A top to list of battery powered drum machines you can take anywhere and make beats without the power cord on. The list is subjective and all of the drum machines have their own unique pros and cons.
10. Zoom ARQ Aero RhythmTrak
The Zoom ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is more than just a drum machine, it’s a midi controlling electronic instrument- synthesizer, lopping sequencer that is bound to be a fun experience using it. The ARQ is a two part device that has a base with the drum brain, sounds, connections and a blue tooth enabled control ring that give you the playablity that has never before existed in a drum machine. The wireless ring has 96 pads that are velocity sensitive. Included with this drum machine is an on board lithium rechargeable battery that is estimated to give you 5 hrs of play time so you could theoretically do a live set with the battery.
9. PO-12 Rhythm
Pocket sized, powerful, extremely affordable entry level drum machine from Teenage Engineering boasts an on board speaker sixteen distinct, tweak-able drum sounds, Sixteen patterns, sixteen different effects and a sixteen step sequencer all in a little pocket sized package. Tee device runs on 2 AAA batteries and can literally stay on for years if not played in stand by mode. The PO 12 is one of many in the Pocket Operator line and has syncing capabilities with a number of other PO devices from Teenage Engineering. Toyish? yes but ultra cheap and playable.
8. PO 33 KO
Another battery powered pocket sized sampler-drum machine from Teenage engineering. Priced at $89 dollars this power packed little thing can sample with it’s built in microphone, gives you eight drum slots for drum programming and eight melodic slots for bass lines and the like, uses a sixteen step sequencer and holds sixteen patterns as well. In addition to sampling from the microphone, there is a 1/8 inch input jack for recording in line samples from virtually any sound source. As part of the PO Teenage Engineering line, it has syncing capabilities with other PO (Pocket Operator devices.) The PO33 KO takes 2 x AAA batteries.
7. Akai XR 20
The XR 20 is a capable, entry level drum machine that includes drum, percussion, bass, synth type sounds as well as other sounds (700 total). It also includes a Mic input but not for sampling but rather as a sing a long, rap along feature. The sounds are professional but cannot import samples like many other drum machines that sample can, most of AKAI’s drum machines are samplers so this is an important point to remember. It has backlit pads which are nice and has an MPC feel to them. The XR-20 is hip hop focused so that is also another important thing to note. The XR 20 runs on 6 X AA batteries.
6. Zoom Arq 48
460 built in sounds plus your own samples. Audio capture feature lets you build tracks around your favorite out tracks (great for remixing). The Zoom ARQ 48 is a unique, innovative drum module, sampler, sequencer, midi controller that can make tracks all by itself and is an attention getter. It looks more like you’re playing a video game than making a beat. With 16 master effects you’ll be able to shape your beat and make it unique sounding. The accelerometer commander ring (sounds like a super hero’s weapon) can detach and control the machine with the motion of your hands. The ARQ 48 is powered by just 2 x AA batteries (WOW!).
5. Electribe Synth
The remake-remix of the electribe, a little disappointing in terms of the controls (previous versions had better on board controls) but still a very capable machine, packed with factory sounds and patterns it can get up and running quickly. Software updates can give you new features and sounds as they are created by KORG engineers. The X Y parameter encode is a cool way to do filter sweeps and apply other effects. The electribe is powered by 6 x AA batteries and lasts about 5 hrs.
4. Electribe Sampler
The author is biased in favor of samplers so the Electribe sampler beats the Electribe synth (“because sampling! OK!?” – admin). The electribe boasts 270 seconds of sampling time, Filter cutoff resonance, low pass filter, high pass filter, band pass filter. You can store up to 499 user created samples. Fifty arpeggiator types, Loopable start end points on samples chain up to 250 patterns. Not as cool as the ESX (In my opinion) but still a powerful workstation at an intermediate price. The electribe is powered by 6 x AA batteries and lasts about 5 hrs.
3. Korg Volca Beats
Amazing little beast of a drum machine, the Korg Volca beats is similar to an 808 at a price tag of a guitar effects pedal. A classic style step sequencer lets you get a good beat going fast so you can start tweaking knobs and making cool stuff happen. The volca beats syncs with the other Korg volca series devices as well in sort of a build your own setup way buy buying the different devices and matching them together. This devices reminds me of the older electribes and is fun to use. Entry level price of $169 you can get going and start building your patterns.
The volca beats uses 6 X AA batteries.
2. Roland Tr -09
Roland Boutique series remake of the TR-909 with modern high quality audio interface features that you simply could not buy at any price when the 909 was created like the USB 24 bit 96khz audio interface that routes the individual drum sounds to individual tracks on your DAW computer software. You get the TR-REC sequencer with some modern touch ups that make it in some ways better. There is also an internal speaker so you can make beats anywhere if if you forgot your headphones. The TR-09 is powered by 4 X AA batteries.
1. Roland TR-08
Just being an honest remake of the 808 and being battery powered makes the TR-08 the winner on this list, the classic sounds and design of the sequencer make the 808 a legend and now the TR-08 a living legend. The 808 never had any USB port either, which has the ability to do individual sends on all of the drum sounds in absolute pristine lossless audio technology they didn’t have in the days of the 808 and 909.