The drum machine for guitarists that hate drum machines
This is one of the very few drum machines that brings the rock.
Something that frustrates guitar players a lot when it comes to drum machines is finding something that has a decent rock drum sound to it.
With most drum machines you will find everything but genuinely good acoustic rock kits good for accompanying guitar riffs, but one that gets it right is the Alesis SR-18.
What about the SR-16?
The SR-16 is cheaper than the SR-18, but nowhere near as good where a proper rock kit sound is concerned.
This isn't to say the SR-16 is unusable. Some people love that thing because very little changes have been made to it since its introduction in 1990 (yes, the SR-16 has been around almost 30 years). But you can definitely hear a big difference when comparing the 16 to the 18. It's definitely worth the extra cash to get the SR-18 because yes, it does sound better.
Does the SR-18 sound good enough on its own?
I can answer that with a solid yes.
Most drum machines or beat makers have a sound to them where it makes it too obvious the sound is fake. The SR-18 on the other hand does sound fairly close to a live drummer.
What makes the SR-18 sound so realistic? Its built-in acoustic drum samples. They are amazing on their own, and you will not have any need to scour the internet looking for sampled kits.
The test of any good drum machine is whether or not it gets an open hi-hat slosh sound correct. That specific sound is a huge part what a proper rock kit is supposed to have. And you would be amazed at how many drum machines and beat makers get that sound totally wrong. But the SR-18 totally gets it right.
Another gigantic benefit to the SR-18 is that it can be plugged into a mixer totally dry, and the sound that comes out genuinely sounds professional just with flat EQ and nothing else. There is no need to add reverb or filters. It's good enough to record with straight out of the box and into a mixer.
Is the SR-18 easy?
No programmable drum machine is totally easy because they are basically workstation synthesizers without piano keys.
However, even if you never program it and only use the built-in patterns and presets, it is easy enough. With little effort, you could be recording with it the first day you get one.
Most important thing: It does bring the rock legally
The SR-18 can rock, but on a final note, I have to explain the legal thing.
"Free" drum machine apps for the phone use sampled beats, and for many of them, the provided beats are "for personal use only", meaning you can't use them if you decide to release your songs for sale to iTunes. The beats came from somewhere else, you don't own them, so you can't use them professionally (and when you publish songs to iTunes for sale, that counts as professional use).
Anything made with the SR-18 is your own, even if you use the stock drum patterns. You can, without worry, use anything the SR-18 generates as backing music for your guitar riffs 100% legally for pro use.
This is very nice because it's one thing less to worry about. All you're trying to do is generate drum backing tracks, and the last thing you should ever have to worry about is whether your drums are legal for use professionally or not. With the SR-18, you're legal, 100%. And that's good.