The Best Hardware Beat Makers

We’re continuing our current buyer’s guide to beat making with the 7 best hardware beat makers money can buy…

Akai MPC Live

best hardware beat makers

Price £799
Reviewed last month, the MPC Live is a multi-touch all-in-one hardware unit with some incredibly sophisticated features. Like Pioneer’s Toraiz, it doesn’t just do beats, but the MPC philosophy certainly lends itself to easy beat making – although there’s enough power in here to create complete tunes easily, and it’s great for computer-less music production and MPC-style beat making. Get the full story in our review.


Arturia DrumBrute

Price £379
A proper analogue drum machine at this price is an amazing deal and DrumBrute doesn’t disappoint in sounding like its name. It’s warm, snappy, analogue and fat and there are many hands-on controls for editing individual sounds. We said: “In a world where there are plenty of options for hardware emulations of classic drum machines, it’s refreshing to see a more affordable machine that has a sound of its own.” Read our full review here.

Elektron Analog Rytm

Price £1,300
You can almost describe Elektron gear as ‘reassuringly expensive’, but once owned, you won’t go back to using other gear. Like other Elektron kit, Rytm does things in its own way – there is both grid action and 16-bar-type sequencing – but the results are stupendous. Loads of hands-on controls, loads of very different features, loads of great results and loads of, well, cash, too.


Roland Aira TR-8

Price £439
Based fairly and squarely on the original TR-808 and 909, the TR-8 was the first Roland drum machine to really nail those original machines. So if you want to recreate those, then this is a great modern option, with Scatter effects to liven things up, plus a great light show when you switch the thing on.

Pioneer Toraiz SP-16

Price £1,279
The SP-16 doesn’t just do beats – you can load in any samples – but it does do beats incredibly well, utilising the classic hardware sequencing made famous with the Roland TR series of drum machines and adding effects, performance features and Dave Smith filters for a great dance-music creator and DJ-set enhancer.

Teenage Engineering PO-32

Price £85
We love this more than any other Pocket Operator for beat making, because it marries up a fantastic piece of drum-machine software with a fantastic piece of drum-machine software. It’s (sort of) the first-ever hardware emulation of a piece of software and works so well, that we concluded: “Separately, the hardware and software is superb. Together, they are beat-tastic.” Read the full review here.

Korg Volca Beats

Price £110 (street)
Tiny, analogue, and just like programming a classic drum machine, Volca Beats was (and still is) at the forefront of bringing hardware beats back to the masses, after everyone decided software was the best way to make beats. It’s a little flimsy, yes, but chained to its siblings (an ever-increasing Volca range) you don’t get much better-sounding beats in hardware or software.