Produced: 2013 – present
At a street price under £120, the Volca Beats must rank as one of the cheapest analogue drum machines ever produced. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a toy. When we reviewed the Volcas we were seriously impressed by the range of sounds that this tiny, battery-powered unit can create and how flexible its sequencing options are.
The Volca’s limited feature set belies its capabilities. The kick drum section, for instance, only offers three controls – click, pitch and decay – but it can be coaxed into creating everything from booming, subby 808-style sounds all the way through to clicky, hyper-aggressive kicks which will happily turn your speakers inside out if pushed too hard. (On which note: ignore the pathetic built-in speaker – it’s no good for serious use. Hook the Volca up to your audio interface and let yourself hear the depth and range of its sounds properly.)
The Volca also has pretty good modding potential. As standard the unit only features a MIDI input and a single line output, but crafty DIYers have already figured out how to break the drums out to multiple line outs (sadly not true individual outputs) and add a MIDI out.
The Volca Beats is a great choice whether you’re a new producer in the market for your first hardware drum machine or a hardware head looking for a fresh piece of gear to inspire a few new tracks.