Alesis SR-16 Portable Electronic Drum Machine Review

Founded in 1980, Alesis built a reputation for its cutting-edge technology and award-winning designs that revolutionized the music industry. Entry-level musicians could access professional studio-quality sounds, and professional musicians gained mobility thanks to portable devices.

The company boasts that the Alesis SR-16 is one of the most popular drum machines of all time. Alesis lists the SR-16 as a favorite among songwriters, live performers, and remix engineers because of the impressive selection of natural drum sounds. 

Though the Alesis SR-16 remains a popular model, it’s the classic version of the new SR-18, a larger device that includes more modern sounds. The SR-18 built on the success of the SR-16 and expanded the offerings to reach a wider range of musical tastes. 

While the SR-18 offers a little more variety in terms of sound, it’s also more complex and may overwhelm some users, and this is an Alesis SR 16 review. That said, the SR-16 is a classic drum machine offering an array of helpful features.


  • Features 223 realistic, natural drum sounds
  • Dynamic Articulation technology allows you to change tonal content
  • 50 preset patterns included, plus the option to create and save your own
  • Features MIDI implementation, footswitch input, and flexible editing features


  • The instructions need an update because they aren’t particularly helpful
  • There may be some quality control issues based on reports of missing or dysfunctional components.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Electronic Drum Machine

Whether you’re a newbie just starting or an experienced musician seeking a mobile drum accompaniment, an electronic drum machine could solve your problem. They fit in a backpack and allow you to work your craft almost anywhere. Of course, it’s a good idea to do your research before investing in any equipment.

Portability of the Device

While most electronic drum machines can be transported almost anywhere, they aren’t all the same size or weight. Determine how much room you have to work with and, if you plan to carry it, how much you can comfortably handle.


Determine what types of connections you need to make the most of your drum machine. Typically, you want a machine that features MIDI, USB, ⅛-inch, and ¼-inch outputs.

Interface, Pads, and Flexibility

A drum machine won’t do you much good if it’s not functional for you as a musician. If you can test the machine before buying it, that would be best, but you can always read reviews to see what others say.

  • Consider the complexity of the interface. If it’s too complex and it can overwhelm you on stage, but too simple and it will disappoint.
  • The pad functionality matters because if they are too stiff, you’ll be exhausted in a flash, but too sensitive and you won’t get the sound you seek.
  • Don’t forget the overall flexibility of the machine. Presets are great, but if you can’t add and save your own patterns, then it may not be the best option for you.

Features & Benefits

Though all electronic drum machines have some commonalities, they each possess unique elements. Let’s look at some of the key features that set the Alesis SR-16 apart from the field.

Clean, User-Friendly Interface 

The Alesis SR-16 may not look as exciting as some other models, but the clean, minimalistic interface is easy to navigate. It’s ready to roll out of the box and features an intuitive setup, making this an excellent option for beginners.

Sounds and Presets

Choose from 233 sounds that you can assign to any pad on the device. Additionally, it features 50 presets and room for you to create and save your own —  versatility matters when you want to make unique tracks.

Features Multiple Outputs

Connect this device to your keyboard, computer, or other electronic devices via the MIDI output. Additionally, there are four audio outputs (two stereo pairs). You get maximum versatility in a portable package.

For more on how this electronic drum machine works, see the Alesis SR-16 Video User Manual.

What Users Say About the Alesis SR-16

We combed the internet to see what other musicians had to say about the Alesis SR-16, and it seems that the company wasn’t wrong to boast. It seems to be a popular option, especially among newbies.


Maybe the Alesis SR-16 isn’t quite what you’re looking for in an electronic drum machine. There are plenty of other options, so there’s sure to be one that meets your needs. We put together a few alternatives for you to consider.

The Alesis SR-18 is an upgrade to the SR-16 with a modern look, updated hardware, and more capabilities. It includes almost twice as many drum, percussion, and bass sounds. The SR-18 also doubles the number of preset patterns and room for users to save their own.

If you need more power, you may want to consider the Roland TR-08 Rhythm Composer. This machine gives you everything you need and then some. It’s durable and embraces a more professional look based on the legendary TR-808. Don’t worry too much about pads because the knobs create a nostalgic feel to create a rich interaction.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 may be an option if you like to use more sounds and effects. With a 25GB library of creative sounds and Smart Strip technology, you can do almost anything with this mod-looking device, including more techno and unique pieces.

The Bottom Line

As a musician, you never know when creativity will strike or where you could end up performing. Having a portable drum machine opens doors and provides plenty of flexibility. One of the most popular options, the Alesis SR-16, is a classic take on the electronic drum machine. 

The Alesis SR-16 is portable, versatile, and easy enough for a beginner to figure out. You get a decent selection of preset patterns and have plenty of room to add your own. 

Click here to check out the Alesis SR-16 for yourself!

Michael Southard

Michael is a multi-instrumentalist with extensive knowledge of audio production. He loves trying new gear to discover gems to create unique sound.