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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 dance, hip-hop and electronic hit records dating back to the '70s. Today, these devices are just as popular as ever, whether they're recreations of classic drum machines, 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."

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Native Instruments Maschine MK3 Groove Production Studio

"The MK3 is by far the best hardware controller for track making and song creation on the market. The new updates to the actual hardware make a huge difference in how the workflow happens with it."

"Very well thought-out as far as the design and ease of use. It makes it very pleasant to interact with it and spend hours and hours building and rebuilding arrangements. Also, I love all the NI sounds!"
- Fyodor in Chicago, IL

"It can do almost everything the Studio can do with a smaller footprint. I've always liked Maschine because of the ease of making an idea come together fast."
- Damie in Memphis, TN
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Akai MPC X Music Production Workstation

"It has a very fast learning curve, the pads feel great and nice response. I have only had it a few days but I have not had any issues. Backlit labels make it easy to get around fast...just buy it you won’t regret it."
- Troy in Harrodsburg, KY

"I like the way the pads sit directly under the screen where I can peek up at the screen while tracking. It'll be around a long time. It is the new classic to [Akai's] already long line of products."
- DH
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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

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Ableton Push 2 Controller for Ableton Live

"It will speed up your workflow, and allow you to not have to constantly stare at a computer screen. The pads are very responsive, much better than the previous version, the color screen makes it easy on the eyes, and it is pretty much synced with all the controls with the instruments and effects in Ableton Live."
- Teacee in Lexington, KY

"This machine is a BEAST! I can honestly play around with it and be on it for hours without noticing how much time has passed!"
- Angelo in Oakland, CA

"It's designed very well, and is basically a hardware interface of the software. You can move and manipulate anything in a fraction of the time it would take with a mouse. Ideas are easily implemented."
- Luke in Rawson, OH
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Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 Groove Production Studio

"I love this product. It has been great. My workflow is smoother now. I can go back and forth between the Maschine and my keyboard in order to produce soundscapes that will blow your mind."
- Nick in Atlanta, GA

"The Maschine is an absolutely essential piece of equipment! Setup takes a little while to download and install everything. Once installation is complete I guarantee you will be smiling with your head nodding within 15 mins!"
- Isadore C

"This is not only a beat machine but also an arranger, sampler, and has its own DAW! The sound quality is by far the best I've experienced in any software-based instrument hands down!"
- Steven in Ridgeway, VA
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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

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Arturia DrumBrute Drum Machine

"It is very well-constructed (solid, sturdy). The immediacy of the functions make it extremely fun to jam on and for playing live. Having individual outs expands the sonic potential which is great, since the sweet spots for each sound do seem a little elusive at times."
- Nate in Lawrence, KS

"The master swing has a really nice groove to it + swing per track + individual track lengths + 'note nudge' means you can really get some pretty natural grooves going."
- Aaron in Akron, OH
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Akai MPC Live Music Production Workstation

"Everything from the RGB pads to the super responsive touch screen with a ton of features literally at your fingertips just makes you want to play with it nonstop. Features like Pad Perform gets you making melodies right away without even having to plug in a MIDI controller -- definitely making it easy for you to get started on a song in no time."
- LS in Chicago, IL

"The true standalone power of a 7-inch screen for MIDI sequencing, audio editing, and mixing makes the MPC Live the best and only choice for any hip hop, R&B, and dance producers, beat makers, or any sort of live electronic musician looking for a product to integrate to a non-computer-based, standalone hardware setup."
- ADJ in Parker, CO
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