Buy A Drum Machine (Boss DR660) OR Computer Software?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by mz91, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. Drum Machine (Boss DR660)

    7 vote(s)
  2. Software

    7 vote(s)
  1. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    I could buy a boss dr660 but i am not sure that its worth it especially with all the computer software around. So what do you think? Or which do you prefer?
    Michael :bassist:
  2. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    I've abstained from voting as I'm not experienced with the drum machine in question.

    However, I currently am a big fan of my software-based drums. I like to be able to SEE the MIDI information in the grid on my screen, be able to point, click, edit, copy/paste, drag/drop, etc. I have been very satisfied with my drum lines (although I'm far from prolific).

    Some disclaimers -- I'm wondering if what I'm using is technically "computer software drums" -- Am using Cubase to drive the synth on my computer's soundcard. I'm also not a drummer so I've always wondered if what sounds great to me sounds bad to a drummer! Also, my comparison of drum machines versus "computer-based" is a bit dated. My drum machine is an HR-16 from '89. Finally, I've not heard the samples from other, later equipment nor from software synths to judge that aspect of quality.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    A drum machine has one huge advantage: it works WITHOUT a computer.

    I see the appeal of letting your PC be a sampler, a synthesizer, a drum machine, a multitrack recorder, CD burner, etc. but unless it's a laptop you have to work wherever the PC is.

    I guess it comes down to what your application is.
  4. Phantasm

    Phantasm I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

    Sep 16, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    A drum machine usually provides a better interface to actually program the drums, but the sounds are static and what you've bought is what you get. Software drum machines have the advantage of unlimited drum sound possibilities.

    If you do buy a hardware drum machine, take my advice: buy one with a midi in AND out. I have stuff i've programmed into my Zoom 234 that I'd love to get out of it now and play through the drum machine software on my PC, but I can't because the stupid thing only has a midi in.
  5. aaron f.

    aaron f.

    Oct 21, 2000

    My band and I use an Akai MPC I forget the exact model number. We decided to get one after haveing problems finding focused drummers. It's great, easy to use and has midi in/out so we use it to program drums as well as to sequence synths, its' amazing and it's always in time. I'm not sure about the Boss but you can load in your own samples/voices aswell, a big plus if you want the same kit all the time sort of the best of both worlds.
  6. If you are doing a home studio project ie recording into a computer the software maybe the best thing but if you're looking for something to jam along with or perhaps use in a live situation go with the drum machine. I used to own a DR 220 that a "friend" blew up by hooking it up to the wrong AC adapter. I also used to be in a band that used the DR 550 for most of the beats.
  7. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN

    I record with a Boss BR-532 and use a Boss DR-770 drum machine. I have a friend who does PC recording with Cakewalk Sonar and some drum program he got off the Internet. He likes his way, and I like mine. My way has lots of limitations, but I'm new enough that I haven't run out of options yet.

    I think the 770 has great sounds, and is quite flexible. It has more than I need, and the 660 would have served me just fine. But I don't have any prior experience to enable any comparisons.

    aaron f,

    My band has considered a drum machine for live use before. But we're scared of the "malfunction at the gig" factor. Do you have a backup? Do you call up songs randomly, or just run a whole set? Is there much down time between songs? Any embarassing stage experiences?
  8. My band has considered a drum machine for live use before. But we're scared of the "malfunction at the gig" factor. Do you have a backup? Do you call up songs randomly, or just run a whole set? Is there much down time between songs? Any embarassing stage experiences? [/B][/QUOTE]

    I used to be in an industrial band that used programmed beats. We recorded a show tape of beats and samples on to SVHS it was synced with video that accompanied the performance. We also had a DAT back up to that. The drum machines (DR 550, DR 220) were the third back up. I still perform with this group infrequently and last time out we just burned a CD with the beats on it which offered a lot of flexibillty live. If you have to cut a set short skip a song or two if you need to play longer have some extra songs or an additional CD. There is another band in my area called Mission Giant that has a member who plays an IMac on stage programming and changing beats live while the others improvise on their various instruments and toys.
    Did'nt meen to turn this into an electronic musicians thread. Gotta get back to my current three piece Bass, Guitar, Drums band.

    Rock on.
  9. aaron f.

    aaron f.

    Oct 21, 2000
    We use the Akai MPC all the time, haven't gigged with it yet, but in practise situations it hasn't failed. Basically you program a sequence then call it up to play, we have each sequence on a diskette, pop it in load it up, and your good to go. The big plus here is it sequences everything not just drumms, lights and midi controlled synth as well.


    Seeing as we haven't gigged with it, aside from some house party stuff I can't really comment on how it would do at a bar gig. All I can say is if your gonna get a drum machine get a good one, you get what you pay for, ours was $1800 cdn with a free burner and some sample cd's and cables. There is very little down time betwen tracks, just the time it takes to load a sequence and then push play it's really easy to program too. Once we start gigging again we'll have a couple back up cd's of the tracks, we usually have a couple copies of the sequence diskette's anyway.
  10. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Hey guys,
    I am new to drum machines. I will do a search as soon as I finish this post. I am very interested in getting a machine to help out during our practices without our drummer. How good do these things sound? How realistic do they sound pumped through a full 4 way (2 way- 15" and 2" tweeter mains, and 2 18" subs in a small bar)? I am not a drummer, but I have pretty good rhythem, and should be able to step through drum tab if needed, but how do you get the correct drums beats in the machine? It can also be a labtop based system, which I have. Let's say I wanted to program "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters in there (Probably one of the hardest drum parts I can think of). What is involved? Are there premade beats you can purchase? Sorry for all of the questions, but this sounds really interesting.
  11. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    Hi Wes.

    I got the Boss DR770 as a gift. I don't know what they cost new, but I think it is a medium to upper caliber machine. I like it a lot, but it is the only machine I've used. So I'm not speaking from vast experience.

    Some have said the drum sounds are a little cheesy or dated. I think they are quite good, and there are lots to choose from. Having said that, in my recording projects thus far, I've only found a few sounds that perfectly suit my songs.

    It will sound fine through a PA, and even though you can have dynamincs, you have a lot more consistency in levels, compared to live drums. You won't need all the noise gates and compressors.

    The DR770 has built-in patterns that are one or two measures long. If you want to play along with a groove, hit a pattern and it will repeat forever. Of course, you can string patterns together too. Some are fills; others are straight beats. They don't all have the same "drum kit", but you can alter them so that they do (once you put a "song" together).

    On this machine (and many others), you can create your own drum patterns too. It is time consuming, but gets easier as you go. I don't know if I'm familiar with that particlar Foo Fighters song. But I did program Lucky Man by ELP. I kind of bit off more than I could chew, but it turned out pretty good. With this machine, you can set the tempo slow when you program; then change it afterword.

    I'm not a drummer either. But programming the Boss unit has been a great learning experience. I think it has made me a better musician overall. I'm listening to other instruments more.

    I think this or any rhythm unit would be ideal for band practices. It would work for live shows too, but would require a few precautions and some trial and error.

    Good luck!

  12. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks Bob. I think I need to go play with one of these and decide if I can use one.
  13. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    IMO drum computers don't stand a chance against software in terms of flexibility and sound (decent machine and soundcard provided). Most require a host sequencer like Cubase, Nuendo or Sonar. Standalone programs like Hammerhead are hard to integrate. Fruityloops or Reason are good compromises.

    Drum computers are cheaper, easier to use and more portable.

    So if you want to tweak to your heart's delight at home or in your studio, get a good software system.

    For simpler grooves for practice, rehearsals etc. a drum computer is more hasslefree and portable.

    I use software drum machines/sample players at home. My favorite are Battery and DR-008, I also use LM-4 Mk.II at times.
  14. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN

    A few more things:

    The 770 is more than I need. something less expensive may work for you.

    It has a headphone jack, which is very handy when I'm writing the programs.

    It takes a few hours to program an easy song. But a lot of that consists of learning the drum part. Then there's a lot of double-checking involved too.

    You mentioned drum tab. Yes, you can set up the number of beats per pattern, then lay down the kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4, etc. Each drum and cymbal has it's own touch pad.

    For PC recording, there are all kinds of drum programs and CDs of beats that you can purchase. The may even work in some drum machines. I don't know.

    I'm pretty new at it. But I find it easy to learn ... difficult to master.

  15. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    i had a dr660 for a while.

    i now use ACID and Fruityloops.

    i get much better results using drum loop CDs that have live phrases...better feel, more of a live drummer sound.

    i've collected quite a few drum loop cds.

    my fave is a jazz drumming cd that has a great sampling of styles. even has video clips of each style.

    oh, i gave my drum machine away. i'll never go back.

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