The world of Eurorack modules can be daunting and expensive, and with so many drum and percussion modules to choose from, it can be a challenge to pick the ideal module for a given Eurorack system.
In this article, we'll go through the best options for choosing one or more drum/percussion modules for your Eurorack system.
The Top 11 Best Eurorack Drum/Percussion Modules Are:
- Endorphin.es Queen of Pentacles
- 1010 Music Bitbox Mk2
- Intellijel Plonk
- Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas Alter
- Erica Synths Sample Drum
- ADDAC Systems 103 T-Networks
- vpme.de QD
- Erica Synths Pico Drum 2
- Future Retro Transient Plus
- EMW Digi-Drum
- ALM Busy Circuits Akemie’s Taiko
Each of these makes for superb Eurorack drum and percussion choices. In this article, we'll discuss why that is.
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Endorphin.es Queen of Pentacles
Arguably, Roland's TR909 is the ultimate drum machine sound of the 20th century (perhaps only second to the TR808). That being said, it could be considered a one-trick pony. What if you could have not one but three in the same Eurorack module and play with the oscillators to create any beat?
Well, that seemed to be the idea of Endorphin.es when they created this utterly powerful, textured, and virtually infinite beat module. The Endorphin.es Queen of Pentacles offers the three discrete analog TR909 drums: the kick, the snare, and the claps. Although they resemble the original, they feature advanced noise spectrum animation powerful enough to transform them into anything you need.
But that's not all; you can also upload your samples with an SD card and morph them with the rest with zero latency. Also, the unit has a built-in effects processor with 16 effects, a master LP/HP style filter with VCA control, and 3 band-limited LSRF binary noise generators injected directly into the analog circuit.
Finally, the sample library available is also virtually endless and can help you shape the sounds of your dreams. If you are looking for an EDM-tuned drum machine, this is a must-check before you buy. See it in action in this video and this video to get a taste of what it can do.
1010 Music Bitbox Mk2
With a larger-than-life touch screen, a set of buttons and dials, the capacity to run on an SD card, and enough processing power to take you to the moon, the 1010 Music Bitbox Mk2 is one of the most powerful Eurorack beat-creation modules in the market today.
The company learned lessons from its predecessor and augmented the processing capabilities to make this Mk2 version twice as powerful. Indeed, you can record real-time samples, playback prerecorded samples, perform granular synthesis, clip slicing, and even musically intelligent looping. Moreover, the user interface for such a complicated apparatus is as intuitive and easy as it gets in the Eurorack world.
Also, the built-in reverb and delay effects can be synced with the internal clock and receive MIDI (or CV) information from other devices as well. Once you find the sound you're after, save it and reuse it in a future performance. Finally, by downloading the Fxbox and Synthbox firmware, you can transform the Bitbox into an effects-processing unit or a wavetable synthesis unit.
It doesn't get much more powerful or easy to use than this in the market, so if you like to dive deep into sound creation utilizing a touch screen and some knobs, you have to check this module out. You can see it in action in this video and this video.
Weird sounds coming from a tiny module can indeed change the shape of your music. Don't let the size of this Intellijel creation fool you; this is one very powerful, incredibly fun beats module to work with.
The Intellijel Plonk is based on physical modeling (mimics the behaviour of sonic objects like a kick drum, for example). It was designed in collaboration with Applied Acoustic Systems, a company famous for designing instruments and plugins for Ableton Live.
You can choose the exciter (what you'll be hitting the object with) and the object (the surface to hit). With this combination, you can create the sound you like and store it in a user preset. But that's not all; you can dramatically change any of the given sounds and create some of the craziest audio adventures you can imagine. Furthermore, you can import and export them via USB.
There isn't much to limit your imagination with a resolution of 16 bits (44.1 kHz) and 128 user presets. Here's a video clip of it in action and another one explaining all knobs as well. If you're after limitless music production and ease of use, this is the module for you.
Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas Alter
This is a holistic approach to beat-making by Basimilus that can be the spine of any musical production. With a simple array of switches, a very modest design and size, and a powerful engine under the hood, this unit can be enough to make songs.
In essence, the Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas Alter is a six-oscillator FM and additive synthesizer. It adds the maneuverability of an attack control and also a noise oscillator. Furthermore, by tampering with the harmonic spread, waveform, and decay controls, you can make this small 10 HP unit make the sounds you want in a matter of minutes.
A great addition to this beat-making platform is the pitch knob that allows you to fine-tune the kick drum's sound or snare from utterly realistic to completely otherworldly. Moreover, by simply turning the harmonic knob clockwise, you can go from single-oscillator classic drum sounds to a full-on six-oscillator blend with long decay times and complex harmonic texture.
The options in this Basimilus Iteritas Alter Eurorack are virtually endless. You can check this video and this video to see it in action. If you are after a state-of-the-art, fully customizable beat-making module, you have to try this one out.
Erica Synths Sample Drum
The Erica Synths Sample Drum module will be a goldmine for those who love playing with sampled bits and drums. Indeed, with an astonishing array of useful controls, a screen to see all your movements and a 16GB SD card with factory samples included, you'll be beat-making right out of the box.
The sample playback is extremely responsive to the trigger with a latency of less than 1 ms. Also, you can add several effects in real-time to achieve otherworldly results on the fly. Plus, you can upload your samples or record them live. Once you have your sample collected, you can perform automatic or manual sample slicing.
In this vein, the preset function is great to call back those amazing samples you've created in a moment of inspiration. Furthermore, you can play with recorded samples through the extremely intuitive user interface when set on performance mode. Finally, the processing capabilities for the looped sections or created samples include virtual VCAs and AD envelopes, as well as real-time effects.
This is one tiny Eurorack module that packs enough power to drive your entire set; if that sounds like the beat-maker you're looking for, check this one out before purchasing anything. You can see it performed in this video and this video.
ADDAC Systems 103 T-Networks
While the Queen of Pentacles drew inspiration from the legendary TR909, the small yet utterly powerful ADDAC Systems 103 T-Networks drew inspiration from the TR808. In this vein, the low end available in each of the four available channels should be described as nothing short of massive.
To begin with, once you plug in the triggers for each of the four channels, you can play them all at the same time or use them exclusively. Each features a 3-mode switch and a frequency range, and there is an overall mix output and mix volume knob. Also, you can route the triggers through a separate output to add other modulation elements to the mix.
If you intend to use this module as a destructive filter, you'll find a Godzilla-like power in this small machine. For example, feeding it a square wave and applying the filter on the Medium position of the first channel will make any synth sound grow to mammoth size.
If you are after a great module to patch your favourite triggers to and create huge sounds to work as the backbone of your musical productions, this might be it. You can see it in action in this video and this video.
Moving away from minimalism, this is one colourful, powerful, 22 HP drum module that can play up to 4 digital drum voices at once. Moreover, each voice of the vpme.de QD can become a wavetable VCO, a sample player, or a digital drum model according to your needs. It doesn't get much more vivid or potent than this in the Eurorack drum world.
To begin with, the first thing that strikes the user is the colourful, LED-driven inner circle. Secondly, the four knobs groups divided by colours (yellow, green, red, and blue) make it intuitive and easy to use since you get repeated controls for each voice.
Finally, the pitch, decay, and mod control for each voice make it super easy to make adjustments on the fly or play live.
But that's not all because expansion is virtually infinite with the available 128 samples per drum voice under CV control. Moreover, the astonishing range of digital hats, kicks, snares, and other percussive instruments allow you to dial in exactly the sound you like. Likewise, if you want to, the unit also features 4 trigger inputs so you can feed to it the trigger you like the most.
Finally, the under-the-hood surprises that make this model even more powerful are the 4 mod envelopes and internal LFOs that can be synced to the triggers and the internal 4-channel mixer, 3-band equalizer, and compressor.
Erica Synths Pico Drum 2
Going from a 22 HP device back to the minimalism of this 3 HP Eurorack module doesn't necessarily mean that you'll sound smaller. Indeed, the Erica Synths Pico Drum 2 is one powerful unit with a super compact design that can drive the sound of your productions forward.
This module features 8 drum synthesis algorithms designed and created especially to deliver a wide array of different sounds to your modular system. Furthermore, the flexibility in each of the algorithms is surprisingly vast, allowing you to dial in, for example, a larger-than-life kick drum and an over-crushed snare in the same algorithm.
Speaking of algorithms, all three knobs can control each algorithm, and you can have CV control over each parameter. Furthermore, you can perform CV-controlled algorithm switching as well. Finally, it is protected against over-voltage and reverse PSU connections.
If you're looking for the most powerful drum Eurorack to install in the tiniest space, be sure to give this Erica Synths model a try before buying anything else. You can see it in action in this video and also in this video.
Future Retro Transient Plus
This digital module utilizes the best thing that digital technology can give to modular synthesis: variety. You'll find a mesmerizing number of instruments in this Eurorack module that only occupies 12 HP of space. By mesmerizing number, I mean 256 user instruments on the factory-provided MicroSD card.
Furthermore, the Future Retro-Transient Plus comes preloaded with useful, great-sounding factory instruments that can have you playing in a matter of minutes.
One thing that separates this module from the ones we've seen so far is that it can create single-shot sounds and full-blown drum machine sounds. Moreover, you can trigger each sound at different audio rates. Hence, you can easily generate a wide variety of percussion recordings that provide rich texture to anything you're doing.
On top of that, you can use the unit's dual modulation oscillators to transform the sound from traditional shapes to multistage looping envelopes, easily achieving AM (Amplitude Modulation) and RM (Ring Modulation).
But that's not all; an internal mixer inside the module allows you to balance levels between the dual voices. Furthermore, you can apply a multimode filter to create high-pass, low-pass, and band-pass processing for tension and release. Finally, the compression/expansion, bit-crushing, and distortion algorithms in the digital section can move your sonic boundaries even further.
What if you could fit 100 samples taken from the Hall of Fame of vintage drum machines, old organs, and new synthesized sounds from iconic instruments like the ARP2500, Roland System 100, Oberheim 4-voice, Steiner-Parker Synthacon, and others into an 8 HP module?
Well, that is exactly what the powerful, small, hand-built EMW Digi-Drum module can do for you.
But that's not all; besides all this sampled power, you can modify sounds utilizing the unit's real-time pitch control. Furthermore, you can even connect a trigger (2.5 to 15 volts) and use it to drive this module, too.
This is a perfect choice for those looking for the perfect sample module that can help them recreate iconic sounds without taking up much space. You can see it in action in its natural habitat in this video and this video.
ALM Busy Circuits Akemie’s Taiko
If you are the kind of player who is comfortable surfing through the chaos and loves those amazing accidents that can take you to happy new places, this beat-making module is for you. This is because there is a certain unpredictability about this module that allows endless possibilities.
First, I must say that the ALM Busy Circuits Akemie's Taiko is a complete FM-synthesis-based drum voice. Therefore, a little tweak on any knob can drastically change the resulting sound. Moreover, it is built utilizing original Yamaha ICs for increased realism.
The unit allows you to exercise direct CV control over algorithm selection, ratios, feedback, waveforms, and operator release envelopes. In other words, you can tweak any sound to the extreme in very simple steps. But that's not all since you can track 1 volt per octave and use this unit for melodic lines as well as percussion.
For those in search of a musical module that can serve as inspiration, pushing the boundaries of your sonic adventurers into the unknown time and again, this is a goldmine. You can see a full explanation of its controls here and here. For a taste of it playing in its natural habitat, check this video.
Building your Eurorack system can be overwhelming. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Eurorack Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next Eurorack purchases.