16-bit stereo pcm-based drum machine

I bought my SR-16 when it came out in 1990 (or 91?), and it has been going strong for all these years!  At the time, there were other strong contenders, such as the venerable Roland R-8 and the then-new Korg S3 and Kawai XD-5 drum synthesizers, but in the end I was persuaded by the sounds, programming capabilities, and most of all - low price- of the SR-16.

It's been a staple in my studio since, and I don't think I'm going to get rid of it anytime soon.  It's just too useful and easy to program.  There are 50 preset patterns in ROM, and 50 more available in RAM for you to program, but really there are many more, because per each pattern you can save a pattern A, fill A, fill B and pattern B.  Step and real time programming are supported.

The sounds are oriented towards rock, but dig into the ROM and you'll find some useful sounds for electronic, Latin, pop, reggae, jazz... a little bit of everything.  I was very surprised (still am) that Alesis included TR-808ish samples, but the TR-909 is completely absent.  Oh well.


The Alesis SR-16 drum machine came out in 1990, and it's still being manufactured!  A perfect example of the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" rule.  The secret to the longevity of this machine is the high quality of its on-board sounds, and a few features that make this an excellent choice for the gigging solo musician, such as separate pedals for start/stop and fill ins/outs.

Many sounds on the SR-16 use a technique called "Dynamic Articulation": this makes the timbre of a sound change slightly when the pads are stricken soft or hard, and adds a lot to the realism of this machine.

Although it does have a few electronic sounds on board, true to its American origin, the SR-16 is mostly focused on bread and butter "rock 'n' roll" sounds.  The snares in particular are absolutely beautiful, and various enough to approach any project with them.


Alesis SR-16 audio demos in mp3

This is the SR-16 internal demo song.  I was very impressed by this demo when I bought it.

Alesis SR-16 Demo song


Alesis SR-16 Preset Patterns

Stream all mp3 examples below


Preset name with audio demo My comments
00 Rock 1 Straight 8-beat rock, suitable for many styles
01 Rock 2 Slower power rock
02 Rock 3 Classic 70s rock
03 Rock 4 Groovy 16th-beat, with excellent hi-hat work on the B pattern
04 Rock 5 Very realistic
05 Rock 6 Power snare, kick, and toms
06 Rock 7 Push-ahead country-rock
07 Hard Rock 1 Classic heavy metal double bass
08 Hard Rock 2 Powerful "cannon" toms
09 Hard Rock 3 More modern
10 R&B 1 Superb, swingy rhythm
11 R&B 2 Classic Rhythm And Blues pattern from the '60s
12 R&B 3 Very '80s
13 Funk 1 Excellent
14 Funk 2 Another great '80s beat
15 Blues 1 Slow blues number
16 Blues 2 Chicago electric style
17 Rap 1 Classic Roland TR-808 style sounds
18 Rap 2 M.C. Hammer!
19 Rap 3 Excellent rhythm!
20 Techno 1 Doesn't sound like a techno pattern to me, but it's okay.
21 Techno 2 Takes advantage from the detune features
22 Techno 3 Interesting, choppy
23 Reggae 1 Classic reggae
24 Reggae 2 Variant
25 Jazz Rock 1 Very busy!
26 Jazz Rock 2 Nice
27 Fusion 1 Nice and syncopated
28 Fusion 2 Variant
29 New Age 1 Beautiful and sweet
30 New Age 2 It flows.
31 Country 1 Typical country shuffle
32 Country 2 More powerful
33 Country 3 Faster tempo
34 Country Rock Yes
35 Rockabilly Excellent!
36 Jazz 1 The famous 5/4 tempo of Brubecks' "Take Five"
37 Jazz 2 Standard be-bop rhythm
38 Dixie Awesome Dixieland style
39 Polka Very festive
40 Latin 1 Excellent percussion on this one
41 Latin 2 Nice bossanova rhythm
42 Latin 3 Superb samba beat
43 Latin 4 Nice rhumba
44 Latin 5 Incredible merengue
45 Ballad 1 Cool slow ballad - variation B doubles tempo
46 Ballad 2 Charming electronic slow pattern
47 Ballad 3 '80s power ballad
48 Ballad 4 Sounds like the song "You make me feel like a natural woman"
49 Ballad 5 More '80s power ballads


Alesis SR-16 User Patterns programmed by me

Stream all mp3 examples below


The SR-16 is very easy and rewarding to program.  Below are some of the user patterns I created on it.

User pattern name with audio demo My comments
00 Fabiana 1 Dreamy dance pattern characterized by a 16th-note triangle run
02-03 Dave & Aaron groove Nice funky rhythm, realistic
04 GiovPao Basic but interesting
05 MoonWalk Nice TR-808 style hip hop pattern
06 Robot 1 The SR-16 is good for dance rhythms too
09 Delight Loosely inspired by the rhythm in certain Deee-Lite songs
10 Ska 1 Classic "The Specials" sound
11 Piano Bar 1 Standard classy bossa rhythm
12 I Can't Inspired by the classic song "Can't take my eyes off of you"
13 Funky 1 Powerful funk
15 Bluesy Nice and realistic blues
19 Power 90s Busy!
20-21 Dance 1 Typical early '90s dance sound
22 Michael A la Michael Jackson
24 RaggaDub Nice raggamuffin pattern
25 Tekno 1 Typical early '90s techno
27 Power Blues More Chicago electric blues
28 MegaFunk Characteristic bass drum pattern
34 Front 242 Inspired by a Front 242 song
35 RockMe! Standard rock and roll
36 Soft Electric Another 808 variation, with cool reversed cymbals on B
39 Tekno Sequencer Pattern B is powerful!
40 Early 90s Typical 32nd snare rolls of the early '90s
41 Funky 2 Nice hi-hat and claps programming
42 La Da Dee Inspired by Crystal Water's "Gypsy Woman"
43 Electro Electro beat
44 Dreamy Slow and new age, note the built-in reverb on the snare
45 --149-- "Martial" techno at 149bpm
46 50s Rock & Roll Classic 1950s rock 'n' roll




Alesis SR-16 specifications


Year of release:  
Sound generation method:  
Preset memories  
Sound expansion capabilities:  


Alesis SR-16 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Alesis SR-16 manuals

available at  



SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION
Ballroom Rhythms SR-16 programs A selection of ballroom patterns such as Cha-Cha, Merengue and Disco/Shuffle expertly programmed for the Alesis SR-16

Alesis SR-16 review with audio demo