Today I’m looking at the DRM1 MKIV, a mid-priced analog drum machine from German boutique synth manufacturer Vermona.
Launched in February 2021, the DRM1 MKIV is Vermona’s flagship analog drum and percussion synthesizer from. At its core, the DRM1 MKIV is a tweaked and slightly version of the highly regarded DRM MKIII which was in production from 2006.
The Vermona DRM1 MKIV drum machine features eight different instrument channels designed for percussive/drum type sounds (Kick, Drum1, Drum2, Multi, Snare, Hihat1, Hihat2 and clap). Each of the eight voices has nine knobs for fast, hands on sound shaping, pan and volume control.
The Kick drum generator gives you control over attack, decay, pitch, bend, time and noise and you can sweep from sine to square wave. Overall it’s a versatile kick drum generator capable of creating everything from hard techno kicks, to very long subs, snappier and shorter house type kicks and everything inbetween.
DRUM 1 and DRUM 2 are near identical FM synth based generators (with slightly different frequency ranges) and they are suitable for creating Toms, tom toms, metallic percussion, wood blocks, bongos and kick drums while the MULTI channel is the go to channel for creating cowbell type sounds as well as bongos, zaps and laser type sounds.
Does the Vermona Vermona DRM1 MKIV have built-in effects?
The Vermona DRM1 MKIV does not have any master effects but you do have controls to tweak reverb settings on the snare and clap and filter settings on the hihat1 and hihat2.
Does the Vermona DRM1 MKIV have individual outs?
The Vermona DRM1 MKIV features 8x single outputs, 2x master output (6.3 mm jack) and 1x stereo headphone output (6.3 mm jack).
Does the Vermona DRM1 MKIV run on batteries?
The Vermona DRM1 MKIV does not run on batteries. You’ll need to use the supplied switching power supply (100…240 V AC; 50/60 Hz).
Does the DRM1 MKIV have built-in speakers?
The DRM1 MKIV does not have speakers. The DRM1 MKIV has stereo and headphone outputs.
Difference between the Vermona DRM1 MKIII and DRM1 MKIV:
There are a number of differences between the Vermona DRM1 MKIII and the Vermona DRM1 MKIV most notably in terms of connections with new MIDI OUT (DIN) in addition to the original’s MIDI IN and THRU.
There’s a new USB port for MIDI and firmware updates and the unit now boasts no annoying clicks or crackle when switching the unit on/off and a welcome improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio. The MKIV also features new trigger inputs so dynamics can be processed and analog trigger events can be transformed to MIDI events
Enhanced drum generators:
The MKIV’s kick drum boats enhanced frequency range adjustments, improved waveshaper and updated Attack impulse.
The DRUM 1 and DRUM 2 FM synth voices feature new frequency ranges. The FM oscillator is now synchronized with the trigger signal
Hihat 1 and 2 feature improved sound generators and revised decay times.
Clap voice features the ability to crossfade from pink to white noise plus a revised clap parameter (impulse number and gap).
Vermona DRM1 MKIV pros:
Grab a Vermona DRM MKIV if you want:
- 8 different voices with easy hands on controls for fast sound sculpting
- Real analog drums
- Versatile kick drum generator and two FM synth generators
- Well built drum machine
- Reasonably priced (midrange) drum machine
- Easy to learn the basics
- Individual outs
- Good source of techno drum sounds
Vermona DRM1 MKIV cons:
- No presets
- Not battery operated
- No sampling capabilities
- No built-in sequencer
- Only mild improvements compared to the MKIII
Best alternatives to the Vermona DRM1 MKIV
If you’re willing to make a few sacrifices in terms of features then a DMR1 MKIII can be picked on the secondhand market and is, of course, near identical in terms of sound.
Coming it at just under $600 the Vermona DRM1 MKIV is a mid-range drum machine. If you’re willing to spend twice as much then consider the Electron Analog RYTM MK2 which features 8 versatile drum voices and sampling capabilities plus Overbridge.
A close rival to the Vermona DRM1 MKIV is the MFB Tanzbär. The Tanzbär is also an analog drum machine. It boasts fourteen percussion instruments, two digital synthesizer voices and deep sequencer functions. The original Tanzbär is now a “classic” drum machine with a loyal fan base but it has been superseded by the more powerful Tanzbär 2.
If you want to go cheaper then you could consider the Arturia Drumbrute or Arturia Drumbrute Impact both of which are fully analog drum and percussion instruments with built-in step sequencers.
Vermona DRM1 MKIV in use:
Watch Captain Pikant walk you through every voice, example patterns and key feature of the Vermona DRM1 MKIV in the video review below.
Is the Vermona DRM1 MKIII Discontinued?
The Vermona DRM1 MKIII is discontinued. You can see all the current Vermona gear here. You can also check out my guide to the Vermona Kick Lancet kick drum generator.