MIDI drum machines have been on the rise in the last few years. Producers and Djs alike loved the hardware and software fusion for making beats on the computer. We go over the best MIDI drum controllers on the market in 2016, basing it on portability, affordability and functionality.
While MIDI drum machines allow you take make awesome drum beats. MIDI keyboards, allow you to sample and play different sounds.
Best MIDI Drum Machines Review
Akai – LPD8
Akai’s compact controller makes it to our best of list by making a great MPC quality drum pad and controller and placing it in a compact package. It has eight light up velocity sensitive MPC pads. Its awesome for DJ’s, live performers or studio musicians who need the space and portability. The LPD8 also features eight knobs that can be assigned to any function in any software.
It is strictly powered through USB which shows the portability of the controller.
You are also able to save up to four presets of the controller using the software it comes with.
So if you’re someone who lacks space, needs portability, or just hate carrying a bunch of power cords this is a great controller for you.
Korg – padKontrol
The padKontrol has been on the market for a while now. It offers a lot of great functions for the price you pay for it.
It is an XY pad, which has roll and flam functions for precise drum beats. It also has two knobs for added convenience. It offers standard MIDI I/o and foot pedal port for full tactile control as well.
Visual feedback is basic and just has a three digit display and LED illumination on the pads.
Mapping is easy with the software, but you can always load presets.
All in all the padKontrol is a great controller if you are first starting out.
Akai – MPD26
If you want a controller that’s a little more basic than the MPC Renaissance but want the same form factor of the classic MPC than this is the MIDI controller for you. The MPD26 doesn’t have as many features as the Rennaissance but it looks like the classic MPC we are accustomed too.
It includes 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads and six faders and knobs. The pads serve a dual function purpose when used with the time division button and not repeat function, this is found on old MPC machines (great feature for programming hi-hat or shaker patterns)
Its standard USB, and it offers a standard MIDI I/o so you can add a keyboard controller or sound module. It has a 16 level velocity staging allowing for stable and accurate performances. Swing control can be applied to your productions by giving it the exact degree of timing your swing requires.
Display wise, it doesn’t give you the backlit technology like other controllers do.
The MPD26 is an affordable option and the MPC users will like this as well as the newbies.
Keith McMillen – QuNeo 3D
The QuNeo does things a bit differently than other controllers on this list, it follows the class MPC model with 16 performance pads, a strip cross fader that’s touch sensitive, rotary controls and faders and buttons. Each pad is also an XY control as well. The surface of the controller is both pressure sensitive and velocity sensitive, including all the buttons and rotaries, and the LEDs allow for a VU meter for visual feedback.
Its great for travelling as its as big as an IPad.
The QuNeo is an all in one beast, with a layout that’s has a crossfader and lots of buttons and well as multi zoned pads its one of the most versatile controllers on the scene.
Arturia – SparkLE
The SparkLE doesn’t look like a regular MPC. It doesn’t have the 16 grid pad setup but it features 8 pads at the bottom of the controller, with 16 step sequence buttons above. The unit works very well with the included software. The hardware is brilliantly represented in the software with only song toggle and swing controls not accessible directly for the controller itself.
Operation is fast with handy XY pads to manipulate the software effects.
Visuals are lacking, the SparkLE doesn’t have a screen, but on the good side with a great layout and user friendly experience the SparkLE is great for beginners.
M-Audio – Trigger Finger Pro
M-Audio does an amazing job with this controller. Form and function are what comes to mind with this. It features 16 RGB backlit pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity, knobs and faders, nice display and a 64 step sequencer. The onboard sequencer works away from your laptop and with the MIDI connections, you can also sequence external drum and synths.
If you are looking for a great unit but don’t quite want to go high end, the Trigger Finger Pro is the controller for you.
Livid Instruments – Base II
This flexible controller is great for drumming as well as sampling. The main control surface comes with a 32 pressure sensitive pads including backlit RGB visual feedback, nine touch strip faders, eight momentary touch buttons and eight function buttons. The Base II is great for portability with its light and rugged design, and is great for people who want a controller that’s not designed for one specific DAW or software.
The Base II doesn’t have and knobs or faders which makes for good durability.
If you are looking for a durable and versatile controller that will work with any platform this is the one.
Ableton – Push
The push, pushes the limit with MIDI drum controllers, with 64 velocity and pressure sensitive pads and simple navigation buttons and knobs, the push is one of the best controllers on the market. It was designed specifically for abelton by Akai.
It has a step sequencer mode for quick pattern creation or real time recording, multi-colored pads. Also the controller lets you play melodies and harmonies and any key mode, while the pads can be used to launch clips.
With the Push you are able to use the pads with multi use, meaning the pads can be split into sections allowing you to use it as a drum pad and play bass lines simultaneously.
With its mobile design, its great to travel with. If you are an Ableton user this is the controller you need to get.
Akai – MPC Renaissance
Akai has a reputation of creating amazing machines in the production world. The Renaissance brings the old school and new school together with great tech and function were accustomed to. It features highly responsive, colored pads, 16 knobs, transport controls, a big display, labeled controls and the ability to sequence 64 tracks directly form the controller.
The Renaissance includes a 4 channel USB audio interface with a dual USB hub featuring XLR/1/4” TRS combo inputs and an input specifically designed for turntables.
Users who are familiar with the MPC will be happy to hear it has the famous swing, note repeat and transport controls, also a mode that copies the sound of older MPC models.
Native Instruments – Macshine Studio
With its high end hardware and pro integration with software the Macshine has become the staple in beat makers studios. It comes with 16 colored RGB pads, jog wheel, knobs and soft buttons, and 2 displays.
The software it comes with an awesome pattern based sequencer, advanced drum synthesis, high performance sampler as well as a full compliment of effects and instruments as well as an 8 gb library.
You are also able to map this controller to any software.
If you want a complete all in one unit which will do everything you need to produce, than the Maschine is the best MIDI drum controller for you.
Next you are going to need a controller, check out our list of the Best All in One DJ Controllers