New grooveboxes and drum machines for 2021

Roland MV-1
(Image credit: Roland)

GEAR EXPO 2021: The groovebox had a resurgence in 2020 and the trend seems set to continue for 2021. Grooveboxes are fully-featured, all in one devices that get you away from the minutiae of your computer screen and back into the habit of making music fast via tactile hardware that’s fast and fun. 

Combining drum machines, synth, sampler and sequencer today’s groovebox has all you need to make great music. Here’s our round-up of all the latest.

Roland Verselab MV-1

Roland has a long history in the 'groovebox' line having practically invented the genre with their TB-303-inspired MC-303 in the '90s. Now there's a new take on the genre for 2021.

The Verselab MV-1 is billed as an all-in-one song production studio. This enables you to create complete tracks without the need to involve a computer, and promises a fast and simple workflow.

It's essentially a synth workstation (such are Roland's own Fantom) without a keyboard, albeit with a modern twist. Vocals can be recorded via the built-in mic or by plugging a mic into the XLR input (there’s a phantom power option), and vocal effects include Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer and Doubler.

And there are more than 3,000 Zen Core sounds are onboard - with the option to add more via Roland Cloud - so you’ve covered for drums, basslines, melodic parts and more and this is teamed with a 4x4 bank of 16 pads and a TR-REC step sequencer.

The Verselab MV-1 can be mains- or battery-powered and will be priced at $700. Find out more on the Roland website.

Korg’s drumlogue

Korg drumlogue

(Image credit: Korg)

It’s not here yet… But it's definitely happening as Korg tease their upcoming drumlogue hybrid drum machine.

Promising multiple analogue parts, flexible digital parts and a rich effects section, it's certainly got us watching with interest. You’ll also be able to load in your own samples and to add custom third-party content via a revised Logue SDK.

What’s more, we’re set to get individual assignable outputs, a performance-friendly interface and a deep sequencer.

We suspect that the drumlogue won’t be here for a while – it’s currently in prototype – but we’re hopeful that it could land at some point this year. Price TBC.

Behringer RD-9 drum machine

It's been a long time coming – being announced early 2012 – but Behringer’s  RD-9 - a new version of Roland’s TR-909 drum machine - is almost here.

As well as offering an authentic mode that promises to accurately emulate the original 909, the RD-9 also has an ‘enhanced’ mode that offers several additional features. These include the ability to adjust the pitch and pitch depth of the bass drum, and a tuning control for the hi-hat.

There’s also enhanced connectivity, which should make it easy to slot the RD-9 into contemporary setups.

A price has still to be confirmed, but we’d expect it to be around $349/£299, the same as the TR-808-emulating RD-8.