all light up it is a sight to see, as well as during playback.
You can easily modify patterns too just by looking and seeing which steps are active.
This is a very user-friendly beats machine.
You get eight controller knobs which you can use to select patterns or control sounds.
You can even use them to control the level of sweep on a high-pass filter.
It’s also a beats machine that is very versatile.
You can load in any type of sample and use it as a real-time sequencer.
People may not like the fact that you can only use this with your computer.
But I urge you to look past this.
Once you do you will see that this is a fantastic piece of kit, offering great value for money.
It’s surely one of the best beat machines for beginners that you can buy right now.
Korg KR Mini
This the cheapest beats machine on my list.
But don’t be fooled.
This is tailor-made for beginners and because we are looking at the best beats machines for beginners, I had to include it.
You get up to 54 preset rhythms that come in a variety of styles.
These cover rock, pop, R&B, jazz, Latin, and dance.
You also get selections for both 8-beat and 16-beat and even some user presets.
With its pad mode, you can input your beats into this unit.
This mode uses the buttons which can be assigned to different drums.
Just like the other beats machines on my list.
It allows you to save up to six of your drum beats at any one time.
On the downside, it doesn’t have a display and it is a very basic interface.
But remember that it is designed for beginners so if you are new to the world of beats machines and you are on a budget then this may be the perfect fit for you.
It’s one of the best beats machines for beginners no matter how you look at it.
It’s cheap and covers most budgets.
You can even use it with batteries.
Powered by 3 AAA batteries you will get eight hours of use from this.
This makes it one of the best beat machines for beginners if you want something affordable.
Now you have seen what are, in my opinion, the best machines for beginners, I want to delve more into what beats machines, or drum machines if you will, are, with my brief guide.
Buyers Guide: Best Beat Machines for Beginners
Here are the most common things one should know before making a purchase:
What's a Drum Machine?
Drum machines have been around for generations.
Their initial purpose was to do the job of the drummer without any fuss.
They can hold a ton of patterns and you just push a button to trigger them.
The first drum machines featured basic 4/4 patterns.
These were mainly rock beats.
As time progressed additional features were added, such as being able to use the buttons to play the drums in real-time.
This makes the job so much easier for drummers because they don’t need to deal with fiddly dials or knobs when inputting their rhythmic ideas.
Eventually, other areas improved also, such as user control over dynamics and the ability to swap out drum sounds and to control micro-timing.
Most beats are created and a grid with even spacing in time.
That means that the space between consecutive steps is also equal.
This leads to a ‘straight-feel’ when it comes to timing.
More advanced drum machines could play ‘swung’ notes.
This means that consecutive notes are not even and instead are staggered.
This swing setting means you can create a more relaxed and interesting feel to what may otherwise be a normal and straight drum beat.
A user can create beats over a grid that represents the bar line.
This can be a handful of beats up to 16 or 32.
It’s usually displayed left to right, the same as written musical notation.
If you are working with triplets you may want to use a grid of 12, comprising of 4 beats of 3.
With the grid established you start adding drum samples.
Visually you can see where and when the sample lands.
That tells you when it will be triggered.
Combinations of samples create beats and grooves which you can adjust with tempo and FX.
If you are not musically minded when it comes to music theory, you can also get a drum machine that just plays premade rhythms.
The Dr. Rhythm or Alexis SR-16 are a good choice here.
Drum machines are mainly used in EDM these days and their main use is to be like a sampler and incorporate many features of the MIDI controller.
Modern drum machines let you use your samples.
This may be done via computer or importing them onto the device via USB or an SD card.
This lets you play your drum machine like a pitched instrument or sampler.
Drum machines that let you work in this manner are extremely popular.
Some styles of music consist mainly of drums or percussion.
If you listen to EDM or drum and bass, you will find that a lot of the time sampling is used.
But if you are a fan of trance music and you like the idea of just messing around for hours with beats then you want to pick the Korg Volca Beats from my list.
Compatibility with Other Devices
A drum machine that has USB and MIDI connections lets you connect drum machines to computers or even electronic drums.
USB MIDI is an extremely popular connection method but not all drum machines support it.
Once connected you can use the buttons, dials, and knobs to control compatible VST instruments within your DAW, such as Cubase or Logic.
MIDI lets you also connect to many kinds of instruments, such as keyboards and electronic drums.
It means you can control the drum machine sounds from your electronic instrument.
And whilst you could just use the pads on the drum machine it’s much easier to play the pattern on an instrument you are familiar with.
But always check to make sure that you have the required MIDI connections before you purchase a drum machine.
I hope you enjoyed reading my list of the best beats machines for beginners that you can get in 2020.
Hopefully, if you are new to the world of beats machines you will have learned a little bit more about them through my mini-guide.
I compiled this list based upon what you need to know if you are in the market for a beats machine.
This includes sound quality, usability, build quality, connectivity, and value for money.
It doesn’t matter if you are on a budget or if you want the best beats machine money can buy.
My list has you covered.
Last update on 2021-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API