Not so long ago, the very existence of the hardware drum machine was being called into question. Why, it was argued, when you can emulate pretty much any classic beatbox in software and then get something of its feel from a suitable MIDI controller, should you bother with a physical, standalone device?
For some people, generating all their rhythm tones in the box continues to be a satisfactory option - check out our guide to the 14 best VST plugin drum machines in the world today if you're one of them - but others have pressed for a return to old-school beatmaking, and new hardware drum machines have been released as result.
These vary enormously in terms of specs and price, but the common thread running through all of them is that each model enables you to create beats without the need for any other gear. As such, you won't find hybrid systems such as Native Instruments' Maschine and Arturia's SparkLE in this round-up; these are covered in our guide to 10 of the best MIDI pad controllers. We've excluded dedicated drum synths (ie, ones that don't have their own sequencers), too.
Enough about what isn't here, though: let's take a look at the hardware drum machines that you should be considering in 2014.