Alesis SR-16 Review

Alesis SR-16 review

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The Alesis SR-16 is one of the best selling drum machines of all time. It’s easy to program, boasts 233 realistic sounds and comes with plenty of patterns as well as beat variations to choose from.

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine

Key Features

  • Programmable drum machine
  • 233 Drum Sounds
  • 50 preset patterns
  • 12 Velocity-sensitive drum pads
  • 24-bit sound engine
  • MIDI in/out/thru




The Alesis SR-16 drum machine was first introduced in 1990, and to date it remains as one of the most versatile and popular drum machines to ever exist!

It has found a home amongst songwriters, live performers and drummers alike. Featuring a great selection of 233 great drum sounds with Dynamic Articulation, the SR-16 ideal for composing arrangements, rehearsals and performances alike.

The Alesis SR-16 is deeply programmable and contains 50 preset patterns that were played by real studio drummers as well as plenty of built-in rhythmic variations that you can take advantage of.

In this Alesis SR-16 review, I’m going to be taking a look at what makes this drum machine so popular, and to determine if it’s still worth buying today.

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine Ratings












The Alesis SR-16 includes 233 drum sounds with 24-bit sound engine for high-fidelity grooves. The sounds are realistic and dynamic, because they are real samples played by top studio drummers as opposed to being created artificially.

The SR-16 is velocity sensitive with the Dynamic Articulation feature, allowing the sounds to be very expressive and natural sounding.

Although the Alesis SR-16 is one of the most basic drum machines, but the quality of the drum sounds is impressive. You can tell that these are real drum sounds. The reproduction of the drums and cymbals are definitely authentic.

The large selection of quality sounds, combined with the ability to choose individual drums and save them as a custom kit allows for lots of flexibility when finding your ideal sound!

There are 50 preset rhythmic patterns that can be adjusted and tweaked. Plus each preset has A and B variations, in addition to fill sections; which is perfect for composing arrangements.

Overall I am pleased with the quality of the sounds and the way they respond to being played at different volumes.


The Alesis SR-16 drum machine offers lots of flexibility for creating realistic drum patterns. The face of the unit has 12 velocity sensitive pads that enable you to play rhythms directly with your fingers.

The unit itself is small and compact in size, but it a very sophisticated drum machine with plenty of power!

It is supremely playable and is a lot of fun to use. It’s easy to create your own drum kits with the included sounds and to fine-tune patterns to your liking. With tools like quantize, swing and odd-time signatures there’s lots of customization.

The interface is simple and straightforward, and in addition to having the 12 pads, you can also perform more detailed programming and editing functionality to create your perfect beats and save them in the 200 user locations.

The SR-16 also provides complete MIDI implementation that enables you to sequence or trigger the unit from an external MIDI sequencer or DAW.

There are also foot switch inputs for controlling playback, which is particularly useful for live performances.

Overall I found it is very flexible and deeply programmable with realistic sounds, making it a highly versatile piece of kit.


As one of the most popular drum machines ever made, the Alesis SR16 features a robust construction. The unit itself feels solid and all of the buttons operate smoothly.

The design is very simple and easy to use, but I do wish the 12 velocity drum pads were larger. They are really small and this makes it feel a little difficult to play.

From testing the unit in this Alesis SR-16 review, I also wish the display was backlit. It is it very difficult to see in dark conditions, including live concert stages.

Despite these caveats, the unit itself is very small and compact which makes it highly portable. It’s perfect for gigging musicians.

The SR-16 is extremely intuitive, and it doesn’t take long at all to get to grips with how it works. You’ll be creating inspired beats in no time!


The Alesis SR-16 is really fun to create beats with. What makes it so enjoyable is a combination of its extreme usability, as well as the great selection of natural drum sounds on offer.

In addition to the sounds on offer, you also have the ability to choose between dry sounds or wet sounds which have been sampled with quality Alesis reverb.

The SR16 drum machine is one of the easiest tools to work with. It is so versatile, and I found it simple to program to create the desired beats I had in mind.

It also comes with 50 preset patterns to explore, but there are also 2 variations for each pattern, as well as 2 drum fills. You can then assign each pattern to one of the many drum kits available for lots of creative inspiration.

For live use, the Alesis SR16 has all of the essential connectivity options with MIDI, footswitch inputs and outputs for main left and right as well as an AUX and headphones.


The Alesis SR-16 is a killer drum machine and you can’t beat it for the money. It carries a super affordable price tag that makes it accessible for all different musicians.

Taking into account the quality of the sounds and the capacity for detailed programming and fine-tuning beats, the SR-16 drum machine offers exceptional value for money.


It’s easy to see why the Alesis SR-16 drum machine is still so popular and relevant even decades after its initial release. The included sounds are convincing, and highly expressive when played at different velocities. There is definitely a great selection of sounds available.

The Alesis SR-16 is perfect for finding rhythmic inspiration for song writing as well as being an awesome tool for live performances.

So whether you are looking for a practice companion or a creative tool, the Alesis SR16 drum machine is without a doubt one of the best drum machines to buy on a budget!

What Comes In The Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine Box?

  • Alesis SR-16 drum machine
  • 233 Built-in sounds
  • Power unit
  • 2-Year warranty

Alesis SR-16 Drum Machine At A Glance


  • Great selection of sounds
  • Very popular drum machine
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Lightweight and compact design


  • No backlit screen
  • Small velocity sensitive pads
  • Arguably outdated design
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