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Akai Professional XR20 Drum Machine Reviews

4.5 stars based on 13 customer reviews
Questions about the Akai Professional XR20 Drum Machine?

Questions about the Akai Professional XR20 Drum Machine?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

Sweetwater Advice

  • Carson McClain

    I did not know what to expect when the XR20 came out to be quite honest. Will it replace the MPC500 or is it something totally different? When I had a chance to actually demo this I was floored, it had all of the greatest drum sounds of hip hop, R&B, and rap already loaded in it, no sampling required. The possibility of losing your work is eliminated (MPC owners know what I am talking about). The list of sounds in this ranges from dirty south to west coast, east coast to Detroit, even reggaeton. Not only is this a great box for the seasoned producer, but it is great for the beginner as well. It has a built-in mic input so you can pop on some headphones and start composing lyrics to your tracks or hundreds of preset beats aready loaded. This in combination with an MPC would be ideal.

  • from BRONX NYC October 19, 2011Music Background:


    if you're looking for an mpc then get and mpc and dont get this...but if you just want tight,raw,hard sounding drums in your pocket..THEN THIS IS DEF FOR YOU!! i have the mpc2500LE as well but this little thing (XR20) has made my life in the studio alot easier..with over 700 sounds of pure rawness it gives me that dirty,grimmie drum sound i look for 95% of the time without going thru my mpc programs (which took me ages to build) and after EQ-ing the sounds a bit the drums smack so hard is crazy. overall i think is a must have for anyone that has ran thru a few drum machines in the past decade. it has a bit of a learning curve at first but to me it was mainly because im used to the mpc, when you learn how to program your own drum sets is when you get convinced of the things u can do with this little monster. filter,decay,sound effects,panning,swing, and each pad can be assignable to a diff sound...at first i thought i had to use the drum sets as they came (if u have this machine then u know what im talking about, addidaz,hiphop1,killa... etc),chopping samples on the mpc then using this for most of my drums.. track em to protools and keys from my fantom X6 and a few plugins is all i need to make dat ill RAW. AND my fellow producer friends still wonder where i get the drums from...LOL ------man..whether new to the game or a vet at making beats...GET ONE!! you wont be dissapointed.

  • from Marion,IN October 15, 2011Music Background:

    I am extremely pleased with my purchase of the Akai XR20

    I am completely impressed with how much further my beats have gone in the few shorts week of having it.I can not believe I waited this long before upgrading to this XR20.

  • from Tampa March 7, 2011Music Background:

    Best hip hop oriented drum machine...period

    Up until purchasing the XR20 my only experience with Drum machines was playing with an MPC1000 and my friends alesis SR16. Based on that I decided to pick up an XR20 to try to produce my own beats. First off my sales engineer (Andrew Malloy) was excellent.... best over the phone transaction I've ever had. shipping was expedient as well. Price was initially an issue for me. All the gear i owned up until the point i bought this was piece-mealed from friends stuff or stuff i had lying around my house that i decided to put to use. But after through research i found that this was pretty low compared to say an MPC (one of which i own now). Anyway the drum machine itself is fantastic! I'm guessing Akai and alesis have some sort of agreement going on because it's interface is almost identical to the SR16's. this was a relief to me cause i hate reading manuels. After playing with the pads for a couple hours i began to get accustomed to the sounds in it. they are all very contemporary hip hop and RnB based samples. i was disappointed that there wasnt a sequencing feature like the MPC but akai beat that with the A,B,Fill option. I tried using the mic input but I was far to loud to be useful. Instead i use it as a line in. I hook my Kaossilator up to it and I can make some pretty unique stuff in no time.
    All in all I love my XR20. Although I know own an MPC I often sample the XR20's sounds to it. Since both instruments are midi compliant i cant wait to hook them up. I can see my self doing some great things with this.

  • from okc November 23, 2008Music Background:
    Recording Engineer,composer

    the best drum machine thus far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i dont know what these other folk r talking about , this thing is cool.it has up to date sounds hip hop & r&b for the most,it looks good,etc.this machine rocks for real better than the dr660 we been using.get one all u need is a sampler an thats all she wrote.i think its cool to make music with an u can make hit records with it.the consumer dont know what u use to make music with as long as it sounds good.the ones who r hatin on this just dont know how to use it.

  • from April 27, 2008

    xr20- better get ya one,,, best 300 dollars you will ever spend

    this thing has midi ports... whic means i can control battery 3 also. very easy to use...tons of great drumkits and presets.. This thing is almost as addictive myspace!!

  • from Orlando,Florida November 28, 2014Music Background:
    Mastering engineer


    Fantastic drum machine filled with top notch samples processed through what sounds to my ears like an mpc60. The sounds may have been intended for hip hop but they really excell at various forms of electronic music as well.from deep house and nu disco to trap,this machine has it in spades. Also makes for one of akais better midi controllers.the pads are actually extremely responsive with a great feel to them. It can also be battery powered. One last perk, you don't have to worry about everyone with an Internet connection pirating/sharing sounds you've invested your money on.

  • from Indianapolis, Indiana March 28, 2012Music Background:

    Great Drum Machine!!

    I have owned several drum machines over the years. This one has great and unique sounds. Very good quality also. Well built too as Akai products usually are.

  • from Spring Arbor, MI March 12, 2010Music Background:
    Musical Hobbyist / Voice Over Pro

    A Versatile - And Fun - Tool

    When the Boss DR-110 was released !ahem! years ago, I rushed out and bought one, as it offered several features my other machine at the time didn't have; most notably six individual drum sounds and the ability to run via battery power, all at an affordable price. Flash-forward a couple of decades and the Akai XR20 - which isn't twice the size of the DR-110 - features not only battery power, but also big, velocity-sensitive pads, a large LCD and over 700 onboard sounds. In these days of samplers and software, that may not sound like much, but for a "simple" drum machine, it's quite impressive.

    Programming is a breeze; you get three separate tracks for your drums, synth (bass or other sound) and percussion or SFX. Up to 32 notes are possible at a time, so you can make quite thick patterns. I've read some complaints about timing or voice-stealing when you load your patterns up to the max, but I don't usually have that much going on at once, so I've yet to notice it. I did try an experiment and maxed out the polyphony, but I didn't notice any drag at all. Pattern or song programming really aren't that different from any other drum machine out there these days; the large pads simply make playing the parts live much easier. You can only save 100 patterns onboard. This should be a concern, but each pattern is really four patterns in one: A, B, and two fills for each of those. Switching back and forth between them - or using their respective fills to lead into the other - is simple and offers plenty of both options and variety for my tastes and needs.

    Speaking of which, I think the onboard sounds are great! As the XR20 is marketed as a hip-hop machine, you can be assured there are plenty of classic beatbox sounds and synth basses, along with a decent selection of acoustic drums. This (besides the pads) is why I bought this machine: it really lends itself to sounding like a machine from the '70's or early '80's. I love non-acoustic sounds and the XR20 is loaded with them. Like other machines, you can build your own drum kits, too, mixing and matching the sounds you want on the pads you want. Each sound can be tuned and panned, and the decay can be set as well. For the synth sounds, attack and release envelopes are editable. There's a usuable filter, too, which you can use for all the instruments. I found this ideal for changing the "Moog" bass sounds (I nailed the synth bass from Ultravox's "All Stood Still" this way) and it can be very cool on cymbals.

    Build quality seems to be quite sturdy. The drum pads are fairly stiff, but I was used to their feel within an hour of playing. The LCD is large and important info is easily seen from a decent distance away. There are two footswitch inputs on the back (on/off and A/B/fill), which are a huge plus for me. Outputs are limited to L/R/Aux, but that should be enough for me. My only physical concern was a bit of crackling coming from the headphones when I first tried it out. I soon realized that this wasn't crackling - it was a sample of a record popping 'n' clicking! It would be nice to have USB or expandable memory available, too, but that's easily worked around via midi. I'd also like to be able to switch the swing function on and off as I play, but I can work around this, too.

    Overall, I'm ... well ... geeked! An instrument like this was just a pipe dream when I started out; a few years later, being able to program your own rhythms was really something. Today, with not only a myriad of drum sounds, but also synths and sfx, the XR20 gives me a whole lot for very little money - I really am digging this machine!

    Thanks to my sales rep Jeff Green for his help with my purchase - he's been great, like everyone at Sweetwater.

  • from Columbus Ohio October 25, 2008Music Background:

    One of the best drum machines

    The XR20 has great sounds and effects.Also the mic input sounds really clear.And the battery option gives the drum machine great portablity,so you can take it any where.The backlite display is also a nice feature to have if your in the studio late night.The only thing it's missing is sampling and more filter and sweeps.But other than that it's a great drum machine.

  • from Conyers, GA. USA May 16, 2008Music Background:
    pro musician, vocalist

    Grab it now!!!

    This is a nice piece of gear! Ignore the internet haters who claim this gear sux. Hardly! Learn the gear and become a part of da machine.
    Only drawback is no flash memory to store songs and drum sets. However with A, B, and fills @ 99 each in user mode, there is more than enough room to work and save soundsets and patterns.
    MIDI capabilities make this a nice module when you need one. But this little battery powered monster is for traveling.
    I recall tweaking my Roland R8 nineteen years ago and the Akai XR20 is able to do what the R8 does with a smaller bsttrry powered package.

  • from MI May 15, 2008

    Great little drum machine with BIG sounds !!

    This is a great little machine ! Excellent sounds and very responsive pads. Wish it would record vocals into the patterns you record though. Ron at Sweetwater was GREAT and it was delivered promptly !! Sounds great and has unlimited possibilities ( no sampling though ) ....buy it and I think you will like it. I am still playing around with it and learning it, but I am extremely happy on purchasing it so far . Sweetwater is the first to get these in stock !!

  • from AUSTRALIA April 29, 2008Music Background:

    AKAI XR20

    pretty good gear..

    synths sound like 80's techno with an aisan kid playing nintendo in the background.
    drums sound crisp and tight
    piano sounds are killer ... there should be more
    mic input needs phantom power for some CONDENSOR DOMINANCE

  • from Chicago, ILL USA July 22, 2008Music Background:
    Rapper and Producer

    Akai XR20

    The thing i didnt like about the XR20 is that it couldn't sample or sequence. Also i thought Akai put the same sounds almost on every different sound name.
    If you are new to producing i would say get an MPC. The thing i liked about the XR20 is the sound and legendary MPc pad feel.

Questions about the Akai Professional XR20 Drum Machine?

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