In case anybody still uses these, whats out there that is current. I sort of like using these instead of straight sequencing. Some feaures in the drum machines are more natural for creating beats when compared to dropping dots in a midi window. Just talking out loud. Anyone have a preference to either?
Do you mean finger-tapping, or something one would actually hit with sticks, or are you just talking sound?
If sticks, nothing beats that physical modeling thing that Roland came out with, the V-Drums. If you're thinking finger-tapping, and if you're going sample-based, I'd think the Akai MPC1000 would be the thing to beat.
I'm not a drummer, though I've played drums (mostly for entering data). But I've found I'm most natural finger-tapping on my Alesis HR-16b.
Actually I was thinking more of setting time signatures to something besides 4/4. Triplet mode for example or 7/8 etc. seems more intuitive within the DM interface when this is running against other midi tracks. It is also quicker to play around with the beats IMO, to change up grooves on the fly as the loop runs the measure than it is with a sw sequencer for example, at least with the DM slaved to SMPTE on the main controller you do not have to mute out other channels that are interfering with the creative hearing or whatever. Kind of hard to explain since most of it comes down to the personal preference and how one works.
I haven't used drum machines in awhile. I generally tend to use synthesized drums created with any of my three synths, including a Yamaha DX-100 kick drum which has pretty much become part of my signature sound, and I just sequence the sounds like anything else.
I am also fond of using custom hi hat sounds, programmed with an ADSR so that a quick release creates the closed hi-hat, and holding the note makes it an open hi hat.
Lately I have started using samples of vintage drum machines, and also drum sounds created using soft synthesis. I just think it helps my sound stay fresh.
I have also been playing around a bit with a software drum machine called the Hammerhead Rhythm Station.
That's the cool part about samples, the sounds. The drum machine is typically tied to the sound banks that it supports, but with samples anything is possible. At times I have used the drum machine to send trigger outputs the sampler so that I can still use the drum machine interface on the sampler sound platform.
Hardware vs. software isn't a debate that will be resolved anytime soon. I like both and own several examples of both, but almost exclusively use software for production these days. For those who like the drum machine style interface, there are several software options like ReBirth (free now!) or the new Kik Axxe ($49) and for those who (like myself) covet the cool sounds of drum machines past, visit here: