The SR18 is the evolution of the legendary SR16 that changed the drum machine market in 1990, and still remains a classic. The SR18 is designed to meet the needs of musicians.
Alesis SR18 Review – Introduction
At first glance, it seems that the SR16 and the newer SR18 were cut from the same cloth. There is the big jog-wheel in the upper-right corner, and 12 trigger buttons along the bottom. And when you’re looking at the display, you’ll find familiar values in familiar areas. The buttons are still heavy duty rubber like the SR-16 also. But the company’s latest SR18 doubles the polyphony (now 32 voices instead of 16), the sounds (more than 500 instead of 233) and the number of drum kits (200 rather than 100). While these improvements are internal, a closer inspection will reveal some external structural changes too. The SR18 has a new tap/tempo button, and a completely new row of buttons to select drum, percussion, bass, pattern play and roll. Even with the new features, if you’ve been comfortable with the SR16’s front panel, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory when working with the SR18.
Alesis SR18 Review – Features
Normally, the pads on a drum machine trigger drum sounds. Well, the 12 performance pads on the SR18 can be used in two different modes. In Pad Play mode, the buttons operate like any other drum machine, with each pad triggering a different sound. But, in Pattern Play mode, each of the pads can be programmed to trigger a pattern rather than a sound. While not every user will need this feature, it could come in handy under certain circumstances. The SR18 has features like reverb, compression, and EQ. It contains a Mute/Solo function for parts and its Pattern Play Mode allows for patterns to be generated directly from the pads.
The 32MB bank of drum sounds is extensive, providing many kits in several different styles, from hip-hop to rock, industrial to reggaeton. The SR18 is also MIDI-capable, so you can use it as a control surface for external devices or software samplers/synthesizers as well. You also have the freedom to take the SR18 wherever you want because this rhythm machine can operate on battery power. The Alesis SR18 only weights a pound, which makes it one of the lightest and most portable ones around.
Alesis SR18 Review – Last thoughts
The Alesis SR18 is a great drum machine for practice and performance. You get a wide range of drum sounds to choose from and a handful of effects to play with. This beatmaker is hard to beat for portability.