There is no denying that technology has changed the world of musical instruments. It would therefore be easy to assume that virtual instruments have taken over the world.
Many may think that drum machines are dead: yet that is not entirely true.
Value for Money
- Improved drums sample list
- Bass drum and Percussion sounds
- Great construction with easy user patterns
- Flawed instrument input
- Too many control
The concept of a hardware machine is still very much alive. It is an idea that seems to find a special place in the hearts of every user.
Alesis has demonstrated this using their follow-up to the popular SR16. Of course, the SR-18 drum machine, its younger brother seems to offer more, but the ’16 is still very famous.
There is common knowledge among many musicians that drum machines no longer exist. It is assumed all the hardware has been replaced by software.
You will be surprised just how popular these units continue to be.
Some things will never just be lost. They offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, a unique sound, and a suitable user interface that you will never find anywhere else.
Alesis has been one of the leaders in this industry. The company has been making drum machines since the rise of the HR16 in ’87.
And today, these machines are more desirable than ever.
The SR-16 is a second-gen machine that was introduced in 1990. It was the most successful drum machine to be ever produced. Until today, its production has not yet stopped.
This should tell you just how powerful hardware is. Modern musicians are finding it more useful than the so-called software technology.
SR-16 is a wonderful machine that has been around for more than 20 years. As it appears, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
It is one of the most steadily shifting units Alesis has ever made. It’s still widely available in a small box with 12 velocity-sensitive pads.
You will be happy to use its decent core drum-sound ROM, pattern-based sequencing, and a simple design that will suit every user.
Alesis has been quite consistent in improving this piece. Since it’s not broken, they are not trying to fix it. Instead, the brand has focused much energy on improving its quality and application.
As a result, you will find the SR18 with the same concept and character, only better.
Nevertheless, the SR-16 has remained very strong on the market, delivering useful features that you would not find with any other product at this price range. Besides, Alesis is one of those companies you can always rely on for quality products.
Alesis SR 18 Drum Machine Features
There is something about this machine that keeps drawing users in. It could be the price, the design, or perhaps its features.
Whatever the case, it all comes down to a useful machine, which can be used even for live performance.
You may have already seen this machine, especially if you spend most of your time in the studio. The SR18 is based on the classic design and features of its older brother.
From a distance, it looks a bit complex. But once you understand it, there is nothing terrifying. You just plugin and start jamming any of the 100 onboard patterns.
And that is not everything. You will also find built-in synth bass and effect modules, which are very useful.
In a nutshell, the SR18 is one unique kit you will never want to miss for home practice, song practice, and lone gigs.
There is every good about the build quality of these drum machines. And that is one of the things that has kept Alesis around for a long time.
They offer the best quality in every product they make, which creates a unique sense of trust.
Similar to Roland/BOSS products, these units are constructed like tanks, which means they will take on many years of abuse.
We are not saying you should throw it from a third-floor window or set your bed on it. But it’s safe to say it will survive a lot of abuse you throw its way.
The case is crafted from powder-coated aluminum, which is perhaps the main reason for its outstanding strength. The jacks are internally screwed, which gives them a longer life span.
As if that is not enough, it comes with rubber buttons that feel solid and useful. You won’t have to worry about breaking them by pressing too hard or too much.
In summary, the build quality of the SR18 is rated at 10/10. It’s a perfect example of the best quality.
It is perhaps the controls that make this product stand out. It comes with a load of controls, which are more useful than what you find on the SR16.
They are arranged in three rows, which should make it easy for you to understand. Each row contains related buttons, helping you find what you are looking for much faster.
– First Row
The top row is a section mainly taken over by the LCD screen. It also has an oversized rotary control and recording & tempo LEDs.
The LEDs are handy. For instance, the tempo one helps you when you are trying to improve your timing. Change the tempo anyhow you want until you have something that makes sense to you.
Another useful feature here is the LCD screen. Everything you are doing is displayed here, helping you achieve great heights with your music.
The first row is the simplest one. It does not have anything that will require extra understanding.
– Second Row
The second row is in the middle, and this is where most of the action takes place. Well, you won’t even need most of the buttons here.
The most important keys you must not are the play/pause, stop, and fill. Also, if you would write a bass drum line or add percussion, you will use the buttons labeled Drums, Perc, and Bass. They are also useful buttons that most users touch.
You can use the SR18 to record guitar, bass, and drums. In this case, the middle row has everything you need to get the perfect sound. You will get the pattern builder, drum kit selector, and effect controls, all in a single place.
The recording has never been easier. Everything is arranged according to the needs of different drummers, letting you push only the necessary controls.
Another crucial button from the middle section is the tap tempo button. For guitarists, this button will operate precisely according to your expectations. For instance, some guitarists tap in the speed; you will have no problem mastering the tempo with this Alesi’s drum machine.
It is easy to say the middle section has all the most useful buttons. But you should not be intimidated by how many they are. Some of them won’t even look at it.
– Third Row
The third row is found at the bottom of the face. As stated above, the SR18 comes with 12 pads, which work differently according to the drum mode. They are all found on the bottom row.
They let one use different components of the drum kit. From the kick to their hi-hats, there is everything you need to make good music.
Percussion mode lets you control a different instrument with each control.
By choosing the bass drum as the current Pattern Play Mode, all the pads are turned into a chromatic scale. This means it becomes easy to program in a bass line.
Apart from this, the pad is used as a pattern trigger. This allows you to play different sounds from the same source.
The Back Side
Now that you know what is on the front, you may also want to know what is contained at the back. The rear side has options that you will find very necessary while working with the machine.
Here, you will find the input for the guitar, which helps you play long build-in patterns. Very handy for a guitarist.
The outputs, though few, are also set in this part. It has headphones out, which is suitable for silent playing or connecting a guitar amp.
Two stereo outputs, a TRS jack – AUX out, and another pair used for recording running the SR18 through a PA system make this section more useful.
A MIDI in and out/through is useful for keyboard players. Use them with any DAW, and your music will make more sense.
The footswitches can be used to start/stop or add in fills through the two jack sockets. This could be very useful when playing a solo gig.
Volume control, power, and on/off switches make the rear panel full.
There are a few things at the bottom of the machine that you may want to note. While the included power adapter is useful in powering the SR18, there is a battery door at the bottom if you want to use batteries.
You will need 6 AA batteries for this.
Alesis SR18 Tutorial/Sounds
Once you understand what is on the SR18, everything else is straightforward. This is one of the easiest to use drum machines to might ever come across.
Those who use it for home practice only need a simple setup. Connect your guitar and headphone using the necessary cables, and you are set. You may also use an amp or Hi-fi.
The machine offers 100 preset patterns that are easy to pick from. They are set to cover a wide range of music styles. Rock, jazz, Latin, and anything else you may need is there.
Aside from this, you get 100 sets.
Tempo-setting is simple. Either use the tap tempo button or the rotary knob. Then, you are ready to start playing to a present loop.
Quality and application
You may not expect the Alesis SR18 to sound real. It is more like a toy. However, the drum and percussion sounds are quite impressive. Also, the synth bass sounds do not disappoint, although you may not like the fretless bass sound.
For those who want to create their patterns, it is effortless. Pick an empty bank, press record & play simultaneously, and then use the 12 pads at the bottom to build what you want. Create perfect bass sounds for practice.
You will notice your pattern starting to loop. Continue building if you want to, or press stop. You can jam your recording immediately with the play button.
The Alesis SR18 may have what feels like 1000 buttons, but this should not scare you. Alesis has tried to make sure it’s as easy to use as possible.
All the outputs are easy to use with all drums, especially the bass kits.
We have only scratched the surface of what this Alesis SR18 drum machine can do. With practice, you will discover more useful features.
• Improved drums sample list
• Bass drum and Percussion sounds
• Great construction with easy user patterns
• Flawed instrument input
• Too many controls
Alesis SR16 Vs. SR18
The SR18 is the latest version of the SR16 drum machine from Alesis. Although the design and build quality remain similar, the ’18 is better in every other way.
It comes with more and better sounds, velocity-sensitive pads, and a battery power option.
It features more internal sounds and 50 internal bass tracks. Also, it can support up to 32 polyphonic voices, more than what the SR16 can.
Besides, the button setup is a bit different. It features tom 1, tom 2, tom 3, crash, ride, bell, kick, snare 1, snare 2, hi-hat closed, hi-hat middle, and hi-hat open.
The SR16 sounds more like a kid’s toy, but the SR18 has improved and is close to acoustic drums. The kits have not improved though, but they still offer better sounds.
Generally, both versions can do the same thing. A good option for simple drum kits.
Alesis’ SR18 drum machine is a beautiful product, pretty much the best on the market. We rate it at 9/10.
It doesn’t look very easy, and with too many controls, you may never need it, but it’s made user-friendly. Besides, many of its sounds are killer.
So, you can invest in this product and feel proud you did.