Drum Machines – Playability and Immediacy, or Depth and Versatility?

I’m a big time fan of the Octatrack, and I’m looking for another drum machine which will relieve it of its current drum duties, freeing up the OT as more of a sampler.

I used a Digitone for a while, and though I loved it for many reasons I discovered I made more music and tended to have more fun using synthesizers which are more “playable” and knob per function, such as a Bass Station 2 or Minilogue.

Because the OT makes a fantastic deep drum machine itself for samples, I feel it would be best to compliment it with a drum machine which is not sample oriented, and one which is comparatively more limited. Something which I can use to generate excellent drum sounds quickly without too much fuss.

To do this, I’m considering either a Model:Cycles or a DrumBrute Impact, which are virtually the same price, both are fast and knob per function, and which have a limited set of sounds you can use to quickly add more drums. I’m inclined clearly to go M:C because its Elektron, has a much wider range of sounds, and can be much more than a drum machine if needed.

However, as I do adore my MK1 OT, why not get an Analog RYTM MK1 to have a virtually endless, albeit less immediately accessible range of sounds I would never tire of. It would be slower to learn than M:C but undoubtedly more powerful.

Which do you prioritize in your music? For live performance with an OT, would you rather have another powerhouse, or something you can implement quickly without coordinating patterns, settings, etc. ? How do you compare drum machines by their native sound engines as you would a synthesizer, rather than their ability to use and manipulate samples?

1 Like

Rytm is a good choice.
Thing is if you don’t like the engines, you can still use samples, so possibilities are limitless.

But even if it is sample based, DT is also to consider IMO. It’s both simple and deep enough, and sounds really great!


I honestly love my tr-6s!


Yeah the Digitakt is incredible it’s true. Wish I had more chances to play it, my old roommate had one and I loved it. I suppose what stops my from buying one though is I can do anything on my Octatrack that a Digitakt can, though perhaps its more cumbersome to replicate its functionality all in the OT instead of having a dedicated box.

I’m taking a TR8S in partial trade for my Moog Grandmother next week and I’m very excited about it indeed! The idea of running individual outputs through different channels of the desk via various guitar pedals is something I’ve wanted to do for years but never got around to (or was thwarted in the attempt - see: my eBay purchase of a Vermona DRM-1 that was 100% DOA)

Edit: to tie this back into the OP - the reason I want a drum machine is for live performance. I have a Launchpad Pro 3, which could also provide a kind of x0x style sequencer for any hardware sampler but being able to manipulate multiple parameters at once with 1-knob-per-function is key for me. Combine the ability to play samples with the FM engine and the TR8S offers everything I was looking for

1 Like

I’m a big fan of the Model series. I don’t own one, but the times I had a chance to play on one, it felt like all of the power of an Elektron machine was right in front of me, asking to be played. You just don’t get that same experience with the other menu-based machines, even though they’re more feature rich and all that.

So I’d definitely say give one of those a shot before you jump right into the Rytm or something else more powerful. The OT is going to occupy a good amount of brain space if you’re using it with other gear, and you might be happy to have something simple to accompany it.

(That said, Rytm sounds incredible and has amazing performance features so really can’t go wrong if you go that route either.)

1 Like

obvious answer: TR-8S.


DT is way more immediate. Limited, but not so much as a drum machine.

Another aspect to consider is the portability: I often play at friends’ places, a bit less at gigs, and have found that small gear that you can bring with one bag is often a blessing ^^

if you put in the work to build a nice set of kits with performance macros, the rytm becomes super immediate


I’ve owned all three of the machines you’re considering. I still have the m:c and the rytm. All three have their limitations because everything does but most of them on the rytm can be dealt with by workarounds, somewhat less so with the m:c, and the dbi, well, you had better be in love with that sound because that’s all it does. It sounds really good and the sequencer, while basic compared to elektron, is very fun but its sounds live in my rytm now and I think I’m happier that way. Cycles is almost as immediate since you already know the elektron sequencer and it doesn’t really require any fm specific knowledge to get amazing sounds from. Gotta say though, the longer I have my rytm (mk1) the more it becomes the focal box in my setup.


I vote Rytm, though I would say that the MKII (aside from size) is the superior instrument that will be your drum machine for many years to come because of the additional performance features and the direct sampling and resampling options. I owned M:C too for a bit but it is pretty limited after a while - I hated the hats and the snare has very few sweet spots imo (plus no real clap), though the kick machine is fantastic. However, I feel that you might move it on after a while, with the same thing being true for the DrumBrute. So, it depends if you want a quick fix or something for more longevity.


That’s a great point about housing the sounds in another box, I almost bought an old alesis type rompler machine just to have an external source to sequence with the octatrack, and quickly realized it would be //much// easier to just download the samples and play them back that way. I’m sure the AR could provide all the shaping the DrumBrute could by just playing back those samples anyway>

It’s true though I think I learned a while ago that the final crown jewel of drum machines for me would be a Rytm mk2, especially the new color. But man it is not cheap! More than my rent haha

1 Like

I don’t hate the hats as much but I agree about the snare and clap. One can get very nice metallic and claypot percussion sounds on the M:C. My go-to for synthesized drums right now is the A4mk1.


Fun thread!

It’s a constant struggle really.
The only one I have found that ticks all the boxes is Octatrack, but it required years of learning to get to the point where immediacy was possible.

Otherwise it seems the boxes with the best raw sound have sequencer limitations, and the boxes with the best sequencers don’t sound as good. There’s always something missing, it seems.

I think Rytm gets close but I always wished the Acidlab Drumatix had the Rytm sequencer, and that’s why I use Drumatix samples in OT. I used them in Rytm as well but I like the FX options, disk streaming; and stereo capability of OT more.
OT + Rytm is a fierce combo.

Currently frustrated with how gadgety the MC-101 is, even just for drums. And I wish it had more pattern memory in a single project.
Have considered trading it for a TR-6S, but i would lose probability, and that multi-band master compressor. So I’ll probably sell it and remind myself why I have two Octatracks.

Oh, and if M:S had a compressor I’d be so happy.



Agreed. That and a bandpass filter option would make it complete.

1 Like

Hidden in this discussion is one simple fact.
Elektrons are fiddly. The sequencer is complex.

This is what gets in the way of ‘playability’ and ‘immediacy’

So I reckon, get something that is not an elektron. Get something with a simple sequencer, that focuses on knobs and buttons and easy sound tweaking instead. Get something with a dedicated level knob/fader for each sound. Free your self from elektron habits, and reliance on Parameter Locks. Liberate yourself from conditional trigs.


Agreed that the mk2 is superior. I hope to be able to afford to upgrade someday. Just the resampling alone would be amazing, it’s always been a favorite feature of mine on other samplers. Not to mention the other upgrades. If cash isn’t an issue, it’s the obvious choice between the two.
I actually like the hats and snares (well, the snare machine anyway) on the m:c but I might feel differently if it were my only drum machine. They’re a bit odd.

@juicy_scooby I actually like the sound of the dbi more now that it’s a collection of samples in my rytm. Running those sounds through the multi level gain staging and the compressor of the rytm only make them better. A lot of gear passes in and out of my life with a phantom image of it staying in the form of a sample set. Nothing wrong with hunting down packs online (I’d encourage that pragmatic approach), my brain just doesn’t work that way.


Nord Drum 2

1 Like

Tempest, sounds cool, could use OT verb, has split out, and deep engine, simple sequencer.