Having the best drum synth allows users to create and customize a drum sound without even needing to learn how to play drums. A drum synthesizer is quite similar to a beat machine with keyboard. However, their similarities end with the fact that they allow users to easily produce drum sounds with a push of a button.
8 of the Best Drum Synth at A Glance
Unlike MIDI-based beat machines, drum synths utilize samples and other synthesizing methods to produce a drum sound. In addition, drum synths are frequently confused with drum sequencers, but they’re also different. While sequencers allow users to create rhythmic passages, you can use drum synths just like a regular instrument!
Now, you have a basic understanding of a drum synthesizer. Knowing its fundamental use, you might want to incorporate one into your arsenal of instruments. Luckily, if you’re interested in having the best drum synth, this guide is for you! In this guide, I collected 8 incredible acoustic and digital drum synthesizers perfect for all musical settings.
3 of the Best Analog Drum Synth for all Budgets
Arturia DrumBrute Impact — The Best Budget-Friendly Analog Drum Synth
The Arturia DrumBrute Impact is an incredible choice for drummers looking for the best drum synth on a budget. The DrumBrute features 10 pure-analog drum sounds that will surely provide an authentic drum feel to your mixes. This analog sound collection includes snares, toms, hi-hats, and a cowbell for drum set.
Moreover, Arturia constructed the DrumBrute with a compact body. Consequently, allowing artists, such as DJs and percussionists to conveniently bring this product during gigs. Not to mention, this drum synthesizer comes with a modern step sequencer perfect for looping rhythmic passages.
Furthermore, the Arturia DrumBrute comes with Polsen HPC-A30 studio headphones and Pig Hog MIDI cables. The included headphones feature 50mm drivers and a frequency response of 18Hz-22,000Hz, providing users with clear and well-defined monitors.
- 10 Pure-Analog Sounds
- Modern step sequencer
- Polsen Closed-Back Studio Headphones
- Pig Hog MIDI Cables
- FM Sound Engine
The DrumBrute’s built-in step sequencer has a capacity of making up to 64 patterns and steps. In addition, this drum synthesizer comes with MIDI cables and studio headphones— which is a steal considering its price.
Arturia designed the DrumBrute with sophisticated functions. That said, this won’t be the best drum synth for beginners.
Moog DFAM (Drummer from Another Mother) Semi-Modular Analog Drum Synthesizer
Moog designed the DFAM using an analog sound engine that enables users to create rhythmic passages conveniently. The DFAM’s straightforward operation makes it extremely easy to learn; consequently, making it suitable for beginners.
The DFAM utilizes a white noise generator paired with two analog oscillators, allowing it to deliver an authentic drum sound. In addition, the DFAM features the Moog Ladder filter which provides users with low and high pass modes.
This drum synth’s high pass mode provides its sound with an expressive response and accentuation. Conversely, its low pass mode enhances the sound’s dimension for better level and timbre.
- Analog Sound Engine
- 8-steps Analog Sequencer
- Two Oscillators and One White Noise Generator
- 10-Octave Frequency Control
- 20Hz-20,000Hz Frequency Range
- Low and High Pass Modes
The DFAM’s design and operation make it easy to learn. That’s why I would recommend this drum synthesizer for beginners. In addition, this drum synth comes with patch cables that allow access to the 24-point modular patchbay. Thus, allowing users to mix-and-match various Moog Mother-32 units and other DFAM modules for the best tonal flexibility possible.
Although the DFAM is versatile and somewhat affordable, its interconnectivity feature makes its operation more expensive in the long run.
Elektron ATS-4-MKII Analog Desktop Synthesizer and CV Sequencer
If you’re looking for one of the best analog drum synths in the market, you’re in the right place. First, the ATS-4-MKII features a reworked analog circuitry that delivers a deep and authentic bass sound. This synth also comes with an analog overdrive, that delivers a biting sound that easily cuts through dense mixes.
Secondly, the ATS-4-MKII comes with an all-analog sound, processing, and functionality. Elektron also designed the ATS-4-MKII to work with DAWs, which is quite similar to a digital drum synthesizer.
The ATS-4-MKII features a CV/Gate and DIN sync outputs, allowing users to connect and control other gears. Lastly, this drum synth features a sound quality of 24-bit/48kHz, delivering clear and detailed sound replication.
- Analog circuitry and processing
- OLED Display Screen
- Hi-res encoders and quick-performance controls
- 2 in/out sound card
- 24bit-48,000Hz frequency range
- CV/Gate and DIN Sync Outputs
- Cast-aluminum body
The Elektron ATS-4-MKII features a full-analog internal circuitry without lacking the digital aspects necessary for today’s music production. That said, this drum synth comes with VST/AU plugin interface, DAW compatibility, and durable buttons rated for 50 million presses.
Even though this is the best analog drum synth on this list, it also comes with the most expensive price tag.
5 Best Digital Drum Synth for All Skill-Levels
Alesis SR-16— The Best Digital Drum Synth on a Budget
If you’re a bedroom music producer on a budget, you’ll love what the SR-16 has in store for you! Manufactured by Alesis, the SR-16 drum synthesizer features 223 professionally-sampled sounds and built-in effects. Thanks to the utilization of the Alesis Dynamic Articulation, this drum synthesizer delivers an authentic drum sound.
Furthermore, Alesis provided the SR-16 with a no-compromise MIDI connectivity. As a result, this allows users to modify and record their sound seamlessly using their plugin and DAW of choice.
Moreover, the SR-16 boasts production features, such as sound-tracking, step editing, and sampling found in one compact drum synth. This drum synthesizer also comes with 50 presets and 50 user drum kits which users can modify to their liking.
- 233 professionally-sampled sounds
- Alesis Dynamic Articulation
- MIDI Connectivity
- 50 preset and 50 user drum kits
- Built-in digital effects
The SR-16 features a plethora of specifications that help users to have a seamless digital recording experience. Not to mention, this drum synth also comes with tons of sounds that musicians can use to modify presets.
This product’s velocity-sensitive pads sometimes misread the amount of pressure when I press it, resulting in inconsistent beat accentuations.
Roland TR-6S— The Best Compact Drum Synth for Musicians on a Budget
Perfect for touring and gigging musicians, the compact and portable construction of the TR-6S will withstand being on the road. First, the TR-6S boasts an enormous library of preset and custom user samples. This provides users with limitless possibilities when recording and mixing.
Roland designed the TR-6S from the TR-8S’s blueprint. Therefore, the former delivers the same quality as the latter at a lower price. Additionally, the TR-6S also boasts a 6-track drum sequencing and a plethora of high-quality effects, compressors, and EQs.
Aside from its high-quality USB/MIDI connectivity, the TR-6S also comes with a headphone jack for musicians on the go. Moreover, Roland’s implementation of battery-operated circuitry makes the best portable drum synth for the road.
- 6-track Advanced Drum Sequencing
- Tons of built-in effects
- USB/MIDI Connectivity
- Futuristic FM Tones
- Free TR-EDITOR
- Enormous preset and custom user samples
The TR-6S can run using four (4) AA batteries or through a USB bus connection. In addition, it’s also compatible with headphones for electronic drums, allowing users to make drum beats in complete silence. Roland also designed the TR-6S with lightweight but durable construction, making it perfect to bring while on the road.
The TR-6S requires time to learn its nitty-gritty. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend this product for musicians who wants a straightforward drum synthesizer.
Roland MC-101 Groovebox— The Best Portable Drum Synth for Musicians on the Go
Who wouldn’t want a compact, lightweight, and portable drum synthesizer that’s perfect for beginners and professionals alike? If this is exactly what you need, then you’ll love the Roland MC-101 Groovebox!
Based on the MC-707, Roland packed the MC-101 with built-in samples and sounds crafted by world-renowned sound engineers and artists. In addition, each professional effect of the MC-101 comes with an independent processor for a fuller sound. The MC-101 features a built-in compressor that enhances the final product’s sound with a well-defined punch and clarity.
When on the road, the Roland MC-101 transforms into a portable studio that can accommodate guitars and other instruments. Roland also incorporates a USB cable connection that only requires a single wire to function! Powered by 4 AA batteries, the MC-101 can run for up to five hours before recharging or replacing the batteries.
- 4-track with 16 clips per track
- 3,000 Noiiz professional samples
- USB/MIDI single-wire connectivity
- Master bus compressor
- Free SD Card
- 128-step sequencer
- Over 200 built-in effects
The MC-101 features a wide array of built-in effects and controls that will surely dish out the best sounds. What makes this great is that the MC-101 only requires one USB cable to function, making it ideal to use in the studio or on the road.
For its price, I didn’t expect this drum synth to not have a set of velocity-sensitive pads.
Erica Synths LXR-02— The Best Versatile Drum Synth
The Erica Synths LXR-02 delivers the sound of analog drum synthesizers without losing all the pros of digital drum synths. The LXR-02 features a powerful sound engine with 6 different instruments. Each of this drum synthesizer’s instruments comes with over 30 parameters, providing users with the best drum synth tone flexibility.
Moreover, Erica Synths engineered the LXR-02 with 6 voices that provide users with a decent kit to create their sound. This digital drum synthesizer also features an enormous modulation capability that enables users to fully customize the timbre of their sound.
The LXR-02 also boasts a wide array of effects that provides users with limitless sound-creating possibilities. From compressors up to delay effects, the LXR-02 has you covered! Therefore, if you have it on your head, you’ll be able to make it through this digital drum synthesizer.
- 6 built-in drum voices with 30 parameters each
- 7-track sequencer and 64-step pattern
- 5-pin MIDI and USB connectivity
- Free SD Card
- 16-bit/44,100Hz audio quality
- Aluminum external shell
This drum synth is perfect for musicians who love tweaking their tone to get the best results. Furthermore, the LXR-02 comes with a wide range of effects and modulation, providing users with limitless possibilities when chasing a certain tone.
The Erica Synths LXR-02 is quite overwhelming to use, especially if you’re new to drum synthesizers.
Akai Professional MPC Live II Bundle — The Best All-Rounder Drum Synth
The Akai Professional MPC Live II features a compact and portable construction that allows musicians to record anywhere, anytime. Akai designed the MPC Live II with all the necessary facets of a drum synthesizer and machine without compromising performance due to its portability.
Each of the MPC’s 16 velocity-sensitive drum pads effectively reproduces the dynamics of a user’s playing. In addition, the MPC Live II comes with a built-in studio monitor. Consequently, providing users with faithful audio representation without the need for extra monitors and headphones.
Moreover, the MPC Live II comes with USB 3.0, 2×2 MIDI, CV/Gate, WiFi, and BlueTooth Connectivity. Aside from this, the Akai MPC comes with a free copy of the MPC2 Desktop Software, allowing users to conveniently utilize and maximize their MPC usage.
Finally, Akai included freebies, such as a condenser microphone, studio headphones, and an interface for recording drums. That’s why if you’re looking for the best drum synth deal, this is the bundle for you!
- Touchscreen OLED Display
- 16 Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads
- Switchable +48V Phantom Power
- 24-bit/192KHz audio resolution
- WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity
- 8x TRS CV/Gate Jacks Output
- Built-in Stereo Monitors
- Free MPC2 Desktop Software
- Nova Black Condenser
- HDH40 Headphones
This drum synth features premium-level specifications perfect for both live and studio settings. The MPC Live II also comes with freebies that make this drum synthesizer studio-ready right out of the box. Lastly, the Akai MPC Live II boasts a high audio resolution that provides users with a clear and well-defined sound.
The MPC Live II is the most expensive digital drum synthesizer on this list.
Things to Consider When Buying the Best Drum Synth— A Buyer’s Guide
Before buying, buyers must ensure that they are getting the best drum synth according to their musical needs and budget. Of course, the last thing you’ll want is a piece of gear that doesn’t live up to your expectations.
That’s why it’s crucial to identify and understand the crucial components that you should seek in drum synthesizers. Therefore, I crafted this buyer’s guide to highlight and impart the things you should consider when buying the best drum synth.
Analog vs. Digital
Within the music industry, the debate between analog and digital components still poses tons of discussion. Gear purists would agree that having an analog synthesizer would provide you with better sounds. Conversely, people who love digital gear would argue that this type of synthesizer provides the best tonal flexibility possible. So, which is which?
In reality, there’s no right or wrong answer between digital and analog synthesizers. Each of them performs specific purposes better than the other. Even some of their functionalities are incredibly similar.
Analog circuitry wins against digital circuitry when it comes to its bandwidth. In comparison, music producers can take analog audio and move them to any type of audio resolution without any problems. On the other hand, digital circuitry falls back since its resolution is frequently limited.
In a nutshell, you’ll get a better sound out of analog circuitry than digital circuitry. Still, buyers must remember that analog drum synthesizers cost more than their digital counterparts. That’s why if you’re constrained within a strict budget, you should go with digital drum synthesizers.
Although this feature should already be an industry standard, getting USB/MIDI Connectivity on drum synthesizers is a must. This feature allows users to conveniently modify and record their sound using the DAW of their choice.
Finding a USB/MIDI-capable drum synthesizer shouldn’t be a problem in today’s market. However, it’s crucial to emphasize finding this feature to eliminate the need for extra gear, such as audio interfaces.
Ease of Use
Most drum synthesizers today come with extra features, such as sequencers, FM sound engines, effects, and modulation. To fully capitalize on these features, you should find a drum synthesizer that offers a user-friendly UI or parameter controls. The last thing you’d want is to be overwhelmed by the wide range of functionalities and built-in features of a synthesizer.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Drum Synth
What is the best-sounding drum machine?
In today’s market, the best-sounding drum synths and machines are the following:
- Arturia DrumBrute Analog Drum Synthesizer
- Moog DFAM Semi-Modular Analog Drum Synthesizer
- Elektron ATS-4-MKII Analog Drum Synthesizer and CV Sequencer
- Alesis SR-16 Digital Drum Synthesizer and Drum Machine
- Roland TR-6S Digital Drum Synthesizer
- Erica Synths LXR-02 Desktop Digital Drum Synthesizer
- Roland MC-101 Groovebox Music Production Workstation
- Akai Professional MPC Live II Beat Maker Bundle
What is the most realistic sounding drum machine?
For the best analog drum synthesizer sound, I would recommend the Elektron ATS-4-MKII. If you’re looking for the best-sounding digital drum synthesizer, the Akai Professional MPC Live II is perfect for you!
Is a drum machine a synth?
Although both gears perform similarly, a drum machine’s purpose lies heavily in playing drum samples and arranging them in a pattern. On the other hand, a drum synthesizer comes with oscillators, filters, and other sound processors that allow users to customize their sound.
What is the easiest drum machine to use?
Within this list, the easiest drum synth and machine to use is the Akai Professional MPC Live II. This product comes with 16 velocity-sensitive pads and a touchscreen OLED display, providing users with a convenient control layout. In addition, the Akai MPC Live II comes with all the equipment you’ll need to create your music studio.
Can a drum machine replace a drummer?
Although a drum machine can pass as an authentic drum with the right audio engineering, mixing, and mastering, it still cannot replace the feel, timbre, and natural playing of a drummer.
However, even though a drum machine cannot replace a drumkit, it’s still a cost-effective substitute. Moreover, this makes drum-playing accessible to musicians who have no drum-playing background.
Enjoy your New Drum Synthesizer!
In conclusion, a drum synthesizer is a cost-effective substitute for electronic drumkits. A drum synth is portable and lightweight, allowing users to write a rhythm section while on the road. They also feature the necessary specifications to allow users to lay a beat conveniently. That’s why if you’re an aspiring music producer, you’ll want to have the best drum synth in your arsenal.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful in your quest to find the best drum synth according to your needs and budget. Which drum synthesizer did you like the most? Let’s talk about it in the comment section below. Lastly, if you liked this article, feel free to check our other drum-related guides here!
With over 30 years of experience, drumming has been a huge part of Joe’s life. He has experienced every stage of drumming imaginable – from playing in my parents’ garage, to playing local venues and to doing national tours.
Today, Joe tutor kids on how to play drums and shares all the things he has learned about drumming to all of BasicDrummer readers. He also reviews the best drums and gadgets not only for kids but also for beginners as well.