Best portable battery powered drum machine for finger drumming?

last time I went travelling a long time ago I took a Boss dr670 with me.
The sounds were cheesey stadium rock but the pads were really sensitive and it was great for finger drumming. Nice, I still enjoyed it.

Now I am searching for something thats slightly better sounding but still battery powered, small, portable and with nice sensitive pads and at a reasonable price.

Please recommend something to me…unfortunately it seems like these small battery powered drum machines just stopped getting made. Its like the small battery powered drum machines market just stopped and stayed stuck in the past focussed on stadium rock accoustic kits only. Also its shocking and ridiculous the prices people are asking for these old school machines. Surely there is something new and better?
Is it the end for these kinds of machines?
this is sad, anyone know something better?

heres my ideas so far from best to worst:







[a little shitty, but still too expensive!..stadium rock, phil collins]




The Alesis SR16 is much more compact than the SR18. … and better sounding imo.

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thanks…are the pads sensitive for finger drumming?

can you move sounds into different positions, pitch them, adjust attack/decay etc?

I think this is all possible, but better have a look in the manual. Or check this video … it’s a classic one :smiley:

Pads are good for finger playing, but they are not super sensitive.

What about this one?

thanks…the pocket operators. Its not really what Im looking for as I need something for finger drumming practise although they do look pretty cool (i hear there are no sharps or flats).
The alesis sr16 looks like it has some nice features like ‘adjust click volume’ or ‘hold pad to erase’…still going for 200 us dollars…not cheap for how old it is

I guess if I had more money other portable battery powered options might be:

IPAD (mini or something) WITH SOME PAD CONTROLLER (if this then why not renoise on a laptop with a pad controller)…

MPC500 WITH FAT PADS UPGRADE (needs computer anyway)


AKAI MPX8 (i hear the pads have shitty sensitivity)

There must be some other option…i wish there was something that could be held locked between legs like bongos, eliminating the need for placing it on a table…say you are travelling, you will not always have access to a table at the right height…more than likely only a coffee table which will be too low…or a bar which will be in the wrong place like a hotel foyer or an actual bar…a counter for transactions

I have the Roli Block lightpad M. This plus a smartphone and you’re in business.

I have modded both the MPX8 and LPD8… with… Electrical tape =). Problem is the pads are lifted just a little too high in these, that extra space makes up for it, might need 2 layers depending on your comfort level. Super cheap too in case you break something =)

You already have a MPD218
pimp it up with:
Mode Machines - USB Midi Converter
MyVolt 9V USB Cable (it works also with Roland R-70)
Roland Pma-5 (808 Drum-Kit inside, old digital hardware sounds in my opinion better than the newer ones)

second hand under 100 euros

I know you hate (rightly) Apple, but nothing beats a iPad with Akai MPD218 + Midi Designer (config your Controller without Borders) and some funny Apps.

i tried the first lightblocks by roli but I havent tried the second generation ones yet.
the sensitivity was no where near playable on the 1st generation ones (same as in video below)…

I think the pad controllers from late 80s and early 90s were actually better than most of the pad controllers from 2005 onwards.

Another weird example, the pads on the shitty boss dr670 were actually more sensitive and playable than the pads on the expensive MPC1000s and MPC500s…

The pads manufacturers (probably some factory offering a cheaper sensor to akai) found a way to rip people off on expensive products, then the others came in to sell the whole “half-fix”, thick and fat pads .(they do look cool though)

anyway, that roland pma5 looks awesome for portable music…the sounds sound interesting and it has midi out…goes for under $100 us dollar…maybe i can afford one now…since 1996 when it came out. They look cool. I use hp ipaq (enterprise 214) with milkytracker, pretty similar deal…portable music composer, stylus…no midi out though

I might try mpx8 with electrical tape or wait for something going cheap somehow…

these things just need a plank of wood or something to place them onto if playing on lap…
would be cool to make a round one with rubber edges, hold it between legs like bongo/djembe…or place securely in snare stand

better still a super playable, sensitive, ultra durable, metal chassy controller with memory card for samples that is in two parts with leg strap on each part…play split style finger drummer like pianist…like tapping on your knees…loads of small pads…its the future (cheaper, more playable, more sensitivity, more portable future music) could be strapped to knees or an array of small buttons on two egg shaped things that strap to thumbs, played with four finger, can move around for effects…etc… that thummer controller that failed was almost what would be ideal

(thummer keyboard)

at any rate the almost 20 year pad sensitivity skank on customers needs to be stopped. it has gone on for a long time…super sensitive as possible for fast and light drumming…more sensitivity like a proper musical instrument…mashine mk3 pads are getting close to that

just reading and i cannot find near my place nowhere to buy this thummer keyboard, do you have any suggestions? :confused:

It was unfortunate that the ‘thummer keyboard’ was only prototyped and demoed but never made it to mass production. In my opinion it was one of the best designs for a small and portable midi controller that could be effective as an expressive live instrument.

In the design you have many small keys at your fingetips in a harmonic table layout, giving you a large range of notes with a small footprint, saving deskpace and being ideal for throwing in a backpack to take it on the road.

I believe the pads were velocity sensitive, so symetrical drumkit layouts would also have been possible for finger drummers.

One of the most beautifuly thought out aspects of the design was the two gamepad style analogue joysticks on the back of the unit that would allow for very expressive effects and modulation in an XY configuration on each of them (such as filter cutoff and resonance on one joystick, pitch bend and some modulation on the other - vibrato, tremelo etc.)…

The guy who designed these units showcased them with quite cheesey synth voices and I believe the reason he did not get investment was simply that the investors did not understand at that time (around 2005) what a midi controller is, or that the voices could be changed to any voice the software or synth that the midi controller was connected to would allow for.

Perhaps another reason is that people could not understand the harmonic table layout of the notes…but you could place notes in any arrangement you wish with software such as renoise.

I think the guy is still looking for investors, check out the demos below to see how expressive it is with those two joysticks and visit the wikipedia page if you are interested in the details.
I think some large manufacturer like roland, akai, roli or casio should take notice of this design. Its a shame it never made it to production.
The last video gives a fuller explanation of the design and the advantages of the layout of the keys. I put the link to the wikipedia first:

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damn i’m tempted now to get one of those… what a shame

Yeah they looked awesome it was pretty lame that it never made it.

Does anyone know if the Roland SP404A linear wave sampler has velocity sensitve pads?
They are describing the pads as “performance pads”. I have come to be wary of such descriptions of pads as “performance pads” or “reactive pads” which often translates as ‘not velocity sensitive’ (ie buttons rather than pads)…same deal with launchpad mini with its non velocity sensitive pads being described as “can play drum racks” or “fully hands on live setup” or “trigger pads”. The businessmen behind these products are always thinking how to cut costs and it seems they always decide to take away the most important by far aspect of these controllers, pad sensitivity, every single time. Anyone know if sp404a has good pads, sensitive for finger drummers? Looks to be portable and battery powered with a nice selection of effects and a simple sequencer.

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no, pads are not velocity-sensitive, but you can use MPD for example as controller for velocity-controlled sound :slight_smile:
effects are #1, sequencer is rather poor, i mean poor comparing to mpc sequencer (renoise is from heaven in this case) for example. Depends on your needs

nowadays it’s mostly obtained by lo-fi beatmakers who chop sample in few parts, loop it, add drums, and play with effects, and with resampling mostly, i’ve seen some jazz bands using it to trigger some sounds, and for effect processing overall… The thing is that you cannot visualise sequences, notes or anything, just light LED tempo and/or fx values :smiley:

dammit, it looks like the shit i want hasnt been made yet…just for those super portable, super playable live instruments…I cant really see myself whipping out a laptop and a pad controller to practise live finger drumming in a park or somewhere outside. Its like I was saying, you never have a table at the right height…if it needs to be placed on lap then im going to need a plank of wood or something like a’placemat’ made from a rigid material.

Those old school drum machines like the boss ones are surprisingly sensitive to play but the sounds are quite cheesey and they wont take samples…I think its time for boss/roland to bring out something better for the portable/live drummer battery operated travel setup…I guess maybe ipad killed off these kind of cool machines.

maybe the best option so far is beatmaker 3 and one of the mini ipads but with the file system resrictions (all samples must go into one folder per app) and system updates that render your expensive shit unusable, and the expensive price tag…I just really dont know about that…

apparently if you buy the largest most expensive ipad pro you may have some kind of basic folder system like all other computers have…then again, they have taken away the headphone port (WTF??) so you cant charge and play at the same time and you will need the headphone dongle (clagnut)…its such a goddamn shame because, to be honest beatmaker 3 looks pretty sweet.

Honestly, windows tablets…wheres your touch software? why no ‘beatmaker3’ and ‘cubasis’ for windows tablets (which are better, have real file sytem and lower latency anyway)?

Luckily, if you have a windows tablet you can still use ‘sunvox’ by touch only, the best ‘synth sequencer tracker’ in the world…

You can play it with a midi controller i believe…maybe this is the best option…small windows tablet with sunvox in touch mode and akaimpd218…but will the windows tablet on battery power be able to power the pad controller?

Also if you already have your drumkits setup in renoise, you can play them with the pads…but cant really adjust anything properly by touch alone…you can still play with the sliders though.

guess I will have to setup a lot of samplers in sunvox…thats a long job…dont know if i can be bothered after doing it all in renoise already. Possibilities would be endless though…any kind of effects chain you want…great sequencer similar to renoise etc…

sorry for the long posts

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Get a second hand Ipad Air 1 for under 100 Euro, it is with Headphone port and run with Beatmaker 3

or if absolutely not an Apple should be
A OpenPandora Linux Handheld, it works with Drumpads and Sunvox

i know both and do not recommend the Pandora for Music

have similar thoughts
Why are there almost Step Sequencers? (Soft and Hardware)

Have you used the ipad air1 with beatmaker 3?

This seems like it may be the best value and most portable option at under $100…perhaps even the most feature rich if it can run beatmaker3 well.

I notice that it only has 1GB of RAM and dual core 1.4GHz processors

surely it will be enough for laying out a bunch of drumkits, connecting the mpd218 to it and drumming away in glee…but will it be able to handle large projects in beatmaker3 or cubasis for example? This may not be enough RAM and processor power for heavy sample based projects.

If im going to go down the ipad route, might as well dive into the cubasis…

Then again, thats great value for under $100 (around the same price as the roland pma5 from 1996)…didnt know they had got that cheap. better value than the boss drum machines.

Do you use beatmaker3? It looks good in the reviews

open pandora has only 512MB of RAM, but looks cool as hell though, maybe a little sketchy…like some home made rasberry pi in a box business