The Boss DR-880 Drum Machine Review – How Does It Compare to the Alesis SR-18 and Others?


The Boss DR-880 is a very special drum machine. Of course, there’s a lot of competition for percussion machines these days, but the DR-880 is able to hold its own against any of its competitors. For one thing, Boss is famous for its enormous and rich catalogue of percussion sounds, as well as bass and electric sounds, so many of which are available on the 880 model.

There are also plenty of percussion instruments by the sounds this machine can make. Some of them are your typical studio instruments, but others are pretty rare; indeed, percussion instruments from all over the world can be heard on this device. The 880 is also full of new waveforms as well.

One of the best things about the Boss DR-880 is just how easy it is to use. As soon as you bring it home and pull it out of the box, it’s ready to go. There are also buttons called “EZ Compose” that allow you to create your own percussion patterns in broad strokes, so you don’t have to worry about composing your drum sounds one note at a time. Of course, if you love to compose music and you do want to craft every note, you have that option as well.

A special function of this machine called the Groove Modify will allow you to try out all kinds of grooves, to see which groove would be most appropriate in which spot. (Groove templates are free to use.) Plus, it probably goes without saying for anyone who is familiar with Boss’s line of products that there are all kinds of inputs, outputs, advanced effects and sophisticated patterns you can add to your music using this machine.

Among the most popular effects are the chorus, the delay and-one of almost everyone’s favorites-the reverb. And you can use compressors to make sure that any pieces of percussion music that you create are customized to your liking.

What’s more, you have options as to how you can listen to your Boss DR-880. There are headphones, of course, but you can also play the drums through whatever kind of amplification your using-even through your guitar amplifiers if you so choose, though I personally recommend using a keyboard combo amp; the Roland KC series is absolutely stellar for this purpose. It’s not difficult to reroute this machine’s sounds, either.

Want some more specifics? Well, consider the following: with the 880 model, you get four different foot switch inputs, five-hundred preset patterns, five hundred more user patterns, twenty pads (all pads are velocity-sensitive, too) four-hundred and forty unique percussion sounds, and forty bass sounds on top of those, as well as USB port, three-band EQ and simple, easy-to-use programming capabilities.

There are a handful of great drum machines on the market, including the Alesis SR-18, Zoom RT-223, Akai XR20, and Boss DR-670. These are all cheaper than the DR-880, and are all worthy of your consideration. However, if you’ve got the extra money to spend, you simply cannot beat the DR-880… which is why this is the drum machine that I personally own and use every day!

You can make it sound as synthetic or natural as you want. You can even add “ghost notes” so it sounds like you’ve got a real drummer whose sticks are rubbing and tapping the skin of the snare drum! Step-mode and real-time recording, all different types of bass guitar sounds and virtual amplifiers, and all those little extras mentioned above make this the only drum machine you could ever possibly need.

Really, you can get so detailed with this thing that it will sound like you’ve got a real rhythm section behind you. Inadvertent drum strokes and bass string slides can be achieved with ease! Likewise, if you want to create a spot-on, mistake-free house, dance, trance, or hip-hop track, those options are available to you, as well.

On the downside, the learning curve with this machine is tremendous. I’m still learning things about mine all the time, and I’ve owned it for over 2 years now! To make the learning process much more tolerable than simply figuring it all out on your own, there is a dvd manual available, which I cannot recommend strongly enough. Every last detail of the Boss DR-880 drum machine is explained and demonstrated in a very straightforward, professional, and enjoyable manner.

So if you’re a professional composer, an amateur musician, or if you’re just interested in increasing your musical knowledge and appreciation, there will be a lot you can learn from this kickass drum machine from Boss. Again, if you’ve got the money for the DR-880 and are on the fence about whether you want this or the Alesis SR-18 (as good as that machine is)… or any other drum machine, for that matter… go with the Boss DR-880.


Source by Lee A. Murray