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Rating and Reviews: Alesis SR18 Drum Machine

Build beats with 12 pads, then trigger them live via two footswitch jacks on the Alesis SR-18. This ultra-portable drum machine can run off two AA batteries.

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"Good sounds and real-time recording; poor song assembly software (no real-time bass transposition)" submitted March 15, 2011

By a customer from prodigesoftware.com
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Musical Background: Amateur
Music Style: Blues, various
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Sound: Some drum sounds are excellent, and sound similar to real drums, if that is what you wish to have. I have good high frequency hearing, and the 44.1K sample rate is not good enough to reproduce cymbal sounds accurately. It is CD quality, if that is good enough for you. Some of the drum sounds are better that the Zoom RT-223, but the Zoom has more control over the effects. The SR18 only offers a large range of preset effects; you cannot modify them in any way. The SR18 probably has better drum presets, and they all have fills and A/B parts, but the SR18 song editing has a major flaw if you wish to use the bass track. I explain this in the features section. Feature: The SR18 software has major flaws. When you assembly a Song from Patterns, you create a series of "steps" with each step playing one Pattern. You are not given an opportunity to specify either the number of bars for the step (it must be the length of the Pattern) or the bass root, or transposition, of the step. This means your Patterns must already be transposed to exactly the right key, and they have to be exactly the right length. I wished to create a blues song quickly. Some blues patterns are great, but I could not assemble them into a song without first copying them into an empty user pattern and modifying the bass notes. In some cases I needed to change the length of the pattern, to shorten it. This is not explained in the manual but it is possible by setting the "recording settings" pattern length, and saving the pattern again. Once you shorten the pattern, you lose your fills... they are at the end, because a fill pattern is the same length as an A/B pattern. The Zoom RT-223 does not have these problems. With the Zoom, you can specify the number of bars played for each step in a Song, as well as the bass key. Ease of Use: It is easy to use if you mute the bass and use only the drums. It is good for live use, with the foot-switch controls. For creating songs with bass tracks, it is hard to use, because of the problems specified in the features section. Also, step editing built-in patterns can be difficult. First you copy it to an empty user space. Then, you select a quantization and swing amount that matches the smallest time interval used in the pattern. How do you figure out the swing amount? You have to guess. Why is this important? When you go to the next "step" in the pattern, using step editing, it takes you forward in time by the quantization interval and the swing. If there is no event at that point in time, you cannot edit anything. If you skipped over an event, you cannot edit it. Many built-in patterns do not use quantization, so the only practical way to edit them is to set the quantization to 96 parts per quarter note, and tediously step 96 times for each quarter note. This is crazy and indicates a poor software design. The Zoom RT-223 does not suffer this problem. Step editing allows you to jump directly to the next event as it should. Another problem with the SR-18 is you have to hit the pads with a small hammer to get the highest velocity setting. You really get only a few practical velocity variations if you use your fingers. It is as if the pads were for drumsticks. Quality: Excellent quality, except the jacks are plastic, not metal. It is made in Taiwan, not communist China. The only mechanical flaw is the wrong pads -- they seem to be for drumsticks, not fingers. Value: Excellent value for the sounds and patterns. Poor value for the software for editing songs, and for step editing patterns. Manufacturer Support: I did not use support. Overall: Not very happy with the song editor and pattern step editor. I like the sounds however.
56 of 63 people (88.89%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"It's an SR-16 on roids" submitted April 12, 2008

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Rock/Metal/Techno/Industrial/Ambient/Electronic/Alternative/Blues
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Sound: The sounds are excellent quality. The sound from the out's is powerful and clear, some cheesy drums included but its just a matter of taste i guess. The bass feature is a bonus so im not gonna be too judgemental on that one but it gives you 3 ocataves(i think)of basses, some are pretty cool, some are blah. Feature: great sequencing, menus are easy once you read the book, comes with an ac adapter.. some people might take issue with the outs, all are 1/4 inchers and midi, but there's headphones, aux, left out right out etc, so there are a bunch. Ease of Use: even with the limited LCD the machine is easy to use. The documentation is very clearly written. The limited display and interface only becomes an issue when step editing certain events in high step patterns.. no big deal, takes a little patience. Buttons/wheel feel great. Quality: the build of this thing is easily described: Solid. Solid plastic, sturdy pads, wheel feels durable, no flex. This thing doesnt feel at all hollow, it feels like thick plastic with a solid metal core. Value: I think this is well worth the price most are selling it for, if it was msrp.. well still worth it, but harder to pull the trigger on it. Manufacturer Support: Dont know anything about the support. The Wow Factor: this thing looks, sounds and feels great. Overall: I cant speak for others but this machine does what i want it to do and it does it very well, it's predecessor was widely sold/used from 1989 till today, this one might just do the same, alesis-sr20 in 2037?
83 of 97 people (85.57%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"An bleeping Idiot set up the unfriendly user menu on a quality device." submitted January 8, 2012

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Musical Background: Over 10 years. Guitar, have played professionally, now recording at home.
Music Style: Rock, Metal
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Sound: Sound quality is great. Although way too many cowbells and goofy snares in the programmed presets rendering most unusable without editing them. Programming really SUCKS. If it didn't sound this good, I would have returned it. Feature: Building your own patterns is a Must. Could BE A MUCH EASIER PROCESS. Programmed presets are not very compatible with Rock/Metal compositions. Out of all the different patterns, not many are usable. Way too many obscure beats and the ones that are supposedly for Rock are either too generic or accented at the wrong beat. More relevant beats on my Digitech pedal than this drum machine. I've gotten many , many headaches from the programming process. Ease of Use: I have wanted to punch a programmer in the face 101 times in the last 2 months. They could not have made this machine more user-unfriendly. I build computers , use various editing software, and program all my pedals to my taste so I do have some experience. Every single modification you make seems to be forgotten as soon as you try to navigate the clunky menu to save and edit and press more buttons than necessary to try and complete even the most simple task. A total IDIOT set this up throwing the Rock patterns all over the Menu in random spots instead of grouping the genres where I have to keep the pattern list handy because the fools had to throw patterns around the menu randomly for no apparent reason except to piss you off. Learning Curve? I would have thrown it out the window if I didn't NEED drums. Not a playable instrument with the tiny pads but they work fine for pattern construction. Quality: Seems very well built. Had good luck with Alesis in the past so I trust them. Value: I should get half my money back with as many headaches as I've gotten programming and creating beats. Manufacturer Support: Wish they had programmers that were musicians so they could figure out musicians don't want to waste so much time creating their own patterns. Photoshop and sign making software are easier to use than this device, and that's pathetic. The Wow Factor: I'll give it a 5 since I have it and still want it to produce drums for my songs. It sounds good, just didn't want programming a machine to take up my day I could have spent playing guitar. Overall: As soon as I find another product that sounds this good but is user-friendly to program I will buy it immediately. I am already looking but can't send back because I need it and that would put me too far behind. I would buy something else if it was stolen.
18 of 21 people (85.71%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Obviously these guys have never performed a live gig." submitted December 9, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: 40+ years, started when I was 5
Music Style: everything
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Sound: The sound is very good, a big improvement from my old drum machine. I'm not quite sure what to do with the bass sounds, however. Why couldn't they release a fake book chord chart of all the different sounds, so you know what the bass is playing? They certainly know... they programmed it! Why do I have to go through and write down what the key and chord progressions are? How time consuming and redundant! Feature: It should come standard with pedal switches. Very few live performers wouldn't want them. Ease of Use: This is (so far) a BIG BIG disappointment. I waited 20 years to update my old Roland Compu0Rhythm CR-8000 (the one they used on Revenge of the Nerds!) and I have to tell you, that thing was SOO much easier to use performing live and off the cuff. 1. The rotary dial should be a knob not a rotary dial. the fingers are good at twisting a knob, not so good at spinning in a circle without finger coming out of the little indentation in the knob. 2. You should NOT have to hold down the tempo button while spinning the dial to change tempo playing live. Either it takes two hands (how you gonna keep playing?) or you run a GREAT risk of having your thumb slip off the tempo button while spinning the dial, which means you just changed rhythm and tempo DRAMATICALLY right in the middle of a song, for Pete's sake. What were they thinking? 3. I know small is "cool" but for live playing all the buttons should be twice as big, even if that means making the total size bigger. With all the stuff going on/keyboards around me while I'm playing, the Alesis has to be 3 ft away, and it is hard to hit the tiny buttons accurately, much less read the writing quickly and in a dark night club. Obviously, these guys are techno geeks, not real musicians who play live in the real world. 4. They should allow you to change preset rhythms without automatically jumping to a different tempo. They way they have it, I have to conform my pieces to the rigidity of the machine, rather than the machine conforming to the way I want to play a piece. I want a preset rhythm, then I can quickly with one hand twist a dial to the tempo I want. My CompuRhythm 8000 was MUCH better at this. If anyone knows a rhytym unit that will do what I want, please send me a Youtube message to channel "MayadaJeffery". thanks. Quality: I'm sure the quality is fine. I haven't had it out much yet, as I'm still figuring out if I'm even gonna be able to use it in a live, spontaeous gig situation. Value: It certainly is inexpensive for the quality and quantity of sounds you get. Manufacturer Support: unknown Overall: For a live performing, stage/club musician without a preconceived set list, it's a disaster.
8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Not User Friendly" submitted November 24, 2012

By Joseph C in Rochester, NY
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Musical Background: Long time and old 50's and 60's rocknroller. Play in a live band 4 gigs a year. Practice a lot.
Music Style: Blues, rock and roll 50's, 60's some 70's and 80's. Jerry Lee Louis, Elvis, Wilson Picket, Great box for Mustang Sally as long a
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Overall: Out of the box and just jaming it has an incredible sound very close to a real drummer. However, I have to mute the bass and play bass with my left hand, chords (Hammond XK3) with my right and I sound like a 3 peace rocknroll group. Add a guitar player and it does sound like a real band. The fills are incredible.With that said, the bass lines that are pre-programmed are incredible, but they do not change in basic progressions. For example a basic blues or rock progression goes somethng like this 1-4-1-4-5 or a 1-6-4-5 (sears robuck changes) In any event, the bass player feature although incredible you are simply stuck with a 1 and 4. You can't complete the progression unless you mute out the bass. They have a fill feature A and B. They just needed to add C and change it if you want a 1-6-4-5 progression. Those are basic to rock and roll and could have been easily incorporated into the programming. I suspect a musician did not program this machine or he would have understood basic patterns.The machine can be used for a live proformance as long as the bass feature is muted and you have a real bass player or play left hand bass on keyboard. Those bass lines are not as good as the proprogrammed ones.As far as programming it to a "song" I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. Its written in techie language and not easy to do any of these functions.It would be nice to have a feature to stop abruptly (which you can with a foot switch) then press another foot switch for a different tempo and back to the original tempo. Its not happening with this machine.Its truly not user friendly but what is there sounds incredible for blues and rock. I would like to locate a drum machine that follows basic changes as described above.
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Alesis SR18 Drum Machine Customer Review submitted October 19, 2009

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Sound: the sound is great. but try to put it to music lol good luck Feature: i dont know Ease of Use: I may be stun. But i dont think so. good luck Quality: it is not made cheap Value: i lost my shirt on this unit Manufacturer Support: never tried to reach them Overall: this unit is not what i am looking for at all . I just wanted something that would keep a beat for me . while i played an old countrty western tune
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