While you would never, ever suggest replacing your band’s drummer with synthetic beats, there are times when it’s just more convenient to have those drums at your fingertips (instead of waiting for your drummer to pick up your cell call, show up, unload, and set up the drum kit). Besides (and you can tell your drummer this), many drum machines can record a live drummer and store the performance for later use in the studio. Here are some things to consider in choosing a drum machine for you.

Analog or Digital

This digital MIDI keyboard controller features eight drum pads. Akai Professional

Analog drum machines often feature a richer and more realistic, “live” sound, but are limited in terms of controlling or modifying the sound. Digital drum machines take a standard beat and can modify through panning, shaping and even tuning. Some drum machines feature both.

Studio or Stage

This versatile drum controller has tons of features for use in a studio as well as being highly adaptable for live performances. Native Instruments

Using a drum machine for live performances requires a durable unit capable of withstanding the rigors of the road. Live performers either cue up a pre-recorded percussion track or create it as they play. You don’t need all the studio bells and whistles, but you do need it to be as bombproof as possible for the stage.

Connectivity and Compatibility

This drum machine and sequencer features compatibility with many computer programs and software. Novation

Most drum machines aren’t stand-alone units and are supported by computers and software. They may require MIDI or other ways of connecting to your DAW or mixer. You may need other components in your DAW, and appropriate cabling and ports. With the variety of drum machine possibilities be sure it has the connectivity, compatibility and audio interfacing you need to make it work for you.