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The Best Drum Machines for Percussion Synthesis


The Best Drum Machines for Percussion Synthesis  · 

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Anna Pou / Pexels / Erica Synths

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.

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Korg Volca Drum
Korg Volca Drum

It may look simple, but it gives you 6 dual-layer drum parts each with a fundamental waveform and tunable resonator.

The inclusion of Korg’s motion sequencer feature is an exciting one. Here, you can create dynamic rhythm patterns by modulating parameters within each layer. Connectivity is limited, but it does have MIDI in to create sequences within your DAW.

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Elektron Model:Cycles

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.

Elektron Model:Cycles
Elektron Model:Cycles

The synthesis parameters might not be the most extensive. However, the workflow is intuitive to keep the ideas flowing. Furthermore, there are 6 additional audio tracks that can also be used as MIDI tracks for sequencing other instruments.

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Korg Drumlogue

Almost a drum workstation, the KORG Drumlogue combines analogue and digital synthesis engines with sample-based sound generation in a way that actually sounds great with plenty of punch.

Korg drumlogue
Korg Drumlogue

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.

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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.

Elektron Analog RYTM MKII
Elektron Analog RYTM MKII

In addition, you have sampling capabilities and extensive I/O for control and audio routing. Overall, the interface and sequencer provide an unmatched performance-orientated workflow. Furthermore, it’s likely to help you make better music. Oh, and the kick drum is earth-shatteringly good.

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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.

Erica Synths Perkons HD-01
Erica Synths Perkons HD-01

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. Here, you’ll find 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.

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*Note: This article contains affiliate links that help us fund our site. Don’t worry: the price for you always stays the same! If you buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Image Sources:

  • 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
The Best Drum Machines

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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