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Guide to Drum Machines

Drum Machine : What is it?

Drum Machines

Drum machines provide rhythm to live music and recordings by imitating drums or other percussion instruments. They usually consist of signal processing circuits, memory, and a set of control buttons for adjusting pitch and frequency. Most drum machines work by reproducing drum timbres and the sound of various rhythmic instruments. Sounds may be sampled from existing clips or programmed into the machine for later playback.

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Types of Drum Machines

Drum MachinesDrum Machines

Kinds of Drum Machines include the following:

Sampling drum machines

Sampling drum machines use digital samples from existing recordings and store them in built-in or removable drives. They can be connected to computers to obtain samples from the hard drive, the Internet, or a MIDI instrument. Newer models come with audio editing software for making one's own samples and mixing them with other audio tracks.

Programmable drum machines

Programmable drum machines allow users to create their own drum clips using preset sounds. They are usually stand-alone devices with built-in speakers and internal memory for storing programmed clips. Some models have pre-programmed samples for common instruments such as bass drums and snare drums.

MIDI drum machines

MIDI drum machines obtain samples from actual drums or MIDI instruments, either by real-time recording or transfering stored samples. Samples are usually transferred to a computer via USB or FireWire for editing and mixing with other tracks. They usually come with control keypads and equalizer slides. 

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Choosing Drum Machines (Buying tips)

Connectivity: Choose a drum machine that connects to a computer for fast transfer and editing. A USB connection should do for most samples, but large, high-quality samples will transfer taster on a FireWire connection. Look for a drum machine with a SCSI compatible output for storing on external hard drives.

Inputs and outputs: Choose a drum machine that accepts most digital and MIDI devices. Make sure there are connections for the type of instrument you use for sampling, and external storage compatibility if you will be sampling from different machines. Look for one with the standard eight outputs, which will allow you to discard unnecessary clips to free up limited memory and better organize your samples. 

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