Need to knock up a quick beat in your lunchtime break? Unable to get your hands on a drum machine or even your DAW and suddenly have an insatiable urge to create beats and music? Well do not despair – as long as you have internet access and a suitable browser there are several ways to make beats online instantly and for free!
The Acid Machine gives you all you need to make beats online instantly! This browser based tool gives you a drum machine and two bass synths – for free! Far more than just a novelty, Acid Machine delivers convincing sounds, step sequencers and effects in an easy to use interface.
What is Acid Machine?
Developed by Errorzero, Acid Machine is a browser based tool which gives you three different sound generator instruments to play with. Obviously inspired by classic Roland gear, the three instruments let you create TR-808 and 909 drum beats with TB-303 style bass lines.
Whenever I mess around with Acid Machine I’m impessed by just how capable this browser based tool is. Obviously it can’t compete with your DAW, real drum machines or most drum based plugins but it is a great tool for quickly generating classic drum loops and bass lines.
Considering that is free, Acid Machine doesn’t skip on features so you get:
- 1 Drum Machine with three diffrent kits (808, 909 and DD8)
- 2 Roland 303 Acid bass line style generators each with 2 selectable OSC sound generators
- 2 effects slot per part with a choice of 5 different effects per slot (Distortion Delay, Chorus, Filter, Reverb)
- Basic mix (volume) control for each instrument
- Dedicated pattern editor for each instument
- Song mode with dediated sequencer lane for each instrument
- Randomisation features, WAV recording, import Rebirth patterns, adjustable tempo & more!
Browser Based Beat Creation for Free!
Open the Acid Machine site in your browser and the drum module is ready and waiting! You get ten drum parts in total with slight variations to the percussion parts depending on which of the three kits you select.
I’m not entirely sure how the drum machine sounds are generated – could by synths but might be static samples. Either way you only get basic controls with each drum having volume and pitch knobs and a mute button too.
To spice up your beats you can add either one or two effects to the complete drum track master output. Each effect sounds pretty good (although not likely to give dedicated VST plugins a fright) and gives you access to a few basic controls:
- Distortion: Adjust the Curve amount to heat up your drums and add a pleasing grit.
- Delay: Adjust Feeback, Cut Off and Steps.
- Chorus: Adjust Rate, Feedback and Delay
- Filter: Adjust Freq, Res and Type.
- Reverb: Adjust Wet amount, Low and High cut off.
Overall then you get quite a capable little drum machine here. Like I said previously, I really like the drum pattern sequencer and a lot of “pro” plugins could benefit from taking a similarly simple and clear approach.
Hit the ‘Editor’ tab on the left of the drum module and the pattern sequencer opens. I really like this pattern sequencer as it is both clear and very easy to use. Developers often make the mistake of trying to squeeze too much into a tiny sequencer GUI but there are no such problems here.
In the sequencer you can click in the grid to play individual drum hits. You choose pattern lengths of 16 or 32 steps, shift paterns, randomise patterns and copy and paste patterns.
Once you have created a few patterns you can string them together to form longer compositions in the song mode.
Acid Machine Desktop App.
As well as running Acid Machine in your browser for free, you can click the “Download App” button which will take you to a page where you can pay for the Acid Machine app for use on Windows and Mac.
Alternatives to Acid Machine.
While the Acid Machine is my prefereed choice for quickly making beats online it is by no means the only option. Below I have suggested some more online drum machines to check out. I have listed them in order of personal preference taking into acount sound quality, features and ease of use. All of the drum machines below are 100% free to use.
Best Online Drum Machine for Acoustic Drums: One Motion Drum Machine.
The One Motion Drum Machine reminds me of cheap and cheerful real world drum machines. It’s got a certain charm and is incredibly easy to use. You can be creating beats in seconds with this and it is 100% free to use.
In terms of sounds you get 9 different drum parts and 20 sample based kits. The focus of the kits is on acoustic drum sounds although you do get a TR-909, TR-808 and Techno kit thrown in for good measure (although they are not particularly useful and I would hesitate to recommend them.)
You can audition each drum sound by tapping the keys 1 to 9 on your keyboard.
There is one master effect reverb for use on the master out with an adjustable “wet” setting so you can set it to zero if you wish to bypass it. Individual drum parts get their own controls including pitch, velocity and filter cutoff – note that you can adjust these values on a per-step basis which is a cool feature not seen in most other online drum machines.
A grid stye pattern sequencer gives you 16 steps for and 1 or 2 bars so you can have 32 steps in total.
You can load and save your beats and also export to WAV and check out beats created by other users.
Overall this is anincredibly easy to use online drum beat creator. Its sample based souns
WebAudio Drum Machine: Best for Vintage Vibes.
The WebAudio Drum Machine gives you 6 drum parts (Toms, Hats, Snare and Kick) and 15 different drum kits to play with covering electronic and acoustic kits. You get control over each drum part’s pitch and one master effect (reverbs, delays and filters mostly) with adjustable effect level.
Click on the round sequencer steps to enter drum hits and create your pattern. By repeatdly clicking you can adjust the velocity or volume of the hit.
One thing I did enjoy about the WebAudio Drum Machine was the Linn Drum kit – instant ’80s vibes so a great choice if you’re wanting to create beats for videos or games with
The WebAudio Drum Machine is actually almost rather brilliant but a few minor admissions stop it from getting the top slot. Maybe future updates will see the addition of more features such as allowing export to WAV and individual effects for each drum part.
HTML 5 Virtual Drum Machine: Best for Absolute Beginners.
You could lose hours – OK maybe half an hour – of productivity at work playing with Dreampipe’s HTML 5 Virtual Drum Machine. For starters you get 5 different kits based on Hip Hop, Electro, House, Techno and Acoustic sounds.
Select your kit from the 5 available and then tap on one of the 13 sound modules at the top of the interface to select it before taping on one of the 16 step sequencer buttons at the bottom of the interface to place a drum hit on that step. Pres the play button to start your pattern looping and then add or delete more drum hits.
Once you have a finished pattern you are happy with you can save it or export it as a WAV file.
Overall the HTML 5 Virtual Drum Machine is about a simple as a drum machine can get without falling into the category of totally useless novelty.
Is the Virtual Drum Machine likely to find a place in your music production arsenal? I seriously doubt it but then again who knows what somebody like Aphex Twin could do with this, a tambourine and a photograph of a jelly fish? Why not try exporting some WAV recordings and processing them in your DAW and see if you can create something that transcends the limitations of this little app?
Musicca Online Drum Machine
Head on over to the Musicca website and you can play with their free online drum machine educational tool. One thing I really liked about Musicca is the presets. Get your beats started quickly by selecting from one of 20 presets covering pop, jazz, hip hop, funk, disco, and heavy metal and then adjust to taste.
There’s a big downside to Musicca however, at least for me, and that’s the fact you only get one simple acoustic style kit here. There’s nothing to satisfy the dance music producer crowd (unless you fancy the challenge of recording some WAVs and then running them through numerous plugins to turn your humble acoustic drum loops into something more avate garde or otherworldly!).
My personal preference for dance orientated beats aside, the Mussica online drum machine is a good choice if you need to quickly create acoustic beats.
You can adjust tempo, time signature and swing at the top of the drum machine and you can save your drum rhythm by copying the web address in your browser. This also allows you to share your drum rhythms with others. There is currently no way to directly record your beats to WAV or MP3 so you will need to use a suitable sound recorder app.
If you’re looking for a super simple – and free – way to create acoustic drum backing tracks then the Musicca drum machine might be worth a look but don’t expect much beyond the basics.