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10th January, 2024

The 6 Best Drum Machines Under $500

Are you on the hunt for the best drum machines that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?


We’ve put together the top six drum machines under $500 to help you get started on your search.

What is a drum machine?

Drum machines come in a wide variety of makes and models nowadays, but in essence, is an electronic instrument that recreates the sounds of drums. From drumbeats to patterns, this electronic instrument can be used to imitate percussion instruments and can even create completely unique sounds of your own.

What makes for the best drum machines?

Everyone will have different preferences regarding the hardware and user interface available, but as, long as your chosen instrument allows you to create the sounds you need within its parameters, you won’t have a problem.

Some of the best budget drum machines offer extra features and functionalities that you might want to consider. These include loading custom samples or working in conjunction with other DJ/music software and hardware.

The Best Cheap Drum Machines Under $500


1.   Behringer RD6 (Grape) – $215



The Behringer Rhythm Designer RD6 brings everything you need into one compact machine. The RD6 allows you to use 8 drum sounds and has a 64-step sequencer, so it’s more than up to the task. Under the hood, this budget-friendly drum machine is complete with true analog circuitry including matched transistors.


From a usability perspective, the LED indicators make creating music simple. The 11 controls and 26 switches are ergonomically and intuitively placed and are super simple to connect to other external equipment thanks to both USB and MIDI compatibility.


2.   Korg Volca Beats Analog Synthesiser Drum Machine – $299



The Korg Volca Beats is another of the best cheap drum machines available. Designed to produce powerful analog drum-Esque sounds that sound suitably classic, you can control all six editable parts with a single knob. Other features include a loop sequencer, PCM sound engine, and 16-step sequencer, so there’s nothing stopping you from creating truly wonderful pieces of magic.


Critically, the battery power and Korg Volca Beats can go anywhere thanks to its built-in speaker, e used with just about anything thanks to its MIDI compatibility. Whether you’re intending on playing in live performances or wanting to simply make your own tracks in the privacy of a studio, there are few budget drum machines that can keep pace with this entry from Korg.



3.   Alesis SR16 Digital Drum Machine – $359

The Alesis SR16 Digital Drum Machine might be a slight jump in price from the first two machines on this list, but at well under $500 it’s still an excellent budget option.


In fact, the SR16 is among the more popular models and is used by DJs, songwriters, producers, and live performers. It’s not hard to understand why. This sleek machine provides 233 different natural drum sounds, all of which are complemented by a unique Dynamic Articulation mode to allow you to play the drums harder as you would with the actual instrument. There are also options to utilise the preset patterns or other rhythmic variations as part of your own compositions.


Crucially the Alesis SR16 is designed to be easy to use both on its own and with MIDI support, so making, saving, and reaccessing your newest work and tracks is a real breeze.

4.   Arturia Spark Le Drum Machine – $379

No list of the best budget drum machines can be complete without the Arturia Spark Le Drum Machine. This portable and powerful machine allows you to create the music you want with the control you deserve.


Uniquely, the Arturia Spark Le Drum Machine comes complete with Spark Software as well as three separate synthesis engines, a touch-sensitive FX pad, multiple modes, USB inputs, and an advanced looper. Being USB Bus powered you can use it however you need and with a variety of other machinery and hardware.


Lastly, you can assign your own user encoders so that in addition to being easy to carry and easy to use, it will also work the way you actually want it to!


View the Arturia Spark Le Drum Machine for yourself here.

4. Alesis SR18 Drum Machine – $479

The Alesis SR18 Drum Machine may be closer to the $500 limit, but this machine takes functionality and operation to a new level. Still portable, this powerful device brings with it more than 500 different drum and percussion sounds so both beginner and professional drummers can realise their musical potential.


More technical functionalities include reverb, EQ, and compression, as well as an Alesis-exclusive Dynamic Articulation technology that allows you to modify the sounds you create as you play them. Connect the SR18 to a guitar, MIDI keyboard, or other instruments as you need… It’s that easy!


To see the many functions and features of the Alesis SR18 Drum Machine for yourself, click here.

5.   Korg KR-55 Pro All-In-One Drum Machine – $499

This more advanced Korg model, the KR-55, is truly an all-in-one drum machine. Pro drummers will appreciate the mixer-and-recorder functionality, intuitive interface, and advanced ‘Real Groove Technology’.


The 24 unique and high-quality rhythm styles allow you to accurately recreate the percussive sounds you want, and the chain functionality enables you to create highly complex tracks and music. The KR-55 has a wide range of capabilities including its ability to easily record multi-tracks with a variety of effects including Reverb straight onto an SD card, footswitch compatibility, and many more features that can’t all be named here!


To view the Korg KR-55 for yourself, click right here.

DJ City: home of the best drum machines and DJ equipment!

You can find all our listed best budget drum machines and a whole lot more right here at DJ City. We’re the premier provider of all things DJ and music creation, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for simply reach out to our team today.

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