Alesis SR-16 Drummachine

I got an Alesis SR-16, cheaply, from E-bay. Something that makes me totally happy is that hitting the pads outputs distorted sounds. Lucky me, I got a self-circuit bending unit for the price of a faulty one!! This reminds me of a TR-909 I owned back in the nineties which had the hi-tom section broken and would output just a white noise, obeying to MIDI note-ons and offs... inspiring!

Alesis drummachine with industrial sounds

During my early years of music making I started to collaborate with an industrial/noise band called "Gennaio". They were four guitarists and an Alesis SR-16 as a drummer and my role should have been to replace the drummachine playing live with my Amiga computer.

The project never went too far but I had the chance to hear the SR-16 cold and reverberated sound in action and it sounded deeply industrial. This sentence from just confirms it:
No doubt the SR-16 is a powerful drum machine, but ultimately it also sounds like a drum machine. [...] But all those bumper stickers about drum machines having no soul just might be directed at the SR-16.

Alesis SR-16 boot screen

After a full day of use I compiled a list of useful instruments:

"Rock 1" Good toms
"Rock 2" Dirty kick
"Rock 3" Mid tom very good
"Rock 4" Low tom very good
"Rock 5" Nice reverb kick
"Rock 6" Good toms
"Rock 7" Cool crash
"Hard Rock 1" Nothing interesting
"Hard Rock 2" Kick and crash
"Hard Rock 3" Great snare!
"R&B 1" Forget it :)
"R&B 2" YAhn!
"R&B 3" Nice kick and snare!
"Funk 1" Crash ok
"Funk 2" Kick and rimshot
"Blues 1" All nice sounds
"Blues 2" Sparkling crash
"Rap 1" 808esque kick, tom 1 and 2 are some good noises
"Rap 2" Kick and snare
"Rap 3" kick ok, metallic snare, tom 3 very deep and dirty
"Techno 1" Besides the name, only a good snare here
"Techno 2" Good kick and great metallic snare!
"Techno 3" Tom 3 sounds powerful
"Reggae 1" ehm...
"Reggae 2" uhm...
"Jazz Rock 1" Snare ok but claps are better
"Jazz Rock 2" Tom and crash but like other banks basically
"Fusion 1" Good dry kick
"Fusion 2" Good toms
"New Age 1" Cutting open hat and good snare
"New Age 2" Kick and snare but like others
"Country 1" Leave it
"Country 2" Leave it
"Country 3" Leave...
"Country Rock" The sounds tends to repeat...
"Rockabilly" Good snare with reverb
"Jazz 1" Quiet stuff
"Jazz 2" You won't buy a unit for this
"Dixie" Dirty kick
"Polka" Quite useless
"Latin 1" Dry kick
"Latin 2" Repeated sounds
"Latin 3" Good Tom 1
"Latin 4" Nahh
"Latin 5" Claps have a strange snare, not bad
"Ballad 1" Snare with long reverb!
"Ballad 2" Again Claps have a disorted percussion
"Ballad 3" Another long snare
"Ballad 4" More long snare
"Ballad 5" Even longer snare and reverb on toms

With this unit I am definitely going to make some sample kits like:

  • Alesis sampled into Amiga @ 8-BIT

  • Alesis sampled thru BOSS Overdrive

  • Alesis sampled thru Black Audio Destructor

Anyone interested in some fresh Industrial percussions should stay tuned...


  1. I couldn't find any WALTZ 3/4 takt among the preset.
    How do i Get drumming for 3/4 ?


  2. Sorry, can't help you here since I sequence everything via Cubase.

  3. Harry- quantize to dotted eighth notes. That will give you 3/4. And if you double the tempo, you have 6/8.

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  5. I don't mind using presets since I use different distortion pedals on them but any tips on uploading fresh factory sounds? I got one recently but all sounds were corrupted.

  6. How do I get a “swimming brushes” Jazz swing out of my Sr-16?