Alesis SR18 Drum Machine with Effects Engine
The Alesis SR18 Drum Machine is amazing. I have had many problems with every computer based drum machine program. It's not that they didn't work right, but the fact that they just weren't for me. I am very good with computers, do photography editing, and music editing, etc, all on the few computers I own. As far as doing drums on my computer, It just wasn't clicking. Everyone has to find their path of least resistance, and THEIR best method for doing things, since everybody is different and everyone has their own path of least resistance. Hence, to each, their own. What works best and is the easiest for one person, may be the most complicated for the other. What is most complicated for you, may be the easiest for the other person.
Basically what I am saying is this drum machine, once in my hands, really clicked. This was MY path of least resistance. It's good to know I can sit down with this machine, and only this machine, and make full drum tracks. As far as some people saying this is so hard to use, or takes a couple months, for me it took two days. Hence, 6 one way, half dozen the other. The first day I just messed with it, without directions. It was confusing. The second day, I read the directions, and by the end of the second day, I had already made three full length drum tracks, doing everything from customizing my entire drum set and sounds, making a bunch of patterns, and then piecing all those patterns together to make tracks.
Ok, so now for what it can do:
* I saw one review where they said you cannot change the length of the patterns. This is not true. You CAN indeed change the length of the patterns. You can use whatever tempo you want, 120, 140, whatever, and you can make the patterns 4 beats long, or 8, or 16, etc.
* You can customize your own drum setup, so you have have a couple bass, etc. Rule of thumb if you are trying to re-create double bass, is to make two sounds, almost identical, BUT make the second sound a little different tonewise. Because in real life, you can tell the difference between both bass drums. This makes it sound more realistic.
* There are a TON of different sound variations for every kind of drum sound you want.
* You can tweak each individual sound. For instance, if I find a crash I like, but think to myself that I want it to sound softer, offset it to the right a little, change the pitch to a slightly lower pitch, and also make it ring on longer, ALL of this is possible.
* Learning this machine really is not that hard. Can be done within a good weekend.
All in all, this machine is amazing. I am a heavy metal guitarist, and I record my own tracks on a Tascam DP-02, and this works great in conjunction with that. This machine works very well with the metal genre, or rock, or any genre at all. It lets me put together full length tracks (from all of my combined patterns I made), does very very well using it in a double bass aspect (you can program the bass to sound like double bass, and as fast as you want), and you end up with very realistic sounding drum tracks! Since I play metal, this is VERY important, since it's hard to find a good drum machine that can go with the metal genre. Last, all I have to do is plug it into my Tascam recorder, and record! Love it! This sounds amazing!
The one and ONLY downside to this is the fact that there is NO connection to connect it to your computer. I want to make this clear. There is a way to hook up through your instrument cable connections, but then I'm not sure how this hooks to your computer through a 1/4" cable connection. But all I have to do is record them into my Tascam, then send them to my computer, where I can save them for later.
Hope this helps, and sorry about rambling. Any questions, feel free to comment and I will surely answer them for you the best I can, to help out.
Wow - What Great Sounds
This is just a huge sounding drum machine. Forget what they used to sound like years ago - this sounds like a real drummer - and a very good one at that. With the basslines added this machine can be used to back a singer / guitarist / keys player and you could go on the road solo (what I plan to do).
It can be complicated if you want to go the whole mile and programme it rather than use the sample tracks, but it comes with a very thorough instruction manual. Plan to learn how to do most of the good things during a month of tinkering with it in your spare time. I bought it with two Yamaha FC5 pedals to work it 'live'.Yamaha FC-5 Sustain Pedal for Portable Electronic Keyboards (But it does work with other on/off pedals like the Yamahas as well.) This allows me to start stop and switch between A / B fills and A / B rhythms. You'll need pedals like these if you plan to use this box in front of an audience - but you won't need it for practice.
This is a great tool. And better than a drummer because it doesn't have an ego, doesn't need beer to fuel it, and I get to keep all the money from gigs. (I'll do a video review soon.)
If you're on a tight budget or want something a bit easier to programme, try the SR16. Alesis SR16 Drum Machine
Ok, I JUST received this yesterday. BUT, I have been using the SR16 for over 15 years and used the HR16 before it since the 80s. As some have said, right away you can hear the improvement in the sound, not that the SR16 sounded bad... but this sounds great. I have yet to build my own patterns with this but I see all the familiar buttons to do that, so I suspect it will be very similar to the SR16, which was easy to use, though certainly time consuming to build the patterns, but thats ok. I have gone through about 10 of the patterns so far only because I plugged in my guitar and jammed on each one. Here are the early thoughts: Number 1, if you are a guitarist who has to jam alone a lot, you are going to absolutely love this thing because of the fact that you can get some really nice drum and bass going on at the same time. The pads that give you the drums also give you the notes for the bass for you to program that. Each of the patterns I whipped through took me into different guitar ideas and such, same as jamming with a live drummer and bassist would do. It was fun... and, you know, if you ever have to spontaneously just play SOMETHING for someone it kinda sucks when there is only guitar unless you are a world class guitarist. With this, you get the drums and bass along with you and it makes what you do sound more interesting. Number 2, I think the existing patterns are pretty cool for jamming, but they seem a bit busy for recording... so look at this drum machine as a tool in that its greatest use out of the box is jamming... and then you get the bonus of having the ability to program it for song demos. I have a real drumset and mics and processors and let me tell you trying to record good sounding acoustic drums is a nightmare. In the end the better sounds of a good drum machine, while not always as organic as you'd like still lead to a better sounding demo most of the time compared to live drums in a home demo situation. Number 3, reiterating Number 1, if you are a guitarist or keyboardist... really... the ability to have bass involved as well as drums is AWESOME. I thought the bass would just be a nice little bonus.. its done better than that to make it more than a little thing. I read many reviews on here of people downplaying the bass feature saying they would record their own bass. I agree with them... when recording, you would. But... for simple fun and jamming... this rocks.
My SR16 is still going strong. The only reason I really got this one is because I thought it might be fun to keep one drum machine by my recording unit and one by my keyboard amp for quick live jamming (its no fun always having to unplug and reconnect in different spots) and then I searched OnlineShopDealer for drum machines and saw Alesis had put out this newer model that I was never aware of. I would say, for any guitarist, its hard to spend $200 and get a tool/toy better than this! Now the trouble is I will want the SR18 in both locations. If you are not sure whether the SR18 is worth the extra cost from the SR16, TRUST ME... it IS!!!
I will update the review in the future if I have anything significant to add... but in an hour or so of jamming, I already think this has proven to be a fantastic purchase!
Works great as a pinch hit drummer
I have a real drum set at home and all the VSTs I could ever use on my computer, but I often play live and sometimes I don't have a real drummer available. I need flexibility live, so canned backing drums won't cut it. This unit does what I need at a reasonable price. I'd never record with it and usually don't even arrange full songs with it, but the ability to do A/B patterns, fills, and stop/start with foot switches allows me to extend or cut songs on the fly.
There's plenty of sounds and kits and options to tweak. If you can't make this sound good, you're not trying. I cut my teeth years ago with a Sequential Circuits Drumtrax and an Alesis HR16 and I don't find the SR18 difficult to use. You will probably need to read the manual and keep it handy for reference, but I can't imagine any modern drum machine being much easier to use.
I haven't used the bass option, so I can't comment on it. It would be nice if it was off by default, rather than having to turn it off every time I turn on the unit, but that's minor.
SR-18 Does the job nicely
In my home studio, the SR-18 simplifies things because I use it for drums on most demo tracks, rather than going through the enormous set-up time required for miking acoustic drums. Bottome line: it's simpler, better sounding, nicely balanced and panned. Sure, it takes a bit of effort and time to set the machine up, but once you have a drum set or two that you like, you're off and running. One thing that makes it even more special is the user ability to set (and change!) tempo within a song. The bass patterns are immaterial to me - I'll play my own, thank you. Experiment with this thing a bit, set up all the parameters and change whatever you don't like, and you'll soon have everything the way you DO like! Take the time to review the manual, and keep it close by for reference.
The Best For the Price!!
UPDATE 10-05-2013: Battery life ...... Not much on this topic using batteries, but I recently have been trying some rechargeable batteries and found the life of them a little over 6 hours using 6 Eneloop 2000 mAh double AA's and a "Powerex MH-C9000 Wizard" charger. Still a great drum sound the most realistic.
I believe this to be the best sounding drum machine made today for the price, it is fairly simple to program, has the most real sounding drums has a nice fill feature... it realy looks cool and has large pads...it doenst save very well, seems once saved, the original is there forever... but still one can create patterns you can save in in cubase, magix or samplitude or another recording program once youve done your program to be sure except for future tempo changees could be off and funny sounding...
I have both the Zoom tr-223 and this and i feel the Zoom tr-223 to be more a Toy compared to the sr-18....but the Zoom can come back to previous patterns once shut off...Zoom has a little better sounding bass, but ill record my own real sounding bass with a real bass ....both can be used in your studio
The output is rather weak using line outs...Neither drum machine is perfect, but the Alesis is a more professioanl Drum machine in my humble opinion....Jim
Excellent and Musical Drum Machine
I have used drum machines in the past, but for performing live, the Alesis SR18 is the best one I have ever tried. Good manual makes programming and editing patterns and kits a piece of cake. The sounds are really good, and the feature that really rocks is the tap function to set the tempo, which can even be done with a foot switch. Since I play keys, the idea of using foot switches to stop and start, set tempo, and trigger pattern changes and fills is the greatest. The other thing I love is the large, brightly lit, lcd display which is a life saver in dark clubs when playing live.
It is a great product at a really great price.
So far so good
Been using it the last couple of days and seems to work well. I've had good experience with Alesis products since back in the 80's when they released the HR16 and MMT8 new at the time. Each product had been very reliable.
I have a DAW (Logic) and other synth workstations (FantomG), but I bought the SR18 to back my electric piano playing... I just like simplicity. Sometimes I want to forget the computer, forget MIDI, and just relax and jam for hours over a simple loop.
I think the best way to get into this drum machine is to mute the percussion and bass and audition just the drum patterns. From there, make necessary adjustments to the drum kits, then either delete or edit in your own percussion and bass sequence. Dont let the presets discourage you. The machine can do so much more if you sit down for a few minutes and learn how to use it. (think of it as a 3 track sequencer. one track for drums, one track for percussions, and one track for bass)
I have an Akai XR20 so the SR18 is basically the same hardware, just different sound library. I like the SR18 for its traditional drum sounds along with basic bass sounds. The operation is very similar, if not, identical.
I run the SR18 through a dbx 166XL compressor for a nice warm and controlled feel.
I recommend anyone buying this drum machine to get 2 pedals (non-latching type). One for start/stop and one for the fills. The fill pedal is great because I can stomp on it once and it fills and goes to the alternate pattern, or I stomp and hold the pedal down and it fills but goes back to the same pattern. This enables a lot of different variations from just the 2 alternate patterns and 2 fills. I use two Boss foot switches (FS5U) since i can link the pedals together.
I suppose if you don't already have one, get a USB/MIDI converter cable for cheap to save your files via sys-ex onto your computer. If anyone remembers, I have their DataDisk from the 80's which I can use to store files on nothing other than 3.5" floppy disk! Yah, I feel old...
Like another Band Member...
This drum machine is amazingly simple to use and has so many options to choose from...several types of beats with so many different kits to choose from as well!
I really enjoy the fact that it can be controlled by footswitches and having the backlit-LED really helps you see what loop to play on any darkened stage.
I remember years ago, the very first drum machine I used back in the 90's was an Alesis. Once again, Alesis has done an AMAZING job with the SR18. If you can't find a drummer, this drum machine will do the job...and won't argue with you either!!
Updated drum machine.
Okay I know it's not really that updated as the SR-18 has been out awhile, but I've been using an SR-16 from the 1990's that was still not too bad. Love the tap tempo feature with foot pedals that both Alesis drum machines have. Makes for using on the fly very handy. Way more useable presets on SR-18 and much better sounds too. Like option of percussion tracks that go along with drums. It has bass track too, but I mute that since I'm a bass player. Only complaint I have is that the output volume control sticks out the back of the machine and is not as handy to get to as the SR-16. Other than that, I love it.