Need advice on "drum machine" replacement options

About to get the upgrade to Elements 9 but I have 8 now.
I currently use a Boss drum machine during the writing and creating process to map out a rough idea or feel for a song structure. My current unit is about to give out (the scroll wheel is getting glitchy) and I would like to get some advice on a software replacement versus just buying a new unit.
I am not a “power user” but I have taught myself to do a tiny bit of work with MIDI. I don’t use the drums for the finished recordings. The musical style is Alt-Country so I’m rarely doing tempo or time signature changes within an individual song.
I have no problems paying for a good package but don’t want to buy 3 that don’t give me what I need before I find a good one.

You could try the included Groove Agent SE before spending money on another drum package…if it’s not right for you then knowing why might help you get a recommendation for something more suitable.

Yeah man, try what you have before upgrading. I personally love SSD4 but others like alternatives.

I can use Groove Agent enough to create a basic “click track”, but I don’t want to have to create a drum pattern, mainly because I SUCK at it. I really like the ability to scroll through different styles and tempos, pick something that catches my ear, and then just record a temporary/guide track for the mix. It gives me a me a quick way to set up the structure of a song and a quick way to translate to a drummer what I am aiming for.
This is the specific unit that I’m using now:
https://reverb.com/p/boss-dr-770-dr-rhythm?device=c&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiJG99LLw1AIVhI-zCh3D9Ao-EAAYAiAAEgJ48_D_BwE
Is there a plug-in or add-on for Elements that will do the same thing?
I might be asking the most stupid question of the day but I will tolerate the ridicule if it gets me headed in the right direction.

Groove Agent SE can do all this…there are loads of patterns, loops etc in there. Might be worth spending some time looking at it in more detail before spending money on an alternative.

I remember loving how easy it was to get something going with my Alesis HR-16. For the time it had interesting grooves and sounds. Having a good drum machine certainly can be good for the program patterns and sounds it provides easy access to.

Goove Agent SE is my primary drum instrument at present. It’s a beast and takes time to set up drum routing and mixing, so I’d say it’s more useful for detailed drum parts than for quick pattern surfing and playback like a drum machine. However, there are Grove Agent Drum Kits that have patterns pre-assigned, there’s the automatic fills, MIDI effects and more, so Groove Agent does a lot and really is worth getting to know, if you haven’t done so.

Good luck

Groove Agent can easily do everything you want. It comes with an array of preset kits for just about any genre’ or you can load your own samples into the boxes and build kits that way.

I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials on youtube if you’re not familiar with how to use Groove Agent SE. Just type Steinberg Groove Agent SE into a youtube search. It’s pretty simple and logical once you get passed the initial learning curve.

Having said all that it hast to be noted that the Boss drum machines are excellent. I used one many years ago before VST plug-ins was a thing and still have fond memories of doing so.

Good luck!

Yes, the outputs and mixing are not particularly intuitive but there’s no need to delve into them if all you’re after is a stereo output like the OP had with his DR770.

There will be a learning curve to get into it but it really does have most (if not all) of what I think the OP would want. I have it set up so all of the supplied patterns are there on the pads, organised into my own style groups, so I know I can find something suitable for the type of song I’m working on just to get me started.

I’d also recommend Groove Agent SE or Groove Agent 4 for what you’re looking for plus I’ve just been doing some extensive comparisons between other contenders and GA 4 for rock, pop and blues styles and found GA 4 has a warmth and punch others lack. There’s a slight learning curve but totally worth it. It’s a beast for many reasons.

My issue is not with the sound of the drums because for the finished recordings I use a drummer playing an acoustic kit. I’m really lucky to know several good drummers who like to play the kind of music I like to write.
My problem with the samples from Groove Agent is that I can’t change the tempo of them and sometimes early in the writing process I like to play around with the “feel” of a song. Being able to adjust the BPM of a pattern without having to stop and “write” it in a MIDI track is a big plus for me.

I guess what I’m really asking is whether or not there is a software equivalent for Elements of the drum machine I am currently using. I can always get another Boss unit but if I can eliminate a few cords, that would be a bonus.

All you need is a midi track with a single note playing the pattern you want, groove agent will then follow the tempo of the project.

Actually, You don’t need any midi note if you’re using the play button on GASE to work out your tempo early in writing process just change Cubase tempo. This can be done while it’s running live, no problem.

You have to understand that a plugin will sync to the DAW so you change tempo of the DAW rather than the drum m/c.
All of them will work this way.

There will also be a point where you need to go from using the drum m/c play button to writing a trigger note (or drop the patterns) into the timeline to build your arrangement…but not that different from recording the Boss into audio which I assume you do currently.

The answer is yes. Halison SE has two patches with loops but they are set to 100 and 120 bpm. So, to use them at other tempos you need to render and time stretch them. Search Drums, Loops and you’ll find them.

Air Music has Transfuser, which has an extensive library of pre-recorded loops mostly for dance oriented music, they also have Sylenth (sp?) and some others which have loop libraries. Many other instruments, some very expensive, have similar and better libraries. Some instruments have both Audio and Midi loops. There’s no end to the loop and sample libraries available, again, some very expensive. However, there’s a lot of excellent free content offered as proportional sample samples :slight_smile:, from different vendors. I still have some favorite samples from the dark ages of Acid Pro, mostly one-shots, but I still like them.

Back to GA. In Groove Agent SE you can route pads to an Agent Bus and, if activated, to Audio Outputs. By default, everything is routed to Kit Mix and then to Master Out. What’s great about the instrument is that the pads can be routed to an Agent Bus – (named, Kick - Bus 1, Snare - Bus 2, HHats, Toms, loop1, loop2) and, again, if activated, an audio output – Kick - GA Out 2, Snare - GA Out 3…, I route any internal Aux effects to the Master Out. You’re routing two things, 1) the internal Buses for the GA Internal Mixer, 2) The Audio Outputs for individual drum stems. There’s a lot of flexibility and, on top of all that, the instrument features an impressive automation capability. If you drag an audio loop to a pad, you may have to activate the Audio Warp within GA. Take a day and build a kit, save that as a Template and save the kit itself as a User Preset. The Full Groove Agent does even more. I don’t have yet, but I’m sure I’ll eventually move to it. Have fun with it.

Take care.

…as I think Grim has already said, you can change the Tempo just by changing the Cubase Master Tempo. It’s not stuck with the original tempo at all.

I don’t know how different the Boss DR770 is from the DR550 which I have but I know I wouldn’t go back to the drum machine now. GASE integrates so much better with Cubase. There is a learning curve but I think it really is worth it.

Here’s a GA Kit example. It began as a basic Pop Kit Preset, but I now have several versions of this basic kit. In this example, one MIDI track contains all the parts of the full kit, but the individual sounds are sent to individual Buses for both GA’s internal Buses and to Individual audio outputs as shown on the mixer. The kit includes one Shaker Loop that has been audio warped with the internal GASE Warping feature.

Groove Agent SE offers 17 Audio Outputs (Master and outputs 1-16) and Twenty (20) possible internal Buses – 1-16 and Aux 1-4.

Needless to say, this is not work to be started when a client or your friends or bandmates and you have limited time, this is pre-production work for the middle of the night when you should be sleeping. :slight_smile:
GA Kit Example.png

This is exactly what I try to avoid. My process now involves picking a preset and tempo, recording 4-8 bars, editing the length and moving it to where I want it, and then ctrl-D. Takes about 5 minutes. I like that. I take the rough idea to a drummer and he makes it sound good or he tells me I’m an idiot and plays something better.
Overall, sounds like I should probably buy a new one for the short term and start learning to use GA before the next one dies.
You guys will probably be seeing me on the Groove Agent forum soon asking stupid questions there. Thanks for the help both current and future.

Before you give up. There’s more…

First, you don’t have to do it the way I described. The fastest way to start is with Pattern Banks.
Many of the GA SE Presets have Patterns. You can drag the patterns to your project, or you can create new patterns and drag those over empty Pattern Pads in Groove Agent. You record a short loop and then drag that over and drop it on to one of the Pattern Banks. You can have banks of patterns stored with the kit.

The advantage of a good drum unit is that they usually have good sounding patterns you can use immediately and many have fills and footswitches for changing patterns. It all works.

This is exactly how I use GA (or GASE) when starting a new song, you don’t want to spend too long on finding a simple pattern for a backing or you lose the “vibe” or indeed the will to live. The patterns are all there within GA and don’t need editing in any way to work as you describe. I have organised them into logical groups (to me) so I can quickly find the right type of pattern, that is time consuming but it’s a one off.

Watch this 15 minute video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Han72uuwk_s

This uses the full version of groove Agent and one of the premium sound packs for it, but the workflow would be the same for you using the included groove Agent SE that comes free with cubase, and the default kit will be more than adequate for your purposes of just providing temporary accompaniment. I’m pretty sure this will do exactly what you need, and ultimately be EASIER and less time consuming than working with an external drum machine.