Thanks to the likes of Korg and Behringer there has never been a better time for producers wanting to explore classic analog drum machine sounds at an affordable price and with Behringer’s hotly anticipated RD-9 drum machine about to hit the shelves this Summer, I thought it would be the perfect time to do a round up of all of Behringer’s drum machines.
As of June 2021, Behringer make 3 diferent drum machines: The RD-6 is a based on the Roland TR-606, the RD-808 is based on the TR-808 and the RD-9 is based on the Roland TR-909.
Below I give an overview of all 3 of Behringer’s drum machines plus I answer some common questions and I have included some useful videos too.
Behringer RD-6 overview:
Based on the Roland TR-606, the RD-6 gets close enough to the original’s sound palette – and throws in a few additional features as well – to make this a good choice for anyone looking for TR-606 style drum sounds in a hardware device that, remarkably, costs little more than a good drum machine plugin.
For your money you get a genuine analog drum machine with 7 individual drum parts inspired by the TR-606 plus a clap part inspired by the Boss BR-110 clap.
The RD-6 has a 16-step sequencer with the ability to save 64 different patterns and chain patterns to create complete drum tracks up to 256 bars long.
The RD-6 has built in distortion based on a DS-1 stompbox. This is a fairly basic but usable effect – flip[ the distortion on and then adjust the gain and tone to taste.
Is the RD-6 worth it? If you know – and need – the TR-606 sound and are keen to try a hardware solution rather than a 606 plugin or samples then the RD-6 represents excellent value for money.
Can the RD-6 Run on Batteries?
The RD-6 does not run on batteries. The RD-6 is mains operated (18 V DC, power unit supplied).
Behringer RD-8 overview:
First appearing at the Superbooth 2018 show and officialy launched in 2019, the RD-8 was the first of Behringer’s Roland TR inspired drum machine to hit the market.
A clone of the legendary TR-808, Behringer’s box of tricks delivers a convincing enough take on the original hardware to satisfy everyone but the hardest of hardcore purists and throws in a few extra features too to further sweeten the deal.
The RD-8 gives you all 16 of the TR-808’s drum parts with which to craft your beats, a 64-step drum sequencer with advanced features, plenty of sync options (USB, MIDI, Clock, Internal), 11 independent analog outputs for external processing and much more.
Is the RD-8 worth it? Coming in at under 250 bucks the RD-8 is one of the cheapest ways of getting convincing – and genuine analog – TR-808 sounds into your projects. For producers and beatmakers lusting after the sounds of the original but unable – or unwilling – to pay top dollar for a vintage TR-808 then the RD-8 is somehing of a dream come true.
What is the RD-8 Wave Designer?
The RD-8 has an intergrated ‘Wave Designer’ effect. This effect works a bit like a compressor and transient designer with attack and sustain controls to add punch and impact to any of the individual drum parts.
What kind of Filter does the RD-8 have?
The RD-8 has a dual-mode 12 dB filter button. You can toggle between LPF and HPF settings and play with the cutoff frequency and resonance controls. You can record your filter tweaking into the sequencer. Watch the video below for an overview of the RD-8 filter.
Can the RD-8 Run on Batteries?
The RD-8 does not run on batteries. The RD-8 is mains operated (18 V DC, power unit supplied).
Behringer RD-9 Overview:
News of the Behringher RD-9 being available for pre-order is starting to filter through on the morning I am writing this (June 2021) and early word is that Behringer have another massive hit on their hands.
The RD-9 Rhythm Designer, to give it its full name, is a a genuine analog drum machine inspired by the Roland TR-909 (no suprises there!). The RD-9 delivers 11 individual drum parts and each of the 11 sounds come with their own tuning, level, attack and decay controls.
The RD-9 features the same intergrated wave designer and dual-mode (low-pass/high-pass) filter as seen on the TD-8, two different modes (Authentic/Enhanced), versatile output options and more – all for a much cheaper price than buying a vintage TR-909.
With the TR-909 sound being just as desirable today amongst electronic music producers as it ever was, the RD-9 may prove to be the most popular of Behringer’s drum machines and given its cheap price I am confident it will inspire a whole new generation of producers and beat makers to start creating house and techno beats and tracks to the 4/4 groove (watch the video below for an example).
RD-9 Authentic VS Enhanced Mode:
As you might expect the ‘Authentic’ mode is geared towards emulating the original TR-909 sound as closely as possible. Switch to the ‘Enhanced’ mode and you get access to additional features including the ability to adjust the pitch/pitch depth of the bass drum plus tuning for the hi-hat.
Watch the video below for an indepth overview of both Authentic Enhanced mode.
Does the RD-9 Have Effects?
The RD-9 has a Wave Designer transient effect plus dual-mode filter (low-pass/high-pass).
Can the RD-9 Run on Batteries?
The RD-9 does not run on batteries. The RD-8 is mains operated (18 V DC, power unit supplied).
Does the RD-9 have Built in Speakers?
The RD-9 does not have built in speakers. The RD-9 features one quarter-inch (6.3 mm) TRS Headphone Jack, one main Mono out and 10 individual outs.
Is the RD-9 worth it? The short answer is a resolute yes! Unless you have money to burn, leave the vintage TR-909s to the antique collecters and opt for the more afforable RD-9 instead.
RD-6 VS RD-8 VS RD-9 Comparison Chart:
|Step Sequencer||16 Steps||64 Steps||64 Steps|
|Effects||Distortion||Dual-Mode Filter||Dual Filter|
|Mix Out||1 x 1/4″ TRS, unbalanced||1 x 1/4″ TRS, unbalanced||1 x 1/4″ TRS unbalanced|
|Individual Outs||6 x 1/8″ TS, unbalanced||11 x 1/4″ TS, unbalaned||10 x 1/4″ TS, unbalanced|
|Power||9 V DC||18 V DC||18 V DC|
What is the cheapest Behringer Drum Machine?
The RD-6 is the cheapest of Behringer’s drum machines.
Best Alternative to Behringer Drum Machines:
If you are looking for an alternative to the RD-6, RD-8 or RD-9 then check out Roland’s own Aira TR-8S Rhythm Performer drum machine which features emulated sounds of the 808, 606, 909, 707 and 727. Expect to pay almost twice as much however. If the Aira TR-8S is out of your price range you could plump for the Roland MC-101 groovebox which gives you access to a comprehensive selection of Roland sounds and drum kits including TR-808 and TR-909 sounds.