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All-Star Beat-Making Gear

All-Star Beat-Making Gear

Sample, Loop and Make Beats With These Picks

Samplers, drum machines and grooveboxes have been behind hundreds of hit dance, hip-hop and electronic records dating back to the '70s. Today, these devices are just as popular as ever, whether they're a recreation of a classic drum machine or an entire production suite built into a piece of hardware.

This All-Star Gear list is stacked with your favorite beat-making gear. Check it out to see if yours is listed, and read the reviews to see what others think. You may just discover your next studio tool in our list!

Novation Circuit Groove Box

"Very easy to use right out of the box. Lots of usable sounds for sketching an idea, easy to update and portable. Just grab and go. Work, in a traffic jam, waiting room...sky's the limit."
- Bill in Barrington, NH

"Love this thing. Within ten minutes of plugging it in I was laying out great track ideas. There's a few limitations to work around but all around it's a super useful product for performance and production alike."
- Randall in Houston, TX

"The ability to import samples and save them (or replace them with the original sounds) makes this extremely flexible. The max sample time is 60 seconds, more than enough for most songs."

New, $329.99 or 6 payments of $55 | Learn More »

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine

"I was seriously surprised at: A. How easy this machine is to use and, B. The quality of the drum sounds. You can tell that these are REAL drum sounds and not computerized beats."
- Shawn in Palm Bay, FL

"Beginner or pro, this is a machine to reckon with. I was never able to express exactly what it was I was trying to [get] across, until I picked this up."

"There is something magical about just hooking this up anywhere, padding out quick beats and fills, and launching into ideas anywhere, anytime when minus a drummer."
- Dave in Boston, MA

New, $149 or 4 payments of $37.25 | Learn More »

Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine

"The ability to add a hundred fills adjusted to fit your groove, velocity randomizer, ghost notes, key changes, speed and so forth make for a very realistic, human-quality performance and the bass tones are often better than a lot of real bass players I have jammed with."
- Paul in Dallas, TX

"If you can use a computer or have any experience with Roland keyboards or other devices this thing is a breeze. I love practicing guitar with it as well. If you don't have one you're missing a great recording and practice tool."
- Ronald in Ozark, MO

"Great sound quality. If realism is what you're after, then this has it. Used it live and it sounded great."

New, $499 or 8 payments of $62.38 | Learn More »

Native Instruments Maschine MK2 Groove Production Studio

"If you want flexibility, this is a must-have. I made over 90 productions on the Maschine and all went straight out the door. The workflow is so fast any novice can learn it."
- Rasool in Upper Marlboro, MD

"You can literally do anything you can think of plus more with this thing. Chop up samples, build you own kits, hook up to a keyboard, use smart play in piano mode, create new sounds, never get tired. There's nothing more dope on the market. Period."
- Damion in Atlanta, GA

"Producers of all music types need to get in tune real fast. Filmmakers who want to take their sound design game to the next level, this is it. This is a crazy device for anything audio related."
- Francis in Las Vegas, NV
New, $599 or 6 payments of $99.84 | Learn More »

Roland SP-404SX Sampler

"Sampling has never been easier. Great live tool for triggering as well."
- Drew in Santa Rosa, CA

"The button layouts make sense for its intended purpose. There are plenty of banks for samples. The storage capacity is HUGE with the SD card option."

"Putting the samples in and assigning them to pads is a breeze. Very, very easy with the included software."

New, $499 or 8 payments of $62.38 | Learn More »

Akai XR20 Beat Production Station

"Technically, the 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sample playback engine sounds great -- no noise or grittiness. The lows thump your chest and the highs are crystal-clear."

"This thing is so simple my 10-year-old little brother could make beats out of it."

"There is something about how this unit sequences that give the drums a certain natural groovy feel when compared to a 100% software sequencer."

New, $299 or 6 payments of $49.84 | Learn More »

Roland TR-8 AIRA Rhythm Performer Drum Machine

"The TR-8 is a super smooth product. It really is very simple to learn and create beats. I never once touched the manual to this baby; it's just so user-friendly."
- Chris in San Diego

"Love the sounds, diversity, and well-built knobs, a perfect interface for performance-based writing."
- B Ortiz in Carrollton, TX

"The TR-8 rhythm performer is a beast, particularly when you add the 7x7 expansion. It has become all the drum machine I will ever need."
Antonio in Roy, UT

New, $499 or 8 payments of $62.38 | Learn More »

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