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Best Grooveboxes for Music Production 2024

An electronic musical instrument called a groovebox has a sequencer and several sound generators. In order to create drums, synth bass, leads, pads, and sampled acoustic instruments, many grooveboxes now come equipped with both samplers and synths. They thereby let you to play a variety of musical genres on a single instrument. They are also comparatively simpler and more efficient than a DAW application.

Roland drum machines like the tr-808, tr-909, and bassline tb-303 were initially released as a commercial flop as a synth-based, cost-effective substitute for a Linn drum computer that used real samples. Forget about the current edm craze, it was groove box that led to the creation of the first electronic music genres, such as acid, house, and techno. These genres were influenced by artificial, unrealistic drum sounds. The continued evolution of grooveboxes, often known as music workstations, is the primary source of inspiration for today’s computer-based daws. The groovebox craze, which was revived by Korg Volca in the 2010s, later started to be used alongside daws to become crucial in the making of electronic music or contemporary music as musical instruments in their own right.

AKAI Professional MPC X SE – Standalone Production Workstation and Beat Maker

AKAI Professional MPC X SE - Standalone Production...
  • No Computer Required - MPC X Special Edition is a standalone sampling drum...
  • Supercharged Workflow - Featuring a Quad-core processor, 4GB RAM, 48GB...
  • Your Music Creation Hub – Make beats with 16 RGB MPC drum Pads, dial-in...

One of the most potent hybrid DAW-free music production tools now on the market is Akai Professional MPC X. The MPC X is a hybrid groovebox that can operate both independently and as a controller for the Akai MPC DAW software, as opposed to earlier MPCs, which were DAW controllers. Therefore, you could begin projects on MPC X, move the file to your computer, and complete them there. A multicore CPU, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage are used to do this. The MPC X also functions as an audio interface, enabling you to record and sample directly into the hardware, where you’ll find all the editing tools of the MPC DAW software.

Making hip-hop, trap, pop, or contemporary EDM beats is a breeze with MPC X. The integrated audio interface is first-rate and produces clear audio recordings with velocity sensitive pads for electronic music production. Similar to how the collection of sounds and effects offers out-of-the-box sound design and mixing of studio-caliber. Additionally, you may fine-tune the editing of any audio clip, from simple cutting and moving to warping and real-time stretching/pitch-shifting.

Along with Akai Professional, MPC X includes more than ten GB of sounds from leading sound design companies like CAPSUN ProAudio, MVP Loops, and CR2 Records. The Vault 2.0 is a collection of drum beats, one-shots, vocal samples, instrument samples, insert effects, basslines, chords, and other musical elements. Additionally, you may add even more sounds by using the Wi-Fi in MPC X to download expansion packs from your account. You may also install a lot more sounds, including unique sounds from your computer, by installing an SSD or HDD. You can do this by using the SD card reader or USB connectors.

In addition to Wi-Fi, MPC X has Bluetooth MIDI, which lets you use a supported device to control the MPC or input notes, albeit typically with considerable lag. Two XLR + 14″ TRS inputs with a 48V phantom power supply are also provided by MPC X. In a similar vein, there are two TRS line inputs on the front and two more on the back for convenient access when performing instruments. Then, a USB-B port and two USB-A connectors let you use MIDI devices, access flash drives, and connect to computers. The audio outs are made up of two primary TRS outputs, six additional TRST channel outputs, and a headphone output. Eight 3.5mm CV outputs, two 5-pin MIDI ins, and four 5-pin MIDI outs are also included. The MPC X is popular for hip hop production.

By today’s standards, MPC X is one of the few truly capable DAW substitutes for a music production environment. There is an extensive selection of sound and effect plug-ins available. Similar to this, you can record vocals directly into the device using the mic inputs with phantom power supply without using an audio interface or preamp. Trigger pads, rotary encoders, and touch screen all have good responsiveness. Finally, it offers a wide range of connectivity so you may use MPC X as the hub of your workflow while using a variety of devices and controllers. This is the best groovebox for music production in 2023.

Roland MC-707 Groovebox Professional Music Production Workstation

Roland MC-707 Groovebox Professional Music...
  • Professional music creation and recording workstation
  • Everything you need to create a song or perform a live set without a...
  • Tone, Drum Kit, and Looper (Audio Loop) track types

A strong, effective, and entertaining groovebox with integrated virtual analog synthesis is the Roland MC-707. Since Roland’s MC-808 was released in 2007 there has only been this groovebox release in this price bracket. The clip-based MC-707 groovebox is part of the AIRA line, just like a lot of other contemporary Roland hardware, and it imitates the sounds of vintage synths and drum machines using ZEN-Core technology rather than ACB technology. To more accurately simulate hardware, ZEN-Core combines virtual analog synthesis with PCM audio samples. Additionally, you won’t just find traditional drum machines. Synthesizers like the JUNO-106, SH-101, TB-303, etc. are among them.

The groovebox is jam-packed with drum kits from Roland’s heyday, as you might imagine. There are a total of eighty preset drum kits with sixteen drum sounds in each of these, which include the TR-808, TR-909, and more. A similar number of “Tone” presets (melodic/harmonic) are available for performing leads, basslines, keys, etc.
The drum engine has few controls, such as tuning adjustments. In comparison to the ACB technology (analog circuit behavior) with circuit-level modeling, it is therefore a slight downgrade. The good news is that this new technology supports 128 voices of polyphony! A groovebox with a built-in subtractive synthesizer for each track hence required the compromise.

A selection of integrated digital effect plugins are provided by the MC-707. For each track, these can be chorus, delay, reverb, distortion, guitar amp simulators, etc. The master effects section also includes filters, a bus compressor, and a bit-crusher. These can also be used to edit outside audio sources. All of these effect plugins lack a GUI, though. So, just as with conventional sequencer gear, you will be working with parameter labels and number values.

An effective 8-track groovebox with built-in sounds is the Roland MC-707. The drum sounds are perfect for many electronic genres, including house, pop, trance, hip-hop, etc., when combined with some effect processing. The subtractive synthesizer also enables you to experiment with the sounds of classic Roland synths. Similar to that, replacing the hardware with fresh ZEN-Core sound packs via the Roland Cloud Manager will give you access to even more sounds and functionality. You can do this by connecting your MC-707 to a computer using the USB connector on the back edge.

Roland MC-707 strikes a good balance between use and simplicity. You can start making music right out of the box because to the abundance of factory presets and sounds. Additionally, it offers superb effect plugins for both the master mix and individual tracks—a feature uncommon in hardware of a comparable nature. Additionally, it has a polished and attractive aesthetic. This is the one of the best grooveboxes in 2023.

Akai Force

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AKAI Professional FORCE – Standalone Music...
  • Play, Perform, Produce - Standalone music production / DJ performance...
  • The Ins and Outs - Record audio with (2) XLR / ¼-inch combo inputs with...
  • Hook up all your Studio Equipment - 4 configurable CV/Gate outputs and MIDI...

The compact-sized Akai Force is a feature-rich workstation for creating and performing electronic music. In order to essentially replace your laptop and MIDI controllers, Akai Professional set out to build a hardware groovebox. It has many of the tools and built-in samples and sounds found in contemporary DAWs. Additionally, if you want to, you can record audio and MIDI using external equipment.

The groovebox’s main panel is divided into two sections: the launch grid is located below the top area, which contains all the navigation controls. The device’s back edge has the most of the connectivity, while the front has an SD card slot, a headphone jack with a volume control, a cue mix knob, and other functions. You’ll find an universe of opportunities and inspirations when you combine all of these with the workflow that was influenced by Ableton Live.

Over 10 GB of samples, divided into six categories, are offered by Akai Force. These consist of vocal samples, loops, basslines, chords, and drum samples. Eight instrument plugins are available as well: Mellotron, Solina, Odyssey, DrumSynth, Hype, TubeSynth, Bassline, and Electric. More than 90 effect plugins made by AIR Music Tech and Akai Professional are also included. The AIR Vocal Suite, Half-Speed, limiter, Stutter, Diffuser Delay, Akai Granulator, Sample Delay, etc. are some of them. All of them make sure that you have everything you need to start creating great tunes right away.

1/8″ MIDI in, out, and through ports are used by Akai Force. It includes adapters that convert 1/8″ to 5 pins for MIDI, allowing you to connect synths, drum machines, and controllers. Additionally, Force has two USB ports that enable USB flash drives to be loaded via a computer connection. Additionally, an Ethernet port enables connecting to other compatible devices or Ableton Link to your computer.

Similar to that, Force has two XLR or 14″ TRS inputs for connecting mixers, mics, etc. It comes with an integrated 48V phantom power source to run your condenser microphones. Along with a headphone output on the front edge, there are also two pairs of 1″ TRS outputs for monitor speakers, mixers, etc. For modular devices, four 1/8″ TS ports send control voltage (CV) and gate data.

For both live performance and studio production, Akai Force offers enough of power as the best groove box. It has a large number of onboard instruments and plugins with simple hardware architecture, intuitive GUIs, and adaptable connectivity. It also has built-in storage, however the most of it is occupied by the factory library. However, you may increase the storage to meet your needs thanks to an SD card slot and an external SSD or HDD connector.

Furthermore, you can access your online Splice library with the device’s built-in Wi-Fi connection. Similar to that, it enables Bluetooth connections to MIDI devices, albeit with significant latency. However, while I was recording vocals in a booth, I found it useful for transport control.

Elektron Digitakt

Elektron Digitakt 8-Track Drum Computer and...
  • Digitakt is a digital and highly flexible sound engine, sampling...
  • Dedicated tracks for controlling external MIDI gear
  • Hi res encoders and extremely durable back-lit buttons

Digitakt stands as a sampling drum machine and MIDI sequencer, boasting a wholly digital architecture. It encompasses 16 channels, neatly divided into eight audio channels primarily intended for sampling and eight MIDI channels. Sampling within Digitakt can be accomplished swiftly and seamlessly, allowing users to load samples from internal memory or directly sample from external audio sources without interrupting the sequencer’s flow.

Despite the often unfair association of “digital” with lesser sound quality, Digitakt defies these stereotypes with a robust sound engine. Notably, its bit reduction and overdrive capabilities excel at infusing sounds with depth and grit. Furthermore, the instrument’s sample manipulation and looping tools empower users to explore esoteric soundscapes, transcending the boundaries of simple one-shot sampling.

In true Elektron fashion, Digitakt shines with its sequencer’s depth and versatility. Virtually every parameter can be automated, and the sequencer allows for individual pattern lengths on each track, facilitating the creation of intricate polyrhythms. While it may require some dedicated manual study to unlock its full potential, Digitakt offers a wealth of features to appreciate. It might appear unassuming as a sampler, but with its exceptional sequencing capabilities and a solid array of connectivity options, Digitakt is poised to become the central hub in many studio and live setups. This is a musical tool that should not be underestimated.

Polyend Tracker Tabletop Sampler

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Polyend Tracker Tabletop Sampler, Wavetable...
  • Fast and easy navigation
  • Standalone and portable
  • Sampler, Wavetable and Granular Synthesizer, and FM Radio for Sampling

Polish company Polyend has ingeniously translated key principles from tracker software applications into a physical hardware instrument. This innovation revolves around a workflow that incorporates a vertical sequencer and a strong emphasis on pattern sequencing, all seamlessly integrated with a retro-inspired hardware design featuring a pad-based keyboard. To populate this instrument with sound, users can either record audio samples directly or import them via an SD card slot. These samples are then transformed into up to 48 distinct ‘instruments,’ capable of being employed as one-shot hits, loops, or in a sample slicing mode for precise manipulation and transient detection.

The heart of this creative process resides in the Tracker’s Pattern view, harkening back to the aesthetics of traditional software trackers. Here, patterns are laid out across eight tracks from left to right, while each step is presented in a vertical arrangement on the screen. Each step can encapsulate four types of information: notes, instruments, FX 1, and FX 2, with the latter two dedicated to shaping playback conditions like reverse, probability, and more.

Beyond its pattern-centric composition tools, the sequencer offers a delightful and imaginative experience. Additionally, there’s a Perform mode that empowers users to add live effects and make arrangement adjustments on the fly, enhancing the instrument’s versatility.

Novation Circuit Tracks – Standalone Groovebox with Synths, Drums and Sequencer

Novation Circuit Tracks: Groovebox sequencer with...
  • Unleash your creativity and make limitless music with two synth tracks, two...
  • Create 32-step patterns, chainable for up to 256 steps sequences per track....
  • Expand your sonic capabilities with two refined polyphonic digital synth...

The Novation Circuit groovebox became a cult favorite among producers who don’t use DAWs and performers with an electronic bent. Circuits offered a great way for individuals to enjoy using a standalone groovebox and marked a welcome departure from computer-based creation. It was sleek, simple to use, and reasonably priced. With Novation Circuit Tracks, the original unit’s capability has been increased, creating a production workstation that is shockingly powerful and incredibly portable. Circuit Tracks gives you the freedom to carry your production game everywhere thanks to its battery-powered design and small size. With two polyphonic synthesizers, four independent drum tracks, two MIDI tracks for driving external devices, and built-in FX for a finishing touch, it offers a vast toolkit for crafting full-fledged creations.

With Circuit Tracks’ 4 × 8 matrix of delightfully playable RGB pads, programming and performing are a delight. Parameters are readily and eminently tweakable via 10 responsive control knobs. The Novation Circuit Tracks groovebox will undoubtedly become a staple in your beat-production setup after you’ve had a chance to enjoy the independence of making music with it.

The Novation Circuit Tracks provides four distinct monophonic drum sequencing tracks for creating richly layered rhythms. They are loaded with beats and killer drum sounds. The first drum track should contain a simple kick, snare, and hat pattern. The remaining tracks should be used to layer one-shots, generate polyrhythms, and fill the auditory environment with percussive ear pleasure. No problem if you wish to employ unique sounds from your personal sample collection! You may create packs with the free Novation Components software and then upload them to Circuit Tracks using a microSD card.

The Novation Circuit Tracks is advertised as a “groovebox,” a phrase that Roland first used to refer to an all-in-one interface for creating electronic music in the 1990s. With two internal synth engine, a clear pad-based sequencer, and four monophonic drum samplers, the Circuit Tracks is a good fit for this description. Select a scale, pick a preset, adjust a synth tone with the eight macro knobs, record or sequence a pattern, lay down a drum beat, and add delay and reverb are all parts of the device’s straightforward and intuitive process. On the Circuit, this procedure may be completed in a matter of seconds instead of the normal 10 to almost an hour it would require in a DAW. This is the best groovebox for beginners in 2023.

Native Instruments MASCHINE+ Production Workstation

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Native Instruments MASCHINE+ Production...
  • Immersive standalone workflow for creating beats and melodies, sampling,...
  • Includes MASCHINE+ Selection with industry-leading instruments, sounds, and...
  • Quad-core CPU and 4 GB RAM for fast, seamless creation when it counts

Maschine+ is incredibly user-friendly and utilizes the best hardware and software. It offers all the resources required to begin and complete music production. Maschine+ doesn’t make an effort to stifle your creativity by forcing you to use a single platform, though. Instead, it embraces a modern music production system by offering a full-featured integrated DAW for both PC and Mac that is focused on perfecting your projects. Similar to this, you can accomplish the same thing with different DAWs.

In essence, Maschine+ is a hardware sequencer with a built-in computer. It has a 32 GB internal storage capacity, a quad-core processor, and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. The SD card port on the module’s left side allows you to increase the storage capacity as well. SD cards can be used to store projects, instruments, and sample data. Additionally, Maschine+ includes integrated Wi-Fi connectivity. Direct access from the hardware to other platforms that are compatible and your Native Instruments account. So it’s quite simple to download updated firmware or more samples or loops into your device.

Samples, one-shots, sliced loops, drum synths, sampled instruments, presets, MIDI patterns, drum kits, and demo tracks are all included in Maschine+’s eight GB of sample data. Over 45 GB of additional sounds are available in the Komplete 13 Select library, which you can download and load. 25 studio-grade effect plugins, including filters, EQ, delays, reverbs, compressors, and distortion, are also included. Thus, you are ready to start making music right now.

A music production system with a wide range of sounds is called Maschine+. From recording rock, jazz, or blues to pop, EDM, and hip-hop, you might create a broad variety of styles with it. It is unquestionably geared more toward electronic music, particularly hip-hop. Despite being a hardware groovebox, the device offers the same transparent technology as a current computer thanks to its inside computer.

Despite being an independent music creation environment, Maschine+ may still be connected to a computer to provide you even more flexibility and control over your project. Using Maschine+ as a controller for Native Instruments’ Maschine DAW software is one of the simplest methods to get started with your music production. Additionally, you can access the hardware on your computer’s internal storage by switching to Storage mode. It makes it simple for you to transfer your Maschine projects, samples, loops, and sounds to your computer for editing.

Of course, you can also synchronize the hardware with another DAW using the built-in Ableton Link tool (like Ableton Live). Additionally, a VST, AU, and AAX plugin version is included. You can use this function to polish your projects in your preferred DAW, such as Cubase, REAPER, or FL Studio.

It seems like Maschine+ is a pretty well-balanced combination of a hardware sequencer and a contemporary software program. Along with 25 effect plugins, it offers a vast library of factory sounds and instruments. To add more inputs or outputs, you can connect a class-compliant audio interface via USB. For even more freedom, you can also link it to a computer.