Top Ten Classic Drum Machines
Prepare for a few controversial decisions as we run down our list of the best drum machines of all time.
9 – Korg Mini Pops 12o
Original RRP: $600 (around £340)
Current price: £100-250
The Korg Mini Pops 120 (also known as the Univox SR-120) was the last and most advanced in the Mini Pops series of solid-state rhythm units created by Korg in the late ’60s and ’70s and the precursor to the more advanced KR-55 that would follow in ’79.
Like many drum machines of the era, the Mini Pops machines were aimed at touring musicians and organists to whom they provided a backbeat to play along with. As such the 120 was housed in a tasteful cabinet – either a Tolex road case or a wooden chassis depending on preference – for added durability and, one would assume, a certain corduroy-brown visual appeal.
Featuring just six analogue sounds and 16 rhythm presets (plus variations and fills), the Mini Pops’ abilities were limited, with no ability to either create or store your own beats.
But the sound was – in its own raw and often whimsical way – rather nice, with a wonderfully flabby kick drum and whacked-out snare that have made it something of a niche favourite among nostalgic dub, downtempo and experimental producers including Air and Kraftwerk.
Not bad for a machine that might otherwise have slipped slowly, if gracefully, into rhythmic obscurity.