A drum machine is an innovative electronic musical device that generates drum rhythms, drum sounds, and polyrhythmic patterns with the use of drums, cymbals, percussive instruments, and special-effect pedals. Drum machines can imitate other drums or other percussion instruments, create unique sounds, like synthetic digital tones, or create rhythms with no visible hardware. Some drum machines are fully programmable, and can be programmed to generate any type of sound, and for any type of note. Others are programmable only in regard to the pattern or style of sound they produce. Drum machines also vary in terms of their musical versatility; some are simple and relatively limited in what they can do, while others are highly versatile and are capable of playing a wide range of musical styles and instruments.
There are two basic types of electronic musical instruments: analog and digital. Digital synthesizers create sounds by utilizing digital signal processing circuitry to digitize individual samples of audio data. Digital synthesizers run on a single EMS microcontroller or microprocessor and have onboard storage for audio data, as well as a MIDI interface for MIDI communication with external software. Most modern synthesizers connect to a host computer through a USB port or serial port. One drawback to digital synthesizers is that they are often more expensive and more complex than their analog counterparts.
An analog synthesizer creates sound by using sampled analog signals. They run on dedicated hardware meant for this purpose and are typically cheaper than digital synthesizers. Analog drums can be loaded into memory and run on their own when not being used, saving both time and money. The drawback to this method is that drum machines must be manually set up to capture and save the drum sounds during a performance.
A popular electronic drum programming machine is the electronic drum programming RYTM machine. This unique drum machine was developed in Europe in the early '80s and has since become a common fixture in many music scenes. RYTM pads are comprised of 16 individually controlled pads that can be connected to different sources of sound like drums, cymbals, and keyboards.
Performing with one of these types of electronic drum machines is incredibly precise and reliable, especially when compared to other less expensive drum machines that utilize sampled samples for composing the drum sounds. Most RYTMs operate using one of two standard options. Either the drummer can manually hit a particular key on the keyboard of the machine to begin the sequencer, or the sequencer can automatically begin whenever a user hits a key on the keyboard. Both of these options are extremely popular with professional and beginning musicians alike. Most popular music artists still opt to use the latter option, as hitting the keys of an RYTM is generally too irregular for a human drumming technician to do accurately.
Sequencer based drum machines are great for improvisation. When using a sequencer-based machine, each pad controls a different piece of the sequencer, and the sequence is assembled through the individual taps of each drum pad. A popular variation of this type of drum machines is the "multi-tap groove", where each drum pad can play only one type of rhythm. These types of drum machines are often used in live performances, as they offer an authentic feel and sound for a band to play back together.
Another option for RYTM drum machines is the "built-in" drum programming unit. A built-in unit can be purchased as part of a package of drum machines and include all of the necessary hardware and software to create your own customized sounds. These types of RYTMs usually include pre-programmed pads, built-in speakers, and built-in audio interfaces. Typically, the programming and pads of a built-in machine are pre-loaded upon purchase, making them easy to use right out of the box. But, additional software may be required to integrate the built-in drum programming into a custom setup.
RYTMs are an affordable and popular option when it comes to electronic drums. Prices range widely, depending on the brand and the quality of the particular model. Some of the top-notch RYTM models are those by Yamaha, Electro-Acoustic,pedal steel, JML, Native Instruments, Matsushita, Sami Kay, and many others. Given their affordability and extensive product line, there's a good chance that you'll be able to find a high-quality, affordable electronic drum machine that meets your musical needs.