Selecting the best drum machine for live performance

Drums are an important part of any live performance music arrangement.  They provide the bass that the rest of the musical instruments can build on. However, when you are starting out in a band, you might not have a drummer on your team. This is when drum machines come in.

What are drum machines?

They are essentially synthesizers that can reproduce the drum beats or sounds. Traditionally, they used to be hardware machines but now, software versions are available at a much affordable price. Contained within a drum machine is a sequencing component. This is the part that will determine when each bit is played. Hence, what you can do if you don’t have a drummer for a live performance is to prerecord the drum sequels and then played it in a drum machine.

Setting up a drum machine on stage

After knowing what a drum machine, you have to decide what kind of configuration do you want to have in your stage, which in turns affect the types of drum machines you are buying or using.  For visual appeal, having a laptop on stage is seriously uncool which is why many bands don’t use it, even though it can theoretically function as a drum machine with the right software installed.

Another thing to consider is how complicated you want the set up to be. If you want the ability to control the stop and play of the drum bit via foot pedals, then your on stage configuration will be more complicated with a lot more testing to be done to ensure smooth performance. The advantage of doing so is that you have full control and can adapt to any deviations on stage for your live performance.

If you do not want the complication, you can simply use a drum machine to play the track from start to finish without any pause. It is less cumbersome to manage this on stage but once it plays, you can’t stop it.

What are the best drum machines for the money

Now that you understand the tradeoffs, it is time to look at what drum machines are available.


Cheap option

As mentioned, the most affordable drum machine is your existing laptop or even iphone.  All you need is some additional cables to connect it to the whatever output you are using on stage. This is entirely workable but is just uncool to look at.

Cheapest drum machine option

If you want to look cool then getting a drum machine is a must. Unfortunately, most of them are rather expensive with feature sets that can be an overkill if you are just starting up. The cheapest option that has a reasonable good quality is the Kong Voica Beats drum machine. There isn’t much options to speak of and you can’t get that many effects on the machine. However, it gets the basic job done well, in a compact package that is easy to carry around for your live performance.

There are more expensive drum machines in the market with better features but if you are just starting out, the above 2 options will be more than enough.